Archive for Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Letters to the Editor: Seeing red, legislators’ response

March 20, 2002

Seeing red

To the editor:

The American Red Cross is making news again.

Years ago, while I was serving in the military, I made $40 a month. I was summoned home for the birth of my son and was short of funds. I asked the American Red Cross for help and received money for transportation home. On next payday they deducted this amount which was OK because I did get home.

The American Red Cross got involved with the Sept. 11 payments to the victims' survivors.

Instead of giving the money to them as the people intended, they decided to use most of the money to buy new computers. Due to public outcry, they backed down and agreed the money was not intended for such purposes.

Now, in Orange County, California, the school district asked the American Red Cross to help them put on a program honoring heroes. The children selected songs such as "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America" and the "Star-Spangled Banner."

They were told by the Red Cross these songs would not be allowed because the organization does not believe in the Declaration of Independence because it might offend some people.

The songs were "too American" for the program. The children being denied the right to sing these songs pulled out of the program.

We need to get involved before it's too late.

Dave Taylor,
Tonganoxie.

Legislators' response

To the editor:

I wish to respond to a letter to the editor in the March 13 issue of The Mirror ("A matter of leadership"). The letter contained several misrepresentations that should be addressed.

Mr. Phillips writes that the "first order of business" for this year's Legislature was to increase salaries. That is not accurate. In fact, I voted in committee to support a legislative budget that cuts my salary by five percent. In these tight budget times, I am not aware of any proposal to increase legislators' pay.

Second, the letter mentions my voting record as compiled by the Kansas National Education Association. I received a 40 percent approval rating from KNEA for the 2001 session not for this year, as Mr. Phillips writes. Also, the public should be cautious of voting records published by lobbying groups. They are based on only a handful of the hundreds of votes cast throughout the session. (By the way, my 40 percent ranking is 66th out of 125 House members right in the middle.)

The letter also quotes me as "dismissing" the results of a public opinion poll concerning tax increases for education. I did not dismiss the poll results; Kansans' opinions certainly are important. However, I strongly disagree with Mr. Phillips' contention that serious policy decisions should be based on polls. That's not responsible leadership.

Our state's fiscal situation is very serious. As chair of the Appropriations Committee, I face difficult decisions daily and am asked to balance the needs of all Kansans. How can we choose between services for the elderly and education for our children? These decisions are the only "trappings of office" that I know of contrary to Mr. Phillips' characterization.

I respect Mr. Phillips' right to his opinion, but felt the need to make factual corrections to set the record straight.

Rep. Kenny Wilk,
Lansing Republican, 42nd District.

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