More and more, the idea of building a new, single terminal at KCI seems to be wafting into the clouds. Up, up and away…

After the mayor’s special task force on KCI last year endorsed construction of a single terminal, eliminating the antiquated three-terminal model we have had for more than 40 years, absolutely nothing has happened.

It was clear that public sentiment runs strongly against significant changes at KCI, and, as a result, political advocates of a single terminal — such as Mayor Sly James — found it in their best interests to pipe down.

And on Wednesday the c.e.o. of Southwest Airlines, the biggest user of KCI, probably snuffed out any remaining hopes of Kansas City getting a modern, attractive airport for the next 15 to 20 years.

Gary Kelly, who was in town on unrelated aviation business, suggested that a major redesign of KCI would cause airline fares to increase significantly. Low costs for the airlines, Kelly said, mean low prices for customers.

He didn’t mention, of course, that Southwest has been raising fees so fast that it’s now almost undeserving of the title “low-cost airline.” Two or three years ago, a research firm named Topaz International conducted a survey of 100 routes flown by Southwest. Here’s what it discovered:

When comparing airfare only, competing airlines were lower than Southwest Airlines over 60% of the time, and higher than Southwest Airlines 35% of the time. This result is surprising given the perception in the marketplace, and with many travel managers, that Southwest Airlines is in fact the low-cost carrier in all markets they serve.

Although cost considerations are paramount for Kelly at KCI, it was a different story a few years ago at Dallas’ Love Field, where Kelly was completely behind a $500-million-plus renovation. But that was Dallas, where Kelly resides and Southwest has its headquarters.

…My interpretation, then, of Gary Kelly’s comments is: We want to keep costs down so we can continue raising prices and increasing our profit margin. So, don’t bother us with talk of a modern airport with amenities that most other big cities have.


I think it would be a great thing if Academie Lafayette and the Kansas City School District would team up and develop a progressive “early college” school on the Southwest High School campus.

The prospect of such a collaboration fell apart a few months ago, but it has been revived — to some extent — this week, with the Stowers Foundation pledging to pay for $2 million in start-up costs.

In the long run, though, money probably won’t overcome the opposition of several community organizations, some of which are worried about “resegregation.”


Two groups that oppose the partnership are the Urban Summit, an organization spearheaded by the Baptist Ministers Union, and the Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, also known as More Squared.

I find considerable irony in those two groups’ opposition to an invigorated Southwest High.

MORE Squared’s website says the organization was created in 2004 “as an interfaith social justice organization reflecting different cultural backgrounds, faith traditions, skin colors and economic means.  We are united in our commitment to transforming our communities by creating a metropolitan area that embraces all people and offers everyone the opportunity to achieve their greatest potential.”

It seems to me that a racially balanced, college prep school in the Brookside area would do a lot to offer more students the opportunity to achieve their greatest potential.

The Urban Summit’s mission sounds similar. It is “to develop initiatives to foster community relations, enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the urban core.”

While a high-achieving Southwest High would not directly enhance the inner-city economy and quality of life, it could certainly go a long way toward fostering closer ties with the white community.

In addition, it would give a lot of African-American students the opportunity to shed the albatross that the KSPS system hangs around their necks. And surely some of those students would be inspired, after graduating from college, to do whatever they could to give other inner-city students a helping hand up.


It is now clear why former State Auditor Tom Schweich killed himself: He was emotionally unstable — prone to periods of being “very low” and if not clinically depressed at least subject to bouts of situational depression.

An exhaustive report released late Tuesday by the Clayton, Missouri, police department shows the extent of Schweich’s emotional and physical problems.

In addition to significant emotional dips, Schweich also had a chronic physical condition — Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder that typically causes stomach pain, diarrhea and weight loss.

Crohn’s frequently exacts an emotional toll on sufferers and their families. WedMD says: “Having Crohn’s disease can be stressful. The disease affects every part of your life. Seek support from family and friends to help you cope. Get counseling if you need it.”

I never saw Schweich in person, but in every photo I’ve seen, he never appeared healthy; he looked gaunt and pale…No wonder.



