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The Kansas City Star is never far from my mind, and I know a lot of your readers like to know what’s going on at and around the newspaper, so here are some recent developments…

Sanchez gone

I’ve heard from two very good sources that Mary Sanchez is out after a career of more than 30 years as a reporter and columnist. From what I understand, this is not a cost-saving layoff but just the result of ongoing, often-inevitable, work-related friction.

In early 2017 Sanchez, then a Metro columnist, was named a member of the paper’s revamped editorial-page operation under the oversight of Colleen McCain Nelson, whom Publisher Tony Berg hired from the Wall Street Journal in late 2016.

As I’ve said many times, Nelson has done a fabulous job of reviving the editorial page, and before Sanchez’ recent departure, it was fully staffed at eight people.

From arm’s length, and from what I’ve seen of her personality, Nelson seems like she would be an inspiring and easy person to work for, but, as we all know, friction arises in many supervisor/direct-report relationships. Both of my sources mentioned relationship difficulties as a possible factor in Sanchez’ departure.

In any event, Sanchez had a great run at the paper and can take gratification in a very successful career there, regardless of how it ended…And The Star, of course, will continue to muddle along without her.

The story on the “non-election” 

It’s extremely rare that you see an election canceled — I can’t remember ever having seen it happen before — but that’s the situation with the primary election for Jackson County Sheriff. What happened was county officials gave would-be candidates a chance to file for the office after the March 27 filing deadline. They did so because the former sheriff, Mike Sharp (you remember that mess!) resigned in April, after the filing deadline.

Two Republicans and three Democrats, including interim Sheriff Darryl Forte and Capt. Mike Rogers of the Sheriff’s Office, filed during the re-opened period. However, the Jackson County Democratic Committee filed suit, contending the county did not have the right to reopen filings. On Tuesday, a Jackson County Circuit Court judge sided with the committee and ruled that the Democratic County Committee and the Republican County Committee will each select a nominee to run in the November general election…It’s out of voters hands at this point, although the candidates’ names will be on the ballot because the ballots were prepared before the judge ruled.

But the story here — the story as it relates to The Star, anyway — is that, as far as I can tell, the paper somehow managed to miss the fact that the Democratic County Committee had sued the county in an attempt to stop the primary election.

I think the first that KC Star readers knew about the lawsuit was after the judge ruled on it. The paper prominently displayed the story — and an accompanying editorial — on its website Tuesday, but it didn’t run the story and editorial in the printed edition until yesterday, Thursday.

Not running the story and editorial in Wednesday’s printed edition was a disservice to readers, but the biggest disservice was being in the dark on the legal challenge. That’s exactly what happens, though, when reporters are spread too thin. You can’t lay off scores of editorial staff members and offer the same level of coverage…This says it all: Where The Star once employed more than 2,000 people, it’s now down to somewhere between 200 and 300.

(P.S. KCUR published a story about the lawsuit a week ago today.)

Renovation of the former 1729 Grand building

In the CityScene KC blog, former KC Star development reporter Kevin Collison wrote last week about developer Vince Bryant’s planned $95 million redevelopment plan for the former KC headquarters, which Bryant and his partners bought for $12 million last year.

Construction already is underway on the north side of the property, where freshly printed newspapers were loaded onto delivery trucks waiting at a series of docks. That area is being converted to a sports pub with several outdoor, sand volleyball courts.

Other key components of the redevelopment plan include:

— Renovation of the 225,000 square-foot existing building into office, data center and retail space

— Construction of a new 45,000 square-foot “food hall,” boutique grocery store and office complex on the south side of the property, along 18th Street. (That has been a grassy area with big, old trees.) Bryant is also planning a 500-space, four-level garage beneath the food hall and grocery/office building.

…That all sounds fine, but I’m left with one big question: What the hell is a “food hall”?

What I’m envisioning is an upscale Horn & Hardart automat, with row after row and machine after machine of irresistible items, including many kinds of pie…

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President Trump has taken his battle with the mainstream news media to a new, frightening low, with his indirect encouragement of people who scream obscenities at reporters he doesn’t like.

