Friday, August 28, 2009

If you'd just stop doing THAT, LJ's attitude would be fine

"Larry Johnson says better supporting cast improves his attitude." That's the headline in the Star. And it's a great headline, because it alerts the reader that, in important ways, absolutely everything that is about to come out of Larry's mouth is wrong.

LJ has an attitude problem. He's had it since the day he showed up, 6 years ago. He had one under Dick Vermeil and a 13-3 season. He had one under Herm Edwards, winning and losing seasons both. He had one when his fellow players were more experienced winners than him, and when they were not. We know he can contain the attitude, if things are done his way. At least until you give him a new contract. And this is where he seems to be today. Everyone else is doing things differently and that has improved his attitude, according to him.

But that's not how attitude problems work. When you've got an attitude problem, you're processing the world through a framework that serves some narrow set of emotional goals. An attitude problem causes you to misinterpret the actions and motives of others. An attitude problem causes you to miss or reject opportunities for constructive engagement that could result in outcomes you claim to want. The symptoms of an attitude problem will fade away if the world just happens to align in a way that satisfies your emotional goals, but the problem hasn't gone away. And those alignments don't last long. Which is why LJ's explanation of the (external) things that have changed his attitude is really just a list of things Larry will blame, other than himself, when life doesn't proceed as he wants it to.

An attitude problem, as I know from personal experience, is the kind of thing that can only be fixed from the inside. Fixing it is neither easy or fun. And just because you have an attitude problem doesn't mean you're not in a bad situation, or that no one else is responsible for fixing problems in the situation. But the bottom line is that your attitude is creating more problems for you than the situation warrants, and only you have the power to fix that.

Sadly, I'm not sure LJ will realize any of this before his NFL career is done. His remarks about his teammates were pretty dismissive (guys off the street who are ok with losing). But they also displayed a very short-term memory. This will be his 7th season with the Chiefs. He's been around plenty of veteran players. Most grating, ok, back to 2nd person -- Larry, you played with Tony Gonzalez! How much more role-modeling do you need to maintain an attitude of professionalism and ambition on a crappy rebuilding team?

The easy prediction is that nothing will come of Larry Johnson's alleged attitude change. For the sake of the fans, I hope I'm wrong. For LJ's sake, well, he spends enough time worrying about that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hardwood floors or death!

TKC and our local NBC are trying to stir up some trouble over the redecoration of the Mayor's office. I hadn't heard that the office suffered damage from a water leak back in May until Tony reported on rumors of a $10,000 rug. I find it dishonest to present the rehab as a $70,000 (!!!) project. Surely, even claims adjusters distinguish between the cost of repair to the physical structure ($40,000) and the cost of repairing/ replacing the furnishings ($30,000). Maybe that 40k number is outrageous, but Russ Ptacek hasn't given me any reason (cheaper estimates, analysis of the damage and necessary repairs, etc.) to believe so. As for the furnishings... people, please.

Both Tony and Russ ran with the "Smart with Money" pledge and the disappointment people had that, well, I don't know, that the Mayor didn't decorate his office with a fricking card table and art prints he picked up at garage sales? While I can logically understand why people who voted for a guy because he ran his campaign out of a trailer are scandalized that he's displayed more respect for optics in his position, I can't support the values at play. There's a long list of things I won't support as being necessary to maintain the image of a world class city, but a tastefully decorated mayor's office is not one of them.

$8000 is not unreasonable for a quality persian rug. It's an antique because it's built to last. People freaking out about the money spent to install hardwood floors are even dumber. Have you no idea how much of the Kansas City tax base depends on people who value quality hardwood floors? (Don't even get me started on crown molding). We don't have good schools. We have questionable infrastructure. What we do have is a wide and beautiful selection of classic and solidly built housing stock that depends on things like hardwood floors for its charms. The absolute very least we can do to represent this city with dignity is to have hardwood floors in the Mayor's office.

If this were a project undertaken on the whimsy of the Mayor's need to redecorate, I could better understand the criticism. But it's been presented as a rehab project following a water leak that trashed the joint. If Russ Ptacek has evidence that the water leak was a pretense, I'll be happy to consider it. But in the absence of that, as far as I can tell, the office was refurnished in an appropriately tasteful fashion. I might have a slight quibble about the color and endurance of the sofa and chairs, but that would require more information.

Again, this redecoration isn't presented as a quarterly event. That $9,750 spent on walnut flooring? That should be good for one hundred years. And Kendrick Blackwood, darling, you are the only glaring evidence of wasted money in this affair. You defend an $8000 rug as needed to offer acoustic cushion from the $10,000 hardwood floor? Did you think that one through? Do you understand that it is not only ok, but desired, to offer explanations that think beyond whatever nonsense the tv guy is blathering at you? Repeat after me:

The Mayor's office suffered severe damage after a water leak in May. The structural damage has been repaired. In refurnishing the office, the Mayor made choices that reflect the enduring quality and dignity of Kansas City and its citizens.

