I’ve written my share of criticism of shoot-first-ask-questions-later cops, but today I was glad to see that a Kansas City International Airport Police officer was cleared of a harassment allegation.

The Star’s Matt Campbell had a thorough, well-balanced report on the incident and the ensuing complaint, and from that account it appeared to me the officer encountered a chronic loudmouth who did his best to bait the officer into losing his temper.

Apparently, it didn’t happen, and that officer, Sandy Thompson, can now look back on that day and be very satisfied with how he handled a difficult situation.

The complainant, Michael McGill Jr., contended Thompson ordered him against the outside wall of the terminal and threatened him by fingering his gun three times after Thompson had pulled over the car McGill’s mother was driving. She was dropping him off. The car, which must have been registered in Missouri, didn’t have a front plate.

Employing a line that many a quick-to-the-trigger police officer has employed in the courtroom to good effect, McGill said, “I was in grave fear for my life.”

His problem, though, is airport audio and video don’t show him in any fear at all. What they show is a guy exhibiting diarrhea of the mouth. He was jabbering away from the start, and in an audio recording, Officer Thompson is heard saying McGill has been “extremely rude from the get-go.”

Even his mother was trying to shush him. The video shows McGill jabbering away on his phone, while Officer Thompson is attempting to talk to him. His mother is heard on the audio telling her son to “shut up and let the man talk,” and video shows her moving to put her hand over McGill’s mouth.

Michael McGill Jr. (right), his mother and KCI Police Officer Sandy Thompson on April 29

Thompson denied ordering McGill against the wall and said he never grabbed at his gun. The video shows the officer reflexively and momentarily touching the bottom of the holster at one point, apparently to adjust his belt.

After McGill filed his complaint, the Airport Police asked the Missouri Highway Patrol to investigate the case, and after doing so, Highway Patrol Superintendent Sandra K. Karsten concluded Officer Thompson was guilty of “no readily discernible criminal act.”

In a way, it’s too bad this had to go all the way to the highway patrol superintendent, but if that’s what it takes to clear an officer wrongly accused in a delicate situation, well then we in the public should be grateful the incident got scrutiny from a lofty level of law enforcement.

And congratulations to Officer Sandy Thompson. If he ever stops me at the airport, I’m going to congratulate him…and then keep my mouth shut.


Another KC Star story gave me a shuddering sense of deja vu. In a crash that was eerily similar to the I-70 crash last year that took the life of a Warrenton couple’s children, a retired Johnson County fire fighter named Paul W. Scott was killed in KCK on Thursday when his SUV was struck from behind after Scott’s vehicle had stopped for traffic congestion.

Paul W. Scott, years ago when he was a Johnson County fire fighter

Scott, 68, of Tonganoxie, was stopped on westbound Parallel Parkway in his tan SUV. Another westbound driver, apparently paying little or no attention, rear-ended him in a white SUV. The impact plowed Scott’s vehicle into another vehicle at the intersection of Kansas 7.

I would bet just about anything we will learn the other driver, whom The Star had not yet identified, was either texting or playing dial-a-tune on his phone.

That is exactly what happened last Labor Day evening when a 61-year-old Odessa man plowed his SUV into the rear of David and Jennifer Beaird’s car while they were stuck in traffic on eastbound I-70 near the Adams Dairy Parkway exit. The Beairds’ two children, Gavin, 13, and Chloe, 7, who were in the back seat, were killed. David, who was driving, was paralyzed from the waist down. Jennifer escaped serious injury.

In April, James L. Green pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have written about the Beaird case extensively, after going to Warrenton early this year to interview them.

On Friday, I spoke with David on the phone and told him about the K-7 crash. He was not surprised.

…David and Jennifer continue to recover from the trauma that was visited upon them by Green. They intend to move to either upstate New York, where Jennifer has family, or Myrtle Beach, which would seemingly present a more hospitable lifestyle for David, who is confined to a wheelchair.

