Death of resettled Afghan teen was tragic. But Missouri does much to help refugees

Luke Johnson/The Kansas City Star

Refugees’ good

The story of Rezwan Kohistani is a great example of the saying, “Hindsight is always 20/20.” (Nov. 20, 1A, “Failed by the US”) In hindsight, it would have been better for his Afghan refugee family to be resettled in a city with other Afghans and near a mosque. But a year ago, the priorities were just to get Afghans who came to America off military bases and into jobs and permanent housing. Southwest Missouri seemed to offer what was needed.

It is easy to criticize the resettlement agencies, the Missouri town of Webb City, the schools and students, and the local church. Even though their efforts might have fallen short, I think Rezwan was fortunate to have at least one very caring teacher, some friends at school and a church that provided the resources it could.

What happened to Rezwan was a tragedy. The system was not perfect. And yet I have seen the love and dedication of resettlement agencies and volunteers here in Kansas City as they served meals, taught English and befriended Afghan refugees. I believe they — and those in southwest Missouri — have done what they could. And I wonder: What would have happened to Rezwan’s family if they had not come here?

- Mary Wood, Lee’s Summit

This is war

Watching the war in Ukraine, I have seen the incredible loss of lives, homes and infrastructure and the demoralization of a proud and strong country fighting for its existence and preservation.

At the same time, I have watched three mass shootings in the U.S. in the last week. However, the Ukrainians are fighting for their country’s existence, and we remain a free and independent country but continue to allow guns to decimate our families, communities and nation.

What will be the United States’ tipping point when we decide to fight for the right to end the senseless loss of life when we are free and not at war?

- Andrea Hickerson, Leawood

Change for today

A lot of Americans think Congress is broken. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver did something to fix it.

For four years, Cleaver has served on the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, one of the few committees I’ve witnessed in my years as president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation that functioned the way the founders intended.

During the four years of the committee’s existence, this bipartisan group of lawmakers discussed, debated and adopted more than 200 recommendations to improve Congress and democracy — nearly all with unanimous support from both the Democrats and Republicans on the committee.

If fully implemented, the recommendations will strengthen Congress, allow constituents a greater voice in government and lead to better service to and representation of the American people.

In our four decades of working with Congress, the Congressional Management Foundation has rarely seen a group of legislators so astutely assess a public policy need, analyze the implications and chart a course that benefits both the institution and the people it serves.

Rep. Cleaver is to be commended on his great service to the Congress, his constituents and the nation.

- Bradford Fitch, Washington, D.C.

By the people

I read The Star’s Nov. 21 editorial regarding initiative petitions in Missouri with particular interest. (9A, “Lawmakers are targeting initiative petition process”) I have filed a petition that would reduce the need for initiatives by allowing residents of the state to assign a proxy to any member in both the state House and the state Senate. Then each senator and representative would receive a number of votes equal to the number of proxies they have been assigned, plus one for themselves, on every matter voted on in the General Assembly.

“Proxies for Citizens” could be enacted by the legislature as a statute. The only reason it needs to be on the ballot in 2024 as a constitutional amendment is to keep the General Assembly from repealing it.

Giving the people proxies would not only instantly transform our antidemocratic state legislature into a truly democratic institution, but it would also neutralize the effects of gerrymandering and reduce the influence of money within our political system.

If Republicans want to limit initiatives, they should do so in a manner that is in harmony with Article I, Section 1 of the Missouri Constitution, which states that “All political power is vested in and derived from the people” and “is founded upon their will only.”

- Winston Apple, Independence

Yes, downtown

We returned to Kansas City in 2002 after 12 years in Denver. We loved being home but described KC as an “If they come, we will build it” city to friends when comparing it with Denver. One example I often used was Denver building a baseball stadium in lower downtown, an area that was mostly desolate. Coors Field’s opening in 1996 changed the culture of not only downtown, but the entire city.

Attitude has shifted over the last 20 years in Kansas City. There is an increasing sense of civic pride. However, there seems to be a Midwestern aversion to risk or change. A downtown stadium would reduce our image as a “flyover” city and usher in a whole new era as a city where you want to live, visit and continue to raise your family.

I share your vision, John Sherman, and believe “if you build it, they will come.” And that includes more than a world championship every 30 years.

- Scott McDonald, Overland Park