Archive for Thursday, September 18, 2008

Letters to the Editor

September 18, 2008

To the editor:

It's a shame that you did not wait until the conclusion of the Republican National Convention to proclaim the "largest television audience ever for a national convention." According to the most recent Nielsen ratings, that accolade goes to Sen. John McCain. McCain's acceptance speech topped his opponent's by 500,000 viewers.

To totally blame the Republicans for all the other woes (during a period where Democrats have been in control of both houses of Congress) is like blaming Noah for the flood.

The current administration was not responsible for the blunder after Hurricane Katrina. The state and local government share that distinction. The situation in New Orleans was a time bomb waiting to explode. Some of the city should never have been developed. The infrastructure in New Orleans has been sadly lacking for decades. It still is. I know. I grew up there. I survived two hurricanes - Betsy in 1965 and Camille in 1969. Those storms spared the city with a track different from Katrina that caused Lake Pontchartrain to surge over levees.

Let's assume Baldwin City is flat and below sea level; place a 15-foot wall around town, fill the town to the top with water. Make sure the wall is surrounded by water as well. Then add some crazy people on the ground that are shooting their rescuers. Let most of your local police department flee the city during the storm. For added measure, throw in hundreds of looters, dope addicts and various angry reptiles. In addition, dismiss the canal pump operators. Did you see the pictures of the destruction to the Super Dome caused by all the "grateful" people rescued? This certainly does not resemble an aerial view of Baldwin City during the Maple Leaf Festival.

Check the record. Then and now. Because the current Republican administration took charge before Hurricane Gustav (along with a new Republican governor), events similar to Hurricane Katrina did not occur.

The Democratic solution is that we need more government. The people of Iowa affected by recent flooding and the residents of Greensburg, Kan., have shown us that we do not need more government in our lives. I'm not sure your "change" is the answer.

Rick Grundon

Baldwin City

To the editor:

Now that the primaries are over, it is time to look ahead to the general election. Not just the media surrounded Presidential campaigns, but elections closer to home. Specifically, the 10th district house seat where I believe John Coen is the best candidate to lead. His dedication in pushing for constant improvement and the overall success of this district has been something to admire. John was born and raised in Franklin County and has seen this district transform before his eyes. John lives in northern Franklin County with a Wellsville address, an Ottawa phone and in the Ottawa school district, but is closer to Baldwin City than any other municipality; making John well aware of the issues that exist within each of these communities, while still allowing him to understand the hardships of rural life.

He has been actively involved in the community, spending four years on the Ottawa School Board, more than 25 years as a member of Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, 10 years as the Chair of Ransom Memorial Hospital Board of trustees, and also more than 25 years as a member of Kansas Farm Bureau. John has not only served this district locally, but also on the state level. For the past two years John has served Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt in policy development and constituent services. Prior to working for Sen. Schmidt, John spent 24 years running a dairy farm from his current residence.

When you start to look at the issues that truly affect this district, John Coen is without a doubt the best choice. When looking at the needs of Kansans - areas like agriculture, business growth and development, education, and healthcare - John's experience far surpasses that of his challenger Tony Brown. I encourage all members of the 10th District to examine both candidates closely before going to the polls on Nov. 4. You can access John Coen's Web site at www.johncoen.org and Tony Brown's at www.tonybrownforkansas.org.

Andrew Huschka

Ottawa

To the editor:

Please, for the sake of future students, pass the technology portion of the 2008 proposed bond, or better yet increase the funding even more.

To give you a look inside the student's period, we spend the first 5-10 minutes attempting to log in. The next 5-10 minutes are spent trying to load the web browser, and when it appears, we spend the next 5 minutes waiting for the home page to load. We then type in our determined Web site address and do other homework for the rest of the hour, only to look up at the screen when the bell rings to find our webpage half loaded.

This is no exaggeration. Our technology department can only make the best of what they are given, so please provide our future students with the right resources.

Connor Wright

Baldwin High School senior

To the editor:

Why this bond issue and why now?

A facilities committee consisting of a cross section of the community and district spent a year studying these questions. The initial needs assessment returned an estimated price tag of $60 million. The bulk of the year was spent prioritizing the needs and determining the appropriate size for this bond. The recommendation from the committee, supported by 90 percent of its members, and unanimously adopted by the Board of Education, was a $22.9 million bond that addressed the top needs of the district at a size the community could support.

