At the age of 70, Mike Hill has retired. His careers included the U-S Navy, private business, and 38 years in law enforcement at the Wichita Police Department, and as Sedgwick County Sheriff. I talked with Hill for the “Issues 2012” program this past weekend.
He told the story of the Holiday Inn sniper, who fired a rifle from the top floor of the building into the streets of downtown Wichita … killing three and wounding eight. Mike Hill led the team that shot and captured the sniper August 11th, 1976.
His political career included his time as sheriff. He told me today’s politics is too “confrontational” … that it wouldn’t be much fun. He also talked about the way today’s politicians insist on getting their own way, to the point that nothing gets done.
Hill says a politician should never “draw a line in the sand”.
Mike and I spent an interesting half hour together. If you missed the broadcast, you can hear a podcast on our web page … K-N-S-S radio dot com.
Our thought for today is from Henry Kissinger:
“90% of the politicians give the other 10% a bad reputation.”
A recent Gallup Poll compares Americans’ perceptions of the two presidential candidates.
Who is better on the issues? Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama on the federal budget deficit, 55% to 36%. Romney has a ten-point lead on the economy, and smaller leads on creating jobs, and taxes. Obama leads on foreign affairs, 52% to 40%.
This one surprised me a bit. On healthcare Obama and Romney are tied in this poll at 47%.
In perceptions about characteristics; on “likable” … Obama 60%, Romney 30%. The President has an 11-point lead on “Understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives”. “Is honest and trustworthy” … Obama 47%, Romney 39%. But in answer to the question “Can get things done”, Romney holds the edge, 46% to 41%.
I always watch the economy during a presidential campaign. If it improves this summer, I’ll give Obama the edge. But if the economy remains stagnate or begins to slip, Romney’s chances improve dramatically.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.”
This week superintendent John Allison presented the Wichita Board of Education with a proposed budget for the coming school year. It’s a 628 million-dollar spending plan … 22 million more than last year. The increase would be paid for with increases in state and federal money to U-S-D 259.
Allison wants to add 60 full-time employees … 35 of them, teachers … to a work force of 4,000. That’s not many teachers, in light of the hundreds of job cuts over the past few years. Still to be considered is pay raises for teachers who haven’t had a raise for four years.
There is no proposed increase in the local property tax levy.
We have about 50,000 students in Wichita’s public schools … with the number of teachers and their pay dropping the past few years. Basically, we’re asking our educators to do more with less … something quite common in the business world.
The hope is that such frugality is not accomplished at the expense of education quality. For the students in the pipeline there is no “do over”.
Our thought for today is from Thomas Paine:
“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”
If possible, we need to keep the Colorado shooting in perspective. It happened on a Friday, which triggered extensive coverage on all the news channels, all weekend. The incident was horrible and shocking. But how much is that shock and horror magnified … even distorted and encouraged … by our modern news cycle?
This happens in the United States occasionally. Our laws and their enforcement seem to do very little to keep military-type firearms and untold ammunition out of the hands of the nut cases. Some speculate that the only answer is to put more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens for situations such as the one in the crowded movie theater.
But would that have really helped? We can only speculate.
Why didn’t someone realize the alleged shooter might be having some problems before the shooting?
In the aftermath, there is the usual attempt to figure out why this happened … and what we might do as a society to prevent it from happening again.
Not much, I’m afraid.
Our thought for today is from Marilyn Manson:
“Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised.”
The Wichita City Council has changed the City’s firearms ordinance to comply with Kansas law … passed in 2007 … with a perception that a concealed firearm is a greater threat to public safety than an openly carried one. Really?
You may now carry a holstered pistol in Wichita, unless it is prohibited in government facilities or by businesses. The ordinance change has no effect on concealed carry permit holders.
Citizens are prohibited from carrying a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle if the weapon is reachable by the individual.
So, if a guy shows up with a gun at – say – a politician’s speech, it’s no big deal?
Or maybe he … or she … is “packing” at the neighborhood block party?
This puts a lot of responsibility on gun owners. Let’s hope they are up to the task.
Personally, if I see someone carrying a firearm in public … under any circumstances … my comfort level drops dramatically.
Our thought for today is from Al Capone:
“You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot further with a smile and a gun.”
Wichita’s local government and school board have been struggling with big budget challenges for several years. They’ve been cutting their costs, raising fees, trimming services, and closing employment positions. People have lost their jobs. Local politicians realize that any tax increase will mean the end to their government service.
In Mulvane … a few miles southeast of Wichita … a different story. City administrator Kent Hixson says Mulvane is going ahead with a backlog of projects. He’s proposing a 10% reduction in the city’s property tax mill levy … and a 5% cut in electricity rates.