If you haven’t heard, CNN’s Jim Acosta, a White House correspondent, was the target of obscenities and shouts of “CNN sucks” from Trump supporters at a Trump rally in Tampa on Tuesday.

It was an unsettling scene, as this photo indicates.

Acosta later wrote, “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”

In an interview on CNN, when asked for his reaction to the taunting he got on Tuesday, Acosta said: “It felt like we weren’t in America any more…He (Trump) is whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point that they really want to come after us…And, honestly, it needs to stop.”

At a White House news briefing today, Acosta gave Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders the opportunity to lessen the rising tension and say the press was not the “enemy of the people,” as Trump has alleged.

She wouldn’t do it. Instead she talked about how the press “continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president” and how she herself had been the victim of press attacks, including at the White House correspondents dinner, where comedian Michelle Wolf pummeled her with several low blows.

“I appreciate your passion,” she told Acosta. “I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.”

In other words, Trump’s assault on the mainstream media — that is, almost every outlet besides Fox News — will rage on.

Adding to the unease was the emergence at the Tampa rally of a group called QAnon, which a Huffington Post reporter has described as “every conspiracy, all at once — an orchestra tune-up of theories.”

If you’ve heard an orchestra tuning up, you get the picture.

In an opinion piece in today’s Washington Post, an editor named Molly Roberts wrote:

“QAnon isn’t your average story of all-powerful actors exercising complete control over a helpless populace. This time, the heroes are already in charge and, still, the theorists see themselves as victims. Why, even with their man in the Oval Office, do they feel embattled?”

Yet another oddity at the Tampa rally was the presence of a few black people brandishing signs that said, “Blacks for Trump.”

The leader of that group is a wacko named Maurice Symonette, who also goes by Michael Woodside and “Michael The Black Man.” Symonette is associated with a couple of websites that spew a laundry list of conspiracy theories, including one that claims to link Hillary Clinton with the Islamic State. Symonette has been arrested many times and was once charged with conspiring to commit murder. He beat the rap and has now managed to get himself situated two rows behind Trump.

Symonette, front and center, at the Trump rally Tuesday in Tampa

**

Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post’s media columnist, had an insightful — and disturbing — piece on Trump’s persistent agitation of his acolytes.

She said Trump is unlikely to call off the dogs because he uses the media as a foil in hopes of undermining the reporting about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of him. His ultimate goal, she said, is to “ward off the negative effects of whatever Mueller finds.”

Sullivan concluded her column with these sentences:

“Defending press rights — and the safety of journalists — would be a sign of real patriotism, as opposed to hypocritical flag-waving.

“That’s a fantasy, of course, given how crucial this coordinated anti-media messaging is for Trump.

“Nevertheless, it would be a way for him to show that he is more than just the president of his base. And it should happen before his hands are splashed with blood.”

Those are strong words. And, yes, blood could flow. What then? Where would we be as a nation?

…So far, Sullivan’s column has drawn more than 3,100 comments — a higher number than I’ve ever seen on any story and a direct reflection of the depth of public concern.

I never envisioned things getting to this place, but it’s time for mainstream reporters covering the White House to beware and be watchful. I fear we are venturing into waves and winds a lot higher than those that sank the duck boat in Branson.

The two most pervasive problems in our country, gun violence and racism, were on display in two high-profile cases recently — one here in Kansas City, the other in Florida.

In the local case, which occurred last Sunday afternoon, 57-year-old Leonard Joyner III was gunned down by a 19-year-old punk after Joyner’s Lincoln Town Car accidentally rolled a short distance back down a hill into a car being driven by the punk’s 18-year-old girlfriend.

Joyner and the two people in the other car got out of their vehicles, and Joyner — probably realizing right away that he was dealing with a couple of hotheads — pulled cash out of his pocket and, according to witnesses, appeared to offer it to the two. But the 19-year-old punk, Treyvon D. Shepheard, went to the passenger side of the SUV, returned with a semi-automatic handgun and proceeded to shoot Joyner several times, including after he had fallen to the ground.

