Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jeff Smith, KCFD

Some of you might remember an accident on Red Bridge Road, not far from KCFD station 42 involving a pumper truck on the way to a medical call. Chauffeur Jeff Smith of pumper 1, which had moved to cover 42's area, turned east from the fire station and found himself in a situation with an oncoming car. In trying to avoid a collision with the car, FF Smith attempted to go far to the right. As he did so, the pumper hit a tree, destroying its passenger compartment. FF Smith's left leg was severely injured in the impact and he eventually had to have it amputated.
Kansas City's Ingram's magazine recently honored Jeff Smith and others in their December 2011 issue. It was good to read how FF Smith is fairing. His choice was a difficult one, one he should not have had to make, but was forced to make by another person's foolish choices. Because he chose a path that increased risk for himself, lives were saved that day.


Here is the essay from Ingram's on Jeff Smith:
In 22 years with the Kansas City Fire Department, most of them as a driver, Jeff Smith had been behind the wheel of a fire truck too many times to count. Another shortage-of-breath call at a senior-living center last February had all the earmarks of another milk run—right up until a Grand Prix pulled in front of his pumper as it gathered speed on Red Bridge Road.
Smith had a choice to make, and a microsecond to make it: A head-on collision, risking certain death for driver of that car, or swerve and take his chances. He swerved. The rear wheels of his truck scaled the engine compartment of the car, causing him to lose control. The truck careened over an embankment, hit a utility pole and slammed into a tree.
A common misconception is that a loaded pumper truck is as impervious to damage as a tank. Far from it, Smith says. “If you hit something head-on, the front of the truck just breaks apart.”
And in this case, it did. What had been the interior of his cab became a collection of jagged metal and glass shards, all moving at a high speed. Smith doesn’t remember much about the impact, only the frantic cries of other crew members urging him not to try getting up.
Not until after the doctors had informed him that they couldn’t save his left leg did he learn that someone else was in that car, a 3-year-old girl. Two lives saved. One leg lost at mid-calf. Smith runs the math on that, and says it adds up.
“For a long time, I questioned whether I had enough time, and always asked myself if there was a chance to do something different,” he says. “But if I had gone even a foot to the left, there were four or five cars there, and the captain said that almost certainly there would have been a fatality. He said what happened was the best possible outcome, and I think that’s right.”
But at a price. Smith has spent nearly a year in recovery, and endures 90-minute sessions of physical therapy twice a week. He isn’t back to work yet, and isn’t entirely sure what future roles he might have at the department. Biking is probably out, softball almost assuredly, he says.
Even now, after the acclaim as a hero for his sacrifice, Smith isn’t claiming that mantle for his own.
“I don’t feel like a hero,” he says. “I did my job like I was supposed to. I can wish I had my leg back, but two people are alive because of what I did. Everyone survived, and that’s the best thing in the world.”

Accounts of the accident, linked and summarized by fire service bloggers:
STATter911 and FireTruckBlog. Take a look for the pictures alone.
Images above: Ingram's cover featuring Jeff Smith and five other heroes, Jeff Smith in Ingram's photo. Observer photo of the area of impact--note the new utility pole and damaged tree--taken a couple days after the crash. The damage is still visible today, 10 months later.
We give the fire department--and the politics that surround its administration--a lot of crap around here. We still think the whole EMS thing is a disaster. That being said, however, this is a pretty neat group of people overall and many of them are exceptional.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Biggest Story?

Topically challenged right now.
It's a lot more fun to talk about the holidays, the Chiefs, the weather or just about anything else then the current set of news headlines while hanging around the kitchen table these days.
The news media is this weird mix of holiday feel -good stories, horrid crime stories and sports headlines.
Just wondering here--what is the biggest and most important thing that is before us?
Do the folks at City Hall think the same things are important that we, the citizens, think are important?
How much does the media have to do with our priorities--that what they report is what comes to our attention--makes the most noise--and provokes us to call for action? Is what creates the noise really the most important thing?
Just wondering.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Light Has Come

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14 NIV

A blessed Christmas to all from the South Kansas City Observer

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Right to Know

Just a few short weeks ago I found myself being called "judgmental" in a comment forum because I stated that as much as some of us would like to know more about the particulars of the recent suicide of channel 4 weatherman Don Harman, we really do not have any right to know anything more about his death than the family decides to release. It is coming up again in the Aisha Khan case, as many feel that due to the work done to find someone that was thought to be missing and possibly in danger, the public has the right to know exactly why things happened the way they did. Again in this case, both family and authorities are being closed mouthed about the details. You might have a bit more of a case here due to the publicity given to a missing person case, but at bottom, especially since neither the family nor Aisha made the initial 911 call. There is no "right" to information here.
Let me give you an example: it's a personal one, but it makes the point. In 2004, my father passed away of sudden death. I was going to say sudden cardiac death, but truly I cannot say even that, because my mother, as his first and most immediate kin, and a competent person, refused an autopsy. (Side note: Apparently in Vermont, there is no requirement to do post mortem examination of outside of hospital, unattended or unexpected deaths. I must admit this surprised me. I believe it would have been required here in Missouri.) Now, I wanted to know, but my mother says she did not want it, and besides "dead is dead." I cannot assert any right to make that decision and obtain knowledge over my mother's wishes not to know. I do not have that right. I didn't have it then, and I don't have it now.
So anyone thinking that I judge those who want more information about the death of a public figure or about the details of an event that is not judged a crime, I do not judge. I understand your frustration. Your frustration however, does not entitle you to the information you desire.

Kitchen Table Talk: Aisha Khan

Last Friday, 19 year old Aisha Khan of Olathe was reported missing. The student and newlywed left a frantic voice mail message and then was not seen since. Her books and cell phone were found sitting on a table at the KU Edwards campus. No further clues other than a witness report of seeing her walking alone near the campus were discovered. This past Wednesday evening, she reported in to law enforcement and she was deemed safe. Since then, the story, which was on blast in much of the media, including national outlets, has been toned down considerably.
It is all the talk because we all want to know all the details: why? Was she threatened by someone in her family? Did she have a fight with her husband? Did she even want to be married? There is much talk of the cultural clash between those who live family life and love in a very traditional Muslim way and the way of the open American society where love and marriage are very much based on choice. In the back of many minds is the history of "honor killings" where women are killed for being the victims of men--of men who rape and commit adultery.
People are frustrated by claims of "missing" that turn out to be cover ups for something else, or not missing at all. The original call in this case came from KU Edwards campus security. Did the rent-a-cops overreact? Was it always just some crazy family drama that would have smoothed out? Who knows--for all we know the attention may have saved Khan's life. But we will never know, because the embarrassed family will never allow the rest of the story to see the light of public day.
But we are all frustrated by crimes reported that never really occurred. And each one of these non-events creates a skepticism that bleeds out every time we hear a crime story. In fact, when the report of a car jacking/rape case that started at Ward Parkway Mall and ended at 18th and Vine came out, and more info did not immediately come forth about suspects, the lost car and so on, I started to become skeptical. Is that really the story, or is it something else?
News media does us no favors by jumping on every unusual story of crime so quickly and putting it on blast. Sometimes it is not everything it seems. Too much of this, and it will become the boy who cries wolf. And the delay caused by doubt, cynicism and skepticism could eventually cost something more than embarrassment. It could cost life and/or property.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chain of Hope and How the City Can Mess With You

