Archive for December, 2022

A few weeks ago, I wrote two columns about the dishonor that Kansas City Manager Brian Platt has brought to City Hall with his assertion to Chris Hernandez, former communications director, that lying was an acceptable media strategy.

As I pointed out back then, the Platt story does not seem to have ignited significant public outrage, and I proposed that many people have become conditioned to government officials lying, partly because former President Trump set a new, upside-down standard for integrity.

And yet, here we are now faced with a classic example of what kind of public official (besides Trump) citizens can end up with when lying becomes routine.

I’m speaking, of course, of George Santos, the Republican from Long Island who was elected last month to the U.S. House of Representatives, while lying about everything from his finances to his education and work experience.

This guy is so bad he fabricated a story that he “lost four employees” in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in 2016. He now says the unnamed people he was talking about didn’t actually work for him at the time but that he was in the process of hiring them for some company he was starting in Orlando.

In a story today, The Washington Post said Santos’ apparently baseless claim “will surely be worth delving into given that it might involve exploiting a tragedy for personal gain.”

While the Platt story didn’t seem to strike a chord, the Santos story has sparked outrage among many voters because, in his case, he was not talking about lying in the generic sense but lying about very specific things, such as where he attended college and where he had worked. (He claimed during the campaign that he graduated from Baruch College in 2010 with a bachelor’s in economics and finances, and he claimed he had worked for Goldman Sachs but quit after finding that it “was not as fulfilling as he had anticipated.”)

In Santos’ case, thousands of people who voted for him are calling for him not to be seated in Congress, or, if he is seated, to be expelled by his colleagues because he is an outright fraud.

His case has caused such an uproar that federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether he could be charged with crimes.

One official who is investigating, a Republican district attorney named Anne T. Donnelly, said in a statement: “The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies…are nothing short of stunning.”


That brings us back to Brian Platt.

On the Dec. 16 edition of KCPT’s “Week in Review,” host Nick Haines asked his panelists if they thought Platt would be fired.

Two of the panelists took up the issue, with Pete Mundo, a conservative radio talk-show host, going first. Mundo scoffed at the idea of Platt getting fired, saying…

“The debate is whether they lied about whether or not nearly 300 miles of street lanes were being paved, or over 300 miles. If I had a dime for every time a politician thought about or said they were going to lie to the media, I’d be sitting on an island somewhere. This is not a story.”

Eric Wesson, managing editor and publisher of The Kansas City Call, took sharp issue with Mundo.

“Somewhere in this is public trust,” Wesson said. “I have to believe what the city manager says — whether it’s potholes or whether it’s whatever. I have to believe that.”

I side, of course, with Wesson. To me, it’s a short span from George Santos’ specific, outrageous lies to Platt’s general assertion that lying to the media — and by extension the public — is acceptable.

This leaves us with two questions about Platt…

First, can Kansas Citians trust anything Brian Platt says from here on out?

And, second, what are the chances of him “finding” integrity all of a sudden because he’s been exposed as one who condones lying?

You tell me.

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I recall one year, maybe around 2000, when I was The Star’s Wyandotte County bureau chief, and I was working a day or two after Christmas. I had to make the rounds — police and fire department checks and such — because the beat reporter was off.

I went to the KCK Police Department building, then on Seventh Street, and an officer I knew was on duty. Before getting down to business, I said, “How was your Christmas?”

“Oh, great,” he said, with a beaming smile. “Just perfect. The perfect Christmas.”

I didn’t ask him why or how his Christmas was so perfect. With a comment like that, you don’t ask how or why, you just nod and go on, which is exactly what I did.

But I still think of that every once in a while because, I ask you, how many of us, as adults, have ever had “the perfect Christmas”?

Challenges, tensions, setbacks, disappointments and — sometimes — tragedies inevitably intrude, just like they do the other 51 weeks of the year.

So, here’s a quick rundown of our 2022 Christmas story…

:: I caught a cold — hasn’t everybody had something? — 10 days before Christmas, and it was still bothering me in the last days before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, I felt lousy and spent most of the day in an upholstered chair, watching the Chiefs’ game and taking a nap. Our daughter Brooks said she’d never seen me so “mopey.” She laughed when she said it, which at least got a small laugh out of me.

