Archive for November, 2016

OK, class, smoke break is over; get back to those desks.

We’ve got a lot of reviewing to do before you go to the polls on Tuesday. (Hey, I’m talkin’ to you, Missouri voters; you Kansans are on your own!)

Yesterday, we covered the five Missouri constitutional amendments and Missouri Proposition A. Today we look at the three Jackson County questions, the three Kansas City, MO, questions and the Mid-Continent Public Library Proposition L.

Jackson County Question 1

p1060461With so many bogus and confusing proposals on the ballot, it’s no wonder Jackson County officials, including County Executive Frank White and Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker are pushing hard for renewal of the quarter-cent Community Backed Anti-Drug Tax, aka COMBAT. This tax has been in effect since 1984, and voters generally look favorably on renewing taxes that have not been marred by scandal. Although I’m a bit dubious about the effectiveness of COMBAT funds, it has been free of scandal, as far as I know. Among other things, COMBAT funds support 23 drug-treatment organizations, according to a Frank White letter to the editor in today’s Kansas City Star.

I see no good reason to vote against this renewal. Also, I trust Frank White and Jean Peters Baker.

My recommendation: Vote YES on Jackson County Question 1.

Jackson County Question 2

p1060471Despite the misleading yard signs you might have seen (RENEW with Question 2), this would be a NEW sales tax — always something to be leery about. An eighth of a cent, to be precise. The yard signs also play on people’s perceived empathy for child-related measures, with the words, “Hope for Children.” The ballot language says the revenue would establish “a Community Children’s Services Fund for the purpose of providing services to protect the well-being and safety of children and youth nineteen years of age or less and to strengthen families.

Too vague for me. Sounds like the backers are promising a sinecure for all juvenile problems.

My recommendation: Vote NO on Jackson County Question 2. 

Jackson County Question 3

This one is going to have voters scratching their heads, partly because the ballot language is a challenging. Once you’ve figured it out, it’s appealing in one sense because it would end the collection of county sales taxes on cars, trucks, boats, trailers and motors purchased out of state. So, you could go to Kansas, buy a car and avoid paying the Jackson County sales tax when you register it in Missouri. Sounds good, but the down side is it would put Jackson County car and boat dealers at a competitive disadvantage with Kansas dealers.

Who among us want to do something to help Kansas at Jackson County’s expense? Raise your hands…I thought so.

My recommendation: Vote NO on Jackson County Question 3. 

Kansas City Question 1

This would “remove from the park system vacant property of about 1.2 acres located generally between E. 23rd Street and E. 24th Street west of Flora Avenue.”

In a ballot as long and difficult as this, it’s understandable if voters are looking for machine gunners behind every tree. Not to worry. This is hamburger stuff. 

My recommendation: Vote YES on Kansas City Question 1.

Kansas City Question 2

This would “remove from the park system vacant property of approximately 2.6016 acres located generally east of Lister Avenue and south of E. Linwood Boulevard.” (Note: approximately 2.6016 acres. I’m sure glad they didn’t try to measure it down to the last hundred-thousandth acre.)

No machine gunner behind this tree, either.

My recommendation: Vote YES on Kansas City Question 2. 

Kansas City Question 3

Let’s face it, Clay Chastain isn’t going away until he’s dead. (I hate to wish a premature death on anyone, but with Clay, it’s tempting.) This is his hundred-thousandth light rail plan, and I won’t dignify it with a recommendation.

Mid-Continent Public Library Proposition L

1585This library system has 31 branches and serves 800,000 people in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties. Some of those people are in Kansas City, although Mid-Continent does not overlap the Kansas City Public Library system. Proposition L would provide for a property tax increase of 8 cents for each hundred dollars of assessed valuation (for homeowners in the district boundaries). The current 32-cent levy has been the same since 1983.

It’s about time I quoted the late, great (actually still living and still kicking) KC Star editorial writer Yael Abouhalkah. Recently, on his blog, he said this about Proposition L. “If your house is worth $100,000, the tax increase would cost you an extra $15.20 a year. Got a $200,000 piece of property? That’s $30.40 extra a year. That’s a reasonable price to pay for improved public assets.”