For months, they have had their house on the market with no success. David told me Friday, however, that their real estate agent had put together a group of friends from her church and the group is going to build a deck on the back of the home. The lack of a deck or patio has discouraged prospective buyers, David believes.

I hope they are able to sell the house soon and get the fresh start they want in another part of the country.

Closer to home, my thoughts and sympathy go out to Paul Scott’s family…And my greater concern is that with the ever-increasing use of cells phones anywhere and everywhere, more and more of us are becoming sitting ducks in traffic stops and potential road kill under ordinary driving circumstances. My advice: Go slow and keep checking the rearview mirror.

There’s no doubt that The Kansas City Star, being a link in the debt-laden McClatchy newspaper chain, is operating under significant financial constraints.

But one area in which a relatively small investment could pay big dividends is online reader comments.

Unfortunately, The Star took steps several years ago that had the effect of discouraging reader comments, and it has never made a serious effort since then to build a workable system. That apparent lack of interest and initiative has had two big, negative impacts.

First, it has made online subscriptions — where the paper’s future seems to lie — less appealing. At this stage, if online subscriptions are not growing by leaps and bounds, The Star is in deeper trouble than it appears. (For the record, I don’t know how The Star is doing in regard to online subscriptions, but I haven’t talked to a lot of people who have signed on.)

Second, The Star’s abdication on reader comments makes the paper less relevant than it would otherwise be. As the community’s single strongest information source, The Star could establish itself — with the hiring of two or three people — as the authoritative moderator of responsible discussion on important community issues. That would not only raise the paper’s much-diminished community profile, it would also attract a lot more online subscriptions.

…It’s not fair to compare The Star or, for that matter, any other American daily with The New York Times, but it’s nevertheless interesting to point out the amazing success The Times has had with its online reader-comment system.

Bassey Etim

The Times began enabling comments 10 years ago. The Times now receives about 12,000 comments per day. Every one of those comments is read and either approved or rejected by a 13-member “community desk” headed by Bassey Etim, who has been with The Times since 2008.

It is not uncommon for a big story to get more than 1,000 comments. Today, for example, the lead story in the online edition — a news analysis speculating about how many casualties there might be in the event of a limited war on the Korean peninsula — has attracted more than 1,000 comments.

(At random, I looked at seven KC Star online stories this afternoon and saw a total of six comments. A majority of the comments — four — were on a Kansas City Royals story.)

By virtue of its comments system, The Times has become the de facto clearinghouse on national discourse. Sometimes I will read scores of comments on a single story and spend much more time on the comments than on the story that generated the comments.

In a 2013 story in The New Yorker magazine, a writer named Maria Konnikova reflected on the psychology of online comments, saying they contribute to the reading experience and prompt many readers to want to engage each other on the topic at hand. She added:

In a phenomenon known as shared reality, our experience of something is affected by whether or not we will share it socially. Take away comments entirely, and you take away some of that shared reality, which is why we often want to share or comment in the first place. We want to believe that others will read and react to our ideas.


Now, I have no evidence whatsoever that The Times’ well-oiled comments system has contributed to its amazing success with sale of digital subscriptions — it is up to 1.9 million news subscriptions, after starting at zero in 2011 — but I have to think it has.

It just makes sense to me that many people, when they read other people’s comments, want to chime in, and I think the combination of getting a good news product (which The Star is) and then being able to weigh in on various issues is a powerful marketing combination.

I understand why The Star changed its approach to comments several years ago, banning anonymous comments and requiring that commenters be registered on Facebook. The trolls, particularly those with a racial ax to grind, were overrunning the comments and making them unreadable. (As an example of a horrible comments system, where anonymous comments are not only accepted but encouraged, check out Tony Botello’s local blog.)

All things considered, I think The Star is missing a golden opportunity. Over the last year, under still relatively new publisher Tony Berg, The Star has hired several young reporters and has done a complete and successful makeover of its editorial page. It wouldn’t take much of an investment — maybe $100,000 to $150,000 a year — to establish its own “community desk.” A few good hands could keep the trolls squarely under the bridges and trigger invigorating dialogue on any number of issues.

