Archive for Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Letters to the editor: Write to legislators about school; Residency requirement; Agreessive dogs

February 26, 2003

Write to legislators about schools

To the editor:

I was very fortunate to attend a Legislative Conference in Topeka on Feb. 9-10. It was sponsored by the Kansas PTA and featured many speakers from the education community, including Mark Tallman of the Kansas Association of School Boards, Mark DeSetti of the Kansas NEA, and Dale Dennis, deputy commissioner of the Kansas Department of Education. Kansas Sen. John Vratil also spoke.

The governor's proposed budget was the big topic of conversation. In it, schools do not get an increase, nor do they get a decrease in funding. Legislators have referred to this as "holding schools harmless."

This term, however, is a misstatement. By not increasing the budget for schools, schools are in fact, being harmed. Utility costs continue to rise, insurance rates are going through the roof, and our hard-working teachers deserve at least a cost-of-living-raise. There are also substantial costs associated with meeting the No Child Left Behind Act requirements that are mandated by the federal government.

Without additional funding to cover these expenses, money will eventually have to be taken away from the classrooms, and no one wants to see cuts in programs. The PTA encourages all concerned citizens to contact their state legislators and let them know that this is not OK. They are damaging our schools, our children's futures, and something must be done to prevent it. Information from the conference will be available at the March PTA meeting. Thank you to everyone who works to protect the future of Tonganoxie children.

Tammy Bartels,

Tonganoxie.

Residency requirement

To the editor:

One of the issues being discussed by candidates in the election is whether or not to require city employees to live in the city. I would like to address the issue with regard to the police department.

There is the opinion that an officer will be more dedicated to his work if he is part of the community that he works in. I don't believe this to be valid, as an officer will be dedicated to his work for many other reasons, such as advancement, recognition and work ethic. Most of the people who are advocating the officers live in town don't live in the city they work in. In fact the vast majority of the working people in this town don't live in the city they work in, and I would not question their dedication to their career. Many times, it is actually a hindrance to deal with people whom you live closely with. It can be difficult to arrest your neighbor that you greet every morning. There have been instances of officer's children being hassled at school because of the parent being an officer. There have been incidents of trash thrown in yards, and obscenities hollered by passers-by, from people who want to blame the officer for their actions. There have been well-meaning people call or knock on an off-duty officer's door to report crimes, some in progress. It can be easier to deal professionally with a community you serve, by removing the personal involvement.

Many departments that have formerly required officers to live in their jurisdiction have found they cannot attract high-quality candidates unless they broaden their residency requirement. Most use a reasonable "response time," such as 30 miles or 30 minutes from home to the station. While the Tonganoxie Police Department is staffed with well-educated, professional and dedicated officers, we cannot expect to continue to attract high-quality applicants while putting the burden on them to buy a house with the lowest starting police salary in the area. Could you buy a house in Tonganoxie on a salary of $23,000 a year?

Mark Williams,

Tonganoxie.

Aggressive dogs

To the editor:

Regarding "Dog's death prompts talk of additional dog laws" (The Mirror, Jan. 29, 2003): In the few years I have lived in Tonganoxie, I have been charged and followed by numerous aggressive dogs while walking my dog.

A little over a year ago, my dog was attacked and injured by what I'm sure the owners consider a perfectly harmless family pet. My infant son was nearby in a stroller. The dog's owner paid my vet bill, but I can count on one hand the number of times my dog has been on a walk since. For weeks I was afraid to take my baby on walks, even without my dog. I am thankful only my dog was injured.

In the case of a person being attacked, if we wait until it happens to impose legal penalty, then, of course, it is too late. The victim has already been injured, frightened, perhaps even killed. (Yes, pet dogs do kill people, usually children.) If we require all dogs to be caged or leashed at all times, or outlaw entire breeds, then many conscientious pet owners are punished for the irresponsibility of a few.

It isn't certain breeds that are the problem. It is pet owners who either don't understand the potential danger of an aggressive dog -- even if it has never bitten anyone -- or refuse to accept responsibility for it. Many "friendly," "harmless" family pets exhibit worrisome aggressive behavior in certain circumstances.

Someone might drive drunk a dozen or a hundred times without incident. But if one night this person crashes into another car head-on, killing the driver, the fact such a thing had never happened before isn't much of a defense -- or much help to the dead person or his loved ones.

If you have an aggressive dog -- and if you're not sure, talk to your vet -- keep it in a fence or on a leash when it's not in your house. If you can't do that, get rid of it. It's as simple as that.

L. Keene,

Tonganoxie.

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