Daily Archives: Aug. 23, 2006

Where one votes shouldn’t deter voting

The Sedgwick County Voters’ Coalition, concerned that 65 percent of the county’s polling places are churches, has recommended to Election Commissioner Bill Gale that all sites be public facilities. As our editorial argues today, that view seems extreme, "because it assumes there is something about a place of worship that is incompatible with the practice of democracy." But churches increasingly are politically active, and "if a church’s pastor has been out front on a defining election issue, is it appropriate to require citizens, including many who disagree with him, to enter that church in order to cast their votes?" We conclude: "When it comes to making more voters want to vote, the more public and neutral the site, the better."
Another point to ponder: When Stanford University Graduate School of Business researchers recently analyzed polling locations and the outcome of several Arizona ballot initiatives, they found "that environmental cues present in different polling locations can influence voting outcomes." Those who vote at schools are more likely to support higher school spending, those who vote in churches are less likely to vote for stem cell initiatives, etc. "What our research suggests is that it might be useful to further investigate influences such as polling location to better understand how such factors affect different types of voting situations. From a policy perspective, the hope is that a voting location assignment could be less arbitrary and more determined in order to avoid undue biases in the future," said researcher S. Christian Wheeler.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Public not buying Iraq-terrorism link

A new poll found that 51 percent of Americans see no link between the war in Iraq and the broader anti-terror effort. I disagree slightly — though not the way that President Bush argues.
I think Iraq is a frontline fight against terrorism, but that it became one because of our invasion and botched occupation. As columnist John Young wrote on Tuesday’s Opinion pages, "What we did in Iraq was create a cataclysmic vacuum that has drawn blood-oath jihadists like flies to a carcass."
I also think John Kerry was correct that international police work and shared intelligence should be the focus of the war on terror, not invading countries that had no meaningful ties to al-Qaida.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Sebelius not in driver’s seat on education

It isn’t even September, and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is already selling her record hard on TV. Too hard, according to Republicans. The pro-military and anti-waste ads came first, positioning the Democrat as patriotic and fiscally hawkish. But it’s the latest education ad that has drawn the most fire — perhaps also crossing a taste line by using kids as Sebelius’ spokesmodels (though no African-American children, as some Republicans point out). The governor had a key role in legislative discussions of how to respond to the court order to find more money for schools, but most agree that since her 2004 plan went nowhere she’s been behind the scenes rather than out front.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Brownback at the back of the pack, even in Iowa

If Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., has a chance of getting the GOP presidential nomination, he needs to come out of the chute in Iowa looking strong. But a new poll of likely GOP Iowa caucus-goers published in the Des Moines Register puts Brownback at only 2.5 percent, tied with Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. That compares with 30 percent for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and 17.3 percent for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Public schools stack up well

Charter schools can be a valuable reform and choice option. But they may not get better results. In fact, fourth-graders in traditional public schools scored an average of 5.2 points better in reading and 5.8 points better in math than students in charter schools, according to a U.S. Department of Education study released Tuesday.
Public schools also stack up well against private schools, according to another department report released in July. That study found that, with the exception of eighth-grade reading, children in public schools performed as well as or better in reading and math than comparable fourth- and eighth-graders in private schools.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright

In an age when sports stars seem to have lost much of their larger-than-life luster, golf great Tiger Woods just seems to keep burning brighter. Woods over the weekend won the U.S. PGA Championship — his 12th major win — putting him just six short of Jack Nicklaus’ benchmark of 18 career majors.
After 10 years as a pro, Woods has an astounding 30 percent win rate in the majors — and he might not even be in his prime yet, say some golf commentators.
Amazing. Woods is the rare sports figure who lives up to the hype, setting a level of excellence that has even many of his fellow pros shaking their heads in awe and admiration. Just as important, Woods has done it with a lot of discipline, poise and class.
That’s greatness.
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Delivered from his criminal record

Hard to say how much ink this will get from presidential historians, but it’s an interesting tidbit: President Bush last week granted a pardon to convicted moonshiner Randall Leece Deal of Clayton, Ga. As CNN notes, that makes him the first president to pardon a member of the cast of the 1972 movie “Deliverance.” Deal, who has worked in a sheriff’s department for 16 years, delivered one line in the film: “It ain’t nothing but the biggest (expletive) river in the state!”
Posted by Rhonda Holman