Or, you know, ignore me. Rip out the floors, return the furnishings and the rug. See what scraps Big Bob's has to offer, roll out the card table and maybe, just maybe, splurge on a Thomas Kinkaid "A Trusted Friend" print. I'm sure Tony will be satisfied then.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health Care Reform Free Association

A courthouse clerk in Pineville, Mo faked a cancer diagnosis. Co-workers held fundraisers to help her deal with the costs, raising an estimated $10,000. Never mind what kind of a person would fake cancer for sympathy and free money. That's too easy. Keep your eye on the ball.

What kind of society finds it acceptable that a full time government employee would need private fundraisers to cover the costs of medical care?

Forget the lying clerk. What about us? The private fundraiser for health care costs has become increasingly common. I used to associate it mostly with the local (uninsured) music scene. But recently I saw a flyer in the Jackson County courthouse elevator advertising a bake sale for some poor women who works out in Independence and needs help paying for her kid's care. This is madness! This is a prosperous nation. And yet we think it's ok to have a "Hey, gang! Let's put on a show in the barn!" attitude to providing needed health care.

The idea that a serious diagnosis frequently has a catastrophic effect on finances is not controversial. It's understood that people will continue to get sick. This is a serious problem that crushes people's lives far beyond the medical diagnosis. And yet, our public debate is stuck in some Neverland where the real issue is defending the honor of free market principles rather than making sure people get the health care they need.

Speaking of the public debate-- shut up, Steve.

“Supporters of insurance reform got caught flat-footed at first,” conceded longtime Democratic operative Steve Glorioso, who helped McCaskill’s staff decide on a room for the forum.

Things I picked up from this sentence in the Star's story about McCaskill's health care town hall meeting at UMKC:

1. Steve got the early-August reframing memo out of D.C. that (infuriatingly) determined we are focused on "insurance" reform, rather than "health care" reform.

2. Steve Glorioso is so awesome in his longtime Democratic operativeness that people pay him to come up with bright ideas like how to find a room in a liberal urban area that is likely to draw liberals in support of a liberal cause. And he came up with the idea of doing it on a college campus! In the heart of the liberal 4th district! Within spitting distance of the east side! The man is a []* genius!!!

3. If only supporters of "insurance" reform had the sense to consult Steve earlier, they would not have been caught "flat footed" by republican displays of crazy.

The Star's coverage of the town hall was frustrating but representative of media coverage of this issue. Short on the substance people claim they want, long on theater. I appreciate that the article at least got in some basic information about the public option and the reconciliation process. But the entire "family values" exchange was cringe inducing.

Finally, video of Howard Dean addressing what appears to be a happy hour gathering at Netroots Nation (an annual liberal blogger conference). Not the best sound quality, but he gets in some good lines about health care reform and a nice self-deprecating reference to his love of listing states.

The public option is the last shred of reform in this bill. That is the compromise. We already made the compromise.

Preach it, Howard:

*I don't want to alienate readers who don't like reading obscenities. But sometimes, it's really really hard to refrain. If you don't want to read obscenities, please skip the post-script.

p.s. Fuck you Steve, and your retractable roof.

p.p.s. h/t tkc on the cancer story.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Great Moments in Shifting Blame and Staying on Message

The Missouri State Legislature passed a law intending to ban styrofoam from certain waterways. They messed up.

Lawmakers intended to reduce floating debris and pollution from abandoned foam coolers in the state’s waterways. But they confused their plastics. Instead of banning Styrofoam, they criminalized the plastic containers found in many kitchens but seldom used to ferry beer and soda down a river.

Some legislative aide in charge of the details failed to confirm that the law contained the appropriate technical language. The law's sponsor had this to say:

Sen. Delbert Scott, the main proponent of the restrictions, said he was not aware of the error and blamed a federal rule from which the state borrowed.


“When you depend on the federal government to write the stuff, that’s what happens. It gets screwed up,” said Scott, a Lowry City Republican.

I love this. Of course, the federal language that was copied didn't make the same mistake. The person who copied it just didn't bother to understand what they were copying. This is the sort of small but significant mistake that the legislative process provides numerous opportunities to occur. That Sen. Scott managed to take a state level error and blame it on federal incompetence is golden. I regret he didn't take it to the next level and explain that this is one more example of why the government can't be trusted with health care - why, there's probably a rule somewhere saying that granny's pacemaker should be made out of bamboo.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Smile, Mr. Mayor

Standing in line at Quik Trip a few days ago, I saw Mayor Funkhouser negotiating his way out of the crowded store. At the door, he paused to hold the door open for someone on their way into the store. He had a fairly intense look on his face, as if he almost missed the opportunity to hold the door for another and would've chastised himself had he missed it. I had to suppress the urge to vocally cheer him on. Instead, I smiled at him. More of a grin, really. And when he saw me, he smiled back.