I think that for the majority of us, whether we personally own or like companion animals, we desire that animals be treated humanely, without neglect or cruelty. Sometimes it is a matter of stewardship of investment, and sometimes it is just the right thing to do. Groups of people have come together to help animals, and to help other people help animals. Chain of Hope is just one of those groups. They have felt called to carry out their mission in some of our city's most difficult neighborhoods, rescuing animals from poor conditions, providing reduced cost and free vet services, providing outside shelter for animals and helping poor pet owners feed their pets.
Late last week the organization was paid a visit at its facility at 27th and Tracy by KCMO Animal Control and by KCMO Neighborhood Codes people. The two visits were not happy ones, resulting in 4 citations from Animal Control and a 15 day vacate order from Codes. They provide a perfect example of how a city can harass its citizens in an unhelpful way.

You can't have more than 4 adult animals in a residential home in KCMO; you can have as many young--less than 5 month old--baby animals as you can care for and maintain properly. AC decided that some puppies that Chain of Hope had were over 5 months--meaning that they were over the animal limit. Tickets resulted.

If you want to run a business out of a house in a residential area, you must get the approval of neighbors within a certain radius of the home. Chain of Hope was unable to do this--just one neighbor held out. (Side note: Why? In that neighborhood, you would take a chance on a new neighbor moving into that house? The chances of them being good neighbors is pretty slim. I'd take a bunch of well kept dogs over what could live there. Worse yet, the house could become vacant, which attracts animals far more annoying than dogs. Some of those animals have two feet...) They were maintaining the residential rules of keeping 4 grown animals or less, but Codes was upset because no one was "maintaining residence there." (Side note number two: Thanks stupid Code Enforcement bozo, for saying that on the public airwaves that someone is not in the house 24/7. Now, in order to maintain safety and preserve property, someone will have to be in the house 24/7. Preferably with a Concealed Carry Permit, a side arm and a big ass shot gun.)

It just seems to me that these two city departments went out of their way to be pains in the rear to Chains of Hope. In fact, to me, it served as a perfect model of how City Hall can harass you to death if they get it in their pea-pickin' thick bureaucratic skulls that they want to. I would bet that the City Codes inspector can find something wrong on the property of any this blog's readers if they really wanted to. Makes you wonder also, when people can hoard animals for years and repeatedly, and not get the sort of attention that Chain of Hope has.

Chain of Hope and AC are allies, not enemies--doesn't someone realize this? Both have roles to play to keep KCMO healthy and to assure that animals are treated humanely. This is just a bad scene here, and could have been dealt with in a much more cooperative manner.

One more question: The new group taking over the management of the Animal Shelter--are they going to have any say over how AC works--or are they going to end up fighting against this city department that is supposed to be working with them?

Two news agencies picked up the story:


Chain of Hope's web site with details of the City Hall rally noted below, and links to more details about the encounters with AC and Codes last week.

Rally today for Chain of Hope at City Hall, 12 noon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

23.6 Homicides Per 100,000 People

When I saw the item last week about the general decline in violent crime in the United States during the first half of 2011, a drop that continues a trend going on about four years, I wondered why our fair city, Kansas City, MO continues to have so much trouble with violent crime and continues to have a high homicide rate per unit of population. I hate to admit it but I let the post sit in my head too long and TKC beat me to it! However, the question is still a fair one. Why, when violent crime is steady or trending down in so many places, does Kansas City struggle with it still?

Some would say the bulk of the crime occurs in only certain parts of town, but more recent headlines have brought murder, armed robbery and car jacking further south and further west. This is why we who live in other parts of Kansas City--or other parts of the metro--cannot just ignore the problem because it doesn't happen in our neighborhoods. The problem is that many of the best ideas for reducing the murder rate must come from and be implimented from within the most troubled and crime active area--Kansas City's east side . As one who does not live on the east side of Kansas City, there are simply things I cannot do. I cannot, for example, be a model of leadership for the community, trying to lead the community into a better way of thinking about itself. I cannot accept responsibility for the community's flaws or prod the community into taking responsibility for its problems nor can I make the community improve. All these types of things have to come from within that community.

However, I can ask if the police department and the city government are doing all they can to make reduction of violent crime for the whole city a priority. I can ask if my police force is doing its best police work or can they do better. I can wonder if my city government is making the reduction of violent crime part of the list of urgent things to work on in our city.

There are a lot of forces at work that can cause a murder rate to be high. Do we know which one of those forces are in play here? Are the murders drug related? Gang related? Part of a misbegotton culture of "gaining respect" that has taken over? Are people becoming violent to get the things they want--or to feed a drug habit? Are we keeping enough really bad people in prison?

I have written a lot of posts on crime on this blog and they often seem to circle back to the same point about community, taking responsibility and so forth. There are times that I am not sure that we can solve the "crime problem," only contain it. At this point, I would say that we are not even doing a very good job of containing the crime problem, and I would also say that we are not making it the priority it needs to be in our civic life. It is time for all of Kansas City to stand up and demand that it become a priority to reduce the rate of violent crime in Kansas City, Missouri.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flashback Thursday: Council Dude Sharp

The Observer will freely admit that there is a struggle with paper at our household. There is always too much of it, and some of it gets away, tucked in some out of the way place, to just sit quietly until the cleaning bug bites, or we get sick of the piles, or the cats get into it. So we have been cleaning lately, and along the way, we have found some true nuggets of recent Kansas City political history.
Today, we present one of John Sharp's campaign mailers from his first campaign for the in-district 6th city council seat.

Remember this is back in 2007, before the economic sh*t hit the fan. There was already a recognition that South Kansas City was losing its economic base.