Schweich, who was seeking the Republican nomination for governor, shot himself with a .22 caliber pistol the morning of Feb. 26. His wife Kathy was in the same room at the time he shot himself, but she had her back to him and was talking on the phone to a woman with whom Schweich had been speaking before handing the phone to his wife.

In the days leading up to his suicide, Schweich was preoccupied but what he saw as a “whispering campaign” that he was Jewish. He wasn’t Jewish, but he probably thought that if he wasn’t able to stamp out the rumor, it would cost him support and campaign contributions in some quarters.

Schweich wanted to go public and call out Republican Party chairman John Hancock, whom he believed was spreading the unfounded rumors. But all of Schweich’s political advisers, including former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth, were urging him to hold off.

Schweich was also upset about a radio ad that likened him to the Barney Fife character on the old Andy Griffith TV show.

From Tuesday’s police report, it is easy to deduce that while the whispering campaign and the Barney Fife ad may have caused Schweich significant distress, the underlying factors in his suicide were emotional instability and overall poor health.

Police found more than 20 prescription drugs in Schweich’s home, including prednisone — a steroid that can have uncomfortable side effects — and hydrocodone — a painkiller.

Antidepressants did not appear to be among the drugs.

The strongest evidence that Schweich was not a well man, however, came from police interviews with three people: Schweich’s wife Kathy; Martha Fitz, a woman who is a friend and ally of Danforth and was a friend and adviser to Schweich; and Trish Vincent, Schweich’s chief of staff in the auditor’s office.

Here are excerpts from police interviews with the three women:

Kathy Schweich

“K. Schweich informed me (the interviewing officer) that her husband had talked about killing himself before and had done so while handling his firearms, but that she never thought he would actually act on his statement. She further explained that she knew he would sometimes get depressed…”

(The two lines that immediately follow those words are blacked out in the public version of the police report, so we don’t know what else she might have said about her husband’s depression.)

Martha Fitz

Fitz told an officer that Schweich could “get depressed from time to time” but, like Kathy Schweich, “she never thought he was at the point of suicide.”

Trish Vincent

“Although she (Vincent) does not believe that he suffers from depression, she does know that there are times when he seems ‘very low’…She further informed me that she does not believe that any one person or event caused him to kill himself, but that there was an accumulation of numerous things that added stress…and caused him to kill himself. T. Vincent described T. Schweich as a very anxious person who took everything very personal.”


I think the first reaction many people had when they heard about Schweich’s suicide was bafflement at how a veteran politician who was running for governor could get so upset about a false rumor or a below-the-belt radio ad that he would take his own life.

I never bought it. And in a Feb. 27 post, I theorized that clinical depression was the root of Schweich’s problem.

In light of the police report, I believe more than ever that Schweich was clinically depressed. Further, I think he probably avoided seeking a diagnosis or treatment because he knew it would end his chances of becoming governor.

Tom Schweich’s suicide was a terrible tragedy, but, truth be told, he was totally unfit to serve as governor. At least through his suicide he escaped his demons.

I would bet a hundred bucks that the most-read story in the print edition of Saturday’s Kansas City Star was the one about the four young dipsticks who robbed a guy in Independence Wednesday night after the only girl in the group invited the victim — whom she knew — to meet him and have sex with her.

The story ran at the top of A4, which features local news.

There are two reasons this was probably the most-read story in the paper:

1) The defendants are white.

2) The perps were incredibly stupid.

The latter point always makes for a good read, and the former…well, let’s just say it’s not very often that you see four mugs shots of white people stripped under a crime story.

Three of the defendants look like they might be high-school students; two are 18 and one, the woman, is 19.

For the record, the defendants are Sydney M. Adams, the woman; Zachary A. Donahoo and Tristen W. Bishop, the 18-year-olds; and 23-year-old James T. Hunter. All four are charged with robbery and kidnapping.


As for the dumb-criminal dimension, like I said, the victim knew Adams, apparently very well. The story describes Adams as an “old friend” of the man she solicited.

So, if you’re planning a robbery — and you don’t intend to kill the victim — why would you solicit someone who knows you and can identify you? What would possibly make Adams think she and her compatriots could get away with it????