Shepheard and his girlfriend, Rafeasia Kirkland, got back in the SUV and drove away.

Larry Joyner

Meanwhile, friends of Joyner’s were waiting for him to return to the apartment complex where they all lived so they could go out to dinner. Instead, the friends heard about the shooting, rushed to the scene and saw their friend lying dead in the street.

The scariest thing about this horrible case is, once again, it could have happened to anyone. Could have been you, could have been me. Could have been my son or daughter. Could have been your son or daughter.

I don’t know how or why Joyner’s car rolled back down the hill on East 51st Street, where it intersects with Swope Parkway. Maybe he had pulled too far forward and put it in reverse to back up a bit. Or maybe he put it in neutral and it just drifted back a bit before he hit the brakes.

At the same time, I have no idea what prompted Shepheard to shoot Joyner. Maybe it was simply that he was a hothead with a gun. Maybe he was trying to impress his girlfriend…and had a gun. The gun, that’s the single constant element here.

Regardless, mishaps like Joyner’s car rolling back happen all the time. What isn’t supposed to happen — and may well not have happened in a civilized, sane society where guns are more strictly controlled — is for the guy whose car got bumped to pull out a gun and kill the driver of the bumper car.

This is the hill on East 51st Street, at Swope Parkway, where Larry Joyner’s car rolled back down the hill into an SUV with an 18-year-old driver and a 19-year-old passenger…Joyner’s Town Car would have been near the spot where the smaller car is.

Now, Shepheard is charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with evidence; Kirkland is charged with tampering with evidence; and Joyner is gone forever.

It is hard to comprehend. And yet it happens all the time. Watch out.

The second case happened in the Stand-Your-Ground State…Oh, dammit! I meant the Sunshine State.

Maybe you’ve seen the video. If you haven’t be sure to check it out.

This horrific event occurred July 19 outside a convenience store in Clearwater.

A confrontation occurred between Michael Drejka, a 47-year-old white man, and Markeis McGlockton, a 28-year-old old black man. According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, about parking in a handicap space without a permit.

In the video, Drejka appears to be scolding Jacobs — for a minute or more — about parking in the space without a handicap permit. Suddenly, McGlockton emerges from the store, goes straight up to Drejka and pushes him to the ground — hard. On the ground, Drejka pulls a handgun. McGlockton takes about four steps back before Drejka shoots him once in the chest. McGlockton then stumbles back into the store, where he died.

While this unfolded, the couple’s 4-month-old and 3-year-old children were in the car. Their 5-year-old son was in the store.

…Even with Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law — made famous in the 2012 Trayvon Martin case — Drejka’s reckless, impulsive action was completely unwarranted. Was McGlockton wrong to shove Drejka to the ground? Of course. But the stand-your-ground law clearly says a person using deadly force in self-defense must “reasonably” believe deadly force is necessary. In this case, deadly force was not at all necessary, not with McGlockton having backed away and no longer posing a threat to Drejka.

And yet, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who is white, refused to arrest Drejka, saying “he had to shoot to defend himself.” Gualtieri went on to suggest his office could be sued just for arresting the shooter.

Gualtieri

His position is so indefensible, however, that even the NRA said he misconstrued the law. Politico quoted Marion Hammer, Tallahassee’s NRA lobbyist, who helped shepherd “stand your ground” through the Florida Legislature, as saying…

“Nothing in either the 2005 law or the 2017 law prohibits a Sheriff from making an arrest in a case where a person claims self-defense if there is probable cause that the use of force was unlawful…Nothing in the law says a person can sue the Sheriff for making an arrest when there is probable cause.”

Fortunately, the state attorney in Pinellas County will have the final say on whether Drejka should be prosecuted. (That doesn’t mean justice will be served, of course, and my guess is it will go the way of the Trayvon Martin case.)

A facet of this case that strongly suggests Gualtieri’s assessment of the facts has racial overtones is the fact that during a press conference in which he explained his decision, the sheriff made no mention of the fact that McGlockton was backing away when Drejka shot him.

