Saturday, July 30, 2011

EMS Mess Lands KCMO In Court Over Labor Laws

Hat tip to a friend for this one.

A member of the EMS bureau filed suit against the KCFD and the city with regard to violations of the labor laws regarding overtime.

To accommodate the fact that so many fire departments run 24 hour shifts, the labor laws have been modified with regard to firefighter overtime pay. The catch is that personnel must be fire suppression--"hose draggers" as the police so endearingly call them--as their primary job. This means that they are trained and, when applicable, certified as firefighters. When MAST people turned into KCFD, most of them were not certified FFs, nor did the majority have any interest in being FFs. Therefore they are covered by more conventional overtime rules--those work against 24 hour shifts as much OT will result from those shifts.

Read about the lawsuit from one of the many fire blogs, which files a much more detailed report than the Kansas City Star (h/t to same friend) and also note this link, which will take you to a pdf about a similar mess Johnson County Med-Act found themselves in not too long ago. Of course, Tony's Kansas City was on top of it late this morning. His comment section reveals the nuances of the case.

Just another example of how this MAST/KCFD thing turned into the clusterf*ck we thought it would...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Night and Still No Progress on Debt Ceiling

The debt ceiling action is just getting stupid at this point. It seems as if political reasons are driving most pols positions. Instead of thinking about the country's best interest, the politicians are trying to position themselves in ways that give them power advantages and will not hurt their reelection chances. Conversely, some representatives and senators, mainly Republican, are finding themselves being threatened with opposition from within their parties. Democrats seem to be trying to position the situation so that it is all dealt with and quiet in and around the 2012 election. Meantime, the stock market, which had been one of the steadier bits of our wobbly economy has been going down and all economic benchmarks are worse, if for no other reason that no one wants to do anything while the Congress effs around with the budget and debt ceiling.
I can also tell you that as a person who enjoys following current events and likes listening to news oriented talk radio that I am plum sick of this particular topic. It seems to suck all the air out of the room. Furthermore, until this is settled, we cannot say anything intelligent about any measures we might take to help our economy.
Time is short. August 2 is this coming Tuesday, a mere 3+ days away. Get to work you bums.

Meantime, the nice blob of rain on the radar west of KC looks to have fallen apart--no rain for you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Hot Is It?

A pet-centric guide to the temperature--from Patrick McDonnell's Mutts characters Earl (the dog) and Mooch (the cat). There are many books of Mutts cartoons--here's a link to Amazon and the "Best of..."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two Speeches in Wordles

Wordle is a website application that will turn text into word clouds for you. All you have to do is supply the text--the site will assemble it in a cloud that reflects the frequency of the words in the text. Just for grins and giggles I decided to put President Barack Obama and House Leader John Boehner's respective speeches last night on raising the debt ceiling. President Obama spoke first, followed by/rebutted by Rep. Boehner.

Remember, the SIZE of the word reflects how often the word was uttered by the respective speakers. If you want to read the speeches, each man's full name above has a link to the text of the speech. Remember, click on the image to see it bigger.

I find it interesting that where President Obama makes many references to "Americans," Speaker Boehner makes many references to the president. The president seems to be taking a case to the people, trying to engage them, where the speaker seems to be wanting to engage the president. Both men talk policy, but differently. Clearly the president wants the American people to take his side. Boehner is trying to portray the president and his decisions to the listening American voter.

I am not sure where I stand on this complex issue other than knowing this: We cannot continue to spend more than we take in. What it will take to raise our revenue and how much and where to reduce our spending I am not sure about. Many say that smaller tax bills and less government will free our economy to grow, thus generating more tax revenue and helping to cut the deficit. Others feel that the tax rates need to go up for those who have more income. That is the only way for revenue to go up. In addition, aid to those in entitlement programs cannot be reduced too quickly. All this talk has become tied to the debt ceiling being raised, which, as President Obama rightly pointed out, has never been an issue before.

