Archive for Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Letters to the editor:

October 11, 2000

Taking from the needy
To the editor:
Our letter is in relation to the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop. People who drive by may notice great clutter much of the time. This is a direct result of materials left when we are not open. Much of what is left is good quality but some is in a condition that no one would buy it. Some clutter is because of the generosity of our supporters, leaving us no room to take large items indoors.

As this letter is being written on Monday afternoon, Oct. 2, there are three couches on the sidewalk by the west door. Two are of questionable quality and we will have to pay to have them hauled to the dump. The third was in excellent condition. It was gone three hours later.

We have a continuous problem connected with things left when we are closed. Some people have decided that they are entitled to take anything outside when they drive by. On Sunday, Sept. 30, when we went late afternoon to take in "stuff" there was a pile of sheets on the ground by the door plus torn plastic bags and broken glass. A neighbor reported that there had been a large pile of bagged clothing shortly before. We have been aware of pilfering from bags but taking almost all the clothing seems extreme. Please call Bob Kasper at 845-2265. Someone will come open the shop.

It is important for us to have the income from the sale of your goods. Our funds to give to people facing a crisis come mainly from the community through our sales of your donations.

In August, 42 families were assisted and during September there were 46 requests. When things are taken it is really stealing from the neediest of our neighbors. Let's continue to show what a caring community we are both by keeping the thrift shop neat and by helping when it is appropriate.

The Thrift Shop Board, Bob Kasper, president, Tonganoxie.

Election of judges
To the editor:
Voters of the First Judicial District should consider recommendations in a recent evaluation of the Kansas judicial system and should vote against the proposal to have judges become candidates of political parties and run in costly, partisan political elections.

In June 1999, the Kansas Citizens Justice Initiative completed the first thorough study of the judicial system since 1973. I served with the dean of the KU Law School as reporter for the bipartisan commission of 46 members. The first of the commission's 23 proposals for reform is a constitutional amendment mandating use statewide of non-partisan merit selection of district judges, the system currently used in the First Judicial District and 17 of the 31 districts in Kansas.

When a new judge takes office after winning a partisan, contested election, that judge's campaign will have received large contributions from the very individuals who later will appear before the judge: lawyers and others who have business before the courts. The Justice Initiative surveyed Kansas judges and lawyers. Among judges, 79 percent agreed that election of judges creates the potential for conflict of interest when attorneys or parties have supported the judge, and 55 percent strongly agreed. Only 14 percent disagreed. Sixty-nine percent of judges and 80 percent of lawyers agreed that appointment of judges leads to a more impartial judiciary.

Election of judges is not the American way. The drafters of the U.S. Constitution made the legislature and the executive political branches but refused to provide for election of judges. Only eight states choose most or all of their judges through partisan, political party elections.

Federal judges may be removed only by impeachment. The Kansas merit selection plan makes our judges more accountable to the public through periodic retention elections in which a simple majority of voters may remove a judge. However, the non-partisan system preserves the independence the judiciary must have in our system of checks and balances to make unpopular decisions adherence to the law often requires.

James M. Concannon, Dean, Washburn University School of Law, Topeka.

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