These are great ideas and sentiments: choosing a councilperson is serious business, some maybe not-so-good reasons to vote for someone, and so on. Now, after four years of John Sharp representation of the sixth, and a bit more of three more to come, how do we all feel about Sharp--is he for us, the residents of the sixth district or is he more about John Sharp and what is good for him?
I personally have never found myself more ambivalent about a political figure than John Sharp. He is everywhere in the district--at just about every important event. I also see him at common places like McDonald's. He seems to work hard. He's passionate. I like that. BUT, his record of actually finishing the deal is lacking. He is routinely criticized for doing a bad job at MAST, and his tenure with the Hickman Mills School Board is not well regarded. However, he himself has been able to go from MAST to the School Board to the City Council. However things turn out for others, John Sharp seems to have made out OK.
That is not a point in his favor. It will be interesting to see where he goes when he completes his second and final city council term in 2015.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An Era Passed

As has been previously noted here, Kansas City, Missouri emergency first responders are moving their radio communications to a new digital 700 MHz radio system. The police moved their communications in early November to the new system. Just yesterday, fire, both EMS and suppression, moved over to the new system. I hear tell that there have been a few glitches, as not only did they move to new radio hardware, they also changed software and dispatch method0logies.
That aside, there are just a few stragglers on my scanner, the way it is set up. Animal Control. The Veteran's Administration Hospital. Some of the airport. Until I can pony up the funds, or the price of 700 MHz scanners comes down some, my fun of scanner listening is over.
I am going to miss it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On Texting, etc. While Driving

There has been a lot of talk about the accident in Missouri in August 2010 that killed two people that seemed to be caused by an inattentive driver, one who was texting and driving. Since then the National Traffic Safety Board, which investigated the accident extensively, has declared that there should be a nation wide ban on all telephone device use behind the wheel.
It is a pity that we are so stupid that we need such a big nanny state step in on this. If texters/talkers only hurt themselves, I say have at it. Run off the road, into stationary objects and whatever. Only thing is, like drunk/high drivers, these people have a way of running into the innocent, injuring them and destroying their property.
I have had to resist reacting to troll posts in comments sections on news stories and blog posts concerning this subject, because the whiff of guilt and arrogance, a lovely combination, has emanated from so many of them. Many, many people drive distracted, with slowed responses, wandering about the road in an unpredictable way.
I hate the idea of more regulation, particularly something that is not enforceable, but I can't stand distracted drivers. They are just stupid in so many ways. They think it's OK because they can get away with it. The problem is that TODAY may be the day they can't get away with it any more, and in their careless, self centeredness, they hurt someone--maybe you or me.
It's plain: If the behavior stopped or reduced in a major way, the whole conversation about regulation would go away. So how about stopping doing anything that takes away concentration from your primary task when you are behind the wheel of a car?
That primary task, by the way, is DRIVING.
There would not be a need for any rule if you paid attention to your DRIVING.
Sorry to yell, but it is just so obvious and it is sad that so many of us are so self centered and wrapped in ourselves that we don't GET IT.
Yeah, I feel strongly about this.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Loss

The Observer household has lost a member: Our wonderful LadyCat passed away a week ago today. She was 16 years old. She came to me as a stray, a momma cat who had had a litter of kittens. Everyone loved the adorable little kittens and they were all given homes by various residents and neighbors of the apartment complex in Grandview that I lived in at the time. No one wanted to adopt the mostly grown adolescent mom cat. So she came to live with me and the other cats I had at the time.

She turned out to be sweet, kind and flexible. Never one to put up much of a fuss, she accepted a move and another cat being brought into the household. More kitty personality started showing up after the move as our quarters were bigger. She shined despite health problems, presenting herself for medicine when needed without needing to be chased. She was the last of the first group of cats I owned, comforting as cat losses to age and illness came and accepting of newcomers.

My only regret is that her final acute illness came when I was away. I could not hold her, stroke her fur or talk in her ears as she slipped away.

You become one who cares for animals knowing that almost all animals do not have as long a life span as humans. You know that the day will come when your animal's life will come to an end and you will have to say good bye. Yet you accept this as part of the deal, because of all the richness you receive by having animals in your life.

Peace, my LadyCat, peace.

Tough Time To Be A Chief's Fan


Todd Haley incurs a rare Unsportmanlike Conduct penalty during today's game.


Today's awful loss by the Kansas City Chiefs adds to the poor body of work for this NFL season by the team. Of KC's losses, four were horrible routs. The offense has been inconsistent at best, sometimes adequate, but most times awful, not able to move the ball, score or stay on the field. The defense has has some shining moments, but has been left out on the field too long too many times.


There are three games left on the schedule for KC and two are at home. They leave the fan a bit of a dilemma. Go to the game to demonstrate that one's fandom is true through thick and thin or stay home to demonstrate dissatisfaction with the team's performance and brain trust by voting with both feet and pocketbook.



I personally tend to err on the side of loyalty. You support your team win or lose. You are not satisfied with losing but you support your team. As a fan you do what you can to provoke improvement, whether it is calling in to the radio programs, writing to the team, or going to the game with a bag on your head. However, some feel that the Kansas City Chiefs have created a situation where the only thing that team leadership will listen to is something that will hit owner Clark Hunt in the wallet--not showing up at Arrowhead stadium. I do understand this viewpoint--and I do think the leadership of the Kansas City Chiefs has come to take fan support for granted--or at least take for granted the fact that the fans show up for the good party at the stadium.



Many of us who follow the Chiefs thoughtfully knew that this team was at best a 9-7 team. The team failed to make major changes on the offensive and defensive lines and Matt Cassel is inconsistent at best, and was terrible without offensive guru Charlie Weiss's full attention at the end of last season. Many of the worse fears came true, compounded by injuries that exposed the team's lack of depth. In addition, the season has exposed Todd Haley in many ways. Most do not think that Haley will be back next year. Many think that GM Scott Pioli is at fault for poor personnel decisions and drafts. The team's progress came to a halt this year, and in many ways regressed.



So fans have a decision to make about how they will show their support for the team the rest of the season. I will watch the games. But I expect improvement. As a long time New York Giants fan I have lived through years of sucky football and I can tell you that it is no fun at all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Arial View

The island of Manhattan, from the air. That is a lot of people in a small space!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Traveling

The Observer is traveling presently.

Sounds like I missed the first snow of the season. How'd we do?

Vermont called; they would like their weather back.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Flashback Thursday, Part 2

Our second group of pick ups out of the clutter pile are these beauties on funding stadium improvements. This first plays on fears that if the tax is defeated, the teams will leave. This goes right to the heart of Kansas City's occasional bout with an inferiority complex.

The 3/8 cent sales tax was paired with a vote on the construction of a rolling roof.


In this second piece, the heartstrings are pulled as well as the pursestrings. Players and mascots are pictured around town doing good deeds. (Ah, Tony G., we miss you...but you got out in the nick of time...oops, sorry. Squirrel moment.)

Who is not going to vote yes in the face of big Eric Hicks holding a cute toddler?


Here comes the big guns--a foldout flyer with four panels describing the plans for the rolling roof in detail. I would say that most people were highly skeptical of the rolling roof's practicality.

Frankly, it was just a whole lot of money to spend on something that isn't an essential service.


When I found these, especially this last one full of architect's drawings, and looked them over, I did ask myself if it would have been worth it. My answer is no at this point. There would have been benefits, but we would absolutely be in debt up to our eyeballs. Considering what the economy has done (or not done), I would say less debt is better.