Mulvane is reaping the benefits of the Kansas Star Casino, which opened nearby last year. In seven months, the casino has given Mulvane nearly a million dollars. And that can have a big impact on a small town’s budget. Looks like Mulvane hit the jackpot.
It’s nice to see any Kansas municipal government doing well during these tough times.
Our thought for today is from Bret Harte:
“The only sure thing about luck is that it will change.
The Wichita Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee is taking a big step … and I think they may be stepping into doo-doo. The PAC is sending out postcards promoting candidates who the PAC thinks will do more to create jobs.
Among the candidates promoted in the ads are three Republicans who are challenging fellow G-O-P Kansas Senators in the August 7th primary. The PAC is promoting businessman Gary Mason against Senator Carolyn McGinn … Wichita City Council member Michael O’Donnell against Senator Jean Schodorf … and Representative Dan Kerschen against Senator Dick Kelsey.
Apparently the Chamber wants to see more perceived conservatives in the government, as opposed to perceived moderates. I have nothing against the challengers, but it seems curious to me that the Chamber PAC would challenge three of the most effective senators representing south central Kansas … people who have stood up for business and the Chamber in the past.
Sorry, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce … I think you got it wrong this time.
Our thought for today is from Ambrose Bierce:
“To be positive; to be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he left Bain Capital in 1999 to run the Olympics and was not involved with the company during a period when it helped outsource U-S jobs to other countries. Trouble is, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing continued to list Romney as Bain’s president, C-E-O, and sole stockholder after 1999.
Is the S-E-C filing inaccurate? That could be troublesome.
If Romney outsourced, why not fess up and explain that companies had to do that in order to stay in business?
I think there are important questions here.
It is also apparent that President Obama’s campaign folks want to keep the media spotlight on this issue, and away from some pretty ugly economic conditions.
I personally don’t like outsourcing, but I realize it’s a fact of business life … and can beexcusable. Dishonesty about it is another matter.
And if we had a more pro-business approach from the White House, outsourcing might not be necessary.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“Honesty is the best policy … when there is money in it.”
Warren Jabali died the other day in Miami at the age of 65. He changed his name after an outstanding college basketball career at Wichita State. Warren Armstrong went to W-S-U … from Kansas City Central High … when Shocker basketball was its highest point. He went on to play seven years in the American Basketball Association, where he was Rookie of the Year.
Jabali was six-feet-two … but he was one of the greatest jumpers of all time. His dunks were legendary.
I only remember seeing Armstrong play once. I was playing basketball in high school at the time, and didn’t have much time to go to Shocker games. But I saw him play in a freshman game and it was impressive. At one point on a fast break Armstrong was all alone. He pulled the ball behind his head with both hands and hammered it onto the rim … the heel of the rim. The ball bounced clear out to half court.
Warren Armstrong – Jabali – was a tremendous athlete.
Our thought for today is from Willie Shoemaker:
“Desire is the most important factor in the success of any athlete.”
Changes by Steve McIntosh,posted Jul 18 2012 12:52AM
This week begins my 43rd year as a broadcaster. I’ve had an interesting career … with plenty of fun to more than balance some tough times. My bosses and co-workers have been like yours probably; mostly good people with one or two very special to me.
When I began broadcasting in 1970, the wire services delivered their news copy by land line, through big, black, noisy teletype machines. We went to much quieter printers and then computers. Networks also delivered newscasts by land lines, eventually going to satellites … as did the wire services for their copy. Much of our sound and copy now comes via the Internet.
Computer programs have enabled radio station owners … most of them large corporations … to operate with fewer and fewer live announcers. I would estimate the number of radio announcers has dropped by two-thirds over my 42 years behind the mic.
One thing that hasn’t changed: the thrill of turning on a microphone and talking with thousands of listeners at a time.
Our thought for today is from Paul Goodman:
“Enjoyment is not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity.”
I never let July 15th go by without recognizing it as an important anniversary in my life. The 15th fell on Sunday this year, so I’m just now getting around to mentioning it.
July 15th, 1970 I began my broadcasting career as a news reporter at K-W-B-B 1410 AM in Wichita. Chuck Schechner took a chance in hiring me. I had no experience. I like to think Chuck saw something in me that might evolve into a decent broadcaster. Later, I got a chance to hire Chuck at K-F-H. The past 25 years Chuck’s been working in the Dallas market.