There are four issues floating around here. 1. Whether or not to raise the debt ceiling on or before August 2, so that the country can borrow more money. 2. Trying to reduce the amount of new borrowing the government does currently to run. 3. Reducing the built up debts from the past. 4. Making economic policy decisions that will help the U.S. economy start growing again. They've all gotten attached to each other in this contentious debate. A debate that has made much sound and fury, but not very many good solid decisions or answers.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Emotionally Tied Together?

I have an interest in ADD/ADHD (maybe I have it, no?) and so I like to read stuff about ADD/ADHD when I see it, so when I see this article--linked here--on msnbc, of course I read it. It's about how the moods of parents of ADHD kids go up and down with the kids' behavior.

Are parents really that tied to their kids? Really? See, I'm not a parent, so maybe I don't understand and I never will as long as I don't have kids, but really, parents distressed by kids' behavior to a degree that causes mental health issues?

Maybe it is time for some parents to realize that their children are separate and different from themselves, that they are going to make decisions independent of the parent, and some of those decisions are going to be disagreeable to the parent (against their wishes), some are going to go against the values of the parents, and some of the kiddo's decisions are just going to suck. While parenting does definitely have some influence on kids and their behavior, as you can see reflected in the arguments in the comment section of the article, children are separate and different beings than their parents. They are going to make their own choices in how they behave, and those choices are not always going to be correct or good. It looks to me like many parents have tied their own self regard to the actions and choices of their children to a degree that seems unhealthy.

It's a paradox to me: we have a lot of really selfish self centered "world revolves around me" people running around out there, who seem to have not received much training, discipline or guidance at home from their parents, yet many parents are tied at the hip emotionally to their kids. It just seems odd in light of how young people behave and think these days.

I suppose my own parents had an emotional tie as described in this article, but I don't remember anyone talking about it, either to me, to each other or in the media. Maybe that's my dysfunctional bunch, but I think times were different too. I am not sure the change is for the better!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Guest Post: 'Power & Light' Accused of Racist Payment Policy

Here is Wayne Hodges of Mass Appeal News on the Power and Light payment kerfuffle. I really like hearing his point of view as a Black man who is bilingual--living both in the Black community and the community at large.

KANSAS CITY, Mo - To quote embattled singer Britney Spears: "Oops, Kansas City's 'Power and Light District' has done it again."

The commercial entertainment cluster known for booting DJ Jazzy Jeff off stage and establishing dress codes many believe are discriminatory has once again infuriated the masses by starting a new policy that requires customers to pay a $10 cover charge just to enter the common area located between the restaurants and bars.

And get this: They're not accepting cash. You must have either a credit or debit card. No exceptions.

“I think it's very discriminative because some people just don't have credit cards. They should be able to pay with cash and should be able to sit down and have a good meal without having to pay a cover charge to get in,” said Gerry Hinshaw, a regular customer.

“I don't like it at all. It should just be open for the public. They shouldn't charge. It's not right.”

The new rule takes effect only on Friday nights after midnight and Saturday nights after 11:00 p.m. Many blacks are already labeling the move racist. While others are simply miffed over the entrance fee.

“I think you are going to lose business,” said Korey Hollinshead, also a regular customer. “You know, I used to come down here all the time and, you know, you can just walk in the lobby area and it would be free. But now, with the cover charge, I don't agree with it.

“Everybody should have a card but everybody doesn't. So, say if your account is low, I am going to come with my card and I can't get in. I have cash in my pocket but you are not going to take it?”

Power and Light officials said the method of payment change was implemented strictly as a business move to generate more traffic so people will spend more money.

As for the refusal to accept cash?

Officials cited safety concerns in claiming it's very dangerous for customers to have large amounts of cash inside the common area.


Given the fact a sizeable segment of the African-American community lacks credit and/or debit cards, should the payment plan be construed as racism?

Maybe. But it's also a great business move.

Allow me to expound.

By accepting credit and debit cards during the peak hours of the weekend, the district will rid itself of massive thug activity while increasing the participation of law-abiding, working class patrons.

Yes, I said "thugs."

