Archive for Friday, October 10, 2008

Civic duty

October 10, 2008


To the editor:

I have never written a letter to the editor before now, but the tone of debate among some Lawrence citizens over whether or not the T should be continued has caused me to speak up.

I work for a well-known nonprofit in Lawrence and the individuals supported at my place of employment are able to hold jobs in the community, shop or go to appointments on their own ONLY because public transportation is available to them. If this independence is lost, the cost to the community to support these individuals in other ways may be more significant than the 25-cent tax per $100 of sales revenue that the city is proposing.

And what about civic responsibility? I always thought part of being an American was to lift up those less fortunate than ourselves. We all know that Lawrence has more than its share of cars on the road, yet there are many individuals, disabled, seniors, youths and the working poor who do not have access to transportation other than through the public system.

The beauty of Lawrence, the quality of its schools and the obvious local support of the community confirms that the citizens of Lawrence take great pride in their city. I agree that there is much room for improvement, but I'm willing to forgo a couple of sodas a week so my fellow citizens who need access to public transportation have what they need to continue living productively in the Lawrence community. Join me?

Karen Lowder,


notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

1) Is this "well-known nonprofit" by any chance also supported by taxpayer dollars?2) While I agree that the "cost to the community to support these individuals in other ways" may be more than the sales tax, Section 8 housing, SSI/SSDI, cash assistance, food stamps, all those things are also paid into by a much wider pool of people (as in at the federal level) as opposed to a tax only paid by shoppers in Lawrence. If a few dozen people could not work and had to be supported in other ways, I somehow doubt it would cause a noticeable blip in my federal taxes.3) Despite those things, I agree that it's a good thing to give these people some autonomy and hold jobs, get to their appointments, etc. The problem is, it would likely be much cheaper to the community to buy your organization a van or small bus and let you drive them around than to have a fleet of big blue empty diesel-sucking monsters wandering aimlessly around.

nomorebobsplease 9 years, 8 months ago

What I don't understand is - how did our city managers AND the mgmnt at the T allow this issue to go so long unregarded? For at least 2 years I have heard the complaint that the T was not user friendly. And I am sure that the transportation company and the commission itself has heard these complaints. I agree. For me to take the T to work, I would have to leave over an hour earlier and (if I remember) it wouldn't actually get me there on time. SOMEONE (or several someones) let this float along without action until suddenly there was a money crisis. Why didn't the commission take this up? Why didn't the transportation company come up with ideas? Why wait for the sh!t to hit the fan?Now they are not getting support over the sales tax issue because they didn't take any action before......and, unfortunately, I agree. I think we do need public transportation. I actually don't have too much of a problem with paying an additional sales tax for it.****BUT**there is no way in h*ll I'm going to approve handing over a bunch of money to people who don't have any idea of how to spend it wisely. No deal.(and yes, I think the bailout is one of the stupidest moves our government has made yet...and belive me-I think that's saying something!!!)

Satirical 9 years, 8 months ago

Cle:Most taxes for road improvement come from a sales tax on fuel. So people who drive cars to pay for what they use.

cle 9 years, 8 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront, based on posts I'm seeing, it appears the No voters are the ones baswing their vote on emotions. Apparently, since you obviously don't use it, then its useless. Once again, think of the common good of all of us. I only drive on a very few streets, why should I pay to maintain them all? I don't visit or use any of the parks and recreational facilities, why should I pay for them? I have never needed the police or fire services, why do I pay for them? Same logic you apparently are using.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years, 8 months ago

"Keeping our money to feed and clothe our own, is in NO way selfish." Yes, I'm sure the daily struggle that is your life is the stuff of after school specials. I wonder how many rooms are in the house you live in? I wonder what kind of car you drive? I wonder just how much pocket change you waste a day and dont even care. Typical Lawrence, hypocritical, stuck up, and yes....selfish, trash.

Satirical 9 years, 8 months ago

nomorebobsplease....but, but, I am sure if we give the T money long enough they will eventually start spending it wisely.... or maybe they just need more money before they can be efficient...It's like giving an addict more of their drug because they promise to eventually quit.

David Omar 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree with you Satirical. We need the T, but we need it to be efficient, Why hasn't this service joined the KU service? It would be a great idea to join them and let seniors, disabled, etc, ride with students. Maybe that would educate students a little more to see those less fortunate than themselves.

christy kennedy 9 years, 8 months ago

Good letter from a sincere and informed person. Karen, Please ignore the nastier comments--these people have nothing better to do. Others against the T can make a good case with logic and dollars and cents, but what's missing is the understanding that until a better solution is actually in place, losing the T truly would be devastating for a portion of our citizens.

Satirical 9 years, 8 months ago

Cle:LOL, I read what you wrote, but obviously you didn't understand what I wrote so let me make it easier for you.You compared the argument of one should not be forced to pay for the T if one doesn't use it, to the argument of one should not pay for police/fire/military protection if one does not use it. The fallacy with your logic is that police/fire/military protection is a public good and therefore compels taxation (I gave you the Wikipedia link to make it easy for you, but obviously that didn't work). It is non-exclusive and non-rivalrous. There is also a "free-rider" problem if individuals had the option of whether to pay for such services. This is completely different from paying for a fleet of buses going to routes and at times which are inconvenient to most residents. The T is not a public good as defined and therefore paying taxes is optional.While you are free to make the argument one should fund the inefficient T system exactly as it is out of a sense of common good (why don't we give each indigent a helicopter for the common good?), equating the T to the police and fire is a fallacy.

scribe 9 years, 8 months ago

How about this? If the T vote passes, why don't all you bright minds who oppose it, go down to the city and demand to be put on a citizens advisory committee to improve it? Or you could do the passive aggressive thing and drive your cars (of course you have cars, because you don't need the T) to Olathe, KC or Topeka to shop so you won't have to contribute your 50 cents to the leeches of society which you obviously so despise! What unhappy people you are.

kansas778 9 years, 8 months ago

It's a well known fact that before the T, all handicapped and elderly people starved to death because they had no transportation. Think about that when you vote next month.