While we want to be the best city we can be, it may be better to propose different ways to finance the fixing of the water and sewer system besides on the backs of paying customers rather than pie-in-the-sky development schemes.

In the end, the voting citizens of Kansas City approved the 3/8th cent sales tax for renovations to Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, but declined the opportunity to place a rolling roof over the sports complex. The vote was a contentious one as I recall, with a healthy group of people wanting to replace Kauffman rather then renovating it, with a stadium in the downtown area. What do you think? Was our money well spent in refreshing our then 34 year old sports complex? Did we miss something by not doing the rolling roof thing?

I have to note here that the 2012 baseball all-star game is coming to KC despite the lack of a roof. Think of these things when the down town hotel proposals start rolling in.

Flashback Thursday, Part 1

It's a little worse for wear, but I found this interesting campaign flyer from the democratic primary in 2008. She looks much younger in this photo on the flyer. Some of that is likely a bit of Photoshop, but it seems her service under President Obama has aged her. I do not see her as Secretary of State or anything else under him if he is reelected.


"Leadership takes more than talk" says the literature. I think we are all finding that to be true at this point. Even those politically left of center are finding the president's performance less than satisfactory. Her plans are not dramatically different from Obama's and it would have been interesting to see how she would have responded to what happened in the 2010 midterm elections or if that result would have happened at all.

The first primaries are right around the corner in early 2012. It is my opinion that this upcoming election is one of the most important in our country's history. Even with Obama's negatives, it is no shoe-in to defeat an incumbent. It would behoove us to elect someone who will be willing to work with the other side, for the greater good of our entire nation, and to stand up against those who would divide us by class or race.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On City Residency

Like many (but not all) cities, Kansas City requires that employees live within the city limits. Given the size of the city, this is not as onerous a requirement as it is for some in other cities. Because Kansas City has a reasonable cost of living, a variety of neighborhoods are accessible to people who are being paid workingman's salaries by the city. Urban, suburban and exurban neighborhoods can be had. This is under discussion right now, because the city spent over $70 K investigating whether or not a municipal court judge was following the residency rule. They set up cameras, used private investigators and took quite a bit of time to check her out. They discovered that, after stopping at a house she owned within the city limits, she drove on to another home outside the city limits to stay overnight. She would repeat this on returning to work--stopping before starting her workday in the courts. After all this, it was judged that she was not violating the rule.
Where is your residence? Where you lay your head, or pay your taxes and have your car registered? For the first four and a half years or so I that I "lived" in Missouri, I was a resident of Vermont. How did I do this? I was a student. It wasn't until 1994, when I completed my studies that I became a resident of Missouri. People do this all the time, leaving cars registered in their home states, and doing the income taxes for two states while they go to school.
The city defines residence thusly: Residence is defined as the place where a person has his true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning. A person satisfies the residence requirement if a portion of the lot or the parcel of land on which his residence is located is within the city limits. Link to ordinance here.
In many ways it isn't very specific. When you look at these words, you could easily say that the judge met the requirements. She had intentions, and did return regularly to the Kansas City home. It doesn't say she had to sleep there all the time, or anything else, just that she left the house and expected to return to it.
My personal problem with what happened here is two fold: one is that we spent over $70,000 investigating this judge, using some fairly invasive techniques: cameras, stake outs, private investigators. What set off this investigation in the first place? It didn't seem like a very good use of city tax money and bordered on Big Brother privacy invasion. The second is to ask are decisions with regard to residency being made consistently across the board? If a police officer, firefighter, parks or water company employee was doing something like this, what would the decision have been? There should be no difference if it is a front line worker or an executive. If you have a rule, it needs to be applied across the board, evenly, without favoritism. What is the point of having a rule if you don't enforce it correctly and uniformly?
Maybe it is time to consider dropping the city residency rule. Maybe just require that a city worker live in Missouri, or within a certain driving time from the work place rather then requiring them to live in a specific city.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Car Spotting

Here is another round of interesting cars I've seen in my travels in the Kansas City metro. Believe it or not, I left some for next time!

In addition to being at least 40 years old, this extended cab Dodge has an interesting kludge.

This mid/late 1970s Dodge has a modification that may offend many purists...

This car almost needs its own post.

An AMC model--one way I can tell AMCs is the door handles--they are unique for the era.

And finally, a postal Jeep. How do I know that this CJ was used at one time by the U.S. Post Office?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Red Bridge Open

I apologize for my lack of posting. A family crisis has removed a lot of extra thinking time from my days as of late. I have had a few postings to Facebook, as well as interesting links and news from what is left on my scanner. Of note to those of us in south Kansas City, the new bridge across the Blue River on Red Bridge Road is now open. There appears to be still some work to do, but travel is easy in both directions now--no more dipping down into the river valley and narrow rickety bridge. There are critics with valid points out there but there is no arguing with the lack of potholes, railroad tracks and wondering just how it is that the bridge is holding up under that big truck. So enjoy a short ride with me as we cross over the Blue using the new bridge for the first time on Friday, November 18 around 2 p.m.


Monday, November 14, 2011

On "Live Blogging"

There are basically two ways to write a blog post. One is to consider your topic and what you want to say for whatever period of time in your head and then just sit down and write the post. The extreme of this method is treating the blog like a journal and literally write off the top of your head. The other is to write the erstwhile post first, before posting it using the blog format. So you might write your essay using Word or some other program, then cut and paste it into Blogger or Wordpress or whatever.

Usually, I live blog. I think about what I want to say in my head, then try to translate those ideas into words, trying to be clear, considering length etc. Sometimes a post is an expansion of a Facebook post or a comment on someone else's blog but still it is not a "second draft" of an essay. I suppose my writing would be better if I wrote drafts but it takes some of the passion out of the writing, some of the immediacy out of it. Live blogging is not always easy; posts sometimes take a l-o-n-g time to compose. Sometimes ideas just will not cooperate. The essay goes in circles. The writing just stinks. Something important ends up being unsaid.
Sometimes I do write drafts. Even with the Blogger iPhone app, it is easier to write on the note function of the phone. When this happens, it is a draft and it gets revised a bit before transfer to Blogger. Very rarely I feel that a post requires extra care; hot topic, need to fact check, like that--in that situation i might write a draft. Hazards of live blogging? Perhaps a post that isn't perfect. For example, while I was pretty happy with Saturday's post on crime, I didn't take time to get into the role of education, I didn't talk about the issue of keeping hope alive, and I wasn't completely happy with the phrase "the rest of the city needs to be protected". On the other hand I like the post for its impact as you read it.