I mention this because despite everything - the fact that I didn't vote for him, never thought he had the political skills to pull off his admirable goals, and have been gravely disappointed by his inability or unwillingness to establish boundaries between his role as public servant and his role as husband - I was so eager to applaud the man for something, I was happy to see him holding the door for a stranger at QT.

I'm painfully aware that the catalyst for this post is borderline "Tom Friedman chats up his cabby" territory. I initially took the more Friedmanesque route of extrapolating the world out from Funkhouser's simple and courteous desire to make someone's day a little easier by holding the door for them. Upon reflection, I realized that analyzing the incident in terms of my response - I want this man to succeed - was a more productive, and less wankerific, use of my time.

I'm not sure I would've caught this if not for a Funk/Squitiro encounter that occurred several weeks ago. A friend of mine ran into them at a store in Brookside. She reported that Squitiro looked quite beleaguered, and she was inspired by basic sympathy to smile at Gloria. When my friend told me this, I teased her that she should watch for her appearance in the next newsletter since that smile would probably be translated in Squitiro's mind as "supportive citizen gushing with support for the Mayor's every move."

Contrasting my response from a distance with my response up close, I am forced to acknowledge that a part of me hopes against hope that Funkhouser somehow manages to pull this off. That the "Orange Revolution" will be remembered for something other than tarnishing the brand of "outsider" as incompetent. This is a strange realization for me because my cynicism about Funkhouser during the mayoral race was basically unmatched by my peers. Oh, I know my betters in the ruling class held Funk in cynical regard. But the man's campaign was basically designed to appeal to good government (derisively titled "goo-goo") types like me, and I didn't buy it for a second. I didn't doubt his sincerity. I doubted his skill. I doubted his mastery of the field of play. I doubted his awareness of and commitment to politics. And I'll be damned if I wasn't right.

Now so many of the people who bought the campaign speak of their disappointment in him and have abandoned hope for change. But here I remain, with this ounce of crushing hope that in the end I will be wrong. Funkhouser didn't get my vote, but he got a little piece of my liberal heart and he's been doing terrible things with it. And cynicism is once again revealed as the armor of the idealist.

I'm filing this post under "free political advice," but I have no clue at this point what advice could realistically be given that Funkhouser would be willing to follow (see Gloria) and that would result in the rehabilitation of his bully pulpit. In many ways, Funk hasn't lost the narrative, as his speech to the Downtown Rotary Club demonstrates. I guess I should say- he hasn't lost the point, but he has done more than his share to prevent it from being the main narrative.

I suppose my advice is more of a wish. I wish the Mayor could see that his "ten priorities" remain uncontroversially good in the eyes of the average citizen. I wish he could see that not all criticism is an attack on those goals. I wish he could better see the common ground that exists to advance those goals. I wish he made me smile more often.

Sunday Chiefs Blogging

I gave our Friday night game against the Vikings the attention it deserved -- had the radio turned to 101.1 The Fox while relaxing around the grill in the backyard. The game was on the tv inside, just in case anyone got a good hit on Favre I could run in and catch the replay. I paid zero attention to the second half. Consequently, I have a mild feeling that borders on regret due to missing this Gutierrez character at QB. Arrowhead Pride warns me that Thigpen may lose his spot to Gutierrez, and this would make me sad as Thigpen has wrestled some entertaining moments out of some miserable games. So, I guess the smart money is on any quaterback "controversy" being about who gets to be the third stringer. Some people were making noises about a quarterback controversy between Cassel and Croyle. Some people are eager to relive the glory days of Grbac v. Gannon. But those days were painful. Besides, given our offensive line, my vision of this year's controversy would be the mothers of these players sitting around, reviewing the opposition's defense, and arguing whose boy's turn it is to get chewed up.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gov. Nixon Imitates KC Crimefighter Methods

Following Alonzo's example in responding to recent bovine related disrespect of crime-fighting efforts, Gov. Nixon has announced an expanded Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force to facilitate communication between assorted agencies dealing with cattle rustling. No indication yet how far this imitation of Alonzo will go, or if the Task Force will blog about how farmers are afraid to leave their cows alone with Task Force members because they know those cows will be all over the members' manly crime-fighting bods.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nightmare on Fascination Street: ACORN is coming to get us all!

Via TKC, reports of "Obama staffers Impersonating, Lurking and Lying at Cleaver Town Hall Meeting." Raven summarizes and shares an email:
According to persons attending the Cleaver Town Hall Meeting, Washington-based Obama staffers were in attendance and impersonating local school teachers. In this guise, they would strike up conversations with baiting words about anger and socialism.
Off the top, it wasn't a Town Hall Meeting, it was a regularly scheduled "Coffee with Cleaver" event designed for constituents to show up and share (complain about) local constituent concerns. I attended this event, and Jim (the emailer/witness) was not alone, many people present thought that the event had been re-rigged from an open season Town Hall to a series of one-on-ones limited to parochial concerns because of all the heat coming out of Town Hall meetings. These people are incorrect. Cleaver stuck to the regularly scheduled plan. I have numerous criticisms of how the event was managed, but I'll limit my comments directed towards Cleaver as follows:

1. When hiring aides, please find at least one person with strong customer service skills. At a retail politicking event, it's irritating having to deal with a young man whose demeanor is distracted, intense and brusk.* It kind of puts me in a "Listen, you snot-nosed punk" mood. This isn't just a Cleaver thing. In my experience, it's a very common attitude problem for young frontline political workers. Get over yourselves, you ambitious little twits. You're in the people business. At least pretend to care about people.