I had to pull myself together, however, because we were going to some friends’ home for a Christmas Eve party and gift exchange, and beyond that I had signed up to oversee the collection and sort the offering money at our church’s 11 p.m. service.

The party was very good, and by the time I got to church around 10:30 I wasn’t thinking about that cold at all. The service went well, except that I was struck by the fact I had never seen the vast majority of the approximately 110 people in the pews. The regulars probably had gone to the two earlier services.

On Christmas Day, I felt pretty good, thankfully, and we had a family gift exchange around noon. I had requested a sweater from Patty, noting that at least one sweater I already had was too tight. So, I opened a box to find a beautiful, merino, cable-knit sweater. I opened another box, which contained a bonus — a good-looking, casual shirt. Then I tried on the shirt. It was too big. “Put on the sweater,” Patty said. When I did, I must not have looked very happy because our 34-year-old daughter Brooks said, “What’s the matter, Dad?”

“It’s too tight,” I said. She laughed, which, like her reaction to my mopiness of the previous day, made me laugh.

Within a couple of hours, though, I was on the Dillards website, ordering a LARGE cable-knit sweater and a MEDIUM shirt.

Not “perfect” but pretty damn good.

:: Our 33-year-old son Charlie is in from Chicago, and it’s always very rewarding to have him around. Every since he could put a pencil to paper, Charlie has produced long Christmas gift request lists. But this year, oddly, he had sent us a request for just one gift — a Seiko, stainless steel watch, which, when he sent the request well before Christmas, was selling for slightly more than $100.

Usually, Patty takes the lead on the gifts planning, but I asked her weeks ago if I should buy the watch. She told me to hold off because she was thinking about presenting both Brooks and Charlie with the prospect of a family trip to Mexico in the fall. Patty said she thought Charlie would be fine with that very expensive proposition as a substitute, of sorts, for the watch.

Charlie still got some other gifts, but after all had been opened, he raised the subject of the watch. “I really wanted that watch,” he said. “It was on sale and now it’s not!”

Later, he requested that, in the future, if we we didn’t intend to give him the main gift he asked for to let us know so he could make other arrangements.

:: As usual, Patty worked hard in the kitchen on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, preparing dishes for the Christmas Eve party and a Christmas Day gathering at our niece’s house in Oak Grove.

There, we had a “white elephant” gift exchange, the theme of which was “keep it local.” My entry was a copy of “Tom’s Town,” the story of political boss Tom Pendergast. I had a feeling who would end up with that book, and I was right. Patty’s brother, a history buff, snapped it up in a “steal” from the person who first got it.

I came away with a recipe book. Although I don’t cook, I was satisfied because I knew it probably would be of use to Patty.

:: We got home about 9 last night and started coming down off the two-day high. Patty, Brooks and Charlie settled in the living room to watch Jim Carrey in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and I went to the front room to finish re-reading a paperback I had first read decades ago about an aspiring baseball pitcher who didn’t make it far up the ladder and ultimately became a sportswriter.

When we went to bed about midnight, Patty said, “Don’t wake me up in the morning; I want to sleep late.” We kissed goodnight, and I thanked her for the gifts and all she had done to make this Christmas a success.

When I woke up about 9 this morning, I looked over and saw that her side of the bed was empty. I started padding around, doing my usual ministrations in the bathroom, and half and hour or so later she came into the room.

“You’ve got to get out of here,” she said. “I’m going back to bed. I’m sick.”

There we were, hours from having had not “the perfect Christmas” but a pretty damn good one, and — wham! — another of life’s routine setbacks was at our doorstep.

…It got me wondering if that police officer had really had the perfect Christmas or if he knew that comment would end the conversation and we could just keep moving ahead toward the new year.

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Occasionally, I check out the number of views I’ve been getting on my website, and sometimes I get surprised.

Like tonight. I made a random check and saw that I had over 100 views on a 2018 post about former Independence City Councilman and former Jackson County legislator John Carnes.

My first thought was that John, a long-time acquaintance, had died.

Fearing the worst, I did a quick Google search and quickly found he’s still very much alive but once again has been charged with felonies by federal prosecutors.

He’s 67 and likely headed back to prison, where he spent two years — 1989 to 1991 — for bribing an Independence councilman…He lost his law license for that offense but got it reinstated in 2006.