It includes a Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center ($14.6 million), performing arts auditorium ($3.8 million), youth activities (ball fields and practice track $2.8 million), Baldwin Junior High School repairs ($1.2 million), and district-wide technology/safety enhancements ($500,000). This bond supports the most pressing needs in the district across a wide spectrum of the educational experience we strive to offer our kids. Removing any of the larger elements ignores the needs of a cross section of our kids and correspondingly loses the support of a section of the community.

Why now? These needs are real, significant and will only intensify as our current facilities continue to age, construction costs increase and the district grows. I encourage everyone who doesn't see the need to get out in the district and talk to students, staff and parents. Just as important, visit some of our neighboring districts and take a look at what we're competing against to attract and retain families and the top teachers.

In addition to the several million dollar price increase we'll see because of increased construction costs and higher municipal bond interest rates if we delay, is the risk of losing state funding for new facilities. School funding is under intense scrutiny by the state legislature and there is no guarantee the current formula will be in place next year. Currently the state will pay 27 percent of the cost of this bond. That means we'll be taxed to pay for $16.7 million of this bond and the state will pay $6.2 million. Through this provision your and my tax dollars have helped build the facilities at other districts in the state including recent bonds at Eudora ($45 million), Lawrence ($63 million), Gardner-Edgerton ($50 million), Ottawa ($26 million) and Louisburg ($30 million). There are other state funding benefits that would result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in new money to the district related to these new facilities. It would be a shame to miss out on getting this help for our district.

The facility investments made with this bond are part of a long-range plan. The trigger for future facilities bond requests will be driven as always by district growth, facilities quality, capability and cost of upkeep. A "yes" vote on this issue in no way obligates us to the next phase in the long-range plan. This bond stands by itself and this investment is maintained going forward.

More information can be found on informational flyers available at each district building and the district Web site at http://usd348.com/?home&bond_issue.

Scott Lauridsen

Baldwin City

Baldwin School Board member

To the editor:

I don't, of course, know who you are. You didn't ask if you could "borrow" from my bonsai display, and I'm concerned that you probably don't know what you have. You need to know how to care for our friend (unless you actually did "borrow" it and return it to the bench in my yard). It is a Chinese Elm about 10 to 12 years old. It is not a "houseplant" - it's a deciduous tree that requires the same weather patterns of other trees. Soon, it must be "plunged" into a protected section of earth (in the tray) so it can continue the life cycle - leaves turning yellow this fall, then dropping so that new growth can continue next spring.

It has been three years since it was repotted, so it is due to have the roots combed and trimmed next spring with fresh potting soil and a new tray. It will need pruning and shaping (re-wiring) next summer. But, you really must attend to the watering! There is little soil to hold water, and the moss really is more decorative than functional. It can dry out quickly - particularly with Kansas winds. I've been watering the tree daily - often twice a day in hot, dry spells - since it came to live at our home. Also, it requires watering through the winter, but less - only enough to keep the roots from becoming dry and brittle. If you don't attend to it daily, keeping it in a heated room, you will kill it rather quickly!

You can, of course, return it to the bench where it has lived during growing seasons, and I can take care of it. I'd like that! (And if you didn't take it, but read this letter and know where our friend is, please do what you can to see that it has a chance to survive another year. It can have a long life if given proper care. I visited an older cousin of this tree in Seattle last year. It was more than 500 years old.)

Walt Bailey

Baldwin City

Comments

oldschool 6 years, 3 months ago

It's extremely frustrating to hear that basic things that those of us in the private sector take for granted aren't addressed until it's an emergency at the school district. Let's hear more about the preventive maintenance plan for roof repair and heating and air!! Let's get on a scheduled replacement plan for textbooks and computers!! Let's put computer networking and technology upgrades at the top of the list for the 2009-2010 budget!! According to the USD 348 website, there is over a million dollars in the Capital Outlay budget.

I've been hearing about mold at BESPC for years, the ball fields have been pitiful since the 80's, now our High Schoolers have to wait an hour to google. If we would get on a "proactive track" instead of a "wait until we have to put out a fire track", then this bond issue for a new BESPC and the rest could have waited until we paid off the old bonds.

BTW - Having the state pay a portion of the bonds is just taking the taxes out of our other pocket.

Connor - I would be interested in voting for "parts" of the bond issue too. I'm not sure we can do that.