Yes, I realize the young man was probably set upon by dozens of people with varying degrees of intensity and hostility. But, as any service worker with an ounce of professionalism knows, you have to stay calm and you can't use one person's rudeness as an excuse to be rude to others.

2. Had I had the opportunity to talk to the Congressman, I was prepared to share my excitement and appreciation for the Green Impact Zone, and, time permitting, reference the recent "Life Changers" funding controversy and encourage him to use his position and experience to negotiate truces in these self-defeating "respect" battles. (That's another post entirely, so I doubt I would've had enough time to make much sense to Cleaver, and, really, probably could've filled my alotted three minutes talking about the Green Impact Zone).

Ok, back to the trigger of this post, silly republicans and how they behaved at this Cleaver event. Perhaps Raven edited the part of the email where Jim demanded identification from the alleged Obama staffer and determined that the woman was "Washington-based." But I'm guessing not, and there's no reason to believe the woman wasn't local. (Or really, as Tony pointed out, no reason to believe the woman exists). I've also noticed that one can earn the title "Obama staffer" by having spent one afternoon phonebanking last summer. For the record, even by that lax standard, I am not an Obama staffer. The idea that the Obama campaign operation would have to pay people to attend these events is silly. They just send out an email to their big fat list telling people to show up and support health care reform.**

Jim the emailer took exception to the suggestion that there was talk of socialism and anger. Speaking for myself, I didn't make it ten feet from the car before I could hear a guy going on at length about how Obama's health care plan was socialism and how angry he was about it. Did I mention this event was held in Lee's Summit? At a coffee shop on the distractingly named Fascination Drive. Yeah... Lee's Summit was alive with the sounds of socialism. It was on the (hand-printed) signs. It was on the lips of half the people surrounding me. It was everywhere. Socialism was a very grave concern. I'm not sure how far removed one has to be from reality to think that republicans have to be "baited" into describing health care reform as socialism.

As for anger, I'd describe the crowd more as agitated. We are still midwesterners, after all. The event was held in a small coffee shop. On one side of the building you had a crowd, holding signs (912 "We surround them" on a flag was my personal favorite) and basically protesting. Around the corner you had a line that eventually led to aforementioned distracted staffer and a form to fill out if you wanted to get a line number to talk to the Congressman. People standing in line basically discussed amongst themselves. I witnessed a few cordial conversations between people who disagreed on the issue of health care reform. I witnessed many loud old white guys proclaiming the Truth about health care reform to anyone within earshot under the pretense of discussing the issue with their one buddy.

But my favorite part was the guy hunting for ACORN workers. He was convinced that they were there. He scanned the crowd and did perimeter checks. He spoke of ACORN as if they were Bolshevik infiltrators of the G dam American Dream. I'd like to say his search parameters were more complex than "spot the black person," but that's truly all it seemed to be. In what was surely an evil ACORN plot to trip him up, the nearest black person was actually a republican. Eventually, he managed to spot some black people with professionally printed signs, and having identified and assessed the current threat level, he calmed down about ACORN.

I agree with Jim the emailer that the entire event was pretty much a waste of time, outside of the people watching. But then I didn't show up expecting a grand debate about health care. I don't think Jim did either. I suspect Jim showed up looking for validation that his side is the majority and the opposition is sneaky and rigged. The Lee's Summit location guaranteed his satisfaction of the former, and his imagination (despite slim pickings) satisfied the latter.

I'm not sure what the namers of Fascination Drive hoped to evoke, but it reminded me of The Cure song Fascination Street, hence, the picture of Robert Smith.

* Apparently there were at least two staffers present. I'm talking about the white guy.

** I have quibbles with how the Obama email list is used for this sort of thing - "action" requests designed to make people feel involved but that are relatively meaningless. It wasn't a health care Town Hall. If my knowledge of the event had been based on the email I got from Organizing for America, I would've been irritated.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When will Cynthia Reams Martin's nightmare end?