Before I go any farther, let me make clear that I don’t admire John in the least. He’s cost Independence taxpayers millions of dollars over the years because, with his influence and willingness to buy votes, he has been able to convince some past Independence Council members to pay exorbitant amounts for services and real estate.

But he has always been wickedly funny and straightforward, and, unlike most white-collar crooks, he doesn’t hide. The last time I visited with him was a year or two ago after a friend and I had finished lunch at Dave’s Bakery & Deli on the Independence Square. John’s office is next door to the deli, and he was on the sidewalk. He invited us in and proceeded to regale us with profane and funny stories about current and past Jackson County politicians.

The most recent example of his unusually candid way of responding to, uh, problems, came today after he picked up the phone when a KC Star reporter was calling to get his reaction to having been indicted by a federal grand jury on two felonies related to tax evasion and several misdemeanors.

The typical response by a prominent defendant — if he would even consent to making a statement — would be something like, “I unequivocally deny these outrageous charges and eagerly look forward to clearing my good name in court.”

But not Carnes. He told the reporter…

“The FBI has been investigating me for over 30 years. And I’m 67 years old, and they had to come up with something before I passed on. They have come up with something, and we’ll go to court and see what that something is.”

No angry denial, just the facts about where things stand…resolution to be determined. Maybe thumbs up, but probably down. The feds, you know, don’t lose many cases.


I’m not going into the details of this case, but a KSHB-TV story says he had a gambling problem. I’m just sad to see that John — a smart, witty guy who could have made a good living without bribing politicians and cheating on his taxes — got himself into deep trouble again. This time, I’m afraid, he might die in prison.

When he was young, he was devastatingly handsome and very personable. Below are contrasting photos that show what he looked like back in the early ’80s and four years ago, when he was about 63. Needless to say, he looked worse when I saw him a year or two ago.

For a while back in the ’80s he dated a woman who was the sister of a high-ranking woman in Mayor Richard Berkley’s office. One summer night, Carnes and his date got drunk and took a swim in Meyer Circle Fountain.

It didn’t make the papers, but it was pretty shocking, given that he was a lawyer and had political aspirations. But nothing came of it. That’s when I first realized John was capable of jaunts on the wild side.

Unfortunately, his wild side didn’t stop at harmless high jinks. Several years later he landed in prison on the bribery conviction.

After he got out, I ran into him one night — I think it was a New Year’s Eve — at the old Jimmy and Mary’s Steakhouse at 34th and Main. We chatted, and I said, “You’ll probably be back in politics pretty soon.”

He smiled and said, “I doubt that.”

Well, he was right, and I was wrong. But I didn’t think he’d be dumb enough to break the law again.

What a terrible waste of talent and personality. What a sorry case for a guy who had so much going for him so long ago.

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Although the Brian Platt “why-can’t-we-just-lie-to-the-media” story seems to have faded almost as quickly as it arose, there’s one voice in this community that will not let it slip away: mine.

I think the story did not take hold for two reasons: first, the police board’s fumbling and controversial selection of a new chief overshadowed it, and, second, since the 2016 Triumph of Trumpism, many people assume public officials mostly lie and that honest dealing is an outdated concept.

Lying has essentially lost its shock value. But there’s at least one group that does not swallow it easily — reporters and editors and former reporters and editors. Endorsement of lying as a policy crosses a line that I and others in that group will always denounce, no matter how far society descends.

But surprisingly, even my former employer, The Kansas City Star, could muster little more than a finger wag at the Platt expose. A Dec. 8 editorial said…

“We’ll want to keep a careful eye on this case. (Chris) Hernandez had critics during his time as communications director, and lawsuits from allegedly disgruntled employees must be considered carefully. On the other hand, if these allegations are proven, it could suggest Platt needs to find work somewhere else.”

“Could suggest…”? Well, how’s that for going out on a limb?

On that particular editorial, however, I’m giving The Star some forbearance, mainly because its editorial page editor, Michael Lindenberger, was dying when the Platt story broke (he died on Sunday, the 10th, from an unknown illness), and the remaining three editorial writers probably were preoccupied and adrift.

But let’s take a closer look at Platt, who burst on the Kansas City scene two years ago after a seven-year stint in upper management in Jersey City, NJ.

He was selected by Mayor Quinton Lucas, who probably saw something of Platt in himself, insofar as youthful ascendance. (Lucas is 38; Platt, 37.)