Consider, for example, how interesting and intellectually stimulating it would be to get a wide variety of local views on the prospect of a single terminal at KCI — or the resolution of Brandon Ellingson case, or Kelsey Ryan’s Sunday story about Kansas City being a “murder capital.”

I tell you, it could enliven and uplift the entire community. And it could sell a lot of online subscriptions.

I hope some of you have noticed that The Star’s editorial page has been as hot as the Royals lately.

Editorial page editor Colleen McCain Nelson and her band of writers have consistently been churning out substantive, well-written and interesting editorials.

From a low point just before last year’s general election, when the editorial-board cupboard was completely bare and many readers were wringing their hands in despair, the editorial page has roared back to life and has, to some degree, revitalized The Kansas City Star Media Company.

Readers and voters look to their local paper for analysis and guidance on major issues, and The Star is delivering in a big way these days. Consider the editorial board’s handling of three issues in particular:


As the city has bumped along, trying to unravel myriad knots presented by a first-ever, $1 billion, private-build proposal, The Star has dispensed sound advice at every turn. First, it urged the city to get more than the lone Burns & McDonnell proposal. Then, after the city opened the doors to more proposals, The Star advocated for giving companies more time to respond. The council did so. The Star also urged keeping open the possibility of the city issuing revenue bonds and retaining control of the project. City officials opted to keep that door open.

On Sunday came the strongest shot of all: The lead editorial unequivocally urged Kansas Citians to “embrace a new airport terminal.” The editorial laid out four main reasons for scrapping the three-terminal set-up that has lost its relevance and physical appeal. Likening KCI to a “warehouse,” the editorial batted away the widely held “convenience” argument, saying:

“At certain departure times, ticket and security lines stretch 100 to 150 people deep…Security stations are crowded and sometimes understaffed.

“Worse, passengers who clear security are penned inside glass-enclosed waiting areas, sitting in uncomfortable chairs and confined to cramped spaces that lack amenities found in other terminals.”

The editorial concluded by saying, “A new terminal will create jobs and opportunity and will move Kansas City into the 21st-century when it comes to travel and commerce.”

Finally, The Star promised an ongoing “series of editorials” explaining why it’s time to move forward on a new airport.

Damn…I love it!

The Brandon Ellingson Case

As you regular readers know, the Ellingson case has been particularly frustrating. The 20-year-old Des Moines area man drowned at the hands of a Missouri Highway Patrol officer who had arrested and handcuffed Brandon for boating under the influence. After months of shell games by prosecutors and the Highway Patrol, the trooper, Anthony Piercy, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Last week, Brandon’s family, realizing a felony conviction was a virtual impossibility — like us, they’ve seen bad cop after bad cop acquitted in the killings of unarmed civilians — agreed to a deal that allowed Piercy to plead to a misdemeanor boating violation.

In an editorial on Saturday, The Star said the case “reveals the perils” of government taking action in the interest of trying to save money. The editorial said…

“In 2011, to great fanfare, Missouri merged the Water Patrol with the Highway Patrol in an effort, supporters said, to cut costs…The merger led to fewer troopers on the water, with less training for Highway Patrol officers assigned to water duty.

“And the decision almost certainly contributed to Ellingson’s death. At a coroner’s inquest, Piercy conceded his training was inadequate for the duties of the Water Patrol. He was cleared for “solo boat time” after two days of training. Two days. We’re told that things are better now. We hope that’s the case.

“Brandon Ellingson died needlessly. The best way to remember him is to make sure this never happens again.”

This case is coming to a totally unsatisfactory conclusion, but the editorial put it in the proper context by pointing toward what we all hope will be a future in which better-qualified people patrol state waters…And allow me to add a wish of my own: smarter, more caring officers working the water.