KsTwister 9 years, 8 months ago

And the "NO" vote will come in anyway because for the money already given (and spent) was a burden to taxpayers for the size and amount of that big city fleet. Don't give us the sob story on the need for the less fortunate, many of those people were put in that situation by the Beverly Hill tax policies of Lawrence. Voting no means we have and still are watching out by stopping the bleeding of the rest of those who support more necessary services in this community.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years, 8 months ago

Welcome to Lawrence: The answer is No. What a negative, selfish, grim burg' this town has become.

jafs 9 years, 8 months ago

My wife works for the same organization.The part of the T service that is called the para-transit system is bundled in with the whole thing - if the T service is ended, the para-transit one will be as well.Para-transit service is somewhat more efficient than the large buses and uses a call-for-service system.I've suggested to Mr. Corliss that the two be separated so that we could vote yes for para-transit and no for the larger service, but I doubt this will happen.The organization exists through a combination of federal, state, and private funding. It provides what I would hope most agree is a valuable service for those in our community that need it. Recently the state/federal government have seen fit to cut funding and make regulations/paperwork more burdensome. This increases stress on employees and takes time away from serving their clients.If notaj is sincerely interested in helping, I'm sure we can get you a contact number - the organization does not currently have enough and the right type of vehicles to take over the transportation needs. Perhaps you'd like to start a fund-raising drive to help buy some vehicles.All public transportation systems operate with a great deal of federal/state assistance. If this tax fails, we will not have to pay increased sales tax, but our federal/state taxes will not be any lower. The money will simply go to other communities.Just fyi.

cle 9 years, 8 months ago

Satirical, I think I plainly stated " Common Good" not public good. Do you have a reading comprehension problem? I understand the difference, do you?

Satirical 9 years, 8 months ago

cle..."I have never needed the police or fire services, why do I pay for them? Same logic you apparently are using."Obviously you don't understand what is and what is not a "public good." may disagree with whether or not people should agree to give their money to an inefficient transportation system in a small city when viable and more cost effective alternatives are available, but the bottom line is We the People still get to choose whether we want to give it to the government.

cle 9 years, 8 months ago

I work with Karen and I also support a yes vote. It's obvious the people against the T do not understand what it is. It will be a lot easier to change and make it more efficient than it will be to start over from nothing. Not everyone wants to go downtown and then transfer after a 20 minute wait. It needs to run more on a grid system with routes on north south street and east west streets and transfers where they cross. Vote yes, then pressure the council to make the needed changes.

cle 9 years, 8 months ago

I think you will notice I suggested changing the system from a single hub and spoke to a grid. That alone would increase ridership. The T is a needed service, just as road maintenance is. I'm assuming you use a car to get around town therefore I'm sure you understand the roads are paid by everyone whether or not they use them. Do you honestly believe that your individual amount of taxes paid cover the wear and tear your vehicle cost the city? Why does anyone not owning a car have to pay taxes to support your usage? Obviously you fail to understand the concept of common good. I don't think wikipedia is the best source to quote, but in this case it gives a reasonable explanation.

jafs 9 years, 8 months ago

And, by the way, the amounts of money involved with this organization are miniscule in comparison with the recent bailout bill.Are all of you who are so opposed to taxes outraged by this bill as well?If not, why not?

grimpeur 9 years, 8 months ago

Don't forget the fleet of big and little diesel and gas-powered cars wandering around with just one person in them. The number of empty seats in personal autos far, far outnumber those in the T. That needs to change. Quick. And it can't happen until alternatives--convenient, efficient alternatives--are in place.Support the T. End lazy driver subsidies.

Satirical 9 years, 8 months ago

Karen is totally right...We are forced to vote for a regressive sales tax, which will burden indigents as well as the affluent, in order to maintain the T exactly as it is. People aren't going to just grow legs and be able to get from place to place, or get a bicycle and lose some weight. Lawrence is such a gigantic city, a fleet of mainly empty buses (the driver counts too) is the only option. You must vote for the T even though it is inefficient and poorly managed, because the only alternative is to makes changes and demand the city stop being so wasteful and spend taxpayer money as if it were their own.

cle 9 years, 8 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfrontIts very clear you have no idea what you are talking about. I think, if you will re-read Karen's letter you will see she is talking about transportation to jobs in the community, shopping or going to appointments on their own. Further proof of your reading skills are the simple fact that only 2 people here have stated they work for this agency. Myself and Karen.To paraphrase, and I feel this applies to you."A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste', don't do it.

grimpeur 9 years, 8 months ago

Satirical, less than a quarter of road improvements and construction is paid for by gas taxes. So the user fee is paid by everyone, and motorists are largely insulated from the true and complete costs they impose on society, especially those who drive every little trip when they could walk, or those who choose to live long distances from work, school, etc.

scribe 9 years, 8 months ago

none 2 & jack, chill brothers. it is what it is. a system to move the people that DON'T HAVE to where they need to be so they CAN HAVE...and these people will also be sharing in the cost of the t, cause they shop too. keep them in jobs and they will pay taxes like you and me, none2 & jack. you guys fight like you're related or something.

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