Lucas was able to secure eight other votes for Platt, but he was rebuffed by the four other Black City Council members, who thought the majority was sticking Platt down their throats.

The fact that Platt was not a unanimous or near-unanimous choice — along with at least the Hernandez allegations — probably will spell trouble for him down the road. A Council with at least six new members will be taking office in August 2023.

After the rush of publicity about the Hernandez lawsuit, I started hearing more talk about Platt, and I began looking more closely at his background. One thing that stands out as particularly worrisome, retrospectively, is that for two years, from when he was about 22 to 24 — he worked for McKinsey & Co., a giant consulting firm that boasts of having offices in more than 130 cities in more than 65 countries.

The firm, founded in 1926, focuses mainly on client finances and operations. Wikipedia says, “Many of McKinsey’s alumni become CEOs of major corporations or hold important government positions.”

Two of the most notorious companies that McKinsey has represented were Enron and Purdue Pharma.

Enron was a Houston-based energy and commodities giant that imploded amid scandal in 2001. Several of its executives ended up in prison.

Purdue Pharma was the company that created and fueled the OxyContin scourge, which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. In November 2020, the company, pleaded guilty to three criminal felonies and agreed to a settlement potentially worth $8.3 billion. The company admitted that it “knowingly and intentionally conspired…to aid and abet” doctors dispensing medication “without a legitimate medical purpose.”

McKinsey represented Purdue Pharma for more than a decade, and at one point made a series of recommendations to the Sackler family, which owned the company, about how the company could “turbocharge” sales of OxyContin.

In his book “Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty,” Patrick Radden Keefe wrote, “It was important, the consultants suggested, to convince physicians that opioids provide ‘freedom’ for patients and ‘the best possible chance to live a full and active life.’ “

In November 2021, McKinsey agreed to pay nearly $573 million to settle investigations into its role in the case.


McKinsey & Co. has been a stopping point on the managerial ladder for many up and comers, including Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and Sheryl Sandberg, former chief operating officer at Facebook. For his part, Platt worked for McKinsey from June 2011 to July 2013.

I don’t know if Platt got anywhere near the Purdue Pharma account, but trouble had been on the horizon long before he went to work at the company. In 2007, for example, Purdue Pharma’s holding company, Purdue Frederick, and three of its executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges of misbranding OxyContin by claiming it was less addictive and less subject to abuse and diversion than other opioids.

Fast forward to November 2020 when, in a Kansas City Star story, Platt depicted himself as a person who brought a unique approach to solving problems. The Star story said, “He sharpened those skills at McKinsey & Co…”

…I have no doubt he sharpened all sorts of skills at McKinsey, including how to twist facts and even dismiss them.

At a party at our house last week, I was talking to a lawyer friend about this, and I said, “You know, it’s a short jump from working for McKinsey & Co. to saying that lying is an acceptable media strategy.”

My friend looked at me and said, “It’s no jump at all.”

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I don’t really know what to make of the Board of Police Commissioners’ selection today of Maj. Stacey Graves to be the new chief at KCPD.

Maybe she will turn out to be revolutionary and have more guts than any of the previous insiders, who have monopolized the chief’s job since the late Joseph McNamara served from 1973 to 1976. Or maybe she will just talk about significant change, which the department is crying out for, and make superficial changes.

One thing that is clear, however, is that the four police board members appointed by the governor engineered the selection so that the insider would be the obvious choice.

One thing obviously working for her was her gender. The 25-year KCPD veteran will be the first woman police chief in Kansas City. That fact alone made her appealing, and, I grant, her ascendance is laudable.

But the two other finalists, DeShawn Beaufort of the Philadelphia Police Department and Scott Ebner, a retired commander from the New Jersey State Police, had significant questions hanging over them. Beaufort had been involved in a never-publicly-explained road-rage case in Philly, and Ebner was the object of two ongoing gender- and disability-discrimination lawsuits in New Jersey.

One of the reasons the two outside candidates were relatively weak, I believe, is that Missouri law sets the salary for the Kansas City police chief at no more than $189,700. (This is just one of myriad problems with state control of KCPD, but my hand hurts from writing so much about that.)