That, plus similar events that have taken place in Florida, makes me think that if McGlockton had been white, Gualtieri would have arrested him. I also think that if both shooter and victim had been black, Gualtieri would have arrested the shooter. But white on black? No way. This is Florida, where it seems to be OK for white people to use deadly force against black people for little or no reason.

And more broadly, like the Kansas City case, Drejka’s action would not have happened in a sane and civilized society where guns were more strictly controlled.

With recent developments, the number of pending criminal charges against David Jungerman has now thinned to the point that the only substantive case Missouri prosecutors have against him is the Thomas Pickert murder case.

At one time, it appeared the state had three strong felony cases against him:

— An attempted burglary in Nevada

— Shooting at or near a man he believed to have stolen pipe from him

— The Pickert case

Of course, the Pickert case is the big one, and all indications are that KCPD detectives presented Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker with an iron-clad case. Detectives gave Jungerman — who thinks he’s smart but is actually an idiot — a false sense of security by saying he wasn’t a suspect. Left to his own devices, Jungerman placed a noose around his neck by running his mouth, including into a running audio recorder.

Nevertheless, it’s disturbing to see the other two criminal cases against him slipping away.

First, in the spring, came the dismissal of the attempted burglary case. The Vernon County prosecutor gave no public reason for dismissing the case, but it dragged on for two years and was getting stale.

Then, last week the Jackson County prosecutor’s office dismissed two of three felony counts against Jungerman in connection with his March 8 confrontation of two people he believed had stolen pipe from his northeast Kansas City business. Jungerman chased the two in his truck and caught up with them at a metal recycling facility, where he pointed a handgun at both people — a man and a woman — and fired what he called a warning shot in the vicinity of the man.

The ironic part of that case is that Jungerman was on the phone with 911, reporting the theft and the confrontation, as it was unfolding…Like I said, he fancies himself smart.

As it turned out, the man Jungerman confronted is a longtime, petty thief and probably had stolen the pipe. He — “the victim” — is facing charges unrelated to the Jungerman case, and, as I understand it, the prosecutor’s office was unwilling to offer him any concessions in return for his prospective testimony against Jungerman.

Faced with an uncooperative lead witness, the prosecutor’s office dismissed two of the three felony charges against Jungerman, leaving just one felony charge of exhibiting a weapon and a misdemeanor assault charge.

As a result, where Jungerman once faced the prospect of up to 22 years in prison in that case, he now faces only two to four years on the remaining felony charge. In addition, the case, which had been scheduled to go to trial today, has been continued to next April.

…The way the stolen-pipe case is developing — maybe I should say collapsing — I fear it will ultimately go the way of the Nevada, MO, case.

The stolen-pipe case won’t really matter, provided that the murder case doesn’t start taking on water. Jungerman is still being held without bond, and there’s no prospect of him getting out on bond, as far as I can tell. (He’s worth up to $33 million, but all his millions and all his farm land are not helping him a bit now.)

Despite the fact that the murder case has shown no signs of cracking, I felt a lot better when Jungerman was boxed in by what appeared to be three strong felony cases. Now it’s down to one major felony case, and, as the Nevada and stolen-pipe cases have shown, you never know what’s going to happen with criminal cases.

All we can do — “we” who want to see justice served — is keep our fingers crossed that the state’s case will hold up and that Jungerman will be convicted of gunning down an innocent man in his front yard last October after walking his two young sons to school.

This is one “wise guy” who can never again be out on the streets.

Another day and another tortured clarification/correction in The Star.

With good reason, The Star is promoting on its website its full coverage of last week’s “duck” disaster in Branson. As I said in my last post, The Star has done an excellent job on the story, throwing at least half of its metro staff at it. Today, however, it ran a clarification that can only be described as maddening.

For decades, The Star has had a stupid policy of not repeating, in corrections and clarifications, the original error or problematic wording.

What this does is leave readers scratching their heads and wondering exactly what the paper got wrong in the first place.