And this is clearly a ploy against them.

Let's not kid ourselves. Hoodlums are every nightclub's kryptonite. And the property owners have flat had enough.

The Cordish Management Company, responsible for the daily operations of the 'Power and Light District,' is on to something. And the method, in my humble opinion, should be adopted by every black nightlife establishment across the USA.

See, credit and debit cards are good for more than just payment. They're also quite helpful in tracking down the account holder's information and rendering violators financially responsible for any damages that may occur.

Most hotels are strictly credit card only for these reasons. Yet, I haven't heard one discrimination claim in protest. If you mess up a hotel room, the management team has the authority to charge your credit card for incidentals.

It's genius. And black business owners should consider doing the same.


Most African-Americans I talk to lament the lack of peaceful nightclubs within the urban community. They say when a decent, successful enterprise finally arises, a roughneck will conveniently show up, raise complete hell and shut the joint down.

Pardon my candidness, but thugs have put more blacks out of business than the IRS.

And the 'Power and Light District' is doing its very best to avoid becoming the next Westport.

Kansas City's Country Club Plaza is fighting the same war. If the infamous 'Flash Mob' raids weren't enough, merchants had to combat a slew of five-finger-discounts tied to urban youth eating meals and running out the front door before the bill was paid.

Legally, the district's payment plan would be an open and shut case. Credit and debit cards are fairly easy to acquire; regardless your financial status or skin pigmentation.

Besides, there are far too many loopholes in paying cash. By forcing a thug to hand over his picture ID and credit card, the business owner has effectively stripped him of his anonymity while taking his money at the same time.

If the thug feels offended and leaves, the owner loses nothing and gains a peace of mind.

Like I said, it's a great business move. Black property owners should consider jumping on board.

After all, thugs and accountability don't mix.

Wayne Hodges, an MBA from St. Mary University, is the Editor-in-Chief of “Mass Appeal News.” He also serves as a contributing writer to, he’s a Democrat reporter for the Examiner, and he’s a film critic with Wayne welcomes your comments 24/7 at

Friday, July 22, 2011

Power and Light: Taking Plastic Only

Well, hello.

The latest kerfuffle about the Power and Light district in downtown KCMO is gaining more publicity and momentum, with appearances by Tony Botello on TV news, and getting local talk radio coverage on KMBZ yesterday and today. It all started with a tip to Tony that people were being charged a $10 cover in the late night (after 10/11 p.m.) to enter into the "Live area" and that that cover was only payable with a credit or debit card--that cash would not be accepted. For many, including Tony, this became an issue that involved race, saying that many Black people, especially young Black male adults don't carry any plastic and only do business in cash.

On the surface this looks like a very simple issue: A business can choose to do business however it wants, and accept what it wants. By making simple decisions about how a business will be run, a business can tailor its clientele as well. This is all part of doing business and it's done every day, from deciding to serve alcohol to allowing smoking (if permitted by law) to what kind of food you'll serve and how much you will charge or whether or not you'll have a TV in your establishment... The problem comes in that the P & L has been subsidized by taxpayers and continues to be supported by them, first to the tune of $30 million and continuing to need millions each year, not yet being self supporting. So that fact, that tax payers all over Kansas City have contributed to the P & L district, complicates a lot of thinking here.

Before I proceed a disclaimer: I do not do the bar scene. Therefore, by default, I seldom go to "entertainment districts." I don't go places to drink. I go places to do stuff and/or to have a meal--my social life involves food, events and fellowship. A boycott doesn't affect me--unless there's an event, I'm not downtown.

Here are the issues: 1. The payment itself--is it OK or is it discriminatory? 2. The form required for the payment--just credit or debit card--is it OK or is it discriminatory? 3. Does the fact that Cordish, the management company that the city engaged to help develop, recruit businesses, and generally run the place has not freed itself from the need of continuing tax subsidies change any of the answers to #1 or #2? 4. Does the fact that the city make a big initial outlay of tax money in payments, abatements, and used eminent domain to gain much of the property for the district influence the answers to #1 and #2?

