Letters (March 17, 2010)

Solution offered for Toyota acceleration


Shame, shame on you, Toyota, for not recommending an emergency solution for slowing down a runaway car that every trucker, farmer and farm boy knows. It?s called shifting down and letting the compression of the engine slow the vehicle down and using your brakes for stopping only.

With a farm truck full of grain, if you did all your slowing with the brakes you?d be replacing brakes every week during harvest. Modern trucks have refined this to a ?Jake Brake? that modifies the timing on the exhaust valves so the exhaust valves stay closed and open only at the top of the compression stroke, providing even more engine-braking power.

Toyota has done a beautiful job of designing the automatic transmission gear shift on our 2009 Camry so you can shift down easier in mountain driving to slow the vehicle without riding the brake. I love it.

Ten minutes ago I decided to test this principle on our 2009 Camry. At 65 mph I turned off the engine and started shifting down rather rapidly until I was in the lowest gear.

The inertia of the moving car kept my engine turning which gave me power steering and power brakes until around 5 or 10 mph. At that point, the engine disengaged from the transmission, stopped turning, and I lost power brakes and power steering.

The steering and brakes still worked manually and at 5 mph stiff manual brakes and stiff steering is not a concern. I tested it twice with the same result.

Toyota owners, a stuck accelerator need not be a crisis. When the engine starts accelerating, turn the ignition off to the first notch. Immediately start shifting down, moving to a lower gear every three or four seconds until you are in the lowest gear. The engine will keep turning over to give you power brakes and power steering until you drop below 10 mph.

One word of caution: If you don?t shift down immediately after turning off the engine the transmission will disengage from the engine at higher speeds. Maybe that is why Toyota says shift into neutral and don?t turn off the engine until you are stopped.

I love my Toyota and will continue to drive it without fear until they get around to calling it in to repair whatever it is that causes the engine to race out of control unexpectedly.

Tim Kliewer



Pipeline deal a real ?Tea Party? issue


It was very interesting two weeks ago to read former Rep. Don Dahl?s letter explaining his support for SB 303, the 2006 legislative session bill that exempted Keystone-TransCanada property taxes in Marion County for 10 years.

In fact, from reading the letter it appears that Mr. Dahl must have been quite close to the legislative ?sausage making? that resulted in this most blatant example of corporate welfare.

As a correction to Mr. Dahl?s letter, he states ?that the 10-year loss of property tax could have generated $1.9 million to Marion County.? The original expected property taxes to the counties in the pipeline corridor were estimated in 2006 to amount to $300,000 to $400,000 per year per county (Abilene Reflector-Chronicle, June 26, 2009), but with the current reported value of the pipeline at $740 million the property taxes to Marion County alone would be $1.9 million per year or $19 million for the 10-year exempt period (Salina Journal, Nov. 7, 2009).

I attended the legislative coffee in 2006 when Rep. Dahl and Sen. Barnett came to Marion and gave us an update on that year?s legislative session. I cannot recall any mention of an economic development project that would involve Marion County forfeiting property tax from a large pipeline project.

I don?t believe Mr. Dahl ever wrote a letter or communicated to the Marion County Commis?sion in regard to bargaining away their taxing authority in 2006. The fact remains that he was in the position of representing the interest of the citizens who elected him and he failed to provide vital information at the least, or purposely evaded the issue, knowing it would not be viewed as a positive for Marion County.

In a way, this situation is a real ?Tea Party? issue in that a larger, more powerful government unit, the Kansas State Legislature, traded away the taxing authority of smaller local government, i.e. counties, school districts, hospital districts. The beneficiary of the scheme is a large foreign oil pipeline corporation that had revenues of over $4.5 billion in 2008 and posted third-quarter 2009 profits of $345 million (Marketwire, Nov. 4, 2009) and the future for the oil business is rising prices and more record profits this summer.

The Kansas Commerce Department gave Keystone-TransCanada $55.49 million in tax credits in a contract this summer, and that should be enough incentive for this project.

I do not agree with every position our new representative, Bob Brookens, takes but I appreciate the honesty and transparency he has demonstrated in the performance of his job representing us in Topeka. It is a refreshing change from the previous office holder.

I hope Rep. Brookens can withstand the political pressure of special interests and support rescinding the property tax exemption for Keystone-TransCanada.

Harry E. Bennett


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