My recommendation: Vote YES on Mid-Continent Public Library Proposition L  


There you have it, readers. You should be well armed now, at least as it pertains to most of the issues on the Missouri-side ballot…A frequent commenter asked yesterday if I had any candidate recommendations. I think most of you know your candidates and how you’re going to vote, but for the record my big three in Missouri are Kander (he can assemble an automatic rifle blindfolded!), Koster (bought and paid for by the special interests, but consider the alternative!) and Hensley (she cares for the kids!)

Go get ’em, voters.

Read Full Post »

I hear you crying out in the wilderness, Missouri voters. The words are faint because you’re deep in the forest, but what I’m hearing is: “Please, help me understand this long, crazy election ballot.”

Today and tomorrow, your supplications will be answered.

Since The Kansas City Star is not in a position to render much assistance (its editorial board having been effectively wiped out by a new publisher bent on taking the paper in a new editorial direction), JimmyCSays will help you cut through the ballot fog.

I voted absentee Wednesday at Center High School, and I can assure you the lines and wait times will be long at the polls next Tuesday. It took me 30 to 40 minutes to check in, wait in a line of six or seven people to get a ballot and then fill out the paper ballot by hand. (At Center, you do not have the option of voting absentee on one of the relatively few electronic machines the Kansas City Election Board has.)

…As an aside, Missouri and the Kansas City Election Board are incredibly backward when it comes to election systems. Missouri does not allow early voting because the Republicans who control the Legislature want to keep the vote down. And the KCEB clings tenaciously to the paper-ballot system, which makes voters feel like kindergartener experimenting with their first sets of crayons.

logo-buttonAnyway, the Kansas City, MO, ballot includes five state constitutional amendments; a statewide proposition; three Jackson County questions; three Kansas City questions; and, in parts of the city, a Mid-Continent Library proposition.

Today, let’s take a look at the five constitutional amendments and the statewide proposition. The biggest oddity on the ballot is dueling measures that would raise the cigarette tax — the lowest in the nation, at 17 cents a pack. We look at the dueling measures first.

Amendment 3 and Proposition A

:: Amendment 3 would add 60 cents to the cigarette tax, to be phased in over four years. The revenue would go toward child health and education programs.

The initial backers of this amendment were early childhood education advocates in St. Louis. Their intentions were, and are, good. The main problems: the tax hike is not large enough to deter people from smoking, and none of the revenue would go toward educating people about the hazards of smoking or smoking cessation programs. Here’s another wrinkle: R.J. Reynolds, seeing an opportunity to pre-empt a larger tax increase down the road, jumped in and decided to push hard for passage. So far, it has spent $12 million promoting the measure…That should tell you everything you need to know.

My recommendation: Vote NO on Amendment 3.

:: Fielding its own pawns and bishops in this smoking chess game, the convenience store industry countered with Proposition A, which would raise the cigarette tax by a measly 23 cents a pack and would allow marketers of discount cigarettes to keep their price advantage over the major brands. (One part of Amendment 3 would eliminate that advantage.) Revenue generated by Proposition A would go for roads and bridges.

Like I said, the convenience store industry is promoting the measure…That should tell you everything you need to know.

My recommendation: Vote NO on Proposition A.

Amendment 1

This is a proposed renewal of a one-tenth-of-a-cent sales tax that generates $90 million a year for soil and water conservation and to help cover operational costs at state parks and historic sites.

Voters first approved this sales tax in 1984. It’s been a big positive for Missouri.

My recommendation: Vote YES on Amendment 1.    

Amendment 2 

Since 2008, Missouri has had no limit on campaign contributions in state races. Amendment 2 would set a limit of $2,600 per election cycle — $2,600 in a primary and $2,600 in a general. It also would set a ceiling of $25,000 on donations to a political party. Credit for this proposal goes to Fred Sauer, a businessman from St. Louis, who says caps would help to rebuild trust in state government.

This is about as straightforward and basic as a proposal gets: Do you want to live in a state that limits campaign contributions or one where the special interests can spend as much as they like and are able?

My recommendation: Vote YES on Amendment 2. 

Amendment 4

Like Amendment 3 and Proposition A, this is another crazy proposal. It would bar any new state or local taxes on services or transactions that are not currently subjected to sales taxes. Some of its chief backing comes from realtors, who are peering into the forest and envisioning real-estate-transaction fees behind every tree.

I don’t like sales taxes. It’s the most regressive tax there is, hitting hardest those with the lowest incomes. At the same time, it makes no sense to me to attempt to pre-empt every conceivable new sales tax. I prefer to vote on tax proposals one at a time, considering the merits of each.