The Star quoted Darron Edwards, a civic activist and pastor, as saying, “Most top-notch, national-caliber candidates will require more than $189K to even consider a city like KCMO. When you compare (that) Wichita pays $225K, it’s embarrassing to be the largest city in Missouri with a non-competitive salary offer. The processes are designed to always choose an internal candidate.”

If Wichita is paying $225,000, Kansas City should be paying $275,000 or more. Then we’d see some top-tier, external candidates.

By process of elimination, then, the insider stood out. And that’s surely the way the police board — and maybe the rank and file — wanted it.

Now, I certainly congratulate Graves, wish her the best and hope she turns out to be the change agent this department has needed for many years. But I’m not extremely hopeful.

Stacey Graves after being sworn in Thursday as new Kansas City police chief

One thing that struck me was the reaction of Brad Lemon, president of Fraternal Order of Police union in KC, who told The Star:

“The conversation around her is that she’s very open to changes and very open to looking at our department internally and trying to see what are the things that we can fix as fast as we can fix them. What I see happening probably are some major changes happen quickly. And I think for the most part, our rank and file needs to see that.”

This comes from a guy who has helped build a veritable wall around uniformed officers, including a clause in their contract that allows officers involved in critical incidents, such as shootings, two full working days to collect themselves — or, in the alternative, devise a credible story — before they have to give a statement or submit to an interview by superiors.

So, Brad Lemon talking about wanting significant change? Ha. I suspect disingenuity. I think he and most of his fellow union members would be happy with things just the way they are, with the union continuing to earn more concessions at the bargaining table.

More credible was the reaction of Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, who told The Star she was disappointed that the board hired someone promoted by former Chief Rick Smith, who had ZERO credibility with the Black community and who took an oath to serve the community but was focused exclusively on defending the department and officers’ actions, regardless of how inappropriate some of those actions were.

“This is yet another indication that this State appointed board is not representative of our community and it is not committed to acting in our best interests,” Grant said in a statement. “Maybe this will be the catalyst for all sectors of our community to come together to get local control.”

To the prospect of local control, I say fat chance but we can always hope.


Make no mistake, significant change is badly needed. This department has fallen a long way, little by little, in recent decades. It used to be an excellent department, from my perspective, and there still are many, many outstanding officers. I personally had a tremendous experience with an outstanding officer after our daughter was involved in a wreck a few years ago. He was understanding, measured and reasonable.

The problem is that uniformed officers have been led by commanders, including chiefs, who have been unwilling to insist on high standards and to hold rogue officers accountable.

Here are two specific examples of worrisome problems…

:: A few years ago it came to light that several officers in the children’s division decided they’d really rather not work. Instead they stuffed evidence in their desks and sat on cases, ignoring them for months, while children who had been the victims of crime — and their families — were left hanging. Eventually, seven officers in the children’s unit lost their jobs. Several others were transferred, and some were busted and put back on patrol duty.

I’d like to know what’s going on now in the children’s division. It hasn’t been in the news since the outrages came to light. We’ve got to assume it’s better, but who really knows? To the best of my knowledge, KCPD never talked about a turnabout there; the story just melted away.

:: In the recent David Jungerman murder trial, the defense exposed several violations of proper procedures by the homicide unit. Among other things, lead detective Bonita Cannon admitted that she had not included a voice recorder — on which Jungerman admitted to killing attorney Thomas Pickert — on an inventory list she prepared and submitted after the search. She also admitted to retrieving a computerized report after it had been submitted, and then correcting it, instead of filing a supplemental report, which would have been the appropriate remedy.

Fortunately, Jungerman was clearly guilty, and the jury convicted him within two hours. In a close case, however, the investigative errors could have been the difference between conviction and acquittal.

Well, Stacy Graves is our new chief. I hope she emerges as a strong and courageous advocate for significant change. It would be great for Kansas City.

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It’s unfortunate, in a way, that Chris Hernandez’ legal allegations that Kansas City Manager Brian Platt enthusiastically endorsed lying to reporters as an an acceptable “media strategy” is getting overshadowed by the news swirling about the Kansas City Police Department and Board of Police Commissioners.

Make no mistake, however, that the civil allegations by the former city communications director have significantly damaged Platt, and his future in Kansas City is extremely tenuous.

I don’t see the 37-year-old executive making it through 2023. He will either resign or be fired.

At this point, it’s fair to say, the City Council members, including Mayor Quinton Lucas, have their fingers in the air to see if this story “has legs,” and they are trying to gauge how strong public reaction will be and how long blowback will last.