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p_zinzer 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow, Mr. Grundon, you might just take the distinction of being both the most out of touch and the craziest person who could actually cobble together a paragraph. Good luck on your expectations for the upcoming elections. And stay on your lithium. It will make the time go faster.

p

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sparky 6 years, 3 months ago

On the bond issue, before we pass another one, shouldn't we pay off at least one of the other two that we are still paying on.

We shouldn't need to be going around trying to "keep up with the Jones'", we should be worried about whats going on here, nothing else. Who cares what other schools around are doing with their schools. Do we really think we are going to lure other families to come live here when they find out that they will be paying on three bond issues to go along with our already out of control utility costs and tax rates.

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greyghost 6 years, 3 months ago

Andrew Huschka, from Ottawa (uhhh), wants the citizens of Baldwin to vote for the stench inducing, fecal matter spewing, hormone injecting, udder balm smearing, dairy farmer for our 10th district representative.

Mr. Coen needs your votes so he can finally build that 1,400 head of dairy heaven four miles south of our fine city.

Don't stink up our city, vote for Tony Brown!

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 3 months ago

@Sparky - Keeping up with the Jones' may not seem important or wise to you, but there is an aspect of it that one should keep in mind: if you don't, you will not inspire good teachers/administrators/coaches to stay or come here to teach our children. And, yes, other families will move here just because of excellent educational opportunities, despite the cost of living and existing bonds. In fact, existing bonds show that we are a community that cares about education are willing to invest in it and evolve with it.

Furthermore, if you read in the Signal this week, our electrical rates aren't even that high compared to other Kansas towns: "Rob Culley, power plant supervisor, did provide additional information. He researched the price of power in Kansas cities and found that Baldwin City ranked No. 100 in cost, with 54 more cities having a higher cost."

So, you really should know what you are talking about before you fire up there, Sparky.

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sparky 6 years, 3 months ago

So we do need to spend money and make everything nice, regardless of the cost? So we can end up like Vallejo, California. They kept spending, spending, spending, because someone will surely bail them out. Until they were beyond repair, and the city council had no choice but to vote 7-0 to declare bankruptcy. All the retired city employees even lost their retirement checks. I just think its nuts to be paying on three school bonds at the same time, not that the city is responsible for the cost of the school bonds, but it's the whole mindset these days.

On the utility issue, it's been said time and time again by people that have moved to town that if they knew then what they know now, they wouldn't have moved because they can't afford to live here, but now that they are here, property values are dropping and they can't afford to sell either, so their stuck. And I recall a city councilman complaining about the utility rates a while back, in fact he even brought his bill with him to show the council. If our own city councilman is complaining about the rates, I think I should be able to also.

In the article detailing the reasons that our rates are so high, it talks about the millions of dollars that went into our downtown power plant, the one that we have so we don't have to be dependent on outside sources for power, yet I seem to recall my power being out on the 4th of July for 2 hours because the power plant couldn't provide enough power for the city. It got overloaded, and they had to wait until the original source was restored. So tell me again why we spent MILLIONS on this power plant that can only sometimes be utilized.

It just seems odd to me that across the big pond, people are living in buildings and houses that are 500 years old (and older), yet if our school is 25 years old, put it out to pasture and build a new one.

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greyghost 6 years, 3 months ago

Rick Grundon states: "It's a shame. . . blah blah blah. . . ." So what? Good for McCain. His convention beat Obama's in ratings. SHAME on the editor for speaking a truth before the future came to pass. Come on man, settle down.

"To totally blame the Republicans for all the other woes (during a period where Democrats have been in control of both houses of Congress) is like blaming Noah for the flood." I can only guess what the "other woes" are, but, Democrats have held the majority of party division in the Senate and the House since 2007. So, from 2000-2006 we were able to see what a Republican Congress and President are really capable of when they put their heads together (e.g. deficit, gas prices, terrorist attacks, unnecessary war, housing collapse, torture, etc., ad infinitum). I think those are the "woes" you're referring to, right? Here's some links to help educate yourself:
http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/one_item_and_teasers/partydiv.htm http://clerk.house.gov/art_history/house_history/partyDiv.html

"The current administration was not responsible for the blunder after Hurricane Katrina." You've got to be kidding me! Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not), but didn't the FEMA director resign just days after Katrina? He botched that relief effort so bad Bush asked for his resignation. That's pretty bad when you embarrass the President. He usually does a pretty good job of that himself.

On the same subject, Katrina was a category four hurricane, Gustav was a category two when it hit the Louisiana coast. That's a huge difference, but you're from N.O. and you survived hurricanes past, so you know all about that stuff.

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