There's a saying: the perfect is the enemy of the good. If I fret over how far from perfect my blog posts sometimes are, nothing would ever be published. That rather misses the point of writing doesn't it. It also is more stressful and much less fun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bloody 20 Hours Leaves Six Dead

In a fairly narrow geographical area too. Kansas City's East Side. 28th Street to the south. 5400 to the east, roughly Van Brunt/Hardesty. 24th Street to the north. 2900 to the west, Benton Boulevard. One group of three, one singleton, one pair. At about 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday. No names have been released, but more then likely, the victims are members of a minority ethnic group.

You know, people have different reactions to this type of news. For some, it is hardly news, as long as it is in that neighborhood, with Those People. Others are frightened that crime is running rampant. Others demand that "something be done." Still more say not enough attention is paid, and that is due to race matters.

Honestly, what can a city's government do to prevent murders? There are some things that can be done, yes: Here's a quick list: Solve open cases to avoid retribution chains, keep truly criminal people in jail, police and city leaders need to work with the neighborhood leaders to develop trust, lines of communication, use of concentrated police work such as warrant sweeps and stings, ask that leaders of Kansas City's east side begin to speak out against the potent but minority thug culture and demand better of people...

There are the larger cultural and systemic issues: Why do people in this area put up with this stuff--when such things happen in other Kansas City neighborhoods, residents are outraged. It is not tolerated. Police are not hindered in their investigation by the witness and/or victim not cooperating. Is there a perverse pride in being the neighborhood that has the most deadly violent crime? There is nothing a city government can do for this. No amount of money will improve this, and police work is reduced to working after the fact.

The status quo is hard to move--leaders that are benefiting are loathe to change. People in minority crime ridden neighborhoods are biased to not trust the police--the police don't trust the people either and in extreme cases some officers might even consider the people less smart, trustworthy, disciplined and even less human than people in other neighborhoods or of other racial groups. Everything that happens gets filtered through Black distrust and White fear.

The problem is a murder rate, even if the majority of a city is fairly free of murders, portrays a city ridden with crime that is not safe. That affects the city's reputation, which affects the marketplace for companies and people to move to Kansas City. That in turn makes tax collection smaller, which leaves the city less able to provide basic services. To raise money, the city might consider raising taxes, which again discourages economic development. A vicious cycle.

Let's start with this: solve these three crimes and begin to build relationships between police and community. Now is the time with fresh faces in the mayor's and police chief's offices to make plans and strategies, move some resources, do some new stuff. There will always likely be more murders in the east side, if for no other reason that the culture of pleasure, scorn for education and achievement, and the ready availability of quick cash through drug dealing is extremely difficult to dislodge. The good people of the east side deserve better, the rest of the city needs to be protected. Kansas City cannot afford to ignore this problem or only apply a band-aid solution. It deserves to be made a priority, even after recognizing that violent crime will not disappear. All the citizens of the city deserve better then what is happening now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Can Not Make This Stuff Up

Is this world just falling apart? Some of the stuff that happens is just not conceivable--if you were a writer, the publishers would turn down your manuscript because it was too implausible.

Here's what I am talking about: the mayor of a midmajor American city has to take cover because someone is shooting a firearm near him. Little tent cities have popped up in US cities of all sizes all across the country--and all these little cities have city problems--when they are not having meetings. Meantime, during a debate a man who wants to be the president forgets one of the three departments he would abolish if elected. Another man who wants to be POTUS has had five women come forward accusing him of being sexually harassing towards them.
Meantime, we have earthquakes in places like Oklahoma that usually don't experience them. We have F5 tornadoes in bunches. Snow falls on October 31 and some are still without power over a week later. An earthquake and tsunami result in radioactive food and automobiles in Japan.
On the sports front we have seasons that may never happen (pro basketball) and seasons that started by a whisker (pro football). A storied coach at a university for over sixty years fails to follow up on a credible report of statutory sodomy by one of his assistants and is unceremoniously sacked at once.
Overseas, people rise up and remove long time dictators in three countries. Other countries tip towards bankruptcy as their governments fight to maintain rule. One country in Africa, Sudan, actually formally voted to split in half and form two countries where there had been just one.
Finally, would you imagine a family with 20 kids and none of them were adopted?

Like I said, you can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

KCIR Deal Stinks Worse than Roadkill

Snipped from the video in the KCTV report linked below.

As you may have read the Kansas City International Raceway, a small drag strip in the 8200 block of Noland Road in far south eastern Kansas City, is going to be bought by the city and converted to a park. It is a deal that has an awful stink about it in so many ways. I was completely disgusted after reading this article in the Kansas City Star and posted this on Facebook.

This is a biased incomplete article that does not ask the hard questions. The KCIR sale is a boondoggle that will cost the city money it does not have, done to keep the swells happy and insure election for Circo. It will replace a business with an empty park that will not give tax income and, in fact, will likely become a crime and dumping problem for the area. They may wake up in 10 years and realize the race track was a pretty good neighbor!

One thing I didn't cover in my indignant rant is the fact that the sale was rushed through the legislative process "recognizing an emergency." So what is the emergency? To complete the sale before any public hearing can be conducted and to make sure that no one can see the exact way the sale was completed? Notice in the article how little of the usual paper work surrounding the sale of a property is being made available. If too much time were to pass before the council approved this lovely little boondoggle, the intrusive and disinfecting rays of sunshine might be brought to bear on the process. There are games being played with the negotiations, the power of eminent domain to take something without proper compensations, the refusal to allow racing until another site is secured, and so forth. The power of government--is it being used in the interest of all the citizens, or just in the interest of a few to the detriment of the many?
The entire thing just reeks of the politics of privilege. Houses of the rich and connected were built long after the raceway was there. It's a bit like building near the airport and complaining about airplanes taking off. It has been promised to the rich and connected that the drag strip would be "taken care of." Now, when the city is pinched for funds on every front, it is going to buy land and try to make it a park. Just what happens when it costs more than they anticipated to make the land a park. Does that now open up the way to a private developer coming in to "save the day"? Could that be the ultimate goal? City acquires land, then discovers it can't afford to do anything with it; looks for "White Knight" to rescue them?
If it actually does become park land, can the city afford to maintain and police it? I am not sure if it is in East Patrol or South Patrol but either way, how many many minutes will it take for an officer to respond to a crime there? There are some pretty nasty sex businesses not far from there; some of that will no doubt move to the erstwhile park. I would not be surprised to see dumping of construction junk and other garbage become a big problem too.
Of course, those "with a need for speed" will find other outlets for their need. Some might go to Topeka. Some may not go that far...

As I said before, the swells might wake up in 5-10 years and discover that the race track was a pretty good neighbor after all.

Links:
I like this post from Tony; it contains images of ordinance fact sheets that contain no concrete facts. (Where have we seen that before--I see that former MAST person raising their hand!)

Here is the Kansas City Star article that got me going today. Read the comments (if they are still there; the Star has an annoying habit of making comments go away. I actually copied the comments onto my computer.)

A statement from one of the KCIR principles describing the rock-and-hard-place the business investors and owners found themselves in.