Here is how the political chess board lines up in this intriguing situation…

  • Lucas, who was Platt’s strongest advocate when the Council hired Platt on a 9-4 vote two years ago, is now clearly holding Platt at arm’s length. Lucas has defended Platt only in broad generalities, saying things like, “We are into truth telling,” and “I’ve never heard the city manager say that.” What he has not said is, “I don’t believe the allegations” or “I have spoken with Brian, and he assures me he did not advocate lying to the media.” I have sent emails to Lucas’ chief of staff, Morgan Said, and to Lucas himself, asking if he has spoken directly to Platt about the case, and neither has responded.
  • Platt is not well liked by many people at City Hall. That is not particularly unusual for city managers, who have to make difficult decisions affecting many employees, but I have heard an unusually high level of grumbling about Platt — both about his style and substance.
  • His personal life has not been stable, either. He filed for divorce in September from his wife Margo Aaron, who has family ties to Kansas City, and a hearing is scheduled for early next month. The divorce is uncontested, but last week Platt filed a motion to close the case file, and today the judge denied the motion. The couple, who lived in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, has a young child.
  • Platt started out on unsteady political footing, with four of the five Black City Council members — all except Lucas — voting against him. The four who voted “no” — Lee Barnes Jr., Melissa Robinson, Ryana Parks-Shaw and Brandon Ellington — complained that they were not consulted on the selection and that it was rammed through by Lucas and a majority. There is no reason to think any of the four have warmed to Platt.
  • All 13 Council posts will be up for election next spring, and at least six new members will be coming on board when the new Council takes office in August. (Six current Council members are “term limited,” meaning they are finishing up their second consecutive terms.) The upshot? If the current Council members don’t fire Platt, the next Council, with several new members who might want a city manager of their choosing, well could. (See Phil Cardarella’s comment below regarding the number of votes needed to fire a city manager.)
  • The Hernandez lawsuit, which was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, will not have a clear cut resolution. These cases seldom go to trial. We can expect numerous filings in the case, and it will probably end in a settlement. If it’s a large settlement, say $250,000 or more, it will be a major embarrassment for the city. If it is dismissed for some reason, or if it is a low-six-figure settlement, it will mitigate the embarrassment.

Whatever happens, though, this issue will be hovering over City Hall for months, and I don’t think the Council — either the current one or the next one — will want to wait around for judgment day. In the end, the city very likely will be writing a check to Chris Hernandez, and the Council will not want the man responsible to still be calling the shots on the 29th floor of City Hall.

Note: Minutes before the start of today’s meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners, Lucas responded to my email. He really didn’t say anything new, and he didn’t answer my question about whether he had spoken directly with Platt about the Hernandez allegations. He also said this: “As the matter is currently the subject of pending litigation, I will not discuss specific details of the case. I would expect if they’re listening to their lawyers that neither the City Manager nor Mr. Hernandez will have further comment beyond that which has been shared.” That means we will hear nothing from Platt other than what is filed in court, and the mayor will continue to be vague.   

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I am writing this post against my best interests as far as my major civic activity is concerned.

As president of the City of Fountains Foundation, a partner organization to the Parks and Recreation Department, I lobby city officials, including City Manager Brian Platt, to keep Kansas City’s publicly owned fountains, monuments and sculptures in good shape so we can continue living up to our reputation as

In fact, I had a meeting scheduled with Platt in early October to discuss a particular project, but it turned out he could not make the meeting. Instead, another COFF board member and I met with an assistant city manager.

But today, after reading The Star’s story about the former city communications director’s lawsuit against the city, alleging that Platt urged him to lie to the press, I’m calling for Platt’s head. On a platter.

Brian Platt

The story, prominent on the paper’s website (if you have a subscription), reports that Chris Hernandez alleges in his lawsuit that Platt instructed the city communications staff to lie as part of a “media strategy.”

In the civil suit, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, Hernandez said he was “not willing to put his credibility on the line” for Platt. As a result of his resistance, Hernandez said, he was reassigned to another city department. (On his Linkedin page, he says he is special liaison officer in the Civil Rights & Equal Opportunity Department. Obviously, that is a major comedown.)

