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Archive for January, 2020

Anyone who thought, during last year’s municipal election campaign, that Quinton Lucas might be a bold mayor when it came to TIF projects and tax hikes should now be thoroughly disabused of the notion.

Less than six months into his first term, it’s clear the special interests — primarily the fire fighters’ union and the big developers and their attorneys — are pulling his chain just as they have been pulling the chains of most mayors and City Council members for generations.

During the campaign against former City Councilwoman Jolie Justus, Lucas made noises like he would rein in the development incentives, and he indicated he would oppose tax-hike proposals. At a debate sponsored by The Star, he said: “There are two things Kansas City doesn’t really need more of — more taxes and more task forces.”

And what have we seen?

Well, in the biggest test so far on development incentives, he voted against a big subsidy for the 25-story Strata office tower proposed for 13th and Main streets, but he declined to veto the measure, which passed with a bare majority of seven votes. A veto — the true test of a mayor’s commitment to principle — would have killed the subsidy.

And then, last week, when the Council voted to put a $21-million, quarter-cent sales tax before voters, Lucas was conveniently out of town. If voters approve the new tax in April, the revenue would be used to fund Fire Department equipment and station improvements.

Reached by The Star after the vote, Lucas sounded nothing like an opponent of new taxes, saying, lamely, that the Fire Department “has asked for an opportunity to explain to the public the rationale for a tax increase.”

The Council’s approval of the sales-tax vote was outrageous for two reasons. First, it is a naked payback to Local 42 of the International Association of Fire Fighters for their support of Lucas and most of the Council members who were elected in June. Second, Council members pushed it through the introduction-discussion-approval processwhich can take weeks or even months — in one week!

An expedited — really expedited — process at City Hall is a sure sign the rails have been greased.

The Council member out front with the grease gun was Katheryn Shields, a longtime friend of the fire fighters’ union. Shields, who was re-elected from the 4th District at large in June, will not face voters again in 2023 because she will be term limited. (Actually, she’ll be term limited for the second time because years ago she served two four-year terms and after that served two terms as Jackson County executive.)

For Shields, then, this was a free shot. For Lucas, the election will take place early enough in his first term that most voters probably will have forgotten it by the time he comes up for re-election in 2023.

It sure does stink, though…Before last week, there was zero discussion about the Fire Department needing new equipment or station upgrades. All this amounts to is Local 42 calling in the chits and the Council ponying up.

The final indignity to the public is that the Council enhanced the chances of passage by putting the sales-tax proposal on a special-election ballot in April, when turnout will be extremely light. They didn’t want to put it on either of the two general-election ballots this year — the August primary or, God forbid, the November general election, when turnout will be at its greatest by far.

**

If some of you have been wondering what happened with the David Jungerman trial — which was scheduled to get underway last week — it got pushed back.

In a recent ruling, Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence re-scheduled the trial for May 26 at the Independence courthouse.

In his order, Torrence attributed the delay to “the significant amount of discovery to complete.”

Torrence has also rejected the defense’s motion for a change of venue, which, if granted, would have either moved the trial to another jurisdiction or would have meant selecting a jury elsewhere and transporting the jury back to Jackson County for the trial.

In his ruling, Torrence said, “The defendant’s evidence failed to demonstrate either a ‘pattern of deep and bitter prejudice’ or ‘a wave of public passion’ that would make the seating of an impartial jury impossible.”

…The delay doesn’t surprise me a bit. This is a complicated case, and the defendant is a multi-millionaire with two high-paid attorneys. At first, Jungerman, who is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of lawyer Thomas Pickert — was squawking about wanting a speedy trial. After he came to realize just how strong the state’s case was, however, he began putting on the brakes.

I don’t think the delay is going to hurt the prosecution. This is primarily a circumstantial-evidence case, and the circumstances aren’t going anywhere. I am confident Jungerman will spend the rest of his life in a small room with bars.