The KC Star informs me that three names have been submitted to Gov. Nixon for consideration for appointment to the Western District Court of Appeals. I'm not keeping official track, but it seems to me that Cynthia Reams Martin has shown up on three out of five judicial short lists for the past two or three years. Will someone please give this woman a robe? Judge Cook's name has shown up on every Western District short list this year, but I don't think she can match Reams Martin's patience. We've lost two judges to the executive branch. (J. Holliger and J. Dandurand... if anyone wants to be my awesome tipster I'd love to know why those two left safe seats on the Court of Appeals to go work for AG Koster. Dandurand barely had time to unpack his keepsakes before leaving the bench.) And we lost Judge Paul Spinden to the sweet nothings of Liberty University School of Law, where he is presumably currently suffering the ill effects of teaching students who were previously taught by Phill Kline. *

Anyway... I've never worked with or met Cynthia Reams Martin, but at a certain point it seems cruel to keep putting her on the short list if she never gets picked. So that's my blind endorsement. Go Cynthia!

* Sheesh. I'd totally forgotten that Liberty seduced former WD Judge Robert Ulrich. Resist, Colonel Eckhardt, resist!

Busted from Leeds?

From the Sitemeter report this morning, I see that someone from Leeds (UK) was brought to this site by my picture of the birthday cake. I hope I haven't distressed anyone. An international cabal of bakers is almost as threatening as 4chan. I wouldn't mess with people capable of making animated train cakes:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Life is all about accountability, Rich.

So said GM Scott Pioli to Rich Baldinger in a pre-game interview yesterday. "Accountability" is apparently our theme this year. Dave and Jayice worked it from the broadcast booth, tossing around good humored, if skeptical, references to "accountability." The Pioli comment was slightly grating because it was made to Baldy. Baldinger, of course, had a car accident back in June when he failed to yield. That accident resulted in the death of a 61 year old woman. He is currently facing misdemeanor careless and imprudent driving charges in state court (0916-CR03310), and his insurer is probably working out a payment to the deceased woman's heirs.

But there he was, standing on the sidelines of a Chiefs game, doing interviews, and carrying on his life as if nothing had happened. I'm not saying Baldinger is a terrible guy, or assuming he feels no guilt, or arguing that he belongs in prison or should lose his job. I am saying that the suggestion that Chiefs football is about accountability is laughable enough. When you suggest that life is all about accountability to a free man responsible for the death of another human being, that's gallows humor. Which, to take the emotion down numerous notches to the realm appropriate for consideration of football matters, probably isn't a bad way to approach the upcoming Chiefs season.

Three things, off the top, I'd like to hold people accountable for. First, the decision to not to let the players have the arrowhead decals on their helmets at training camp. They put them on for the game last night, but will remove them before next practice. The idea is no decal until you make the team. That's pretty cool. I think credit goes to Haley for that, but I'm not sure.

Second, who is responsible for replacing the Ring of Honor with the video screens? It's not only that they took down something old-school cool--forget decals on helmets, don't you think having your name and number built into the stadium is some inspiration? It's that they were replaced with something distracting and obnoxious. People I've discussed this with assume this was a Pioli decision because it is So Not Carl, but I'm skeptical. Planning and execution of the stadium renovations was well under way before Pioli came to town. The expense of those monitors would be significant, not just an afterthought in the budget. I'd like to know whose decision that was.

Third, for the person at Metro Sports who decided on the camera angle on Haley. When Coach looked at the scoreboard, it looked like he was looking directly into the camera. It was creepy. Stop it.

Highlights of the game... Succop. How do you deal with a guy named Succop (pronounced "suck up"). It was impossible to restrain my inner Beavis. The kicker came in and made a 48 yarder, so maybe I'll get the chance to get used to his name. Thigpen. I watch pre-season games for fun, not because they're good predictors of the season, and Thigpen is fun. Finally, the rain. I love football exposed to the elements. The heavy rain just added to the normal pre-season sloppiness and made it more exciting when someone made a good catch. In honor of the rain:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some legislative discipline, please.

Regardless of how you feel about Gloria Squitiro's role in the Mayor's office, I'd think we could all agree this story didn't need more drama. What was the point of calling up a vote to amend the volunteer ordinance, which you knew the Mayor would veto, if you didn't have the votes to over-ride the veto?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


In preparation for writing an already half-drafted-in-my-head post about local response to non-cooperation in the case of the 2 year old girl shot last friday, I went to google images to find a nice picture. Thinking about the girl's age, and hoping that she gets a next birthday, I thought about cute and girly little birthday cakes. Search! First of all, I'm mildly horrified to report that there is a "two girls one cup" birthday cake out there on the internet. Mom, Dad, anyone who doesn't already know what "two girls one cup" is, trust me, you don't want to know. It's really gross and it's the last thing you'd want to see decorated on a cake. Ok, second to last. Wait, third to last (sweet liberty, I'd almost forgotten tub girl! Again, if you don't know tub girl, you really really don't want to know tub girl).

Ahem. Back on a different off-point. So the search results provide a picture of an appropriately cute and girly cake. It appears to have a watermark, so I click on it to get a better look. Revealed:
Ma'am, why is there a penis on your birthday cake? Now it's early in the morning and instead of writing a sensitive post about how it really sucks that we can't just have a moment of focused community outrage regarding this shooting without it turning into anger at non-cooperating witnesses and victims, which as justified as it may be accomplishes absolutely nothing in terms solving the crime, I'm giggling immaturely at a tube of lipstick/phallic symbol and trying to remember a certain phrasing along the lines of "lipstick become penis" with "become" shortened but my google search has been completely defeated by pornographic references. (No, I didn't google "lipstick become penis," I googled "artist come director." Does anyone know what I'm talking about with this phrasing or am I imagining things?).