The suit says that in a January meeting, Hernandez and Platt discussed strategies for handling Kansas City news media. In the course of that meeting, Hernandez contends, Platt broached the prospect of lying as a “legitimate media strategy.”

Platt, the lawsuit says, was angry about at least one story in The Star — a story regarding the city’s work on potholes. Platt allegedly instructed the communications staff to call the newspaper and say that “the numbers were wrong” when they were actually correct.


There’s more, and you can either read the story or go to Case.net and look up the petition for yourself, but here’s where I come down…

Chris Hernandez has been a good newsman and a reliable and straightforward communications manager in Kansas City for nearly 30 years, with the exception of five years when he worked as a TV reporter in Cleveland and Chicago.

I dealt with him several times as communications manager, and he was always helpful. I knew him when he was a reporter for KSHB-TV and, earlier, with WDAF-TV. He was very good.

He has a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas. He became city communications director in 2013.

Platt, 37, has been in Kansas city only two years. He came from Jersey City, NJ, where he had been business administrator for four years. It was a big jump from “business administrator” in a city of about 300,000 to city manager in the most prominent city with the city-manager/council form of government.

He was hired on a 9-4 City Council vote, with each of the four Black Council members other than Mayor Quinton Lucas voting against him. Of the four finalists for city manager in KC, Platt had the least experience in city government.

In short, I trust, Chris Hernandez a lot more than Brian Platt. I do not believe Hernandez would accuse Platt of urging him to lie to the media if he had not done so.

Not coming clean with the press is one thing; it happens. But telling your communications manager that lying to the media is part and parcel of a “media strategy”?

No. That’s just plain wrong. It’s outrageous. It’s maddening.

I’ve written, individually, to Lucas and to every City Council member I know personally and urged them to fire Platt.

He must go.

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Personally, I don’t have anything to do with Twitter, but some people I know — some of them very smart — do.

I understand…You get to follow the people you trust and like, and many Twitter users are reliable and interesting and entertaining.

But, my God, for those who get their “news” from Twitter, it’s no wonder the country is in the shape it’s in. Let me give you a great example.

Last night, I read on ESPN’s website that a couple of teams, including the San Francisco Giants, were pursuing Yankees’ star Aaron Judge. I was mildly interested in that, and thought it was surprising that he might leave the Yankees, so I Googled Judge to see what I could find.

One of the first things I came across was some tweets by a self-described “MLB, NFL and NBA insider” named Ben Dover.

I saw that the tweet at the top of his feed was dated Nov. 12. It said, “The San Francisco giants are signing free agent Aaron Judge to a 9 year deal.”

Beneath that was another tweet from earlier yesterday that said, “Free agent OF Aaron Judge is signing with the San Francisco Giants pending physical.”

Well, blimey, I thought, this is quite a story! Judge is not only leaving the Yankees, he’s going across the country to play for a team in the National League, and this fellow Dover has scooped the world; he knew it a month ago!

…Well, imagine my surprise when I got up this morning and read, on plodding, old ESPN, that Judge had signed a $360 million deal to stay with the Yankees.

I contacted my friend Lonnie Shalton, a retired Polsinelli founding partner who writes a “Hot Stove” baseball newsletter to hundreds of followers and is also a Twitter follower. (He’s one of the “very smart” people I referred to up top.)

I asked him how to interpret that Nov. 12 tweet and why it was at the top of Dover’s feed. Lonnie said it was a “pinned tweet.”

And what, I replied to Lonnie, is a “pinned tweet”?

His answer: “A person will sometimes want to highlight an older tweet and keep it at the top of his feed — one they are proud of, or maybe in this case, to make fun of themselves for being so wrong. It is not intended nor understood to be a part of the chronological order.”

I don’t know whether Scoop Dover was making fun of himself or what. I’ll just let you judge for yourselves from his full description of himself (as full as you get on Twitter, apparently):

“Has been, currently is, and will continue to be the best. MLB, NFL, and NBA Insider, Husband, Father of 1. *legally obligated to remind you all this is a PARODY.”

Based solely on his Aaron Judge reporting, I think it’s fair to describe him differently: Pending a physical…he’s nothing but a puffed-up bullshit artist.

But Father-of-One Dover wasn’t alone on the Giants scoop.

Lonnie sent me a story about a New York Post columnist named Jon Heyman who “reported” on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that Judge was signing with the Giants. The story said Heyman later deleted his tweet and apologized for “jumping the gun.”

