To me, one of the best benefits of having a subscription to the printed edition of The Star is turning to the Letters to the Editor page, going over them leisurely and checking out the headlines for ones you might be interested in.
I would venture to say that very few people who go to kansascity.com bother to go to the letters page — too much clicking and the layout isn’t appealing.
So, for those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the letters, I’ve earmarked a few from recent days that I’d like to single out and comment on…Maybe you’d like to comment, too.
:: Wednesday, Jan. 25, “KC Fire Department budget cuts necessary.”
Jean Kaiser of Liberty posed the question of why Local 42 of the International Association of Fire Fighters has such a “stranglehold” on city policymakers. She goes on to say:
“Mike Cambiano, new president of the firefighters union comments, ‘I can’t imagine the city manager — who never consulted the fire chief about a reduction in force — would endanger public safety of the safety of our firefighters.’ That is inviting hysteria.
“It is common knowledge that the schedule and workload of firefighters, while providing needed emergency service, also provides time to sleep, exercise and barbecue — all while on the clock.”
I agree with Cambiano that City Manager Troy Schulte should have given Chief Smokey Dyer the courtesy of a call to advise him that he was going to recommend cutting 105 positions from the force. But Kaiser hit home on the point about all the down time that firefighters have.
The union, of course, would prefer to keep everyone’s attention on how the firefighters are constantly putting their lives on the line. Of course, they go into very dangerous situations sometimes, but at many fire stations there’s a lot more time spent shopping for groceries, preparing meals, eating and watching TV than going out on calls. I once had a KCK firefighter tell me, “It’s an easy job.”
:: Wednesday, Jan. 25, “Former House speaker.”
Fran Baker of Lee’s Summit wrote a short and bittersweet letter: “Did Steve Kraske need a transfusion after bleeding his heart out all over the Jan. 21 front page about former Missouri House Speaker Bob Griffin?”
Bull’s eye. I can’t stand stories that glamorize crooks, especially crooks who maintain their innocence, even after admitting wrongdoing.
I read Kraske’s story as far as the 11th paragraph, which went like this…
“Griffin’s message is this: He was innocent. He didn’t do what prosecutors said he did. He didn’t steer work to his longtime friend in exchange for cash. Even though he eventually pleaded guilty to a single charge of bribery, he didn’t do it, and he wishes now that he had stood up for himself and fought even harder.”
For the record, in 1997, Griffin was convicted of bribery and sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of trying to steer a $16 million casino-related contract to a consulting business owned by one of his allies, Cathryn Simmons. Griffin admitted in court that his deal with Simmons was that he would get a cut.
A few years before Griffin took his fall, a former state rep sat on my deck and said of Griffin: “He’s crooked.”
:: Thursday, Jan. 26, “Presidential coverage.”
This one is singular only because it should never have seen the light of print.
Here’s the letter of Frank Berry, Kansas City, in its entirety:
“CBS News is shooting itself in the leg. It matters not whether one agrees with candidate Ron Paul. Fair and impartial coverage is the issue.
“I, for one, will no longer view CBS News. And I’m sure there will be many others who are of like mind.”
What is the reader to make of this? Obviously, CBS aired something about Ron Paul that ticked off Berry. But what did it air and when, and exactly what did Berry find unfair? All of that should have been included to put the complaint in some sort of context.
Perhaps Berry did put it in, and Lewis Diuguid, the letters editor, edited it out. That’s unlikely, however. I think Diuguid simply was on autopilot and included a letter that made no sense — letter that should have gotten the “delete” treatment.
:: Tuesday, Jan. 24, “Loosen up slots in KC.”
This is one of the daffiest letters I’ve ever seen.
Citing news about the upcoming opening of a new casino in KCK, Larry Wilhite of Bonner Springs had some advice for casino managers everywhere.
“As a casual attendee at the casinos, I recommend that the slot machines allow a player to play longer on the money they feed into that machines.
“It seems now that a $20 bill fed into a quarter machine takes about five minutes to lose. I don’t mind losing $20 in the slot machines, but it is annoying to me that I can’t at least have minimum of 15 minutes of play for that amount. You hardly have time to sit down and relax and your twenty bucks is gone.
“Loosen up the machines and allow people’s money to last longer, even if the person ends up losing it in the long run.
“I think this is the biggest gripe among slot players — not being able to play as long as their $20 should allow.”
Kind of makes you want to hit your head a couple of times, doesn’t it, to see if it’s your brain that’s not functioning properly? But, then, after a second you realize it’s definitely Wilhite’s brain that malfunctioned.
When Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved “riverboat gaming” about 20 years ago, nobody thought about how fast they might lose their money; they just wanted an opportunity to lose their money…It was, “Get the boats in here as soon as possible!”
Larry, I’ve got news for you: The casino managers’ philosophy is the same as that of the late, great W.C. Fields (pictured above): “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.”