Claire McCaskill’s Tweet

Showing it’s no Democratic toady, The Star on Sunday sharply rapped McCaskill’s knuckles for a tweet she posted a while back in which she denied ever speaking to or meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The claim was exposed as false: In fact, she attended a reception at Kislyak’s residence and donated to a foundation of which he is a board member.

The editorial said that “in her rush to raise doubts about Trump administration officials, the senator got it wrong. And there’s no excuse for that.”


The way the Star’s editorial board is chopping wood these days makes you realize how low it had fallen when, toward the end of last year, it was down to Yael Abouhalkah writing all the editorials and the vastly overpaid Lewis Diuguid in charge of letters to the editor.

From this corner, the Colleen Nelson era gets the “new and improved” stamp of approval. Much improved.

During the time Patty and I were driving back from St. Louis last Sunday, a 30-year-old St. Louis area man, Casey Saunders, was killed in a bike race after he crashed into a metal barrier at the corner of 18th and Oak streets here in Kansas City.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear about particularly heartbreaking tragedies, I often think about where I was and what I might have been doing at the time of the tragedy.

I guess it’s because of the shocking contrast between the moments surrounding a fellow human being’s encounter with violent death and the contemporaneous, uneventful moments (at least so far) for me.

When Casey Saunders hit that barrier about 1:30 p.m. during the Tour of Kansas City race, we were westbound on either I-64 or I-70. I don’t recall exactly what time we left St. Louis — where we had attended a wedding Saturday night — but I started out driving and Patty soon took over because I drive too slowly to suit her.

I don’t remember if she had taken over by 1:30, but, whatever the case, it was a blessedly uneventful trip.

I also don’t remember if we heard about the Kansas City tragedy that night or the next morning. In any event, like most people who read or heard about the incident, we wondered exactly what had happened.

For several days, no details emerged. Today, however, The Star’s Joe Robertson pinned it down in a front-page story. The main problem was that the barriers separating bystanders from the racers were not bound together. The racers were westbound on 18th, turning north onto Oak, when Casey got tangled up with another racer on the turn and was carried wide. He hit one of the barriers hard, knocking it backward. Then, Robertson said, “he flew over his handlebars at the suddenly exposed hard edge of the next barrier, slamming it with his forehead.”

Before the race resumed, workers tied the barriers together with zip ties.

Robertson’s reporting makes it clear this was an avoidable tragedy. While proper race course set-up would not have prevented the crash, in all likelihood it would have prevented Casey’s death.

As is often the case, the tragedy can be traced to a failed link in the chain of events leading up to the fatal incident.

The race was sanctioned by USA Cycling, which establishes regulations and assigns officials. When USA Cycling sets up barriers for championship races, it secures the barriers. In this case, however, Tour of Kansas City was responsible for setting up the course, and tour officials apparently delegated barrier set-up to a vendor, who, for whatever reason, didn’t tie the barriers together. Robertson did not attempt to address whether or not the vendor was instructed to secure the barriers.

On that point, Scott Ogilvie, a close friend of Casey, said in a Facebook message to me today that he had not made inquiries on that point. “If anyone is exploring that, it’s probably USA Cycling because they permit and insure the events,” he wrote.


Michael “Casey” Saunders lived in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood. Cycling was a big part of his life. He worked full time at Big Shark Bicycle Co., which has two locations in St. Louis City and one in Chesterfield, in St. Louis County.

Survivors include his parents, a grandfather and three sisters. His obituary also referenced his “loving soul mate,” Maria Elena Esswein, who had traveled to Kansas City with Casey for the race.

A memorial service was held Thursday at a funeral home on Manchester Road in Kirkwood.

Apparently, he had been a Boy Scout. The obituary said…

Casey lived his life according to the Scout Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

This photo of Casey and Maria appears on the Facebook page of his friend Scott Ogilvie.

Ogilvie said of Maria: “She’s a very strong rider too and they did some great rides together. One of their first encounters was when he stopped to help her fix a flat during a mountain bike race.”