My recommendation: Vote NO on Amendment 4. 

Amendment 6
This looks suspiciously like Kris Kobach creep. The man who has made a name for himself by trying to limit Democratic voter turnout in Kansas must have inspired the backers of Amendment 6, which would require voters to show photo i.d. at the polls.

I’m a Democrat…Need I say more?

My recommendation: Vote NO on Amendment 6.


One final recommendation: Whatever jurisdiction you live in, go to your election board’s website and carefully review the “Sample Ballot,” which lays out exactly what you will see at the polls. You’ll be glad you took the time to familiarize yourself with the issues and ballot language.

Tomorrow: The three Jackson County questions; the three Kansas City, MO, questions; and Proposition L, which would benefit the Mid-Continent Library.

Read Full Post »

I’ve managed to wean myself off the Chiefs, for the most part, but while on the Internet looking for news developments Sunday, a football-related headline on The Star’s website caught my eye.

It said something about Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith having taken a hard hit to the head in the first half of the game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Although I’ve pretty much given up watching the Chiefs, mainly because of the high incidence of long-term brain injury from repeated head poundings, I turned on the TV a few minutes later to see who would be substituting for Smith.

To my surprise and wonderment, none other than Alex Smith was still quarterbacking the team. I didn’t understand…Hadn’t he taken a hard shot to the head? Shouldn’t he be out of the game?

It was near the end of the first half, and the announcers weren’t talking about a hit to the head, so I turned off the TV and didn’t think anything more about it.

Later, I learned that he had taken a second hard hit to the head, and that time they took him out of the game for good.

The line the Chiefs put out later was Smith had passed the “concussion protocol” test, administered by physicians on the sideline, and had been cleared for return to play.

But there was great confusion after the game about whether Smith had passed one or both concussion tests. In his post-game news conference, Coach Andy Reid said Smith had passed both tests, theoretically making him eligible to return after the second hard hit. But a Chiefs’ official corrected him, advising him Smith had failed the second test. Today, however, the Chiefs said that Smith had, indeed, passed the second test, although he didn’t return to the game.

What a disaster.

smithThis is a quarterback getting paid $17 million a year, and they put him back in the game after a hard hit to the head that left him woozy. I didn’t see either hit, but the second one must have been a doozy. The centerpiece photo in The Star’s sports section on Monday shows Smith lying flat on his back, his right hand slightly elevated and limp, while a trainer holds his head and talks to him. I don’t think Alex was hearing much, though, because, looking at the picture, you could clearly see his eyeballs had rolled up under his eyelids. It was the classic image of a guy who was totally out of it.

In his post-game column, The Star’s Sam Mellinger lambasted the NFL for its hazy and sloppy concussion protocol. He said, in part…

But if the league is wondering why it’s losing so many casual fans, it might look at a system it admits is broken, is avoided by some players and deemed suspicious by others, in no small part because it sometimes means a quarterback we all suspect has a concussion is being allowed to play until taking another hit we all know damn well caused a concussion.


That’s fine, but Mellinger missed the mark by, oh, about 100 yards. Here’s why…

At a news conference Monday, Andy Reid tried to wash his hands of responsibility. “Experts,” he said, make the determination on whether a player has suffered a concussion, and if the experts clear a man to play, then back in the game he goes. “They’ve taken the coach out of it,” Reid said.

Oh, really? Well, that’s not my understanding of football…I don’t care how many people tell a coach a player “passed” the protocol, the final determination — the judgment that matters most — lies with the coach. He’s responsible for everything that takes place on the field and on the sidelines during the game. He’s the person ultimately responsible for making sure that a player, once injured, does not get injured more severely.  


Andy Reid

It’s elemental. But what I heard was Reid sloughing off the questions in a clipped and casual manner and failing to take responsibility. And Mellinger? Well, it’s a lot easier for a sports columnist to blame the league than the head coach, whose cooperation and access he needs week in and week out.

The NFL concussion protocol may be faulty, but Mellinger put the brunt of the blame on the wrong party: It was Andy Reid who failed Alex Smith.

Finally, although he supposedly passed both concussion tests, I bet Alex Smith will not be playing when the Chiefs take the field Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They’ll say they’re keeping him out as a “precaution.”

Well, that’s exactly what Andy Reid should have done Sunday. These head hits are a serious business, and Reid should not be sloughing them off like irritating questions at a news conference.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts