Local Columns

Your Turn: Sentencing among top issues
November 27, 2014
In an address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently, Bill Clinton predicted that prison sentencing would be a major issue in the next presidential election.
Opinion: Give thanks by helping others
November 26, 2014
Like most Americans, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. It is a holiday in which we have a chance to be thankful for the blessings of the past year and to celebrate family and friends, not to mention having a good dinner and watching Thanksgiving Day parades on television. But that is not the day every American will have.
Your Turn: Life lessons gained at local store
November 24, 2014
Chad Lawhorn’s wonderful Journal-World article regarding the long and distinguished history of Francis Sporting Goods was sent to me by my 91-year-old father, who still lives in Lawrence.
Your Turn: Disparate jail fees are unfair
November 22, 2014
You’ve got two friends. They went to two different parties. Both of your friends had too much to drink. Both of them drove home. Both of them got stopped for driving drunk. Both were charged with DUI and found guilty. Both already had a previous DUI conviction. So both went to the Douglas County jail for five days, followed by probation. The friend who was tried in Lawrence Municipal Court? He has to pay $71 a day for jail costs. That’s $355. And the friend who was tried in Douglas County District Court? He has no jail costs. That’s because Douglas County Jail was built and paid for by Douglas County, and the city of Lawrence has to reimburse Douglas County for every day every prisoner convicted in municipal court spends in jail. Rather than write this expense into the city budget, the city expects the folks in jail to pay it.
Saturday Column: Brownback must acknowledge error, alter course
November 21, 2014
The headlines tell the story: “Kansas Budget Report: $715 M gap through ‘16” The sub headline, “$279 million in cuts must come out of current year budget.” Kansas and its citizens are facing serious fiscal consequences, and, at the same time, Gov. Sam Brownback has a unique opportunity to display leadership, courage and a deep, genuine concern for the welfare of Kansas.
Your Turn: Thinking is just too painful, study reminds us
November 20, 2014
A recent study found that people do not like spending time alone just thinking. In fact, as reported by Newsmax, experiments by researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard determined that “people would rather inflict pain on themselves than spend 15 minutes in a room with nothing to do but think.”
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.