If you haven’t read the story, here’s what happened, in a nutshell: The guy arrives at the residence and Adams meets him wearing only a towel. She directs him to a bedroom, where he is confronted by the three guys, one of whom has a gun. They rob him, take him for a ride and release him. An Independence police officer spots him — he’s wearing only boxers and shoes — and interviews him. The gig is up.

Longtime Independence reporter Brian Burnes did a good job with the story — just played it straight and let the head-scratching facts carry it. Also deserving credit are the editors who decided to play the story prominently and strip the mug shots below the headline.


Too bad we don’t always see such good editorial judgment.

On Tuesday, The Star ran a three-paragraph under the headline “Kansas man gets four years for beheading man with guitar string.”

I don’t know if the story ran in a print edition. Bill Barnhart, a reader of the blog, called it to my attention.

Bill wrote: “The Star has been reporting about this guy that killed another man with a piano or guitar wire and was sentenced to only four years. How could something like that happen? It doesn’t seem right. Have you heard anything more about that one?”

Great question.

When I got to checking, I found The Star’s three-paragraph story, which The Star picked up from the Associated Press.

The story, out of Lyndon, KS, about 20 miles south of Topeka, said a man named James Paul Harris, 30, was sentenced Monday in Osage County District Court for involuntary manslaughter in the death of 49-year-old James Gerety. It went on to say that Harris originally was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded no contest to the reduced charge in December.

The Star’s version of the AP story gave no indication whatsoever why the charge was drastically reduced and why Harris got only four years.

But when I Googled the AP story, I found a couple of versions that offered more information. One key sentence that The Star omitted said the prosecution was hamstrung by ‘credibility issues’ with a major witness.

That sheds a little light on the issue, but not much. I got the full story on the website of the Topeka Capital-Journal, which had sent a reporter to Lyndon to do an in-depth story. The story included these paragraphs:

The prosecutor’s office accepted the plea to the less serious homicide charge of involuntary manslaughter because prosecuting James Gerety’s slaying as a premeditated first-degree murder faced challenges, Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones said.

Other than a portion of the victim’s skull, prosecutors didn’t have the victim’s body, the murder weapon hadn’t been recovered, not all the prosecution witnesses were available, and prosecutors faced “credibility issues” with a major witness, Jones said.

“It was going to be a tough case to prosecute,” Jones said.

That explains why the prosecutor was willing to accept a plea bargain with a four-year sentence in a gruesome case.

The Star’s handling of the story, on the other hand, was nothing less than a disservice was to its readers.

A good rule of thumb — and I don’t know if I’ve heard this before or if I’m just coming up with it now — is that if a story poses more questions than it provides answers, it’s better to not run it at all, if you’re not willing to take the time to run down the answers. 

In the case of the guitar-cord slaying, KC Star editors were just plain lazy.


One other Star note. Some of you have probably noticed that for most Kansas City Royals’ night games, The Star is now reporting the final score and a few bulleted highlights, instead of full game coverage. There are two reasons for that: The Star has gone to earlier deadlines, and it is trying to push more traffic to the website. Another upcoming change is a redesign of the print edition and the website.

I’m sure that, like me, most people who read or heard about Tiffany Mogenson’s tragic death on Oct. 11, 2013 have, at one point or another, put themselves in her place when reflecting on the circumstances of her death.

She was alone in her car, sitting in the driver’s seat, stopped eastbound on 75th Street at Roe Avenue (I think), when a car going 90 miles an hour hurtled up (that’s redundant, but accurate) and crashed into the back of her car.

Tiffany suffered head and pelvic injuries and died almost instantly.

I have put myself in her position because I realize full well it could have been me. Of course, it could have been you — any one of you.


Kansas City Star photo

I put myself in Tiffany’s position and wonder what my reaction would have been? I (or you) probably would have heard the roar of an engine, or at least some unusually loud sound, and glanced up at the rearview mirror. Death approaching. Nowhere to go, no time to take evasive action.

Maybe I would scream. Maybe I would curse. Maybe I would pray. I guess I would instinctively duck as much as I could and hope the unguided missile coming at me would catapult over my car after initial impact…and that, miraculously, I would live.