A nice story from KCTV done in September 2011 on KCIR and its racing series for the common man. The video is cool.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On Restoration

The Roman Catholic Church is rightly excoriated on a regular basis for not facing the issue of clergy who sexually abuse children. Instead of reporting such criminal behavior to the authorities promptly and without hesitation, they tend to try and take care of it "in house." Part of this is probably the desire to prevent bad things from leaking out and tainting the name of the church, but part of this is probably a product of the desire to create redemption--a desire that is dyed in the fabric of the Christian faith.

Christianity says that the sinful person can be forgiven, and further, becomes a different and better person. That is a fundamental part of the faith. There is also the recognition that even when a person is forgiven and becomes a Christian, there is still a possibility that that person will commit a sin or make a mistake. When that happens, the wayward believer needs to repeat the confession and turn away from the action that is wrong and has offended both the father God and his fellow human beings.

When such a person is in leadership or in a position of power, such as being a priest or pastor, what to do with them becomes an issue for the church. The desire is to restore the person fully to what they were before after they confess and deal with their sin, which includes a commitment to change their behavior. However, there must be a consideration for the seriousness of the actions and for safety of those around the leader.

The Roman Catholic Church has erred on the side of screening errant priests from the secular world's penalties for their actions, and trying to hide these priests by sticking them in less public settings or moving them around a lot. It looks more like cover-up than real concern for the priest's spiritual state or relationship with God. I am sure that if you asked the hierarchy what they were doing, they would say that they were looking to give the priest a new chance to return to his previous state in the spirit of the restorative nature of the Christian faith. To the world, it looks like deliberate ignorance and cover up, and rightly, the church looks bad in the eyes of the world.

I am a Christian. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of God to change people through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. However, the church--and I mean any Christian church no matter how convinced they are the only genuine church of Jesus Christ--must err on the side of transparency and accountability both for themselves and for the wayward leaders. No where is it portrayed that the church is to be perfect as it lives out the faith in the world. It is charged, however, to be different from the world. That means being different when there is sin in the ranks. The main way that the church can be visibly different than the world is by the way Christian treat both fellow Christians and those who do not believe. It is not an act of Christian love to ignore the obvious wrong doing and its resulting harm to others.

First, the care and well being of the victim must be first. Now, that does not mean that the church tolerates dysfunctional anger, lust for blood or vengeance by the victim. It does mean that the church treats the victim with respect, starts by believing the victim's story, and when needed makes amends to the victim when and if the story proves true. In dealing with the perpetrator, the church works transparently. Obedience to the civil authority of the law, such as obligatory reporting, turning in evidence, and making witnesses and suspects available to me is mandatory. It is not a matter of being mean or punishing the miscreant priest or pastor, it is a matter of holding them strictly accountable for their actions. They must be removed from any position that involves contact with the public, especially the victim population (kids, men, etc) right away. It does not fly in the face of the Christian ideal of restoration to be quick and decisive in action against sinning leaders. In fact, it may help such a person come to their senses by not cushioning them from the consequences of their actions. The hope would be that they would realize quickly the error of their ways and seek forgiveness and turn away from their sinful ways. That is the start of the path for healing for the sinful leader.

Once a priest or pastor or minister has committed to stopping their sinful action--they have made a commitment not to contact children or seduce women or dip their hands in the offering plate--what then should the church do with them? Should they be permitted back in the same ministerial environment in which they fell and did wrong before? If I was in charge, my answer would be "No" in most circumstances. Find another ministry, or vocation not in the church. Even then, the repentant leader's life must be like an open book, totally transparent and open to inspection at any time. The idea must be that we love you, and we accept you, but we care enough about you to demand that you do what you say that you will do, that is, you will stop hurting others.

All of this to be done with gentleness and love, but wisdom. Jesus advised his disciples to be as shrewd and wise as serpents but as gentle and harmless as doves. That advice is just as valid today as it was in Jesus's day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fall Back Tonight

Adjustment time for all, including cat meal time...

It seems as if the time change gets later and later now and we spend more month in Daylight Savings Time. I am getting sick of it being so dark in the morning. So even though it may mean some adjustment, I am happy to see the time change coming. It comes Sunday morning at 2 a.m., so don't forget to turn clocks back one hour before you go to bed. If you forget, you will be one hour early to everything tomorrow!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Babies, Critters, Racers and Stuff: Late Night Musings

So I have been a bit busy lately and have been neglecting the long form of late. If you follow me on Facebook you've been getting links of interest and small bits of commentary--I hope you enjoyed those.
I am working on some interesting stuff. Very soon I will have some excerpts from an interesting book titled "The Price of Civilization" by Jeffrey Sachs on the economy to post. With regard to the issues of the. Roman Catholic church I have some thoughts on the balance of Christian forgiveness, restoration and the stewardship and responsibility of keeping children safe in the church.
If you will notice there has been no real news that gets us any closer to finding Lisa Irwin. All we've had is more circus and more strange behavior from her parents along with more publicity seeking from lawyers and activists.
Animal issues have been in the news: a way has been made to give the new operators of the KCMO animal shelter funds to get started on improving conditions at the 30+ year old facility and give the strays of KC a better chance to live, and be healthy and have a chance at finding new owners. The zoo is news as voters--all five of you--will be deciding on a sales tax to support the attraction. I was considering voting yes on this--until I realized it did not sunset. A tax for a specific thing needs a closing date. As much as I think the zoo is a worthwhile thing for a city of our size to have, it may not be something we are destined to do very well--it has been a struggle all the 20+ years I've lived in the metro.
Finally, the city is trying--and appears to have succeeded in buying the Kansas City international Raceway. There is a lot of blow back on this however, and while I doubt the talk of conflict of interest, favoritism and spendthrift ways will stop the sale, it will be interesting to watch. Meantime, this weekend KCIR will be hosting races and timed runs on both Saturday and Sunday. When the strip closes, and especially if no new site for a drag strip is developed, expect more drag racing on Missouri 150 between highway 71 and State Line Road, and on 135th street west of Leawood.
What do you all think of OWS? They've lost support since the 20 somethings among them whined about college loans, more allegations of crime in the camps have come to light, and fire and other vandalism was committed in Oakland. OWS may try to make the incident involving an unfortunate driver in Oakland a "Kent State moment". Whether that "he said/they said" incident can carry that weight is yet to be seen. If you found yourself in that situation, through no fault of your own, what would you do when a mob started banging on the hood and windows of your car? Do you really think you can wait for some sort of rescue?
That is all for now. Over and out. 10-42. Priority 10. We're done.
Posted via Blogger for iPhone.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Baby Lisa Missing One Month


It will be 28 days later this night, Tuesday, November 1 at 4 a.m. that then 10 month old Lisa Irwin was reported missing from her crib by her father. Since then we have had searches of the house, woods, abandoned properties nearby, lakes and cisterns. We've had more lawyer drama then you can imagine, with lawyers from New York and Kansas City. A publicity seeking private investigator came, then went, then came back again.

