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Local Columns

Opinion: Kobach power shift not justified
November 12, 2014
Coming off his election victory, Secretary of State Kris Kobach is again asking the Legislature to give him authority to enforce election fraud laws in conjunction with the Kansas attorney general. This is a proposal he has unsuccessfully floated before, and it seems likely that, having won another term in office, he believes that he may win a second time around. The power he is asking for would be a radical change. Enforcement of voter fraud currently lies with county prosecutors. In fact, in his prior attempt to acquire this enforcement power, he was opposed by Kansas county prosecutors.
Saturday Column: State must look at education funding priorities
November 8, 2014
The re-election of Sam Brownback for another four years as Kansas governor brought smiles to the faces of many of Tuesday’s voters but frowns and extreme disappointment to many engaged in the business of education.
Opinion: Terrorist killing not worthy of opera
November 2, 2014
Back when I was writing a column for the Kansas City Star, I got a call from a woman who had a story idea for me: A widow had buried the ashes of her late husband — an avid golfer — by his favorite hole on a local country club course. The woman thought the story had humorous possibilities. Desperate for something to write about, I took the bait. I called the son of the widow and in describing my plan, I became vaguely aware of what a pointless and un-amusing story I was pursuing. At some point, the son interrupted me and gently said, “George, surely you have something better to write about.”
Saturday Column: D-Day beaches spur thoughts on the ‘costs’ of war
October 31, 2014
This writer just returned from a trip to France to visit the various beaches where the Battle of Normandy was launched on June 6, 1944, along with numerous cemeteries where thousands of Americans and Germans are buried. It was an emotional experience that many in Lawrence have experienced.
Opinion: Important choice for Kansas
October 29, 2014
In the 20 years I have lived in Kansas, I believe that there has not been an election at the state level that was more significant for the future than the current race for governor. If one simply ignores all of the campaign spin, the vitriolic attacks on character, the negative campaign advertisements, then it becomes clear that the choice between candidates that we now face revolves around fundamentally different approaches to governance and the idea of what the state of Kansas should look like in the future.
Your Turn: Compromise vital to U.S. democracy
October 26, 2014
“Connecticut? Aye. Delaware? Aye. Georgia? No.” Scribbling frantically, James Madison, serving in the capacity of chief recorder of the Constitutional Convention, could barely keep pace with the roll call. “Maryland? Aye. Massachusetts? Divided; Mr. Gerry and Mr. Strong, aye, Mr. King and Mr. Gorham, no.”
Your Turn: Ideological purity hinders good policy
October 26, 2014
During my time in Congress, I had the privilege of being around for some of the most remarkable moments of bipartisanship in our country’s recent history. I witnessed the 1983 reform of Social Security, as well as the Tax Reform Act of 1986. I rejoiced with both Republicans and Democrats in 1989 as the Berlin Wall fell. In 1990, I cast my vote in favor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We curbed gun violence in America through the bipartisan Brady Handgun Bill, and the means for our military to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime were decided by a cooperative Congress. The list goes on and on.
Your Turn: Law threatens state’s independent judiciary
October 25, 2014
Former U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist called judicial independence “one of the crown jewels” of American democracy. Yet in Kansas today, judicial independence is in jeopardy as a result of the passage of Senate Sub. for HB 2338, a new state law violating the separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government. Kansans should be concerned.
Saturday Column: Former Dole director’s Rockefeller book praised
October 24, 2014
This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal carried a long and laudatory review of Richard Norton Smith’s book on Nelson Rockefeller, titled “On His Own Terms.” Smith presents a massive, thorough and unvarnished look at Rockefeller’s life, based on years of meticulous research and access to files never before made public.
Saturday Column: Brownback strengths include agriculture, education
October 17, 2014
It’s clear Gov. Sam Brownback is engaged in a tough political race for re-election to another four years in the governor’s office. It’s also clear that governors in most states have faced severe challenges the past four years as the nation’s economy has been on a roller coaster. Aside from a few states and a few governors, states and their governors have had to figure out how to meet their states’ needs in an uncertain economic climate. Hopefully, brighter days are ahead, but there is no guarantee, although those challenging incumbent governors are having a field day finding fault with incumbents, pledging to deliver almost magical turnarounds in state economies, employment numbers, job creation and funding for a variety of important programs.
Opinion: U.S. must prepare for Ebola
October 15, 2014
The current news about the Ebola virus coming to the United States has a great many people worried. I am one of them. I want to make clear, however, that I am not particularly worried that Ebola, at least in its present form, poses a real danger of a massive pandemic. I am not worried that Ebola may spread and become a major national health emergency.
Your turn: KU athletic venues need handrails
October 13, 2014
I’m concerned that Kansas University is not sensitive to all their fans and alumni. Specifically, there are no center railings in the walkways down to seats in either Allen Fieldhouse or Memorial Stadium.
Saturday Column: Kansas voters must consider candidates’ Obama ties
October 10, 2014
Kansas voters, beware! Several days ago, President Obama made it perfectly clear what the upcoming elections throughout the country are all about. He told an audience that, although he is not going to be on the Nov. 4 ballot, all of his policies clearly are on the ballot, “every single one of them.”
Opinion: Talk not always so cheap
October 4, 2014
Once upon a time, people got rich by making stuff — cars, railroads, skyscrapers. Even silly stuff such as Silly Putty, the Hula Hoop, the Pocket Fisherman, the Inside-the-Egg-Scrambler still had the hallmark of being “stuff.” But today, it’s enough to have an idea, the more inane the better. All it takes is to come up with some idiotic “app” and the money starts pouring in. No need for an assembly line. All it takes is a room filled with nerds.
Saturday Column: Regents need better information on universities
October 3, 2014
When will past and present members of the Kansas Board of Regents and those in the governor’s office acknowledge there is no way for them to really know what is going on at the six university campuses they are supposed to oversee?