That’s a great “how-they-met” story. It’s a damn shame they didn’t get to spend a lot more time together.

At a City Hall hearing this morning, I witnessed the breadth and depth of the forces that have aligned behind financing a new airport terminal with private funds — an approach I think is risky and far too costly.

The public hearing was before a joint session of two City Council committees, the Airport Committee and the Finance and Governance Committee. The issue at hand was an ordinance, sponsored by Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, that calls for the city to be in charge of constructing a new airport instead of relinquishing control to Burns & McDonnell or another private company.

Katheryn Shields

Specifically, Shields’ ordinance provides for the city Aviation Department to issue up to $990 million in revenue bonds, which would be paid off with an estimated $85 million a year in revenue generated by airport operations, including airline gate rentals and per-passenger fees the airlines have to pay the city. Also going toward the $85 million a year would be the city’s share of concessions and parking revenue.

About 10 people — many of them representing groups with vested interests — testified at the hearing. And all but one — me — spoke against the public-financing option. (The committee took no action on the ordinance; it will be considered again at a future meeting.)

A few people specifically expressed support for the widely publicized Burns and Mac proposal, including Patrick “Duke” Dujakovich, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, who called Burns and Mac “the hometown team.” Dujakovich is a key figure in the debate because his organization represents most of the building and construction trades unions whose workers who would build the terminal.

Others who spoke in favor of private financing included representatives of organizations that advocate for women- and minority-owned construction firms.

A common assertion of the private-financing advocates was that Kansas City voters would be more likely to approve a project that is done with private funds as opposed to city-issued revenue bonds.

That may be true — at least right now, before an election date has been set and a campaign has been launched — but there are some significant down sides to private financing.

For one thing, I basically don’t like the idea of ceding control of the biggest project in city history to a private company — any private company. The overarching goal of any private company is, first and foremost, to make a profit. The city’s mission, on the other hand — and that of any public entity, by extension — is to provide good facilities and services for the public. Nobody at City Hall is going to get a $100,000 bonus if the project turns out well.

But the main advantage to the city retaining control and issuing revenue bonds is it could obtain financing at an interest rate 1 1/2 to 2 percent lower than what a private company would have to pay to borrow the money from conventional sources, such as insurance companies.

In remarks at today’s hearing, Shields estimated that over the life of a 30-to-35-year bond issue, the interest savings could be as much as $400 million. A local bond expert who was at the meeting told me privately he thought the difference would be closer to $200 million.

As I told the committee members, though, whether it’s $200 million, $300 million or $400 million, that is a ton of money, enough to constitute “an overpowering argument” in favor of public financing.

Shields emphasized that all the money needed to pay off city-issued revenue bonds would come from the airlines, plus concession and parking operations. General city revenue would not be tapped and would not be at risk. (As an aside, the Aviation and Water departments are the city’s only two “enterprise departments,” so named because they operate completely on the revenue they generate from their operations and fees rather than on general city tax revenue.)

Burns and Mac has attempted to counter the financing disparity by asserting it could build the new terminal in four years instead of the six that the city has estimated. But as I told the committee today, you never know what’s going to happen in a major construction project, and predictions on how long it will take to finish a major project are educated guesses, at best.

For example, early in my career as a KC Star reporter, I covered construction of the Truman Sports Complex. Along the way, a construction trades strike developed, and work came to a halt. The general contractor was helpless. And Jackson County, which had issued voter-approved general-obligation bonds to build the stadiums, could do little. It was so bad county officials fired the executive director of the Sports Complex Authority and replaced him with someone they thought could help resolve the impasse. Work eventually resumed, but precious weeks were lost.

(Coincidentally, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the vote to approve the sports-complex bonds.)

Arrowhead Stadium, being built in 1970


Another issue that came up today, as I alluded to earlier, was the perceived lack of voter confidence in the city’s ability to pay off nearly $1 billion in revenue bonds.

To that I say balderdash.

