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Local Columns

Your turn: Jail expansion proposal spurs questions
January 23, 2015
The Douglas County Commission is considering expanding our jail.  News reports suggest $20 million to $30 million may be spent to expand the jail from 196 to 336 beds. As representatives of the NAACP-Kansas, Kansas Appleseed, and NAMI-Kansas, we are concerned about this proposal because it will have a large impact on people of color, the justice system and people with mental illnesses. In terms of both tax dollars and the effects on human lives, this is a very serious decision, and we are encouraged to see the commissioners have committed to asking tough questions before making up their minds. Here are the three biggest questions we’ve heard so far in the community:
Opinion: Market attack focuses on anti-Semitism
January 21, 2015
The Paris terrorist attacks have horrified the civilized world. The deaths of artists and journalists have rightfully captured the attention of most people throughout the West. But the attacks were not only against the employees of Charlie Hebdo, they were also against innocent Parisians in a food market who had nothing at all to do with the publication of the images the terrorists found offensive. The shoppers had committed a different offense: They were Jewish.
Saturday Column: ‘70s KU course on terrorism was ahead of its time
January 17, 2015
Radical terrorism is the topic of the day throughout the world. Some knowledgeable observers say deadly terrorism is likely to continue to be a danger for 20 to 30 years. Headlines tell of horrific beheadings, mass murders, the slaughter of thousands and a growing number of terrorist cells throughout the world and in the United States. One report claims there is a terrorist cell in nearby Overland Park.
Your Turn: Pedestrian group seeks to make city safer
January 14, 2015
As a 16-year-old, in Lawrence, my bike and running shoes were my initial forms of transportation. After several close calls, I got a driver’s license. My safety concerns were not unfounded. My childhood neighbors lost their 8-year-old son after he was hit and killed, at Eighth and Kasold, while walking home from school. That intersection has had stop signs in his honor for 30 years.
Your Turn: K-12 science standards key to Kansas success
January 12, 2015
Astrophysicist and well-known science advocate Neil deGrasse Tyson once said that “science literacy is the artery through which the solutions of tomorrow’s problems flow.” From the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer (the main source of water in the western third of our state) to maximizing Kansas’ renewable energy potential, our state has a long list of complex challenges and opportunities to address over the coming years. And this will require a combination of well prepared engineers and scientists working with policy makers, government officials and citizens with a grasp of science and engineering.
Saturday Column: Well-qualified commissioners are vital to Lawrence
January 10, 2015
Serving as a Lawrence city commissioner is a serious and important job. Those elected to one of the five commission seats play a critical role in the growth and development of the city — or they can be a severe detriment or handicap to the city and to Kansas University.
Opinion: Legislation should reflect reality
January 7, 2015
With the opening of this year’s legislature session just a week away I have been thinking about what I hope will happen. In doing this thinking I have tried to be realistic recognizing that both the House and the Senate are overwhelmingly Republican and conservative and unlikely to violate their ideological premises. Thus, I think that it is fruitless to hope for increased funding for K-12 education or higher education let alone increases for social services for Kansas’ poor and needy.
Opinion: Kochs to blame? In your dreams
January 3, 2015
I had a bad dream: The Koch brothers stole Christmas. They didn’t do it out of their legendary greed. They did it for the sheer joy of breaking the hearts of millions of innocent children. Christmas Eve was a nightmare for the little ones. Instead of Santa’s “Ho, ho, ho,” children awoke to the bone-chilling “Heh, heh, hehs” of the Koch Brothers, snickering as they sped about in their holly-festooned Lamborghini, plundering and pillaging the planet, terrifying young and old with their hideous laughter.
Your Turn: Role of East Lawrence group defended
December 28, 2014
I’m a resident of East Lawrence, and live directly on the prospective “arts corridor” along Ninth Street. While I’m not a member of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association board or a regular attendee of its meetings, I know many of its board members, and I’m very concerned with what I see as misunderstandings, and even outright distortions, of the positions of the ELNA board with respect to this project.
Your Turn: AAUP supports KU students’ request
December 20, 2014
Our community has witnessed an illuminating public debate about academic integrity and its necessary conditions of transparency and openness. As with many debates, information is often limited. We would like to offer our concerns, observations and opinions to enhance the dialogue.
Saturday Column: KU might tap unrestricted funds to save top faculty
December 19, 2014
It’s normal for a good university to lose faculty members — some good and some not so good — on an annual basis. This certainly is the case at Kansas University. This being the situation, how much effort is KU making to hold on to the good ones?
Your Turn: Students defend information request
December 17, 2014
“The creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand The number of universities on the other end of the Kochs’ $50 million investment in academia has skyrocketed from just seven in 2005 to about 250 in 2012. Thanks to individuals utilizing open records legislation, several of these secret contracts and related correspondence have been made public. Former national American Association of University Professors President, Cary Nelson, explicitly condemned the Koch contracts for containing “language (which) violates academic freedom and poses problems because of its unspoken agenda.”
Your Turn: Nonschool programs fill gap
December 16, 2014
News about the present and future of American K-12 education continues to be discouraging. But a series of effective out-of-school programs is creating a glimmer of hope. If we focus on these, thousands of children can be salvaged from a broken system.
Your Turn: Elected mayor might benefit Lawrence
December 13, 2014
Chad Lawhorn recently compared the “Most Educated Cities in America,” by per-capita GDP. Lawrence is solidly in last place at $33,501: 20 percent lower than the next (Fort Collins at $41,805) and 26 percent below the mean average for all ten ($52,674). In spite of our rich social capital, fine educational institutions, and proximity to the Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 10 corridors, we falter.
Saturday Column: Concern about park’s finances continues to simmer
December 12, 2014
It’s unfortunate that public concern or mistrust relative to Rock Chalk Park continues to simmer. The idea of a large, multipurpose recreation center and park was good. It would be an asset for the community if the millions of dollars could be found to build the facility and if such a project did not delay other badly needed city facilities.