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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times editorial: Focus on fort, not campaign fodder

  • The issue: With attention fixed in many corners on the upcoming general election, the potential for a significant force reduction at Fort Leavenworth looms large, though somewhat under the radar.

    Our view: There is no bigger issue right now facing Lansing, Leavenworth and Leavenworth County than the military possibly depleting the fort — and with it our local communities and economy.
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  • Tuesday's primary election came and went with nary a whisper — at least that seems like an appropriate description for a 13 percent voter turnout in Leavenworth County.
    The lack of participation isn't surprising — the ticket lacked that certain spark to stimulate public interest, it seemed.
    However, it's unlikely that same disconnect will exist in November's general election, or in the months leading up to it.
    On this page in the newspaper, there have been numerous letters addressing the primary and general elections, letters of endorsements, letters of criticisms, pleas to get out and shape tomorrow by voting today.
    But, it's been the absence of public feedback for a giant issue facing Lansing, Leavenworth and Leavenworth County that's most surprising, and hopefully not to our detriment.
    We're talking, of course, about the military's potential force reduction at Fort Leavenworth.
    If the worst-case, sum-of-all fears, nightmare scenario unfolds, Fort Leavenworth would lose 2,500 positions, resulting in $147.2 million in lost salaries to military personnel and $56.1 million for civilian employees.
    Follow that monetary hit along the most obvious arcs — $200 million gone, meaning lost revenues in our local real estate market, funds taken out of local businesses, students no longer in our school district. The nightmare is more frightening when starting to think about the ways that are less obvious.
    What's to be done?
    Getting involved. Making your opinion known. Helping protect the people who protect us at Fort Leavenworth.
    Comments and feedback are being accepted until Aug. 25 concerning the U.S. Army's full Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment report. They can be sent to usarmy.jbsa.aec.nepa@mail.mil, or via regular mail to U.S. Army Environmental Command, attention SPEA public comments, 2450 Connell Road, Building 2264, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, 78234-7664.
    One of the biggest gripes about today's win-at-all-costs, gladiatorial-style political culture is that too often sides are more concerned with winning than helping the constituents who elect them.
    It's a vicious revolving door, too: Without heavy participation, many of the same officials who thrive in today's political climate stay in office, and nothing changes, nothing improves, and the same people are alienated all over again.
    Maybe there's truth to those beliefs. Looking at some political races, it seems issues are the last consideration, way down the list from party affiliation, money, name recognition and easily-digestible soundbites.
    It's unclear at times just how tangible the benefit to the public is from our elected officials.
    There's no such confusion when it comes to Fort Leavenworth, however.
    Protecting it is vital to our past, present and future.
    It's time we let the people who have the power to influence the fort — and by extension our communities — know the outcomes won't just be abstract. Real people will have to live with the decision for years to come.

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