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The Democrats are fortunate to have an outstanding team of House managers presenting the case against President Trump at the impeachment trial.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff is the team leader, but he’s hardly a one-man show. Three others who have particularly impressed me are Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California and Sylvia Garcia of Texas.

Last night, I caught a presentation by Garcia, and it was very good.

Garcia, 69, is a relative newcomer to the House of Representatives, having been elected in November 2018. She represents much of eastern Houston. Garcia began her career as a social worker and later received her doctor of jurisprudence degree from Texas Southern University. She was a state senator for five years before being elected to Congress.

Garcia’s focus last night was on Trump’s abuse of power by offering to meet at the White House with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, provided Zelensky first announced an investigation into Democrat Joe Biden and his son’s connections to the Ukrainian firm Burisma.

Here’s how Garcia closed her presentation…

Remember that abuse of power occurs when the president exercises official power to obtain personal benefit in a way that ignores or injures the national interest. Senators, that is exactly what happened here. By withholding a White House meeting, President Trump used official power to corruptly pressure Ukraine.

Indeed, the entire quid pro quo — the this for that, the entire campaign to use the Oval Office meeting as some kind of asset for the president’s re-election campaign — was corrupt. Officials knew this. Ukrainians knew this, too, and I think deep down we all know it. And I think the American people know it.

Senators, I ask you this one question: Is that not an abuse of power? Was it OK? If it’s not an abuse of power, then what is? Is it OK to withhold official acts from a foreign country until that foreign country assists your re-election effort?

If any other public official did that, he or she would be held accountable. I know that if one of us did that, we would be held accountable. The only way to hold this president accountable is right here in this trial. Otherwise you would be telling Ukraine and the world that it’s OK for the president to use our Oval Office and this country’s prestige and power for himself instead of for the American people.

If we allow this gross abuse of power to continue, this president would have free rein — free rein — to abuse his control of U.S. foreign policy for personal interests. And so would any other future president. And then this president and all presidents become above the law. A president could take the powers of the greatest office in this land and use those powers not for country, not for the American people, but for him- or herself.

I ask you to make sure this does not happen because in this country no one — no one — is above the law…Nadia está encima de la ley.

**

Jim Lehrer

I was sorry to hear of the death yesterday of Jim Lehrer, the easy-to-take anchor of “The PBS NewsHour” for many years. He was a hell of a journalist. He was 85 and died at his home in Washington. PBS announced his death but did not provide further details. He had a heart attack in 1983 and heart valve surgery in 2008.

He began his career as a newspaper reporter in Texas before switching to broadcast journalism in the early 1970s. Robert MacNeil, Lehrer’s partner, on “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report,” a precursor to NewsHour, is still alive. He turned 89 last Sunday.

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Chief Rick Smith should be on the cover of a poster promoting local control of the police department.

This is a chief who seldom fails to disappoint and who, like many chiefs before him, probably wanted the job mainly to boost his eventual retirement pay and boost his accrued vacation, sick and comp time, like his predecessor, Darryl Forte.

I’m convinced his main goal is to keep his powder dry so he can retire quietly, start drawing his big retirement check and then, like Forte and some of the retired chiefs before him, go on to another big-paying job. (Forte, as you know, didn’t retire to play golf or go fishing. After going out the back door with half a million bucks in accumulated vacation and other time, he quickly ran for Jackson County sheriff. He’s now safely entrenched in that cushy, low-pressure post for the next several years.)

Smith’s tenure got off to a bad start when he came in under the cloud of the appalling scandal in the children’s unit, where detectives were stuffing case files in their desk drawers and letting them rot. How do we know that situation has been fixed? As far as I know the department has not announced a reorganization or a plan for moving forward with renewed vigor.

And since taking over, Smith has consistently ducked the press on big stories. On two big KC Star stories within a month — one in late December that exposed the police department’s assault squad as ”woefully understaffed” and one on Sunday about the police department backing out of a multi-agency strategy to reduce murders — Smith refused to talk to The Star. Instead, he made underlings deal with those pesky reporters.