On April 4, Kansas City voters dramatically and resoundingly demonstrated their confidence in the city when they overwhelmingly approved an $800 million general obligation bond issue to address a variety of needs, including new sidewalks, road and bridge maintenance, flood control, a new animal shelter and upgrades to city buildings to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Here’s how I closed my remarks today:

“If the need is clearly demonstrated, the financing well explained, and if residents are presented with an appealing design, I think we will have a successful airport election and we’ll all be winners — even those who are loath to part with their beloved horseshoe terminals at KCI.”

I fully believe that. I also believe it’s crazy to fork over $200 million or more in unnecessary interest payments. Eventually, that money could be spent on airport operations, amenities and additional improvements, instead of pissing it away on interest.

If I could get my hands on the nuclear code right now, I’d be sorely tempted to blow North Korea into oblivion.

Is this the saddest thing you can ever imagine: 22-year-old Otto Warmbier lying in what amounts to a persistent vegetative state in a Cincinnati hospital after the North Koreans sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor for a moment of bad judgment and then did something to him to trigger a heart attack or other event that deprived his brain of oxygen?

It is unbelievable and as depressing as about anything could be.

Fred Warmbier, on Thursday

Today, his father, Fred Warmbier, said at a news conference Otto had become “fodder” for the Kim Jong-un regime after being lured into visiting the country by a Chinese travel company that said its customers were never detained while on a tour there. At the news conference, Fred Warmbier wore the light-colored sport coat his son wore in North Korean court appearances.

Was bad judgment a factor here? Of course. He was crazy to go to North Korea…If for no other reason, the vast majority of sensible people would not go to North Korea because they’d be following the lead of a notorious nut job, former NBA player Dennis Rodman.

In Otto’s defense, however, he was an adventurous sort, having traveled overseas several times, including to twice to Europe as well as to Israel, Ecuador and Cuba. When asked about her reaction to her son’s desire to travel to North Korea, his mother, Cindy Warmbier, told The Washington Post two months ago, “Why would you say no to a kid like this?”

Otto, with his mother Cindy, in happier times

Mistake No. 2 was stealing a propaganda sign from a staff-only floor of the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang. The poster said, “Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il’s patriotism!”

Yanggakdo International Hotel

Kim Jong-il preceded Kim Jong-un. It is not clear if Otto, when he took the poster, realized that harming items with the name or image of a North Korean leader is considered a serious crime by the regime. 

On top of his errors of judgment, Otto also caught a terrible break. On Jan. 2, 2016, he was apprehended at the airport just before boarding a flight to come back home.

On March 16, 2016, two hours after U.S. envoy Bill Richardson met with two North Korean diplomats from the United Nations office to press for his release, Otto was sentenced. He is believed to have suffered the heart attack, or other life-threatening event, within a month or two after that.

For a long time, Otto’s parents followed the Obama administration’s advice to stay quiet so as not to antagonize or offend leaders in North Korea. So much for that strategy. Recently, they began speaking out.

When asked today whether he believes the Obama administration could have done more to secure Otto’s release, Fred Warmbier replied, “I think the results speak for themselves.”

The Warmbiers are from a small town about 20 minutes north of Cincinnati called Wyoming. Otto graduated from Wyoming High School in 2013. At the time of his trip to North Korea, he was a junior at the University of Virginia, where he was studying for a double major degree in commerce and economics. He has two younger siblings.

Being dragged to or from a North Korean court in March 2016

On April 28, before it was known that Otto had been in a coma for months, The Washington Post ran a feature story on Fred and Cindy Warmbier. The headline was: “Worried about North Korea? Spare a thought for Otto Warmbier’s family.”

The story quoted Fred Warmbier as saying, “We’ve not seen or heard from Otto in 16 months. We don’t know if Otto still exists.”

He does, but just barely…And now we need to spare a lot more than a thought for the Warmbier family. They need all the prayers and empathy we can collectively muster. And that’s not close to enough for that terribly unlucky family.