Baby Lisa's parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin have frequently left investigators, press and public alike scratching their heads in puzzlement over their behavior. They have become very reclusive now, after embracing national press over local media. They have not been out every day, looking for their daughter. They have not made themselves especially available to the Kansas City Police Department. They did indeed retain counsel.

A multitude of people have come forward hoping to help in the case in lieu of the child's family being deeply involved. They range from the poor man from Colorado who lost his child in a similar case to families of victims who were killed after being abducted to so-called community crime activists and editorialists/bloggers. Some are honestly trying to help, others are seeking publicity or other benefits for themselves. An occasional opinionator has tried to make racial hay out of the sad situation: they may or may not have a good point and be saying something worth considering but their timing is horrible; no one wants to hear it while a baby is missing.

And yes, bottom line, a baby is still missing. Have you looked at a 10-11 month old lately? They can't do very much for themselves at all. It has come down to this: unless baby Lisa has been abducted by someone wanting a baby or is being concealed by her extended family somewhere, it is not likely she is alive. The family, especially mom Deborah, continue to do things that cast suspicion in their direction. Someone knows more then they are telling.

Where's baby Lisa?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Replay: C.S. Lewis

Way back in August 2009 I posted this excerpt from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity with regard to health care. I think it is time to post it again, this time while we are considering the Occupy-ers and all the issues surrounding our economy. What is the position of the conscientious Christian? Lewis gives us some food for thought here in this bit from the classic book.

The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department, Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament (Do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what everyone, at bottom, had always known to be right....

...The second thing to get clear is that Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political programme for applying 'Do as you would be done by; to a particular society at a particular moment...

....All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that here are to be no passengers or parasites: if a man does not work, he ought not to eat. Everyone is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no 'swank' or 'side', no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience--obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, form children to parents, and (I'm afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls 'busybodies.'
If there was such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense 'advanced', but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned...Each of us would like some bits of it, but I'm afraid very few of us would like the whole thing. That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself: You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: everyone is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest....

...Charity--giving to the poor--is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality...

And now, before I end, I am going to venture on a guess as to how this section has affected any who have read it. My guess is that there are some Leftist people among them who are very angry that it has not gone further in that direction, and some people of an opposite sort who are angry because they think it has gone much too far...

...A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat 'Do as you would be done by' till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward--driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Say It Isn't So!


I was reading the Kansas City police chief's blog today; there was a press release concerning the new dispatch center and all its nifty new features: upgraded consoles for calltakers and dispatchers, a new video system which allows dispatchers to see live feed through KC SCOUT Traffic Cameras, security cameras set up throughout the city, weather reports, news broadcasts and more so dispatchers can better support officers in the field. Then there was this note: "The 911 Call Center has been undergoing renovations for nearly a year. The upgrades have been to accommodate the new city-wide radio system, which is set to go live Nov. 9."

The federally mandated shift to the 700 megahertz range? The frequency spectrum that requires a $300 scanner to hear?

Say it ain't so!

If you are on Twitter, and have an interest in the workings of the police department, they are going to post all dispatches of officers on Twitter between 1100 and 1200 tomorrow, Thursday October 27. KCPD on Twitter: @kcpolice or www.twitter.com/kcpolice

Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby Lisa Still Missing

It will be three weeks missing come 0400 Tuesday October 25 for now 11 month old Lisa Irwin. There have been tips and searches, interviews, media appearances, police statements and video tapes during the past week. The parents of baby Lisa put in an appearance at a prayer vigil for the first time but otherwise have taken a much lower profile. The lawyers have taken the lead now although the distrust and distance from both local media and the KCPD has continued.
We don't know what KCPD is holding close to the vest in terms of evidence but nothing that has dribbled out is very compelling. A review of a search warrant application revealed that a dog trained to detect human remains had a hit in the house. There was an extensive search after that. Several people reported seeing a man walking in the neighborhood around the time of Lisa's disappearance and a man shows up in the background of a video tape of a nearby store.
If the parents are involved, they have done a good job covering their tracks. If they are the only ones involved it is likely Lisa has died. If they sold or gave the baby away, introducing another party, it is possible that Lisa is alive.
Is it possible we may never know what happened to Lisa? We don't know what all the PD has in terms of evidence and information but it seems to me that someone is going to have to crack for us to know for sure.

City Council Districts: Race Matters and Community Building

With the decision Thursday (pending the rubber stamp from the city council) to draw the new city council district lines as portrayed in the approved Map 1-R following the Voter's Rights Act of 1965 as it is interpreted (requiring 60% of a district to be a minority group) has assured us of a Balkanized city politic and the propagation of the politics of race. Now the temptation of leaders will be to enrich their race first-- including their own selves--and not put the city of Kansas City first.
A cornerstone of the civil rights movement, the voters rights act did good things. It struck down such discriminatory acts as poll taxes, literacy tests and voter intimidation. Somewhere, however, an idea was picked up that it was only possible that a minority voter could only be represented by someone who looked like that minority voter. Also, somehow, it came to be accepted that candidates of color could only win in districts engineered to have a supra-majority of voters of color.
To me this is a victim mentality that needs to be rejected--Blacks are not good enough to run for elected office without the head start of engineered and gerrymandered voting districts? If I were a person of color seeking elected office, I would take that as an insult and a challenge at this point in time. While prejudice and narrow thinking is certainly still present in the majority group, outright discrimination is becoming rarer and rarer. If anything is keeping the Black community down, it is failure to concentrate on the content of character over the color of skin.
Are Black people happy with the quality of their leadership? Are they satisfied with the old guard that sees the Black community as deficient, victimized and needing more, more, more--not to mention the power and financial benefits that these "leaders" accumulate for themselves--rather than seeing the Black community as strong, self sufficient and competent? What has that victim mentality meant for the moral fabric of the Black community?
Before the removal of that slice of the 6th district, the ethnic balance of the entire district was close to 50/50. All is not cookies and milk--the groups are not completely evenly distributed as the district reflects the same east-west divide as is present further north--but the communities were tied together enough to be able to work together. Hickman Mills schools are a good example: the merger of the high schools has been completed without complication and the school district will hit 13 of 14 requirements for full accreditation. This has been done with a lot of work by people of all backgrounds and races. Coalitions have been built from east to west and vice versa with regard to citizens associations for development and assistance. The identity of community was more important than the identity of race for the most part.
It will become more and difficult to govern this city--and this nation--if the politics of racial and ethnic identity become more and more prominent and dominate the exchange of ideas. How many Kansas Citys are there? Two? Three? The answer to that question should be that there is only one (1) Kansas City.

