It may be time for the city of Lawrence to practice a little family planning.
Taxpayers probably are going to ask if they can afford the cost of adopting many more sister cities.
Earlier this year, four Lawrence city commissioners were allotted up to $1,500 each to pay for a trip to solidify a sister city tie with Eutin, West Germany. Now a similar plan appears to be in the works to send commissioners to finalize a sister city arrangement with Hiratsuka, Japan.
The travel is necessary, say commissioners and members of the city's sister cities advisory board, because of the protocol involved. The cities take this move very seriously, and they expect a good showing from city officials to prove their good intentions.
What exactly are Lawrence's intentions? Eutin has been connected with Lawrence through Kansas University summer language institutes for years, and some cultural and educational exchanges between the cities probably will result from the sister city arrangement. Organizers hope the Hiratsuka ties also will result in some economic exchanges. Does that mean Lawrence officials hope to use their ties with the Japanese city to further some economic development goals for the city? What are the odds that will happen, and what benefits could the city hope to reap?
There are certain cultural benefits to be gained by linking Lawrence to international sister cities, but there is some question about how much the city should invest in this project. Has anyone considered sending a nice videotape of Lawrence and its people and city officials to Hiratsuka instead of sending the commissioners themselves? There's little doubt the Japanese could find a VCR to play it on.
All this jetting around probably is an enriching and enjoyable experience for city commissioners, but many Lawrence residents are wondering whether the commission's international travel expenses are a good use of city money. In any case, two sisters is probably enough. It's time to close the adoption agency.