Letters (Jan. 6, 2010)

Prayers result in miracle recovery

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We got our miracle! The successful recovery of Shannon has happened. From the moment we all began praying for her, there was never a shadow of a doubt anything would stop the miraculous outcome.

I was privileged finally to personally meet Shannon this holiday season. What a blessing I found. A strong, happy and healthy woman welcoming God?s gift with open arms.

God answers prayers.

Linda McDougal

Hillsboro

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Jail funding plan will help committee most

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Last week, the Free Press editor suggested in his editorial that the ?Marion County Public Safety and Law Enforcement Center Committee ? get a new streamlined name for the New Year.

I have a suggestion that a more apt name would be the ?Marion County Large Land?owners and Car Dealers Tax Avoidance Committee.? The majority of the committee?s work so far has been to develop and promote a new ?fee based? tax that would level all taxpayers in the county to a common amount for a set number of years to pay for the jail project.

The new tax/fee system would relieve those who own the largest amount and most valuable property from paying more than those who own little or no property.

The car dealers would benefit from the new tax/fee system because it would remove the possibility of a sales tax increase to fund the jail.

All of this would be fine except the plan has been declared unconstitutional by the office of the Kansas Attorney General, an event that has not stopped the jail committee from still promoting the new tax/fee system.

The father of the plan, committee member Don Kraus, was a passionate advocate and reminded the committee members many times that he rents 6,000 acres of grass and property tax increases are unacceptable.

I believe it was at a May 7, meeting that committee member JoAnn Knak raised the question of the difficulty that folks on fixed incomes might have paying a set fee that would amount to more than the property tax increase under the present system. Her point was explained away by how much people spend on cigarettes and beer and that the set fee would be small by comparison.

I understood her point? there are people living in Marion County for whom a $120 a year increase?the amount of the fee Mr. Kraus provided?might mean deciding to pay taxes in lieu of prescription medicine or food while on the other hand there were the folks lining up to send in a $1,200 check to cover 10 years of the fee, according to Mr. Kraus.

I was skeptical of the tax/fee idea from the first time it was presented to the committee, and doubted that it would be legal. I tried in vain at one meeting to explain the virtues of the progressive tax system that taxes wealthier individuals at a higher rate than those who own little or nothing.

Our free society allows one to accumulate as much wealth and property as we desire and can afford. At the same time, systems of property and income taxation have assumed that with the increase in wealth comes an increase in the ability to contribute via taxes. I believe the theory is based on English Common Law.

If we would abandon capitalism and free enterprise and aspire to a leveling of incomes and property then the jail committees equal tax/fee proposal would make perfect sense for funding all public endeavors, i.e., schools, hospitals, roads, for we would be living in a socialist paradise.

Last fall I was railroaded off of the jail committee for the reason that I was not lining up behind the new tax/fee plan. At the last jail committee meeting I attended, July 14, I questioned the legality of the tax/fee proposal, knowing that a ruling by Michael Smith of the Kansas State Attorney General Office was coming against the proposal.

The chairman of the committee, Danny Flynn, said there were no problems and he had assurances from the Marion County Commission.

I was charged and convicted in an illegal executive session of some bogus charge of trying to solicit a real estate sale. In reality, I was trying to think outside the box a little and come up with an affordable alternative to constructing a new jail on raw land.

I had the crazy idea of recycling an existing building into a new use, and it just happened to be a building close to the historic Marion County Courthouse.

What a revelation, I had written about it on May 12, 2008, in the papers and several members of the public had mentioned it in letters to the committee.

The real problem was that the dominate members of the committee had an agenda of tax avoidance coming into the first meeting and no opposition would be allowed.

So as bullies usually operate in secret and behind a shield of corrupt elected officials, my fate in this endeavor was decided in a cowardly illegal executive session that was recognized and honored by a compliant and incompetent board of commissioners.

Harry E. Bennett

Marion

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