But almost any scenario you could imagine that involved survival probably wouldn’t happen. Miracles seldom attend events like that.

I hope Tiffany, a 30-year-old dance studio owner and former Chiefs cheerleader, didn’t see or hear anything until impact. But I’m afraid she did.

It’s the capriciousness of it and the fact that things like that aren’t supposed to happen at 75th and Roe that boggle the mind.

Who hasn’t sat at that light? Facing any direction at one time or another? I probably go through that intersection — usually east or westbound — two to five times a month.

…I feel so sorry for Tiffany’s husband Mike, for her sister Stacy Chaloux, for her 8-year-old niece and for all her relatives and friends. She was ripped from them and robbed of her future by a guy who had been drinking for 24 hours, supposedly because he was depressed over a pending divorce.

The man, 33-year-old Roy Lee Maney, was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 years and eight months in prison for reckless second-degree murder and leaving the scene of an accident.

How about that for irony? Maney lived…Not only lived but was able to run from the scene before being caught.

Just before the crash, a Prairie Village police officer had been pursuing Maney for speeding. (He had at least two other prior traffic violations, including one for speeding, as well as a conviction for not having insurance or a driver’s license.)

In Maney’s maniacal path was Tiffany Mogenson, idling at the intersection, perhaps listening to the car radio. She was there, alert and alive one second, dead several seconds later.

It was an unimaginably rotten and tragic convergence of events. And it could have been me. It could have been you. But for just plain luck.

Yesterday’s primary election has set the stage for showdowns in two key City Council races between challengers backed by special interests and incumbents who have shown that their goals coincide with the city’s best interests.

Here are the two races that, over the next two months, will be getting the most attention from people who follow Kansas City politics.

District 4 At-Large: Incumbent Jim Glover, a four-term veteran, will be trying to hold off challenger Katheryn Shields, a former City Council member and former Jackson County executive. This race will be voted on citywide.

District 1: Unless something changes (more about that in a minute). incumbent Dick Davis, former c.e.o. at the Area Transportation Authority, will battle it out with Heather Hall, a newcomer who is associated with the Tea Party. Even though this is an in-district race and will be voted on only in Clay County, it could be pivotal to Kansas City’s immediate future.

Here’s a closer look at the two races.

Jim Glover-Katheryn Shields



Glover defeated Shields by fewer than 500 votes (12,913 to 12,451) in Tuesday’s primary, with two other candidates finishing far back. Glover and Shields will go head to head in the June 23 general election.

Glover is going for a fifth council term. The City Charter limits office holders to two consecutive terms, but with a break of at least four years between each two-term stint, a candidate can run as many times as he or she chooses.

Glover first served on the council from 1991 to 1999. He ran for mayor in 1999, the year Kay Barnes was elected to her first term. Glover then was elected to the council in 2003, and in 2007 he again ran unsuccessfully for mayor. (Mark Funkhouser was the winner.) In 2011, Glover was once again elected to the council.



Shields was on the council from 1987 to 1995, when she was elected Jackson County executive. She served three terms as county executive, leaving office at the end of 2006.

Glover’s foremost achievement was helping bring Costco, Home Depot and Marsh’s Sun Fresh to Midtown in the late 1990s. As architect of “The Glover Plan,” he pushed relentlessly to fill Midtown’s retail black hole, and area residents have reaped the benefits ever since.

Glover is a strong advocate for neighborhood improvements, and he is an adversary of Firefighters’ Local 42, which continuously agitates for bigger Fire Department budgets, more union firefighting jobs and a broader fire union sphere of influence. Local 42 is supporting Shields.

As City Hall reporter for The Star from 1985 to 1995, I covered both Shields and Glover. I did volunteer work for Glover and contributed financially to him when he ran for mayor in 2007. I also contributed to his council campaign four years ago.

I have not volunteered for Shields in any of her campaigns and to the best of my recollection have not contributed to her financially.

My biggest concerns about Shields are her allegiance to Local 42 and her motives for wanting to return to office. My guess is that she misses the spotlight and the “action” and simply wants back in. Glover is not without ego, either — like I said, he’s run for mayor twice — but I think he has a better vision of what it takes to keep the city moving forward. From me, he gets the nod on “the trust factor.”