About the only “good radio” available anywhere these days is National Public Radio, which most of us in the Kansas City area access through the local NPR affiliate, KCUR-FM, 89.3.

But, alas, even NPR occasionally disappoints its listeners, and just such a disappointment occurred this morning during coverage of a huge story — the shooting in Alexandria, VA, of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four other people, including two Capitol Police officers.

Ultimately, the shooter, identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, IL, was shot and killed, either by the Capitol Police officers, who served as security guards for Scalise, or Alexandria police.

Steve Inskeep

About 9:30 this morning, as I was driving home from the bank and listening to Morning Edition, one of the show’s hosts, Steve Inskeep, announced he had on the line Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who had been at the baseball field and witnessed the entire event.

Brooks started by recounting how, while standing with a bat near the third-base line, “I heard this loud ‘blam!’ ”

He turned toward where the sound had come from and saw a man shooting a rifle through the holes of a chain-link fence that extended down and outside of the third-base line. Then, he heard someone scream “active shooter!”

Vulnerable and out in the open, Brooks ran toward the batting cage and got down behind a plastic shield at the base of the cage. Realizing the plastic wouldn’t be much help, he then ran toward and dove into the first-base dugout, the floor of which was a foot or so below ground level.

Other players had also taken cover there, and one of them, a congressional staff member, had been shot in the calf. Brooks said he pulled the belt off his shorts and tied it around the man’s leg to slow the blood flow.

Next, Brooks said he began hearing gunshots coming from the dugout and at first thought it could be a second shooter. Instead…”It was a Capitol Police officer who was using the cinder-block dugout area for cover, and he was shooting from around the edge (of the dugout).”

Moments later, as Brooks recounted how the officer was shooting “”across the baseball diamond,” Inskeep interrupted him, saying…

“Congressman, I’m obliged to stop you there for the moment. If you’ll stay on the line, we’d like to come back after a short break — which we’re required to take for our NPR stations — and hear more of your story.”

…It was very disconcerting and frustrating to have the Congressman’s story interrupted, but I thought the break would last a minute or two and then it would be back to his story.

But no. That was at 9:40 a.m. After station identification, it was on to several minutes of national news. Then several minutes of local news. Then to a lengthy local story from KCUR’s Dan Margolies, who’s a great reporter but the last person I wanted to be hearing from just then.

To my dismay, I soon realized that we listeners of KCUR would not be hearing the rest of Brooks’ compelling story.

At the top of the hour, it was another round of national news and then on to the ever-riveting Gina Kaufman and her local Central Standard show.

Within minutes, we were exposed to radio at its best and radio at its worst. It’s a damn shame that NPR is so rigid that it had to break off precisely when it did. Certainly, Inskeep, veteran that he is, could have wrung out another minute or two! What’s the worst that could have happened? The KCUR staff would have had to adjust on the fly and cut a minute or two of local programming and news.

I blame Inskeep. He should have held off on the break and found a way to wrap up the story, even if it meant breaking the agreement NPR has with its affiliates…This was a monster story. There are times for exceptions, and this was one of them.

…Later, I went to the NPR website and saw that, indeed, Inskeep had kept Brooks on the line and had given him about three more minutes of air time…at some point.

In Round Two of the interview, Brooks recounted how he and two other Congressmen, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Brad Wenstrip of Ohio, went to the aid of Scalise, who, after being shot in the hip, had dragged himself from near second base to the outfield grass. At the direction of Wenstrup, a podiatrist, Brooks applied pressure to Scalise’s wound with a cloth.

“He was conscious,” Brooks said, referring to Scalise. “You could tell he was in pain; he was immobile.”

Brooks concluded by expressing “tremendous gratitude” to the Capitol Police. “But for them, it would have been a massacre,” he said.

It was good to get the second part of the interview, but I imagine very few KCUR listeners got to hear it, online or elsewhere.

That was bad radio, a tremendous disservice to listeners not only in Kansas City but around the country.