After reading the editorial and Op-Ed pages of today’s Kansas City Star, I am more convinced than ever that we opponents of Jackson County Question 1 are poised for a big victory on Tuesday.
Three letters to the editor bashed the proposal; editorial board member Yael Abouhalkah threw another uppercut in his weekly Op-Ed column; and even the leading editorial, deftly couched in the Halloween theme (“Be very, very scared”), called Question 1 a “spooky scenario.”
I can’t recall ever having seen such an imbalance in the number of letters to the editor on a tax issue. I think The Star has run two or three letters in favor of the half-cent, medical-research, sales-tax proposal, but I’ll bet two dozen opposing letters run.
What’s even more surprising about the imbalance is that when one campaign committee, such as Citizens for Research, Treatments and Cures, has an overwhelming amount of money, its consultants usually can ghost write letters and find people to sign them and send them in.
That does not appear to be the case here. All I can conclude from what I don’t see is that very few people are willing to attach their names to a letter urging passage of the tax.
Here’s a sample of what today’s writers said.
Charles Wilson of Lee’s Summit said:
“This is not a public works project worthy of taxpayer funding. This is a private, for-profit venture by groups to fund their research at taxpayer expense…Taxpayers, watch your pockets.”
Chris Haberman-Wilson of Overland Park (can’t vote, of course) urged people to read an article titled “How science goes wrong” in the Oct. 19 edition of “The Economist.”
And Mary Lindsay or Kansas City said she was “disgusted” by a mailer that lauded the benefits of “translational medicine” but bore no disclaimer — as required by law — regarding who had paid for the piece.
For his part, Yael said a significant amount of translational research (aimed at shortening the time between advances and use by consumers) already is taking place in the Kansas City area, particularly at the KU Medical Center’s “Frontiers” program. Two years ago, the medical center received a $20 million National Institutes of Health grant for clinical and translational research.
All these developments — the editorializing and the angry voices of area residents — are looming like a giant hammerhead over Citizens for Research, Treatments and Cures.
The committee’s major backers and funders — individuals and firms connected with the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City — are dealing themselves a serious blow. Ordinarily, we residents tend to hold our civic leaders up for admiration for their contributions to the city and county, but those leaders have now dug a deep hole for themselves.
The last time the Civic Council — a secretive organization (no public membership list, no website) consisting of the CEOs of the areas biggest companies and the managing partners of the largest law firms — got so deeply involved in a political issue was 1991. That year, the Civic Council hand picked its mayoral candidate, Brice Harris, a Metropolitan Community Colleges administrator.
Harris and the Civic Council were in over their heads, and Harris didn’t even make it out of the primary election. In the general election, then-Councilman Emanuel Cleaver easily defeated Councilman Bob Lewellen, a unique and blunt-speaking guy who died a couple of years ago.
My suggestion to Civic Council leaders is that they get back to their real business — guiding their businesses and law firms — and don’t resurface on the political landscape for at least another 22 years.
Then, we (our the next generation of political activists) can whack them on the head again.
Note: The proponents will be holding their “watch party” at Union Station. The place to be Tuesday night, however, will be the opponents’ “victory party” at The Drop, 409 E. 31st St. (just west of Gillham). Appetizers will be served, with guests purchasing their own beverages.
All readers are invited!