I might take a shot at the serious post later. If not, I'm sadly certain I'll have other opportunities to revisit the topic of how to have an expression of community concern that doesn't turn into an expression of community contempt and disparagement.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Crime isn't about you. It's about us.

A toddler and a man were injured in a drive by shooting at 54th and Highland on Friday night. This is the kind of story I can't blog right away because the details cause my mind to go off in different directions. 40 people were hanging out in the front yard around 8 pm. The shooting victims were on the sidewalk, with the toddler in the man's arms. The linchpin of oddness in this story is the comment from Capt. Lockhardt that the man does not want to prosecute.

My initial response to his disinterest in prosecution was to assume that the man (not seriously injured) knows who shot him and has every intention of carrying out his own prosecution. But then I got distracted, wondering what are the odds the shooters hit their intended target? I don't associate our local criminal class with good marksmanship. Someone else suggested to me that the man may have been using the toddler as a shield. Did the shooter really intend to harm that particular man and intentionally shoot through a damn child to do it? What's really going on here?

The NBC story described the location as being near the Rockhurst campus. I don't know if they did that to aid the viewer in grasping the location, or to signal that it was close to the concerns of whitey, or to inspire hush hush payoffs from the Jesuits.

Anyway, back to the announcement that the adult male does not want to prosecute. Never mind why the guy feels that way, why on earth did Lockhart include that detail? That stand alone quote leaves the reader with the impression that this situation is handled similarly to the shopkeeper who busted someone stealing. I'm not familiar with the inner protocols of the KCPD, but I am familiar with elements of proof. The Prosecutor does not require the victim's cooperation to prove that he was shot. They can call the doctor who removed the bullet from him.

Victims refusing to cooperate with the police can substantially hinder prosecution. And in cases like theft or assault, it's practical to let the people involved say "I don't want to press charges." We have limited resources for law enforcement and they're better spent prosecuting crimes where the victim feels aggreived. Psychologically, one can choose not to be a victim. But under the law, you really don't get to choose. Because when you get shot, it's not just an offense to you personally, it is an offense to public order.

Prosecutors love standing in front of juries and explaining how they are there on behalf of the state. I've known former federal prosecutors who've said that they never lost that sense of thrill from saying "Appearing on behalf of the people of the United States." It's that sense of doing something bigger than redressing individual wrongs. Criminal prosecutions are not about getting justice for individuals, they are about justice for us all. They are about defending the security within which we exercise our freedoms. And when a man who has been shot states he doesn't want to prosecute, he's not merely waiving off the protection of the state, he's waiving off the security of his fellow citizens.

Given that, people are understandably angry at the man. Some commentors are confused and think this means nothing can be done to prosecute the shooters on behalf of the little girl. Now, we have little information about how much cooperation the police received from the witnesses, and that's a whole nother bag of worms. But we do know that Capt. Rich Lockhart is KCPD's information officer. Exactly what information was he trying to communicate with the "does not want to prosecute" tidbit other than a big ol F you to the community from that victim? Was that really constructive?

If someone calls Lockhart up in a few months and asks "why have there been no arrests in the shooting of that poor little girl?" I can understand him then saying that the investigation has been stalled by a lack of cooperation from the witnesses. But why set it up at the start like that? Why leave readers with the impression that absolutely nothing is going to be done about this horrible crime? I really don't get it.

Sunday Chiefs Blogging

After years of trying, Carl Peterson tried a different tactic and finally succeeded in bringing tears to my eyes.

"The light has gone back on and will now burn brightly not only in the community of Kansas City but here in this shrine to the game in Canton. We thank the Hall for recognizing Derrick Thomas as a worthy recipient of the status as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
Video here.

On a lighter note, this report from camp and understated coach commentary made me giggle:

Cassel fumbled when he was hit by Larry Johnson, who was trying to pick up a blitzing linebacker.

“That’s just something you’ve got to prevent,” coach Todd Haley said. “He’s got to keep two hands on the ball and Larry’s got to avoid him. You can’t let it happen.”

Hey, at least LJ is trying.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dear Alonzo: I don't live in the burbs, bitch.

I get it. I get that you're trying to make snitching glamorous. I get that you're trying to bolster your image as an outsider so that when people talk to you they can feel like they're helping stick it to The Man. Nobody hates you for encouraging people to give information about crimes to the police, other than the criminals involved. People like me are perfectly willing to sit back and let your clown show continue without comment as long as it's about the crime.