Yes, I was green … with a little college and the Columbia School of Broadcasting … and a decent mid-range voice. I’m thankful that people in this business have given me opportunities to develop as a professional. I’ve worked for good companies and good bosses … and I still enjoy of talking on the radio. It’s been fun. 42 more?
Our thought for today is from Franklin P. Jones:
“Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
“Yours in Truth” is the title of a new book by Jeff Himmelman … “a personal portrait of Ben Bradlee”. “Yours in truth” is also the way the legendary editor of the Washington Post signed one of his many correspondences with co-workers, friends, and readers.
Himmelman combed through boxes and boxes of Bradlee’s papers, and did many interviewers … with Bradlee’s permission … to share a fascinating look at an enormously charismatic man.
Bradlee guided the Post through the Watergate story and the Janet Cooke scandal, as well as the years when there was no really BIG story to keep his attention. Journalism is never perfect, nor is Ben Bradlee.
Under his leadership, the Washington Post newsroom staff doubled from 300 to 600 … and the budget increased from $3 million to $60 million.
I found this interesting: in 1979 there were 108 reporters covering the Metro section at the Post … nearly a quarter of the reporting staff.
108 reporters … just to cover the city?
Our thought for today is from Elbert Hubbard:
“Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.”
This week Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams found himself again explaining the circumstances of the shooting of a citizen by his officers. I’m sure it’s not among the chief’s favorite duties.
This time the chief reported that officers were confronted by a woman with a knife … stabbing herself and telling the cops to shoot her. When she ignored orders to drop the knife and got too close, the officers opened fire … mortally wounding the woman.
Eight times this year Wichita Police officers have shot citizens; four of them died. Chief Williams says it’s part of a national trend.
No police officer wants to shoot anyone, and the vast majority never do. Most officers rarely un-holster their guns during a work day. But when that moment comes, the officer must make a life-and-death decision in the time it takes to blink an eye. They say no training or practice can truly prepare the officer for that moment when they alone determine how best to protect the public and themselves.
Our thought for today is from G. M. Trevelyan:
“Action springs not from thought, but from readiness for responsibility.”
Both President Obama and presidential contender Mitt Romney favor leaving the Bush-era tax cuts in place. But Obama wants to let those cuts expire for people earning more than $250,000 a year. Romney wants tax cuts for everyone.
Obama opponents say his plan would hurt small businesses and job creation. They argue that wealthy people invest and grow businesses, and that creates jobs. Obama argues that low and middle-income people with more money will spend it … and that creates jobs. Obama believes the middle class drive consumer demand.
But too many Americans are digging out of debt, and trying to recover from the mortgage meltdown. It seems to me our people are trying to get back on their feet financially, and those tax cuts are important.
The job picture has gone gloomy again over the past few months. That’s bad news for the nation … and bad news for President Obama’s political prospects.
Vacation by Steve McIntosh,posted Jul 11 2012 12:59AM
I took a week of vacation. My wife also had a week off, and we spent a lot of valuable time together … taking care of little projects that had built up around the house …and finding time to sleep a little later and live without our usual mountain of deadlines and work obligations. It was terrific!
We also spent time with both our children and all six grandchildren. Reese and Evann … who live in Alabama … got special time with us at Tanganyika Wildlife Park and the Old Mill Tasty Shop. There were several family gatherings.
For people like Shelley and me, the tough part about vacations is the preparation to leave work, to make sure all bases are covered before we hit the door. The other bad part is the first day back, when we play catch-up. I had nearly 500 emails waiting for me Monday morning.
Don’t get me wrong; I love to take a few days off … even if it means added stress before and after.
Our thought for today is from Elbert Hubbard:
“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who just had one.”
Opponents of the national health care act were rocked by the recent Supreme Court vote in support of the legality of the insurance mandate. Just about everyone was surprised that the swing vote came from Chief Justice Roberts, Bush appointee and solid conservative.
So what’s next? Some Republicans say the law will be fixed … possibly repealed entirely … if Mitt Romney is elected president in November. Others are not ready to wait that long.
I think the health care overhaul contains a few good things. But overall, I find it confusing and heavy-handed ... its supporters prepared to sacrifice individual liberty for the sake of better health care insurance for everyone. Of course, that may not be the result … and I’m not sure I like this trade of freedom in exchange for the hoped-for common good.
At the same time, health care in America is too expensive. It seems to me that is the part that’s been missed … and needed to be remedied before politics took over the debate.
Our thought for today is from Robert A. Humphrey:
“An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions.”
She’s been a neighbor and friend for a long time. She’s been totally plugged into the people and events of Wichita for the past 32 years as a reporter and columnist for the Wichita Eagle. And now Bonnie Bing has retired.