Finally, with the shoot-em-up at the 9ine Ultra Lounge off U.S. 40, Smith was forced to emerge from his office. He joined Mayor Quinton Lucas at a Monday press conference to talk about the Sunday night incident…I’ll tell you this, though: He didn’t look comfortable. He was tentative and hardly projected the take-charge, “we’ve-gotta-fix-this” attitude you want too see in a big-city police chief.

Smith on Monday

There is one and only one reason Smith hides in his office and marks the days off his calendar: With the police department firmly under state control — a holdover from the Pendergast era when local politics was thoroughly crooked — the police chief is effectively accountable to no one.

Instead of being appointed by and accountable to the mayor — who is directly accountable to voters — Kansas City’s police chief is appointed by and reports to a relatively obscure Board of Police Commissioners. Under state law, the mayor is one member of the board; the other four are appointed by the governor.

The four appointed by the governor are not accountable to the public in any way, just to the governor, who is physically and politically far removed from Kansas City. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is so removed from Kansas City that Smith would almost have to commit a crime in order for Parson to get involved. Just being MIA is not going to get the governor’s attention.

Think how different this situation would be if the police chief was appointed by and accountable to Mayor Lucas, who has made murder reduction his biggest goal and speaks publicly about it frequently. Lucas could order Smith to come out of his office and speak to the press and answer difficult questions — questions like why the assault squad is so understaffed and why he decided the department should get out of the “no-violence alliance” aimed at reducing murders.

In fact, Lucas would be able to call Smith into his office and say, “Hey…I’m telling you right now the police department is not getting out of the no-violence alliance. You stay involved or I’ll get a chief who will.”

**

My concerns about Rick Smith go back a long way. I first wrote about my misgivings in July 2017, when Smith was one of two finalists to succeed Forte.

…Everyone remembers the case of Shawn Ratigan, the Catholic priest who is serving a 50-year prison sentence for producing or attempting to produce child pornography. Specifically, he took “up skirt” photos of young girls attending the Northland grade school operated by the parish where he was assigned. Smith, a police commander, at the time, might have kept that case from totally embarrassing the diocese had he just used common sense at an early juncture, when he had the chance.

Long before the Ratigan case came to public attention, Smith was a member of a Catholic diocesan review board that assesses sexual abuse allegations. Then-Bishop Robert Finn and then-Vicar General Robert Murphy knew about the photos but did not initially bring them to the attention of the review board. Instead, Murphy phoned Smith and told him about a photo of a nude girl found on a priest’s computer. Murphy himself had not seen the photo, and he described to Smith what he understood the photo to show. Based on Murphy’s description, Smith said it might meet the definition of child pornography but probably did not.

Apparently Smith did not did not ask to see the photo and did not contact any other review board members about it. Much later, Smith told investigators he was shocked to learn there were hundreds of photos.

Finn, as we all know now, was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor count of failing to report child sex abuse, and Pope Francis forced him to resign five years ago.

…When Smith was chosen chief over Norman, Oklahoma, Police Chief Keith Humphrey, The Star reported he was greeted by “yells, celebratory screams and thunderous applause from a large group of police officers and civilian employees.”

He may be popular down the ranks, but “Seldom Seen” Smith is a far cry from what Kansas City needs and deserves in the chief’s office. The next chief needs to be from out of town; the department needs fresh blood and new eyes to examine the entire operation and shake the department out of its somnolence. (For a nearby analogy, look at the horrible and scary state of the KCK Police Department, the result of promoting one insider after another to the chief’s job.)

Beyond the need for new eyes, it is way past time for Kansas City to gain control of its police department.

It would not be easy — the best approach probably would be a statewide initiative petition followed by a statewide vote — but it could and should be done. The St. Louis Police Department, the only other one in the state that held the ignominious distinction of being under the state’s thumb, broke free in 2012, when Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition A.