But solving crime is kind of incidental with you. And sometimes you like to take your platform and your image and do shitty things with it, like disparage someone for being a victim of pedophilia. Or say stupid shit like "Lack of sex makes you kill people," then take a mass murder as an opportunity to remind your readers that you have no problem getting some. This MAKES YOU AN ASSHOLE, not a superstar, and certainly not "a nice guy wanting to fight the good fight."

So, in brief, operating a private TIPS line doesn't give you a license to be an ass. People mostly let you indulge the fantasy that it makes you the Dark Knight or a SUPERSTAR, but when you use your power for evil, people are going to call you out. And they should. Thank you, douche. You're easy to blog.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

I can't keep up with Alonzo Washington

The KC Metro's most popular private clearinghouse of crime tips (aka CRIMEFIGHTER) is an interesting character. He's really committed to the noble cause of getting people in the community to share information with the police that helps solve crimes. He's also really committed to being as arrogant and abrasive as possible in pursuing that role. If you follow his blog, it seems to be 3 parts "check out my hot shit" and 1 part "by the way, please call me if you know anything about this crime."

He did a post on Tuesday in which he called out the "haters" and compared himself to the Dark Knight. It was so over the top, the good liberal in me started reflecting on possible reasonable explanations that didn't involve calling him a megalomaniac. The basic question was - Alonzo Washington - the city's most self-absorbed douche vs. a man with a shtick devoted to a good cause. I was planning to do that post today, and then I saw this. Apparently, the only thing standing between Alonzo and mass murder is his access to pussy. After reading that, I had two thoughts: (1) Thank you, Mrs. Alonzo Washington; and (2) I'm really not in the mood to argue that Alonzo Washington isn't a douche. So I was going to let it go without comment. And then this. Alonzo continues his bitchfest directed at Midtown Miscreant. Washington's lack of perspective is so grand, his disrespect for the victims of pedophilia so obscene, that normal and calm analysis was no longer capable of encompassing the full measure of Alonzo Washington's douchetude.

In moments like this, I take comfort in absurdity. So, a mash-up of Alonzo v. MM, dedicated to the KC Metro's (the only thing he has in common with Batman is that he lives many miles away from the ghetto) biggest douchebag devoted to the noble cause of passing along crime tips:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Independence voters say "yes!" to crime

Indy voters shot down a 3/8 cent levy to pad the P.D. budget, including funds to hire 42 new police officers. Now, if there's one thing I learned from Kay Waldo Barnes, it's this: beware the low profile August ballot measure. And I know I'm not alone in recognizing ballot measures timed to draw little attention and only supportive voters. I suspect there are a certain number of voters who will show up in August and vote "no" regardless of the merits of the measure. Probably those same 20-25% who vote "no" on all judicial retention elections.

And maybe there is a good reason to have opposed the levy, but this isn't it:

While supporters had said the investment was imperative opponents had called the levy ill-timed, saying many Independence families already were struggling during the recession.

"Ill-timed"? The police department is like a teenager asking for a raise in his allowance when mom and dad are struggling to make ends meet? I realize that the voters weren't given the opportunity to go through the city budget and prioritize funding. But I'd like to think that public safety is one of those things it isn't acceptable to defer to flusher times.

On the bright side, according to the New York Times, the national crime rate has gone down in the first six months of this year, contrary to expectations that the recession would cause it to go up.

The surprise is yet more proof that tea leaves and sun spots may be a better predictor of crime rates than criminologists and the police. Despite the large sums the country spends on law enforcement — just last week, the Justice Department awarded the first of $1 billion in stimulus-package grants to police departments — experts are largely at a loss to explain what makes the crime rate go up or down.

So the good folks of Independence can at least comfort themselves that the recession is not a reason to vote for the levy. And speaking of saving money...

One reason for the lack of answers is lack of money, said Alfred Blumstein, a prominent criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “The National Institutes of Health spends $400 million a year on dental research,” he said. “The National Institute of Justice spends $50 million a year on criminal justice research.”

Perhaps as a result, police departments and prosecutors can be swayed by fads, spending millions on programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., which came under fire from critics who said it lacked a proven success record (it later changed its strategy). “Police research is to research like military music is to music,” Mr. Krisberg said. “It has never matured to be a very sophisticated science.”

Funny how that all works.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Russ Johnson Demands Training Wheels

I'll leave it to others to explain why Councilman Johnson's proposal to make leaking information from closed sessions illegal is, legally, stupid. I'm going to focus on how this proposal is representative of a larger problem we have with public servants refusing to accept the responsibilities of their positions and instead depending on legislative and judicial work-arounds. We required years of court supervision over the KCMO school system. We, apparently, can't be trusted to have local control of our police department.

In this case, Johnson can't handle the ordinary rough and tumble of leaking information from closed sessions and wants such (politically standard) leaks to be punishable by, presumably, the standard municipal maximum $500 fine and no more than 180 days in jail. Now, these aren't state secrets we're talking about. In the particular case of the Bates settlement, it's easy to say that such leaks cost the city money. It's equally easy to say that the failure to settle the case last December cost the city money. If the Bates example isn't a red herring, then Johnson is dumber than I thought.