The story said Heyman, “who is known for baseball breaking news to his 807,000-plus followers on Twitter, tweeted ‘Arson Judge appears headed to Giants,’ at 2:20 p.m. Minutes later, the tweet was taken down.”

How about that? Somehow, Scoop Heyman fell face down in a deeper mud puddle than Scoop Dover because, in addition to getting the story wrong, he misspelled Judge’s first name!


This episode confirmed my steadfast belief that it pays to stick with mainstream news outlets (mine are basically The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star and KCUR) to get news you can trust.

If Dover and Heyman were legitimate news men, they would be bathed in ignominy. But it’s just Twitter. What the hell?


Note: As I reported last month — and as The Star announced today — Mike Fannin is out as the paper’s president and editor. This has been a long and painful saga, with Fannin apparently suffering from alcoholism. He picked up his third DUI this past summer, in Olathe, and after the arrest he went on a leave of absence. I understand that either the day he returned, or soon thereafter, he was discovered sleeping in his office, apparently under the influence. He was sent home and that was unofficially the end of his 14 years as the paper’s top editor. All that was lacking was the official announcement…The one surprise I got from The Star’s story was that Fannin pleaded guilty Oct. 7 “and was sentenced to two days in jail, 120 hours of house arrest and one year of probation.”

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Is everybody sitting down? I’ve got something shocking to tell you: I might be voting for a Republican for Missouri governor in 2024.

Yes, indeed. Sometimes circumstances dictate a shift in political loyalties.

What made me almost gasp this morning was a headline in the Missouri Independent that said, “Lawmaker wants to use Missouri surplus to widen I-70.”

The story, written by Rudy Keller, said state Sen. Bill Eigel, a Republican from Eldon Spring, was proposing to use at least $2 billion of Missouri’s $6 billion budget surplus to widen I-70 to three or four lanes between Kansas City and St. Louis.

This idea has been long talked about, but this is the first legislator I know of who has stepped forward and said effectively, “Let’s do this.”

Before even reading the whole story, I looked up Eigel’s phone number, called his office and left a voice message saying I was 100 percent behind the project and would consider voting for him for governor if his plan was implemented.


I’d never heard of Eigel, but just the fact that he came out with a bold proposal for a crying need at a time when money is cascading like water over Niagra Falls was enough to make me call his office.

Eigel, an Air Force veteran, owns St. Louis Skylights, a skylight installation company. From photos, he looks like he’s in his 40s. He’s a founding member of the Senate Conservative Caucus, which is troubling, but a conservative Republican is going to be elected governor, anyway, so what the hell? (In the race to succeed U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, I’m sure you noticed that the Republican candidates were falling all over each other to claim the mantle of “most conservative.”)

Eigel filed his bill Thursday, the first day bills could be “pre-filed” for the 2023 legislative session starting in January. It was one of several hundred bills filed. Eigel had to think his bill would upstage the vast majority of bills, and he was right.

Keller quoted Eigel as saying, “I don’t think it is necessarily a great thing for cash to be sitting in the government’s bank account. We need to invest those funds in actual big infrastructure projects like I-70.

The story went on to say: “Under his proposal, any general revenue funds in excess of a $4 billion cash balance would be transferred to the project fund. And from ongoing revenue, Eigel would dedicate about 2% annually — nearly $300 million this year — for 10 years.”

Eigel said the formula could generate as much as $9 billion for the project. MODOT Director Patrick McKenna told Keller he was not sure how much it would cost to widen I-70. This summer, the department estimated it woud cost $2.75 billion to add a third lane in each direction, primarily by building within the current right of way. An accurate estimate for four lanes would be extremely difficult to develop because four lanes would involve the acquisition of additional right-of-way, and many interchanges would need to be rebuilt.

…Well, I say, Bill, ol’ buddy, let’s just keep it simple and go with three lanes in the existing right of way. Just make sure they’re wide enough…I’m afraid with four lanes the far-left lane would become grounds for a daily Missouri Grand Prix, with people routinely going 80 to 100 mph. It could be a nightmare for law-abiding motorists and the Highway Patrol.

Yeah, just give us three lanes, and look for me in the far right lane; I’ll be plugging along at 60 to 65 and praying that the speed demons in the outer two lanes leave me alone.

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