It's tough to argue the tax issue thing because the contract was written to allow Cordish to restrict access to the "Live district" even though ostensibly it is a public sidewalk. The city agreed to this--it's beginning to look like a bad bit of judgment on the city's part to have done that, especially in light of this cover charge just to enter the area. One good question that was asked during Shanin and Parks and never really answered was "Why is there a cover after 10/11 p.m. when entry is free before that?" Hearing an answer to that question, even it is layered in BS might open a window to the motivation that stands behind it.

As a part of EMS, I can tell you that very little that is good happens after midnight. Needs for security, police and EMS service jump after midnight and don't subside until everyone is passed out, asleep or gone. Some of that fee goes to support those services I would bet. Here's the question though: Is that fee designed to keep a certain type of people out, that in the eyes of Cordish, would create even more bad happenings? Is that something that a private corporation can do as part of their freedom to do business in the manner they choose? Can they do that with all the support they've received from the tax dollars of all Kansas Citians?

That's the nut of it, isn't it? That's why the posts from Tony have generated, for all of them, at least 400 comments and why the issue has been picked up by MSM. This is not as easy as it looks, either way, whether you want to stand up for Cordish, take a position about safety, or call it race and/or class discrimination.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1000 Words

Why does that just look hot? I mean, I know it is hot out, but seeing the triple digit temperature, well, now that means it is officially hot.

Might be this way pretty much until the end of the month.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Flurry of News Commentary...

Well it's been a long and interesting week in the national political scene hasn't it? Locally it's been interesting too. Going to hit some news items with some quick commentary--a flurry of punches like Ali in his prime...

Bernard Jackson--guilty of all counts. The only way this dude was getting off was if the defense could punch some "reasonable doubt" into the DNA evidence, since they had strong matches to the samples. That meant they had to get technical about collection, storage and chain of custody. The mere fact that the trial was so short tells me that either, 1) they had nuthin' nay bupkis in the way of testimony on the DNA evidence, or 2) the judge limited what they could do. The jury chose to go with the DNA and a rapist is convicted. To jail for a LONG time with this guy. Next is to put one Jeffrey Moreland behind bars for murder and rape. Another case with DNA evidence and a brave sexual assault survivor. I doubt Alonzo will shill for his case...

Buried in President Obama's statement about checks being in peril was the shear number of checks that the Feds issue to people. Part of it is demographics, as we are getting older as a country, but the shock was considering that out of the 300 million people in the U.S., 70 million of them got a check from the Feds. That is about 23% of the population. That doesn't include state programs that write checks, nor does it include programs administered by the state that have federal funding. I am concerned that so many in our country seem to be on this federal dole. Generally speaking, any production that comes from this benefit money is offset by the cost to the government of administering the programs that cut the checks. Here is a link to the CBS story and to this excellent comment made on HuffPost that popped up when I googled "70 million checks." Has the American character changed from one of self sufficiency to one of dependency?

Finally there was this item about the life span of Black men in prison as compared to those who are not imprisoned. This one made me think a lot, it did. As a health care provider, I have long been intrigued by studies that indicated that Black people did not receive the same care as White people. There are a lot of factors involved--some biological/physiological, some sociological--in both situations. It has some scary implications about the choices some Black folks are making about the way they live--that when they are free to chose, they make bad choices. Some would argue that even if they are out of prison they are not free--they are limited by the heavy influence of the slave past and the White prejudice of the majority. In addition, that Black poverty and stigma means they get "worse" health care. It's a really intriguing topic that might get a longer treatment at some time. It would be interesting to shake out the economic strata of the prisoners independent of race and see how it goes. In my opinion and observation, the poorer classes and those dependent on handouts seem to make poor personal health choices on a regular basis. Go to a state where most of the population is White and run the study based on economic status and whether or not a "welfare" check is, that would make an interesting study.

That's all folks--wait, not quite. Check out this video...