I would urge Quinton Lucas to make local control of the police department just as high a priority as reducing the murder rate. For one thing, he’d have a lot better chance of reducing the murder rate if control of the police department was rooted in City Hall instead of sleepy Jefferson City.

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I’m not going to write about every day’s developments in President Trump’s impeachment trial, but I can’t resist writing about the first day, which went so long it bled from Tuesday into today.

And who was the star of the first day? Well, it was the same person who was the congressional star of the House Intelligence Committee hearings on Trump’s impeachment — U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff.

As you probably know by now, the Senate on Tuesday — and early today — debated and rejected one proposed amendment after another put forward by the House prosecution managers, led by Schiff. On each amendment, the vote was the same: 53 to 47, with the 53 Republicans voting “no” and the 47 Democrats voting “yes.”

As repetitive as the formula was, I kept watching the proceedings past midnight. The Democratic case managers’ oratorical onslaught kept me glued. (Some of you must be wondering if I’m pretty easily entertained.)

Pat Cipollone

The highlight for me came just before and after midnight (1 a.m. Washington time) after White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said this while arguing against a Democratic amendment to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify…

“President Trump is a man of his word. He made promises to the American people. And he delivered over and over and over again.”

When the words “President Trump is a man of his word” left his mouth, I laughed out loud.

After recovering, I thought that would be the end of it — an incredibly stupid statement that would soon be forgotten.

I should have known better though; I should have known Schiff would not, could not, resist that juicy piece of red meat.

In rebuttal, Schiff made a few unremarkable comments before turning to Cipollone’s jaw-dropping statement.

Here’s what Schiff said…

Finally, Mr. Cipollone says President Trump is a man of his word. Well, it’s too late in the evening for me to go into that one, except to say this: President Trump gave his word he would drain the swamp…And what have we seen? We’ve seen is personal lawyer (Michael Cohen) go to jail; his campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) go to jail; his deputy campaign chairman (Rick Gates) convicted of a different crime; his associate’s (Rudolph Giuliani’s) associate, Lev Parnas, under indictment.

The list goes on and on. That’s, I guess, how you drain the swamp: You have all your people go to jail.

I don’t think that’s really what was meant by that expression. But for purposes of why we’re here today, how does someone who promises to drain the swamp coerce an ally of ours into doing a political investigation? That is the swamp. That’s not draining the swamp, that’s exporting the swamp.

**

Despite losing every vote, it was a great day for the Democrats and another big step toward wresting the White House from Trump. As Jonathan Alter, a columnist for The Daily Beast, said on MSNBC, the Democratic managers outgunned the Republican managers all day. Regarding Schiff in particular, Alter said: “I think it will go down as one of the great performances…He just shreds the other side very time he gets up.”

Thanks, Adam. And thank you, Pat Cipollone, for being such a convenient and willing straight man.

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The New York Times significantly ratcheted up the prospects of a woman being elected president this year when it endorsed on Sunday U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic nomination.

Even though the two women’s politics are at odds — with Warren being on the progressive end and Klobuchar being in the moderate wing — The Times’ made a logical case for why either could be successful…

“There are legitimate questions about whether our democratic system is fundamentally broken. Our elections are getting less free and fair, Congress and the courts are increasingly partisan, foreign nations are flooding society with misinformation, a deluge of money flows through our politics. And the economic mobility that made the American dream possible is vanishing.

“Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.

“That’s why we’re endorsing the most effective advocates for each approach. They are Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.”

(Note: The endorsement came out online Sunday. In today’s, Monday’s, print edition, the endorsement editorial consumes both the editorial page and the Op-Ed page.)

Don’t underestimate the significance of this endorsement. With the power and influence of major metropolitan papers greatly diminished and that of the three most prestigious national papers (NYT, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal) correspondingly strengthened, millions of Democrats will take note and at least give closer looks to Warren and Klobuchar.