Does anyone believe that such a restrictive ordinance would be proposed with the intention of preventing council members from discussing closed session matters with their politically connected friends? Of course not. Does anyone see the problem with enforcing such an ordinance in light of journalistic unwillingness to name sources? Of course. Is the city really willing to expend resources locking up Tony in our fancy new regional jail for contempt of court? One would hope not. (Besides, the last thing the powers that be should want is Tony having a personal stake in reporting problems with the jail).

I understand the need for closed sessions to encourage frankness. If I were an elected official, I'd probably be skirting the edge of the Sunshine Law as much as possible because sometimes it really is easier to get things done in the dark. But you've got to have that threat of exposure. Our elected officials need to have some sense of risk analysis. That Russ Johnson can't handle leaks in the normal, professional politician fashion is an embarrassment. And I don't think we should give him legislation to enable his weakness.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Chiefs Blogging

Pretty clever title, eh? After watching football for nearly twenty years, I have attained a toddler level mastery of the game. I can recognize patterns, point to things that look cool, regularly lack the vocabulary to explain myself, and frequently ask "why?" Fortunately for my friends, I am an adult, so I have the self control not to ask "why?" every time I think it and try to limit my questions to appropriate breaks in the game. Which is my way of saying that I love the Chiefs and I'll probably be offering some commentary throughout football season but it's going to be, dare I say, fairly girly commentary (note to self: bad feminist!). I only dare to lurk at Arrowhead Pride.

In light of that, there's all sorts of information coming out of training camp and this is the time of the year where normal fans are getting excited about fresh faces and the possibilities for the future. I, however, would like to take a moment to get sentimental about the past. Not DT, although he's an obvious choice. No, I'd like to take this pretty Sunday morning to say that I miss T-Rich. It's not easy to find video of him in action. But one of my fondest memories at Arrowhead is sitting behind the end zone at his last game as a Chief with a perfect view of him in full blocking action. He's not the guy doing the fanciest thing on the field, but what he does was and is impressive. Here he is setting up LJ for his best run:

I miss you, man!

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the end of celebrating 20th anniversaries of the 1960s

Twenty years ago, the Fine Young Cannibals were driving me crazy on the radio and Turner and Hooch were stinking up the big screen. But in that summer of dross, a ray of hope. The month of August was devoted to remembering Woodstock, all that it represented to those zany baby boomers, and all that it continued to mean, culturally, in the then present day. By the summer of 1989, it seemed to me that there had been a Time Magazine cover devoted to the 20th anniversary of half the bowel movements that occurred in the 1960's. Woodstock, with its promise of being the End of an Era, represented hope at the end of the tiresome carnival ride of reliving someone else's youth. So, thank you, time for passing.

Now that I'm old enough to have lived through a decade of 20th anniversaries of significant events I remember happening in real time, I think the 80s got short shrift. I think society would've benefited from thoroughly revisiting some of the significant events of that decade. To give the 20th anniversary of Poland's Solidarity movement the same attention we gave to Woodstock's 20th. To experience the "All this has happened before" sensation of getting a refresher on Iran Contra. I might do a little of this in the future (Invasion of Panama... I'm looking at you). But for now, I'm going to recommend that my generational cohorts and youngers ignore the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and instead celebrate the 20th anniversary of an album that continues to influence today.

Also, Gen X (whitey division), I know we don't have the numbers but can we commit now to doing everything we can to make the rest of the country feel our "OMG WE ARE SO OLD!" pain on April 5, 2014?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I have been perceived by the candy of somomites!

I assume the commenter meant deceived by the candy of sodomites, specifically their candy coated answers. I can't tell if the errors are the marks of true stupidity or trolldom. And so it is that I find myself facing an iocane powder moment, and the temptation to completely overthink the matter. Is the commenter sincere in suggesting a conspiracy of homosexuals, jews and marxists, and should I take the time to condemn, in detail, the stupidity and bigotry on display? Or is the commenter a troll, hoping to smear the Mayor by association with the display of stupidity and bigotry? If the commenter is a troll, I must respect his skill-- "the false witness of Karl Marx" is a perfectly juicy bit of authenticity -- if not his intentions. If the commenter is sincere, well, he's just outrageous enough that my pointing out he is a stupid bigot is almost redundant. But then the key to surviving the iocane challenge is to slowly build an immunity to deadly iocane poison. So I shall respond as follows.

I hereby announce my allegiance to the somomites. I could not resist the truffles of equality, dignity, and respect. The homosexual lobby is so tastefully decorated and the bartender so handsome that I want to hang out in it all the time. I love jewish liberals. I could actually compose a lengthy blogroll of Nice Jewish Boys who say smart liberal things. I do not consider a belief in Jesus Christ to be a necessary condition of being a good person. I would gladly vote for an atheist. The Lord is with me.