Heather Hall-Dick Davis



Hall defeated Davis yesterday by a vote of 1,380 to 1,267. Davis narrowly edged former Local 42 president Louie Wright and will advance to the June 23 general election. According to final, unofficial results, Davis had 1,267 votes to 1,235 votes for Wright.

The Clay County Board of Election commissioners will certify the result on Friday. Wright would then have five days to get a court order, if he wanted a recount. (Getting such an order would not be difficult.)

I put in a call to Wright at a restaurant he owns in North Kansas City — Johnny’s Back Yard — but had not heard back from him before publishing this post.

Tuesday’s three-way contest poses an interesting dynamic for the general election. Davis has the support of the Citizens Association, an organization that has long fought for progressive city government. Hall will have the backing of the Tea Party and the Fraternal Order of Police, of which her husband is a member.



If Wright does not seek a recount (or if he does and again falls short), he will likely swing Local 42’s backing to Hall. That would be significant and would make Hall the favorite to win the general election, although it’s possible that a larger general-election turnout would give Davis a boost.

Besides the union scenario, also working against Davis are his age — 78 — and the fact that he is not an avid campaigner. Bob Mayer, a developer who is an adviser to Davis, put it very candidly when I spoke with him today.



“He (Davis) and his supporters are going to have to step it up to win that race,” Mayer said.

Mayer interrupted our chat — understandably — to take a call from Davis. Later, Mayer sent me an email saying, of Davis, “He is very realistic and understands what he needs to do.”

I covered Dick Davis a bit when he was at the ATA and have always liked and admired him. I have contributed to his re-election campaign. I don’t know Hall but am concerned about her Tea Party and union connections…For me, Davis is the clear choice. I hope he campaigns hard and is able to raise enough money to get his message to Clay County voters and convince them he’s the clear choice.

I didn’t expect to be going to the Royals’ home opener today. My daughter Brooks and I wanted to go badly, and I put in for the ticket lottery a few months ago.

But a few weeks later I got an e-mail from the Royals saying my name was not among those who had won the privilege of buying tickets.

That was that, I thought. But then, unbeknownst to me and Brooks, my wife Patty went into action. Both my birthday and Brooks’ are in March, and on Brooks’ birthday, Patty gave us each a water container with Royals’ logos. That wasn’t all, though. Inside each container was a ticket to opening game. Patty had gone to one of the online ticket-selling sites and paid who knows how much for good seats for me and Brooks.

Of course, we were thrilled and had been looking forward to this day for a long time. As it turned out, the occasion more than met our lofty expectations.

Despite a long wait to park and a light mist falling through the first seven innings, the occasion was one to savor and remember. We missed much of the pre-game festivities, but we were there in time for the Kansas City Symphony’s performance of the National Anthem, and we took our seats moments before the first pitch.

As you know by now, the Royals beat the White Sox 10-1, winning their season opener for the first time in seven years. Their previous opening-day victory was March 31, 2008, at Detroit. It had been a long opening-day drought, but I think almost everyone in the stadium today fully expected the Royals to win.

Naturally, I took my camera so I could document the occasion. Here’s what it looked like at “The K.”


The scene outside, before the game.


A few people got an early start.



Gotta get in there for the first pitch!





Some great bargains on beverages.



Alex warms up before the start of an inning.



The view from Row AA of Section 211, where we were fortunate enough to sit.



Ruby, ruby, ruby!



Brooks and the blogger.



Lookin’ good from top to bottom.



“KC” (lower left) hangs the “W,” below the 1985 World Championship flag (right), the 1980 American League Championship flag (left), and the 2014 league championship flag, which was raised before the game.


You could see this coming four months ago: The Rolling Stone story’s about “Jackie,” the otherwise anonymous University of Virginia student who claimed to have been gang raped at a fraternity party has officially and completely blown up in the magazine’s face.

Rolling Stone today retracted the story and published on its website a 13,000-word report written by three people with the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Rolling Stone asked the journalism school to investigate the story last December, after other publications, including the Washington Post, raised significant questions about its credibility.