The Times’ editorial board has spent the last couple of weeks interviewing all the Democratic candidates, and in an excellent public service, The Times recorded the interviews and posted them online.

The Times wasted no time in following up the interviews with its endorsement. The caucus/primary season gets underway two weeks from today, with the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

The paper acknowledged that its endorsement would probably surprise many people, but, again, it was careful to explain its digression from past approaches…

“The history of the editorial board would suggest that we would side squarely with the candidate with a more traditional approach to pushing the nation forward, within the realities of a constitutional framework and a multiparty country. But the events of the past few years have shaken the confidence of even the most committed institutionalists. We are not veering away from the values we espouse, but we are rattled by the weakness of the institutions that we trusted to undergird those values.”

I’m not sure what all institutions the editorial was referring to, but it could be interpreted as taking a shot at the Democratic Party machinery for going along with the “comfortable” candidate in 2016, Hillary Clinton, when Sen. Bernie Sanders was generating much more excitement and captivating millions with his anti-establishment rhetoric and bold agenda.

**

The Times was careful to explain why it passed over Sanders and each of the other leading Democratic contenders:

Sanders is too uncompromising: “He promises that once in office, a groundswell of support will emerge to push through his agenda. Three years into the Trump administration, we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.”

Pete Buttigieg is too green: “He shows tremendous promise, though he has never won more than 11,000 votes in any election. His showing in the lead-up to the primaries predicts a bright political future; we look forward to him working his way up.”

Andrew Yang is similarly unprepared: “He points to new solutions to 21st-century challenges rather than retrofitting old ideas. Yet he has virtually no experience in government. We hope he decides to get involved in New York politics.”

Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the nomination: “Rather than build support through his ideas and experience, Mr. Bloomberg has spent at least $217 million to date to circumvent the hard, uncomfortable work of actual campaigning.”

Joe Biden is too old and not bold enough: “But merely restoring the status quo will not get America where it needs to go as a society. What’s more, Mr. Biden is 77. It is time for him to pass the torch to a new generation of political leaders.”

**

And why, more specifically, did The Times chose Warren and Klobuchar?

Klobuchar is down to earth and pragmatic:

“Amy Klobuchar has emerged as a standard-bearer for the Democratic center. Her vision goes beyond the incremental. Given the polarization in Washington and beyond, the best chance to enact many progressive plans could be under a Klobuchar administration.

“The senator from Minnesota is the very definition of Midwestern charisma, grit and sticktoitiveness. Her lengthy tenure in the Senate and bipartisan credentials would make her a deal maker (a real one) and uniter for the wings of the party — and perhaps the nation.”

Warren is authentic and inspirational:

“Senator Warren is a gifted storyteller. She speaks elegantly of how the economic system is rigged against all but the wealthiest Americans, and of ‘our chance to rewrite the rules of power in our country,’ as she put it in a speech last month. In her hands, that story has the passion of a convert, a longtime Republican from Oklahoma and a middle-class family, whose work studying economic realities left her increasingly worried about the future of the country. The word ‘rigged’ feels less bombastic than rooted in an informed assessment of what the nation needs to do to reassert its historic ideals like fairness, generosity and equality.”

**

Let the primary season get underway, then, and, as The Times said in closing its editorial, “May the best woman win.”

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It’s not often that news of the death of a very well-known person can be kept quiet for more than a week, but it happened this week and last.

I learned about the death of former Walmart CEO and former Kansas City Royals owner David Glass from a story posted this afternoon on The Star’s website.

Just as surprising to me about his death — there had been no reports of ill health — was the fact that he died on Jan. 9 — eight days ago.

The Star’s report said he had died of “complications associated with pneumonia” but did not say where he died.

I presume he died in or near Bentonville, AR, his home. He was 84.

I have no idea what the Glass family had in mind when they decided to withhold news of his death, but it is, indeed, strange.

The fact that they were able to keep it quiet has a lot to do with where he lived. Northwest Arkansas, which revolves around the towns of Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers and Springdale, is pretty insular. Although Bentonville is home to Walmart, which Glass formerly headed, and Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas is a bit isolated.

At the same time, several people in Kansas City almost surely would have known about his death about the time it occurred. Glass had a close relationship with Royals General Manager Dayton Moore, and Glass’s son Dan has been — and still is, I presume — president of the Royals. Others who I would think would have known were John Sherman, leader of a local group that bought the Royals from Glass last year, and George Brett.

It is a mystery to me how Glass’s death got by the media. The two main organizations I would have expected to have the news last week were The Star and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. But neither did.

The Star has a full-time Royals “beat” writer, Lynn Worthy. Where was he? In addition, columnists Sam Mellinger and Vahe Gregorian are well connected to Royals’ brass, and I would think someone would have tipped one of them. In fairness, they and most of The Star’s sports staff have been singularly focused on the Chiefs and their attempted run at their first Super Bowl in 50 years. Worthy, on the other hand, has no excuse: He has been covering Royals’ developments during the off season and has not been involved in Chiefs’ coverage.

In the bigger picture, the media’s inability to sniff out Glass’s death earlier could well be due to the massive contraction in the newspaper industry, particularly at the metro level. Metro papers almost everywhere are having big troubles. The Star’s owner, the McClatchy Co., is on the verge of reorganization or bankruptcy, and its focus is on its survival and what the future holds for the company itself as much as what’s going on in the world.

**

Death is always sudden, but this is another instance of how time slips away…I have this mental image of Glass as an energetic, burly, craggy faced guy. But a photo I came across of him in the Royals’ dugout around the time former manager Ned Yost announced his retirement shows him to be very thin, almost emaciated.

Glass with Ned Yost and TV sports reporter Karen Kornacki.

Glass announced his intention to sell the Royals to the Sherman group for about $1 billion last August. (Glass told The Star then he had no known or immediate health problems.) In September, Yost announced he would retire at the end of the season. That’s when this photo was taken.

Glass’ connection with the Royals officially ended Nov. 21, when Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of the team to the Sherman group.

Relatively speaking, it seems like an eternity between Jan. 9, when Glass died, and today, when the Glass family announced his death.

This looks like the Glass family’s biggest and final victory — sitting on news of the patriarch’s death for eight long days. Why the delay? We’ll probably never know.

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The Star has two special sections on the Chiefs today, and one of them, contrasting the members of the 1969-70 championship team with the 2019-2020 team, was particularly interesting.

Some of the Super Bowl IV players who were highlighted included defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, tight end Fred Arbanas, safety Johnny Robinson, wide receiver Otis Taylor, linebacker Bobby Bell, kicker Jan Stenerud, and, of course, quarterback Len Dawson.

Over time, those players and many of the others from that team became legendary, awesome figures. Bigger than life-size, they were towering icons, looming high above us average, toiling mortals.

I had arrived in Kansas City to work for The Star in September 1969, and, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t caught up in the magic of that season. I was mostly caught up in my new job and getting settled in my new city. I don’t recall even watching the Chiefs games on TV that season, although I’m sure I must have watched the Super Bowl, assuming I wasn’t pulling a Sunday shift at 18th and Grand that day.

What I do remember is that when the championship parade took place a day or two after the Super Bowl victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the parade went right by the east windows of The Star building, along Grand Avenue. Everyone in the newsroom went over to the tall east-side windows and watched parts of the parade go by.

For me, the members of that team didn’t become legendary until I started going to games in the early 1970s and the Super Bowl heroes began retiring one at a time. It was hard to see them step out of the limelight. I met a few of them over the years, and I have clear memories of others.

