Archive for July, 2022

It’s just four days until the primaries in both Kansas and Missouri, and the most interesting action is on the Kansas side.

The abortion amendment has rightfully received a ton of attention, and then there’s the race for chairman of the Johnson County Commission.

With longtime chairman Ed Eilert, a legend in Johnson County politics, stepping down, four candidates are running to replace him. Two are current commissioners — Charlotte O’Hara, a conservative, and Shirley Allenbrand, who appears to be a moderate. She has gained Eilert’s endorsement, which should help considerably.


The other candidates are Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly, who, according to The Star, is best known for combating climate change, and certified public accountant Ken Selzer, who, like O’Hara, questions the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

It’s a nonpartisan race, officially, and the top two finishers in the primary will face off in the November general election


I have never made recommendations in Kansas races, but the picture seems pretty clear here: Kelly and Allenbrand are the logical choices.

If both of them lose in the primary, I’m going to be very disappointed. And if one of them doesn’t win out in November, I’ll be doubly disappointed.

So, Johnson County readers and residents, Vote Allenbrand or Kelly!


On the Missouri side, the Jackson County legislative races seem to be the most important thing on the ballot, for what that’s worth. I’m familiar with a few legislators — such as Scott Burnett and Ron Finley — but otherwise I don’t know much about that political body, even though I covered the courthouse from 1971 to 1978 and like to think I have my ear to the ground.

One reason we don’t hear much about the Legislature is The Star hasn’t covered the courthouse with any regularity in years. Another factor is County Executive Frank White — a shoo-in for re-election — is a terrible leader. The best thing I can say for him is he apparently has learned to keep his personal financial problems out of the news.

But there is one legislative candidate I am high on and even contributed to. That’s Megan Marshall, a Democrat, who is challenging incumbent Tony Miller for the 3rd District at-large seat. It takes a lot of courage and self-confidence to take on an incumbent in a countywide race, but I think Marshall is going to do it.

I met her last year at a South Kansas City Alliance meeting. I was sitting next to her in the audience, and we struck up a conversation. Turns out she is a member of the Lee’s Summit School Board (elected in 2020) and served served 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Her website says she was an adviser to senior commanders and provided technical and tactical logistics expertise in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Megan Marshall

On the personal front, she has two children; participates in marathons and obstacle-course competition; and is vice president of Lee’s Summit Cares, a non-profit organization that works to build healthy and safe communities for children and families.

Marshall has the support of a key Democratic political organization, Freedom Inc., which operates primarily on Kansas City’s east side and will produce thousands of votes for Marshall and the other candidates it has endorsed.

I don’t know much about Tony Miller, except that he’s a Democrat who barely beat a woman named Roberta Gough in the 2018 primary election, enabling him to advance to the Legislature without opposition in that year’s general election.

I feel confident in recommending Megan Marshall in Tuesday’s primary.


One of the most interesting things about elections to me is the use of yard signs. A proliferation of yard signs often is an indication of a vibrant, well-funded campaign — well, at least well funded.

I’ve got a Megan Marshall sign in my yard, and I convinced a neighbor to put one up.

Around the corner from me, on Ward Parkway, a homeowner who must be a newcomer to yard signs, has a large Marshall sign, but instead of it being placed perpendicular to the traffic flow, it’s parallel to it. That doesn’t do much good. Check it out…

I doubt that Marshall’s campaign volunteers erected that because even volunteers just getting into politics know that visibility and name identity for your candidate is critical.

Another thing that confounds me is when I see Missouri-side yard signs for Kansas candidates and vice versa.

Down the street, where my street joins State Line Road, one of my Missouri-side neighbors has a large Ken Seltzer sign facing State Line Road.

That sign irritated me a bit before I knew anything about Selzer, and now that I know Selzer is an election denier, I’m appalled at not only him but also my neighbor…We only see each other in passing, and I can guarantee you that’s the way it will stay.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and be sure to vote Tuesday. Remember, even the dull races are important!


Correction: In writing my original version of this post, I misunderstood Mike Kelly’s position on climate change. I apologize for the error.