The journalism school’s report said the magazine failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice” to verify details of the alleged assault, which supposedly occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on Sept. 28, 2012.

The Rolling Stone writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely. relied almost exclusively on Jackie’s account and made only token attempts to verify it.


Sabrina Rubin Erdely

In abandoning basic journalistic methods, Erdely not only anonymously quoted three of Jackie’s former friends who supposedly knew about the assault but also used quotes, supposedly from the friends, that Jackie provided. Erdely didn’t get the quotes herself; she let Jackie put words in their mouths and published those words!

Jackie refused to give Erdely the full names of the three friends, and Erdely did not attempt to independently contact them. The writer and her principal editor, Sean Woods, got around the identity problem by using pseudonyms for the friends. They did the same thing for the alleged organizer of the gang rape, a man Erdely referred to as “Drew,” whom Erdely inquired about but also failed to contact.   

Failing to contact the friends, the investigative report said, was a key element in the story’s faulty foundation.

“In hindsight,” the report said, “the most consequential decision Rolling Stone made was to accept that Erdely had not contacted the three friends who spoke with Jackie on the night she said she was raped. That was the reporting path, if taken, that would have almost certainly led the magazine’s editors to change plans.”


I wrote about this back in December, when Rolling Stone acknowledged that there were “discrepancies” between Jackie’s account and facts that had been uncovered since the article appeared.

In response to a comment at the bottom of that post, I wrote this sentence: 

My guess is that Jann Wenner, co-founder of the magazine and still the editor in chief, will fire just about everyone who was involved in reporting and editing the story.

Unbelievably, astonishingly, Wenner told The New York Times that no one would lose their jobs — not Erdely, not Woods, not managing editor Will Dana, who raised no objections.

The Times said that Wenner “acknowledged the piece’s flaws but said that it represented an isolated and unusual episode.”


Will Dana

For his part, Dana said the following in a three-paragraph introduction to the Columbia School of Journalism report:

“We are…committing ourselves to a series of recommendations about journalistic practices that are spelled out in the report. We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students.”

Tonight, I read the Columbia report, and it is appalling.

Consider this excerpt, for example:

Stronger policy and clearer staff understanding in at least three areas might have changed the final outcome:

Pseudonyms…Pseudonyms are inherently undesirable in journalism. They introduce fiction and ask readers to trust that this is the only instance in which a publication is inventing details at its discretion. Their use in this case was a crutch – it allowed the magazine to evade coming to terms with reporting gaps. Rolling Stone should consider banning them. If its editors believe pseudonyms are an indispensable tool for its forms of narrative writing, the magazine should consider using them much more rarely and only after robust discussion about alternatives, with dissent encouraged.

Checking Derogatory Information. Erdely and Woods made the fateful agreement not to check with the three friends. If the fact-checking department had understood that such a practice was unacceptable, the outcome would almost certainly have changed.

The report also lambasted Woods, the principal editor, and Dana, the managing editor.

Of Woods, the report said:


Sean Woods

“Sean Woods…might have prevented the effective retraction of Jackie’s account by pressing his writer to close the gaps in her reporting. He started his career in music journalism but had been editing complex reported features at Rolling Stone for years. Investigative reporters working on difficult, emotive or contentious stories often have blind spots. It is up to their editors to insist on more phone calls, more travel, more time, until the reporting is complete. Woods did not do enough.”

Of Dana, it said:

“Dana might have looked more deeply into the story drafts he read, spotted the reporting gaps and insisted that they be fixed. He did not.”


What a horrible day for journalism. And, perhaps more important, what a fateful day for Rolling Stone.

By itself, the phony story would have badly damaged Rolling Stone’s credibility for a long time to come. But by failing to fire any or all of the three principal players in this journalistic fraud — the writer, the story editor and the managing editor — the magazine has effectively followed its admission of cheating with a kick to the readers’ and the public’s face.

For me, an Arizona resident summed it up best in a comment posted on The New York Times’ website:

“It’s pretty obvious that nobody at Rolling Stone thinks they actually did anything wrong. This should disqualify them from ever being considered a ‘news source’ again.” 


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