Archive for Saturday, June 14, 2003

Towers, parks, presidential debates and other pressing topics

June 14, 2003


There are many matters to write about, and it is difficult to decide what might be most important. That being the case, this writer intends to comment on several issues the order of which here has no bearing on their significance.

  • It is disappointing to learn some Lawrence city commissioners and city officials are considering a policy for placing tall, ugly cell phone towers in one or more city parks. The primary reason? These officials see such a policy as a way to make a few dollars.

Lawrence needs more city parks, and it needs to keep these areas free of the intrusion by buildings and facilities that detract from the natural beauty of the landscape.

At one time, South Park was a large, attractive green space with only a softball diamond at the northeast corner of North Park and Massachusetts streets and the elevated bandstand across Massachusetts. Now there is a fire engine, a wading pool, a sizable piece of play equipment and the South Park Recreation Center, as well as a large section on the northeast side of the park that has been taken over by a big, unattractive concrete parking lot.

Some are sure to say the park today is better than it was years ago while others will be quick to suggest much of the beauty and specialness of the park has been lost.

It is hoped city officials will not be seduced too quickly by the chance to make some money by allowing the tall, ugly towers to be located in city parks. As Lawrence grows, there will be an accompanying need for more parks and, hopefully, they will be free of communications towers and other fixtures that damage the beauty and serenity of the area.

  • Why is it that so many pundits are so quick to say President Bush is taking a big political gamble by trying to encourage and be an active broker in talks to stop terrorism involving Israeli and Palestinian factions?

Isn't it far better to try and fail than to sit by, say and do nothing and watch the killing continue? What does Bush have to lose? It would seem he has everything to gain if he, Sharon, Abbas and others can hammer out a fair and lasting plan to bring peace to the region. If Bush fails, he won't be the first, and there's always the chance now is an ideal time with growing numbers of governments starting to speak out against terrorism.

  • Many are high in their praise of the work done by retiring Lawrence High School Principal Dick Patterson, and by most accounts, he has done a good job.

During his six years as principal, he has lived in Topeka and commuted to Lawrence to carry out his job obligations.

Apparently this did not cause many difficulties; at least the public wasn't aware of any serious problems. However, it seems the community and any school within the city might be better served by someone who lives in Lawrence or the immediate area. In many ways, being a high school principal seems like it should be a 24-hour-a-day job, and there is no way to tell when an emergency might arise. Hopefully, those charged with the responsibility of selecting school principals and superintendents will give serious thought to where those being considered for important positions will live.

  • Not enough good things can be said about the great job Drue Jennings did as interim athletic director at Kansas University. Chancellor Robert Hemenway made a wise decision in asking Jennings to take on this temporary task, and Jennings responded by doing a superior job at a difficult time.

He brought skills to the office that have been needed for some time. He set a high standard for his successor, Lew Perkins, to try to match. Jennings is a tireless worker who is committed to doing what he can to help the university. He is totally honest, his legal and business training was valuable, and he expects individuals to execute their responsibilities in a professional manner. He communicates well with his staff and associates, sets an example by his personal and work habits and can be tough and demanding when necessary.

He has performed a valuable service not only for the athletic department but the entire university.

  • The Lawrence group working to have Lawrence and Kansas University selected as a site for one of the presidential or vice presidential debates during the 2004 election campaign did an excellent and thorough job planning the recent visit by members of the selection team. Led by Clenece Hills, the Lawrence-KU team made a sound, attractive and realistic presentation, and there is no question that Lawrence would be an ideal locale for a debate.

Lawrence residents, as well as all Kansans, however, should realize the debates rest in the hands of President Bush, his top advisers and the individual selected as the Democratic nominee for the presidency.

There is no guarantee there will be three presidential debates. Bush and his aides will decide how many they are willing to participate in. It's almost guaranteed there will not be three presidential debates; more likely, there will be one or two. The timing will be decided by the president and his Democratic challenger, and it is likely nothing will be scheduled within 30 days of the election. They will not be staged on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday evening to avoid major TV competition such as weekend sports events.

It is hoped those who visited Lawrence will recommend that the city and university advance to the finals in the competition among a number of top-flight cities. However, if they don't, it isn't because Hills and her team didn't do an excellent job of outlining the specialness and uniqueness of KU and Lawrence.

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