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I’m still playing catch-up on the news after three weeks out of the country, but the biggest political story in Missouri is the race to succeed retiring U.S. senator Roy Blunt.

I don’t know what you think, but to me this is about as frustrating and muddled a political situation as you can imagine.

And I’m talking about from all angles — Republican, Democratic and independent.

All the Republican candidates, including Attorney General Eric Schmitt, former Gov. Eric Greitens and U.S. Rep. Vicki Hartzler, are awful and should not be serving U.S. residents in any capacity, as far as I’m concerned.

And yet one of them — probably Schmitt — will almost surely succeed Blunt, who at least has some character and very likely loathes, privately, Donald Trump…(I would have a lot higher opinion of him if he’d have just said so at some point…like on Jan. 7, 2021.)

But that’s enough about the Republicans — they make me want to go back to Amsterdam — so let’s turn to the Democratic side.

Lucas Kunce

One of the two leading candidates is 39-year-old Lucas Kunce, a lawyer and self-described populist. He seems very smart and well-intended, but he has zero political experience (why don’t these people with stars in their eyes start out at the city council level?), and even though he’s been running for 16 months, he has not been able to establish much of a profile or name identity.

His main opponent is Trudy Busch Valentine, 65, who, although she announced her candidacy a full year after Kunce, is now leading the race.

Busch Valentine is the kind of candidate who makes you grind your teeth. She is an heiress to the Busch/Budweiser fortune, which, unfortunately, made her a formidable candidate the day she announced her candidacy. In addition, she also has zero political experience and, moreover, has no interest in, or ability to, campaign at the grass-roots level.

She is woefully ignorant of the issues and has had made some gaffes, including on LGBT matters, which, admittedly, could confound the most seasoned and deft of politicians.

Busch Valentine’s plan is to flood TV and mail boxes with ads that present her as a sincere and caring person who has Missourians’ best interests (whatever those might be) at heart.

Indicative of the political wind carrying her along, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver endorsed her two months after she entered the race. Cleaver usually doesn’t take sides in Democratic primaries at any level, and the fact that he quickly came out for Busch Valentine tells me that’s where the smart money is.

The betting money is probably right: A recent poll from Emerson College (in Boston) and The Hill (a political website out of Washington) showed Busch Valentine supported by 39 percent of respondents, Kunce by 35 percent, with 22 percent of respondents saying they were undecided.


In addition to the clutter on the Republican and Democratic sides, there’s a real joker in the deck.

John Wood, who recently stepped down as senior legislative counsel to the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot, is planning to become an independent candidate on the November ballot, assuming enough voters sign petitions to put him on the ballot.

John Wood — could there be a duller name? — was recruited and is being pushed by former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, grandson of the founder of Ralston Purina. Danforth has personally contributed $5 million to a political action committee supporting Wood, and he has said he will try to raise an additional $20 million.

John Wood

To me, this is utter folly. Wood appears to be a dishrag of a candidate, and I have no idea who would vote for him or why.


  • Republicans won’t vote for him because they’ve got plenty of great (in their warped view) Trump-ass-licking candidates to choose from.
  • Democrats won’t vote for him because while he’s the antithesis of the Trump-ass-licking crowd, he’s so conservative that he supports the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
  • Finally, there aren’t enough independents in Missouri to fill Party Cove at Lake of the Ozarks.


So, here we are, less than a week before the primary, with this muddled, ridiculous situation. I guess I’ll vote for Kunce, but I really won’t care if he loses. If he does, we’ll be subjected to a barrage of Trudy Busch Valentine ads in the fall, and then she will lose to the Republican nominee.

There it is…No drama…Just business as usual in a state that about a million or so Democrats are stuck in.

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Patty and I returned Friday night from an exhausting but exhilirating three-week trip to Europe.

Two of the first people I spoke with after returning asked me the same question: What was the highlight?

It’s impossible to say. If you’ve been, you know Europe is a highlight reel, where you go from one spectacular place to another.

Our trip began with a week-long cruise up the Rhone River from Avignon to Lyon in southern France. From there, we took the fast train to Paris, where we spent five days. Then it was on to Bruges, Belgium, for three days and finally Amsterdam for the last three days of touring.