Blogger's note: I've been sitting with this post since Saturday considering whether or not to publish it. I asked questions: Was it naive to think that Blacks had a level playing field? Was it unfair to call out parts of the Black community for playing the victim so they could get goodies and power? Was it wrong to question the quality of leadership in the Black community? Were I to post this as a melanin deficient White person would I just earn scorn and the label of racist (which is the farthest from the truth)?
Well, Louie Diuguid's op-Ed on "The Help" that ended with a whiny group of paragraphs of how Blacks are victims coupled with TKC's post poopooing the neighborhood citizen concerns about redistricting and now I am ready to post this. Until we stop splitting ourselves up to a bunch of identity groups and start thinking more on the order of putting our various talents together for the greater good, we will struggle to solve the many problems that face us. We as humans will always be more comfortable with people like ourselves. If we are smart we realize however that we are not "better" or "worse" than any other group, just different, and that the best way to work together is to not major on differences but on human commonality. As we do this, we get to know one another, removing stereotypes and boogymen along the way. To me, the way it appears that this redistricting will be done is a step in the wrong direction; a step that will serve to further isolate Blacks, Whites and others from each other, generating fear and resentment and making it harder to solve problems and govern this city.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bloggus Interruptus

Hi folks. I hope you all are having a fab Saturday night. In SKC Observer news, the power adapter to The Observer's laptop has developed a fatal short. So blogging will be via iPhone and public computers until a replacement is secured. Like I said over on Facebook, treat your laptop power cord with great love and respect as they are expensive to replace.
I hope to continue to post regularly during this time, but posts may have a few more typos and not read as smooth. In addition, there will be fewer photos.
Thank you for your patience and for your readership.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't Play With Fire!

Folks, there have been quite a few fires lately--not just spectacular blazes in abandoned buildings but fires in occupied houses and apartments. Be safe out there. If you choose to smoke (I have no idea why but it's a mostly free country), take care to make sure your butts are out and your matches and lighters are out of reach of kids. Be careful cooking--don't leave the stovetop unattended. Watch overloading electrical outlets with lots of stuff. Don't put cords under carpets where they can fray.
You know all this stuff but we all get lax. We say oh, fIres are something that happen to the family down the road or on the other side of town. Be smart.
Finally, because accidents do happen, be sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working. The time change back to standard time is coming up and that is a perfect time to change the batteries in your detectors.

Links:
http://groucho-karl-marx.blogspot.com/2011/10/two-injured-in-kc-mo-2-alarm-apartment.html
http://www.kctv5.com/story/15784598/firefighters-on-both-sides-of-the-state-line-kept-busy

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Late Night Redistricting Ramblings...

I went to the Southern Communities Coalition meeting tonight. As you might expect, it was a meeting of folks who rejected the Map 1-R redistricting solutions; who saw the map that lopped of the top half of the 6th district west clear to Holmes and sent the north west border clear up to 59th street in spots. South KC residents saw both loss--to the 5th of commercial and civic resources--and threat--from the wishes of the richer and more highly connected Waldo/Brookside area. To many it felt as if the 6th was paying the price for the failings of the 5th and 3rd districts--the districts losing population to both other KCMO areas and other cities in the metro due to high crime and other quality of life issues.
You can't think about redistricting without ending up thinking about race matters and we did end up talking after more explicitly afterwards. I hope to share more later, and some photos taken at the meetings, as well as the "community map."
The citizen's committee meets tomorrow at 3:30 at City Hall to issue its decision. It would be nice for the committee to do the people of south KC the courtesy of passing on the "community map" on to the council as well as the so-called "done deal" map 1-R. We may still end up being sliced up pretty well but at least they will have heard us scream.

Posted using Blogger for iPhone.

Map proposed by a group of 6th district citizens. Other maps can be found in this earlier post.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

City Council Redistricting Public Hearing

City council districts in Kansas City must follow two guidelines: one, they must be about equal in population; in other words around one sixth of the total population of the city--in 2010, this is about 76,000 people. Two, they must not violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This seems to involve meeting a percentage of a minority population in the district, around 60%. If there are less than 60% of a minority group, they are denied "One man one vote" in the eyes of this 30 year old law.
The 6th district is not completely integrated--more people of color live on the east side than on the west side--but it is probably one of the most integrated areas of Kansas City. The background of the west is White and of the east is Black but there are contrasting dots liberally sprinkled throughout. The Voting Rights Act does violence to the 6th district, in combination with the depopulation of the 5th and 3rd. It means that people must be removed to the 5th district to fill it up enough to fit the city charter, and they have to be certain people to fit the federal act. Ironically it serves to turn the 6th district whiter, by filching population mainly from the east side.
I am bothered by this: Drawing the district lines following the rules will have the irony of increasing segregation, not lessening it. Each district becomes more and more of whatever--more Black, more White, and eventually, more hispanic. Is this progress?
A new map was produced by citizens from the 6th district--it may never see the light of day as it may not be "legal"--it still needed to be vetted by the city's legal department. Like map 5 it tries to lessen the damage done to the 6th district, and many of those speaking against map 1 asked that the other map(s) if legal be presented to the full City Council along with map 1.

There wasn't a whole lot of passion during this meeting. Much of the passion had been displayed at the October 10 meeting. One man stood and stated boldly that such manipulations of district lines would not be necessary if the 3rd and 5th were not losing population--due to crime. Get the crime under control, and people would find that they could live there. When one speaker accused the people who authored Map 5 of bringing an "illegal" map, tempers flared up a bit over that accusation. It was rather a dramatic moment when speaker Clinton Adams compared the state of the Bannister Mall area to that of the Blue Ridge Mall--saying 5th district representation can't do any worse than the current 6th district representation. Ouch--a sharp jab at John Sharp! Carol Coe may be old and busted, but she still has an amazing voice and the speaking gift. She tells the group that the sixth district is "not a protected voting rights community." Yet, as many of the speakers who supported Map 1, states "We are all one Kansas City."
It is precisely the fact that the 6th district is more integrated than most of Kansas City that causes it not to be protected by the Voting Rights Act. Isn't it ironic that a law designed to prevent exclusion and discrimination ends up isolating people from each other further. Perhaps it is time to look at some of the provisions of this law, and see if they still are valuable today.

You Agitating My Dots?

So I am getting ready to blog about redistricting (which is important, but dry as dust) in a little bit and I was looking again at the post I made about the ambulance and I focused on the remark about GPS tracking and my squirrelly little brain remembered this television commercial:



Cracks me up every time--"You agitatin' my dots?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Redistricting Meeting


The Observer is currently sitting at the Redistricting meeting. It actually has been reasonably mellow to this point but we are getting a few fireworks over the legality of a new map. Carol Coe was also worth a few quotes. There will be more later. The Observer is trying to grasp the actual practical statues of the Voting Rights Act which looms large in this room.