Today, as the Chiefs try to take another step toward what would be their second Super Bowl, here are a few of my faint connections to and memories of some of those phenomenal figures…

Mo Moorman

Mo Moorman and I went to the same high school, St. Xavier in Louisville, KY. He was the star of our team, which won the state championship in 1962. I never met Mo, a hulking guard, but I remember an incident that occurred one day after school. Moorman and another kid got into it and were mouthing at each other. The other kid, much smaller than Mo, pried a hubcap off a car and got set to go after Mo. About that time, the football coach, Johnny Meihaus, came upon the dust-up and restored the peace. Mo went on to attend Texas A&M, and was the Chiefs’ first-round draft choice in 1968. In the Super Bowl, he threw the key block on the famous “65 Toss Power Trap” that Coach Hank Stram called on the sidelines and then chortled about as he was mic’d for sound on national TV. (In the video, Moorman, No. 76, is the right guard who pulls out to the left and opens a big hole for running back Mike Garrett.) After retiring, Moorman returned to Louisville and became a successful beer distributor. Now retired, he still lives in the Louisville area.

Fred Arbanas

I got to know Fred in the early ’70s, after he was elected to the Jackson County Legislature, which I covered for The Star from 1971 to 1978. He was always friendly and cooperative — a good guy to cover as a reporter. The most amazing thing about Arbanas as a football player is that he played the bulk of his career, and did well, with just one eye. In today’s special section, reporter Blair Kerkhoff says Arbanas “lost sight in one eye in an accident.” Well, it was hardly an accident. Arbanas told me the story…He was outside a bar on the southeast corner of Armour and Troost — the bar was called either King Arthur’s Round Table or Knights Round Table — when a guy approached him and said, “Are you Fred Arbanas?” Arbanas said, “Yes,” and extended his hand to shake the man’s hand. Instead of returning the gesture in kind, the man took a big swing at Arbanas and struck him in the eye. It was a sucker punch that cost Arbanas the sight of one eye. Arbanas lives in eastern Jackson County

Buck Buchanan

I met Buck sometime in the 1990s, after the Chiefs had qualified for the playoffs for the first time since the glory years. I was doing a story on Chiefs’ owner Lamar Hunt, who allowed me to accompany him as he greeted tailgaters in the parking lot before a playoff game and then to join him in his suite at Arrowhead. Buchanan and his wife Georgia were among those in the suite, and I got to meet them. I remember Buck being humble and friendly and smiling. I knew he was associated with the Black Chamber of Commerce at the time, and I asked him if he was president of the organization. “Oh, no,” he replied, “I’m just the chairman.” (Later, Buck was the subject of one of the most ridiculous reporting errors that ever appeared in The Star. Features columnist Hearne Christopher reported that Buck was the designer of a Japanese garden outside a home at 66th and Ward Parkway. In fact, the designer was a landscaper named Buck Buchan.) Buck Buchanan died of lung cancer in 1992 at age 51.

Ed Budde

Ed, an offensive guard, was the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 1963. In the 1970 Super Bowl, he was able to contain the Vikings’ right defensive tackle, Hall-of-Famer Alan Page. I was at the stadium the day Ed retired in 1976. Summoned to the center of the field, he blew a kiss to the cheering fans on one side of the stadium, then turned around and blew a kiss to the fans on the other side. Several years later, I saw him at a Kentucky Derby and introduced myself. He was with Paul Hornung, a Louisville native who had starred at Notre Dame and then with the Green Bay Packers. I told Ed how much I had enjoyed his kiss-blowing goodbye. He broke into a big smile and said, “Did you like that?” Ed’s son, Brad Budde, played for the Chiefs from 1980 to 1987. Ed and Brad have been the first and only father and son in NFL history to be drafted in the first round by the same team and played the same position. Ed Budde is still alive and, I trust, still living in the Kansas City area.

I hope some of the Chiefs players on the field today become as memorable and legendary as those four Chiefs greats.

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