How funny is that! Thanks everyone for reading and commenting and have a great evening!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Federal Economic Xs and Ys

I hate this "debt ceiling" debate that is going on right now. It's being conducted at such a high pitch that I cannot imagine that anyone can think straight. It's getting emotional and very partisan. Let's get simple--I'm a simple person--I like simple.

The government takes in X amount of revenue every, oh let's say every quarter--tax revenue, fees, interest from investments, sales of real estate, sales of other goods etc. etc.

The government spends Y number of dollars every quarter: Paychecks to employees and the military, maintenance of buildings, office costs, Medicare payments to health care providers, grants to states, etc. etc. etc.

How far apart are X and Y every quarter?

What can we do to make Y smaller? Can we make Y smaller without losing the essential functions (now, there's a question for another day--what are the "essential functions" of the Federal government?) of the Federal government and without causing the creation of yet another group of unemployed people?

Is there anything that we can do to make X bigger that will not create a disincentive for citizens to increase their personal income?

Until we stop running at a loss on a quarterly basis, we will never be able to really fix this--we'll have to keep increasing our "credit limit."

Y needs to be smaller and X needs to be bigger. Let's start there.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Story and A Question

Here's a story. First, I am going to tell the story. As I am "live blogging," if I like it, we'll proceed. If not, it will pass on into cyber history. A story then:

I am driving down a residential street, a street in the development in which I live. It is night, and funny, it is dark. People like to walk in our neighborhood--it's been pretty safe. Some people do not walk with proper walking safety however--walk on the wrong side (always walk facing traffic if there is no sidewalk), walk in dark clothing without reflective gear or lights at night, walk in the middle of the street, walk with earphone music blaring, etc. As a driver you get used to this idiocy--speed limit's 25 here any way--and you can generally avoid hitting the dumb, ignorant and inconsiderate.

This time there are four people. They are somewhere between 16 and 24--male, and Black. Shirtless and wearing baggy shorts, they are hard to see in the dark. They are wandering around the middle of the street, walking backwards and talking to each other. There is three lanes of wide in this street, with a parked car here or there. In addition, there is a side walk in good condition. I used to drive in the inner city, and I learned that you didn't slow down for this behavior. I stated my philosophy out loud as I drove by: "Boys, I get some space too, and if you don't give it to me, I am gonna take it."

After I passed them by, I could hear them yell something at me as I passed by. I don't know if they just felt like harassing me or they didn't like how I drove around them. I feel no shame in how I drove. Legally, I have no obligation to stop for pedestrians who are NOT in a marked cross walk. I can, if I like, yield to a pedestrian at any time, but I choose not to yield to those who are just wandering around in the street. Of course, I am not going to deliberately hit anyone and I will drive defensively and carefully around all pedestrians--the goal is to get home with everyone and everything in one piece--including stupid dipwads in the streets.

As I continued my drive, I thought about how much I disliked their rude and inconsiderate behavior, and how much that kind of behavior seems to have taken over the world. I thought about how much I would like to rid my neighborhood of that behavior and keep it out, before it took over and became the rule rather than the exception--degrading everyone's quality of life. I thought how important it was for us to stand up for the quality of life in our neighborhood--to keep it a good safe place to live.

Here's the question: Am I racist?

(Publish and perish? Let the flame wars begin. Warning: I will moderate after the fact for comments that go beyond.)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Guest Post: Time to Rethink our Fire Departments

This is from Jack Cashill, who is frequently accused of wearing a tin foil hat on many occasions but here provides important food for thought with regard to the fire service. He is executive editor of Ingram's magazine. Link here for more, including an interesting article on Joplin this month.

Every time I drive down Lee Boulevard and see the much-too-pretty fire trucks of the Leawood Fire Department, I think to myself, "Maybe it is time to re-imagine the art and politics of firefighting." Leawood has a fire station for every 10,000 of its affluent residents. The two stations on Mission Road are just 20 blocks apart—2½ miles. Each station is manned around the clock by a professional battalion of firefighters headed by a shift commander. If they need backup, those commanders can call upon a fire chief, deputy fire chief, training chief, fire marshal, and fire-prevention specialist. I don’t doubt the skills and good intention of all involved, but I question why otherwise modern Leawood employs a centuries-old fire model created for densely-packed cities chock-a-block with four-story, wood-frame walk-ups.
In Leawood, no two houses touch. Hell, in some parts of town, people drive to visit their next-door neighbors. Not a single resident has been killed or injured by fire in the past four years (excluding unreported bong mishaps), and it could be longer still. Four years is as far back as the public records go. That much said, last year, the city spent nearly 10 times as much on fire protection($6.3 million, roughly $800 for a family of four) as it suffered in fire losses ($686,000). To be sure, the department does more than fight fires. It also responds to explosions, building collapses, trench rescues, and, according to its Web site, “incidents involving domestic terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).” Enough said?
I don’t mean to pick on Leawood. It is a good-looking, well-managed city with a savvy mayor, and I would hope to live there when I grow up. But like every other city in the metropolis, it accepts a 19th-century firefighting model as a given. Kansas City, Mo., whose firefighters often do fight real fires, is no more imaginative. The other day, as I was leaving my office on Westport Road, I was drawn to the corner of Broadway and Westport by the wail of fire trucks. Two had already arrived. Two more were on the way. Two police cars, an ambulance, and two tow trucks beat the last two fire trucks to the corner to deal with what turned out to be a two-car collision that ruined the day for a few people, but not likely their lives. What’s wrong with this picture?
Most obviously, we cannot afford it. Our cities, our states, and our nation are pretty much broke. That happens when even Republican pols spend like drunken Democrats. Then too, this kind of emergency excess can cause more problems than it solves. Racing to a minor fire in a 25-ton truck is as dangerous as racing to a major one and may be more dangerous than the fire itself.
In May of this year, two Platte County fire trucks collided on the way to a house fire, sending the chief to the hospital on an air ambulance and injuring four others. In February, a Kansas City fireman lost his leg when he ditched his truck to avoid colliding with a wayward car. Two years ago, a Kansas City fire truck struck and killed a seven year-old boy.
Those who don’t care about other people’s money or other people’s lives, please note that polar bears suffer, too. The next time you see these critters shvitzing on a dwindling iceberg, remember that fire trucks only get about 3 or 4 miles to the gallon.There are more problems still. Today, a flood of applicants overwhelms every city with a firefighter opening, usually by a factor of 50 or more, even in a good economy. In Kansas City, probies start at $30,000 per year, about the norm, which suggests that the applicants know more about the benefits than the taxpayers do.
I have spent enough time in firehouses to know that the most desirable benefit is time. In many cities, a firefighter works three or four 24-hour shifts in a given two-week period. “The guys seem to love it because every day is like a Friday,” writes one fireman on a relevant blog. Having 10 or so days off every fourteen, most of my firemen friends do not have jobs on the side. They have businesses. If they are routinely fighting major fires, it is hard to begrudge them their perks, but if they are not, I do.
Those actually fighting fires should be strong, fit, and smart. The “strong and fit” part is obvious. As Jim Flynn and Kevin Dwyer reveal in their book, 102 Minutes, the only New York firefighters who provided real value on Sept. 11 a decade ago were those able to climb 40, 60, maybe 80 flights of stairs wearing 30 to 40 pounds of gear and carrying firefighting tools nearly as heavy. This required the strength and stamina of a Navy Seal or an NFL linebacker. Although no one can question the valor of the fireman who entered the buildings, few had the requisite conditioning to do much good. Ironically, in the wake of 9/11, we have come to demand more of our buildings but less of our firefighters. To accommodate female applicants, our courts have all but outlawed serious physical testing.
The “smart” part is obvious too, at least to those who have had to tackle a chemical fire or a burning oil refinery. These firefighters damn well better know what they are doing before they get anywhere near such a fire, especially if they are leading others in. But for fear of “disparate” ethnic outcomes, the courts have declared testing for smarts even more taboo than testing for strength. The Kansas City Chiefs employ the precise number of people needed to accomplish the task at hand for each position. Indeed, they get punished for having too many guys on the roster and penalized for putting too many on the field. And yes, they are all “guys.” The Chiefs test relentlessly to hire the best people and don’t give a hoot about the obvious race and gender disparities that result from the testing. On every count, Kansas City area fire departments do very nearly the opposite, often under duress from unions, politicians, busybodies, and courts. This makes no sense. Sparkling fire trucks or no, the humblest Leawood firefighter provides a more essential service than the proudest of the Chiefs.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Police Chief Hearings: Disappointed

I was dismayed and disappointed to hear (I have conflicts on Wednesday and Thursday evenings that keep me from going in person so the quotes are from the KC Star), that so many people spoke against looking outside the Kansas City Police Department for its new chief. Someone who knew all the processes, and had deep roots in the neighborhood, who could hit the ground running without a long learning curve.


I want a new police chief who knows how to run a law enforcement organization, who isn't afraid of the politically connected, and who cares not what color law breakers are, but only that they have broken the law and will be dealt with accordingly!

It cannot be underestimated that the above, which comes from Black ministers and community leaders, could also be seen as "The police chief must be Black." As I have blogged before, I don't care what color the chief is. As far as I am concerned, the police chief is BLUE, the color of the rule of order around here.

I am severely disappointed in so-called community leaders stuck in victimology and quotas who seem incapable of realizing that what we have and are doing now is not working. Our city has a way high homicide rate, a growing national rep for not being safe, and a citizenry for whom safety and crime are becoming issue 1A--only the economy and jobs beating it out. Thinking inside the old and busted box of what we're doing now is not going to cut it. It's time for new blood.

Think outside the department for the new police chief.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dodging Trouble...

In order to fill the coffers with plenty of material for the nostalgia blog, I am always looking at older printed material. Well, I was looking at a Motor Trend magazine from 1988, and came across this story from the editor. It's a fun story, and car people and racing fans will get it right away. Call it a brush against fame, if you will.

In our younger days, we were known to occasionally test a vehicle on the public highway. Not during the rush hour, mind you, but late at night as not to disturb anyone's sleep, especially not to attract the undue attention of the El Segundo Police Department. El Segundo, you see, had an excellent test facility. They preferred to call it Imperial Highway; we call it "the road," and it runs parallel to runway 24L at LAX, not 100 yards from the screaming jets we assumed were there to mask the sound of open exhaust, spinning tires, and the throaty growl of two giant 4-bbl Holley carburetors held wide open by a 17-year-old foot.
It was a midnight blue, lightweight '63 Dodge with a 426 Wedge; it wasn't a Hemi, but it was plenty quick--a much faster car than any of us kids were capable of driving effectively. The front tires were skinny, mounted on 4-in.-wide chrome rims; we jacked up the front end by tweaking the front torsion bars. The angle of the wheels looked funny, but we didn't know what camber was, much less understand its relationship to handling. All we knew was we wanted the front end jacked up and the rear wheels fitted with Inglewood slicks--the tires with the little checkered flags embossed into the rubber where the tread should have been. They probably didn't provide much more real traction than stock tires of the day, but the look was right. One thing about driving on the street on slicks: Don't try a steep driveway on a foggy day or before the dew has been burned away by the sun.
Early one morning while running a test of this vehicle, we noticed a small, blue sports car pull along side. It had open exhaust and sounded quite healthy. Our assessment was that it was an Austin-Healey fitted with a Chevy V-8, a popular conversion in 1963. They were reasonably fast, but our Dodge was capable of 112 mph in a quarter mile--this home-built Healey with two guys in it didn't have a chance.
In the interest of science, we performed an acceleration test that night. We lined up facing west into the wind and prepared for our little experiment. we noticed the little blue sports car revved quickly (a light flywheel, perhaps?) and it really didn't have that distinctive small-block Chevy sound. "You know, that thing doesn't look like an Austin-Healey," said Neil. "The fenders are real wide, and those tires look like slick road-racing tires."
That little blue car smoked us off the line and kept the lead as we punched the shifter buttons through the gears. The 4:56:1 final-drive ration and pushrod V-8 limitations stopped us at 112 mph, but the little blue sports car just kept accelerating away from us. "What was that little car?" We rationalized that it must have been a prototype or something and let the defeat slip from our minds.
Nearly two decades later, a former Shelby employee told me a story about the late Ken Miles. "One night, we were working late on the new Cobra, and Ken asked me if I wanted to take a spin in the prototype. I jumped in, and we headed down Imperial, when we came upon some kids in a blue Dodge and decided to have some fun with'em."
I never said a thing.