I always say real life has a way of interjecting itself into vacations, and this was no exception. A few days into the cruise, one of our traveling companions came down with Covid. A couple of days later, her husband got it, and the day we traveled to Paris I got it. Only Patty, who had it several months ago, was spared. Fortunately, none of us had a particularly bad case. I spent one day in bed in our Airbnb but was back on the streets the next day.

…I’ve got quite a few photos to show you, so let’s get right to them, and I’ll continue the travelogue as we proceed.

Here’s our group — me, Patty, Julie and Jim — on the Viking Buri, a river boat that holds about 190 passengers.
It doesn’t get dark until about 10 p.m. in Europe during the summer. I took this photo from the upper deck of our boat.
The cruise began at Avignon, northwest of Marseille.
If I hadn’t said we were in France, you might have guessed from this photo, which I took in Vienne.
Lyon is the third largest city in France, after Paris and Marseille. Its prominent landmark is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, on the hill at left. The basilica is sometimes called “the upside down elephant.”
Covid knocked me out of action on Monday, July 11, but Tuesday the 12th I was back on my feet, walking near one of the world’s great landmarks.
Paris is famous for, among other things, its cafes and continuous fashion show on the streets. Suffice it to say, jeans and athletic shoes are not in vogue…Paris, while not to be missed, is also maddening because of the hordes of residents and visitors. Patty summed it up perfectly when she said, “Paris is mayhem.”
Topping Montmartre, a large hill in Paris 18th “arrondissement,” is the Basilica of the Sacre-Coeur. Somehow, I made it up Montmartre’s many steps. Having “conquered” the hill, we took the funicular back down.
Looming above the city of Bruges, Belgium, is its Belfrey, which formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives and also served as an observation post for spotting fires and other dangers. We went to Bruges primarily because Patty is of Belgian descent.
We had made arrangements to see several of Patty’s relatives, but after telling them about our cases of Covid, we were able to meet only two of her cousins, Ivan and Rita Bossuyt, who joined us for dinner in Bruges on two successive nights.
Then we were in Amsterdam, my favorite European city. It is much easier to navigate than Paris, and many of its streets, like this one, have a singular charm.
At a “brasserie,” a lady enjoyed a smoke and her newspapers.
The most spectacular and distinguishing element of Amsterdam is its ring of canals, which provide an important transportation link as well as boat tours for tourists. Amsterdam, which was founded in 1250, got its name from the dam that was constructed in the city’s center. “Aeme Stelle Redamme” is Medieval Dutch for “Dam in a Watery Area.” People own the houseboats that line some of the canals, and the owners also pay rent to the city for the space.
This is the confluence of the Amstel River and the Prinsengracht canal (flowing into the river under the bridge in the background).
Owing to their age, some of Amsterdam’s buildings lean.
The Rijkesmuseum, above, and the nearby Van Gogh Museum are two of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions, along with the Anne Frank House…We went to both museums but unfortunately had to pass on the Anne Frank House — which I’ve been to before — partly because 80 percent of the tickets are sold online two months in advance. Tickets cannot be purchased at the museum itself, so if you ever go to Amsterdam and want to tour the house — a must — be sure to research the ticket situation.
This is Rijkesmuseum’s airy and welcoming entrance hall. On April 13, 2013, the main building was reopened after a 10-year renovation that cost 375 million euros. Rijkesmuseum has about 8,000 art and historical objects on display, including Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch,” which is famous for three things: its colossal size (12 by 14 1/2 feet), the artist’s dramatic use of light and shadow, and the perception of motion in what would have traditionally been a static military-group portrait.
The final photo is of these two women who waited on us at the Eetcafe Blaubrug, where we had one of our last meals. I didn’t get their names, but in addition to being great servers, they suggested we take the ferry to “Amsterdam Noord.” North Amsterdam is a trendy area that features, among other things, the Street Art Museum, which opened in 2012. Nowhere else in the world is graffiti elevated to such a level. Viva Amsterdam!

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