Last week, Ottawa celebrated Legacy Square and the signing of Senate Bill 331 designating the Flint Hills Trail Kansas’ newest state park.

Legislators, city, state and trail officials were on hand for the governor’s bill signing. Among those on stage celebrating (or appearing to celebrate) the passage and signing of SB 331 was our own state senator and congressional wannabe Caryn Tyson.

As your former state senator and current president of the Kanza Rail Trails Conservancy Inc. (the owner of the Flint Hills Trail), I was appalled by her appearance representing herself as a trail supporter. Senator Tyson voted against SB 331 twice, worked to have other senators vote against it, and made knowingly false statements in her explanation of vote. When confronted after the event, she had the audacity to claim she, ”supported the trails.” Here verbatim is her explanation of vote from the Kansas Senate Journal:

“Madam President: SB 331 is not about parks and walking trails. It is a land grab. That is why I join the Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association and property owners in their opposition to SB 331. We talk about upholding the rule-of-law but some reason it doesn’t apply when we give consideration to our rails-for-trails. Most of the right-of-way grants that the railroads obtained back in the 1870s were grants for railroad purposes only and contained a clause that said if the railroad ceased using the grant for railroad purposes that the right-of way reverted to the adjacent landowner. Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled against similar land grabs. In the heightened focus of transparency, you should know that landowners were not notified when the trails were established, and they have not been notified the easement could become a state park.”

Her statement is false about the trail being a land grab. Her statement is false regarding the rule of law, her statement is false about the property supposedly reverting to adjacent landowners, and her statement is false about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the trail. She obviously does not support trails.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose trails, as we consider who our next congressperson should be, we all should be appalled that our own state senator would appear on stage giving the appearance of support for a bill she voted against and worked to defeat. In a similar move, when voting on funding our schools, she voted no, then yes, then no again — all in the span of a few minutes.

Political gamesmanship, lying, deception, win at all costs are, unfortunately, the rules for too many of today’s politicians including our own.  

Doug Walker,