Article by Mike Anson, in the Oct 1988 edition of Motor Trend, from which this illustration is also taken.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Feels Like Monday...

So how is everyone doing today? Still a little tired from the weekend's activities? Already sick of heavy humidity?

What does everyone think of the Casey Anthony verdict? I didn't follow the trial closely but I really could think of lots of reasonable doubt, based on the bits I did see and read. Perhaps the prosecution over reached? If I was that prosecutor, I would be considering my next career, because reelection is not going to happen.

Why did this trial get a lot of media attention? It is not as if murder is not something that frequently happens in the United States, nay, in the state of Florida and unfortunately, it is not uncommon that small children meet death due to some sort of accident or trauma. Witness the crash Monday morning or the recent drownings of kids in the KC area. It was just the right combination, it seemed of an attractive but unpleasant defendant, a cute victim, all just the right age and racial composition. Does the trial get this much attention if everything is the same, but defendant and victim are Black? If the defendant is physically unattractive? My guess is no. The general public, and by extension, the media, can be incredibly shallow at times.

The final number of shootings in KC seems to be 10, with no reported fatalities as yet. It wasn't quite as hot as the initial forecast--in fact the weather was down right pleasant at times. (Not today, as it is filthy humid out there right now.) A few fire works related injuries and fires, but nothing too harsh. The man in North KC who blew his hand off was another one of these nut jobs that was messing around trying to make a bigger bang. If you stick with the consumer fireworks, you can still have a lot of fun and with a few sensible precautions, be pretty safe.

The Royals have completely shown their true colors and truly are bad this year. They just don't have the talent, and talent wins ball games. Oh, some good bits are there--defense is way better than last year, the middle relief pitching has been good, and the hitting has been better. However (related to "but"--- you know, there just had to be a "but" if they are on a pace to lose 90+ games again.), the starting pitching is by and large horrible, the hitting is inconsistent, and mistakes are being made. Still, I think the team is more fun to follow than in previous years, and there is room, however small, for a pinch of optimism.

That's it from this front porch tonight--we had too much fun blowing stuff up last night and we're a little tired. And the cat is a little jumpy--my youngest, it's her first Forth of July, and she was a little wound up last night at the end of the festivities. Startled easily would be an understatement.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

We certainly are not perfect, and there are a lot of problems right now, but I still think this country has a lot of good things going on. We need to look to our history to encourage us; I don't think we're done yet. We need to encourage people to elevate their ways of thinking and living, to get past what they don't have to what they could have, to see the possibilities before them. We need to remove barriers that prevent people from fulfilling their potential, whether that is excessive government regulation, corporate dishonesty and greed or social barriers like racism--they need to come down for our society to refresh and renew itself.

In short, this isn't a bad place to be born in and live, and I am thankful.

Happy Independence Day everyone--have fun, be safe and give thanks.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is That Blonde Hair Under Those Hats?

Have to share this. Hat tip to JOCO SOB--how the heck did he find this?

It's videos like this one that created the need for ROFLMAO!

Well, Extra Safe Right Then...

At the McDonald's at Red Bridge and Hickman Mills June 24( a week ago yesterday), a convergence of ambulance crews. Response times have improved, as we noted before, but one wonders what folding and spindling is occurring to get it done? Some of my sources have been telling me about some odd positioning of ambulance units...