She recently told me the responsibility for that Sunday section plus other features are a “big job” … and the Eagle was only giving her 32 hours a week to do it. Bonnie demonstrated her professional skills in making it work.
In addition to reporting duties at the paper, Bonnie graciously donated her time and talents as a popular emcee and host for all manner of public events. She told me she had difficulty in ever saying “no” because she loves Wichita.
I’ll admit that I asked her to cover one of my class reunions several years ago.
I’m certain I’ll miss Bonnie’s Sunday section in the Eagle, but I’m reasonably sure Bonnie Bing is not going to disappear in retirement.
She has been and is a terrific blessing for this community.
Our thought for today is from Oscar Wilde:
“Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.”
A friend recently related a story about a co-worker who … when asked to perform a very menial task … refused, because the co-worker was not directly impacted by the task in question. In effect, this person said “that’s not my job”.
There is – I fear – a great deal of laziness in the American workplace. Probably always has been. There are people who do just what they are asked and no more. And often if not asked, they’ll do even less. This drives managers crazy.
Of course, the other side of that is the team player … the worker who picks up the slack. We hope they balance things out in our workplace.
Building a team that is 100% gung ho is probably next to impossible. But with this lousy economy, with so many jobs disappearing, it doesn’t seem wise for anyone to say “that’s not my job”.
Of course, when you are doing two or three jobs, it’s a completely different story.
Our thought for today is from Elbert Hubbard:
“If you want a work done well, select a busy man: the other kind has no time.”
In his new book about President Lyndon Johnson … “The Passage of Power” … Robert Caro writes about Johnson’s awesome accomplishments within weeks after suddenly ascending to the presidency. The former Senate majority leader pushed through a conservative budget, tax cut, and a civil rights bill. In doing so, Johnson battled southern Democrats who knew how to stall any legislation they opposed.
A southern Democrat himself and a master of political gamesmanship, L-B-J went to work on the key men in both parties, cut deals, flattered, and bullied them into submission. Johnson loved the process. I doubt we have ever seen his equal in the White House, in that regard.
It seems to me today’s politicians are more interested in advancing ideology than in getting things done. No one seems to be interested in, nor accomplished at, the process of legislation.
I think our president and all our representatives and senators ought to read Caro’s book.
Our thought for today is from Lyndon B. Johnson:
“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
“Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence from Britain, in 1776. It would be several painful years of war and great sacrifice before we actually became the United States of America. On this federal holiday we celebrate the beginning of that journey.
It might be well to remember that not all colonists supported independence. In fact, the division was pretty sharp and the voices of liberty did not greatly outnumber those who wanted to remain British subjects. But the voices of freedom were loud, eloquent, and committed … and so the great adventure began 236 years ago.
We celebrate with fireworks, food, and fun each year. We salute the flag today, but most of us take for granted our brilliant, brave forefathers. Perhaps nowhere in world history has such a group envisioned the creation of the greatest nation on earth.
It could be they only considered liberty and self government, and greatness was the result.
Our thought for today is from Patrick Henry:
“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”
Presidential historian Henry Graff wrote: “Lyndon Johnson’s ascent to the presidency came at the most traumatic moment in American political history”.
Johnson performed at a higher level than anyone could have imagined, as he took command of the presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That’s the conclusion shared by Robert Caro in his 600-page book “The Passage or Power”. This is the third of Caro’s “The Years of Lyndon Johnson” biographies. He promises at least one more.
L-B-J used his awesome skills and knowledge as a former Senate majority leader to push through Congress a conservative budget, a tax cut, and a civil rights bill within weeks of the assassination. The story of how he did it is fascinating.
Caro shows us Johnson with all his shortcomings … plus the moments when he rose to statesmanship. I was struck by just how much Johnson and Robert Kennedy hated each other.
Caro’s writing style is challenging … too many phrases and commas per sentence. But his story-telling is terrific.
Our thought for today is from Lyndon B. Johnson:
“If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.
In a 5-to-4 decision last week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of capital crimes is “cruel and unusual punishment”. The Republic reports on its web page: “The ruling undercuts laws in 28 states, and in the federal government, which impose mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles as well as adults convicted of certain forms of murder”.
There are currently 28-hundred individuals serving life-without-parole for murders committed when they were under 18.
The majority on the court wrote “… a sentencer misses too much if he treats every child as an adult”. But the conservative minority warned that the public could be at greater risk without the mandatory sentences.
When I was a teen I did some stupid things that could easily have resulted in life-long difficulties. Individual maturity is relative.
Apparently, the Supreme Court decided that one size does not necessarily fit all.