And maybe that’s what The Star wants: to plant seeds of confusion in order to airbrush the original sin.

…Let’s break this down by printing today’s clarification and then working backwards to the original sin.

Here goes…

“An article in the July 21 edition on a federal agency’s warnings about duck boats like the one that sank at Table Rock Lake should have clarified that Ripley Entertainment bought the Ride the Ducks operation in 2017.”

…Now, I’ll bet those of you who didn’t see this “clarification” earlier are wondering what impression the Saturday story left that warranted this.

Wouldn’t that be helpful to the reader?

And, hey, isn’t that part of what a newspaper is supposed to do — un-complicate things?

So, I went back to the Saturday story about warnings issued by the National Transportation Safety Board regarding duck boats, and I found the part that triggered the clarification. Here’s the key paragraph…

“Ride the Ducks would open in Philadelphia, and a year later, Herschend Family Entertainment would become Ride the Ducks’ sole owner. Herschend Family Entertainment was founded by Jack and Pete Herschend, the creators of Silver Dollar City in the Ozarks.”

The story does not mention Ripley.

Sooooo, what The Star is ostensibly clarifying today is the fact that Saturday’s story left the impression that Herschend Family Entertainment is the current owner of Ride the Ducks.

I guess it’s asking too much of The Star to clarify — really clarify — the point by simply saying…

“An article in the July 21 edition on a federal agency’s warnings about duck boats like the one that sank at Table Rock Lake left the impression that Herschend Family Entertainment owns the Ride the Ducks operation in Branson. However, another operator, Ripley Entertainment, bought the operation in 2017.”

Just like that, The Star could have explained the problem with the original story and, at the same time, set the record unequivocally straight. Instead, it chose, as it has for years, to tiptoe around the problem and, in the process, further cloud the skies.

This decades-old approach to clarifications and corrections is, simply, ridiculous. Common sense should dictate adopting a system that clarifies what needs to be clarified and corrects what needs to be corrected. All in all, the paper’s screwy policy seems, to me, to spring from the old adage, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

Once again The Star flexed its journalistic muscle — as only it can, locally — on a big, breaking story, throwing most of its metro reporting staff at the duck boat sinking at Table Rock Lake.

Today’s print edition contained four lengthy stories, each with multiple bylines and exploring different dimensions of the story. One story revolved around the storm warning that had been issued before the boat went out on the lake; another was devoted to the 17 victims who died; a third explored the sketchy history of duck boats; and the fourth featured interviews with people aboard the Showboat Branson Belle, which was docked near the scene of the sinking Thursday night.

On its website today, The Star has two new stories containing surprising information: First, no one on the boat was wearing a “safety device” (presumably a life jacket), and, second, the captain of the duck boat released the canopy from the boat as it was sinking, probably preventing more people from dying.

(I had no idea the canopies could be released.)

Of course, this was a national story, and several newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, sent reporters to the scene.

The Times’ decision to have a reporter, John Eligon, based in Kansas City, paid big dividends. He, with the assistance of several other reporters, had the single most descriptive story of any I read. (More about that in a bit.)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch sent reporters to the scene and focused part of its coverage on a St. Louis County couple — the only victims from either the St. Louis or Kansas City areas — on the boat.

The closest relatively large city to the disaster, of course, was Springfield. The Springfield News-Leader, which is part of the Gannett chain — the largest newspaper chain in the country — sent reporters, but its coverage seemed choppy and disorganized, like a lot of Gannett news coverage.

For example, the lead headline on the News-Leader’s website this afternoon said, “List: Everyone on Branson duck boat that sank,” as if the story contains the identities of everyone on board. But the story only gives the genders, ages and states of residence for the 14 survivors.

One of the oddest things I noticed about the various newspapers’ coverage was that a staff reporter for the Tulsa World — Reece Ristau — wrote the Washington Post story that led that paper’s coverage earlier today. A tag line at the end of that story identified Ristau as a freelance journalist. Compounding that curiosity, Tulsa is only about three and a half hours away from Branson, but the Tulsa World did not do any firsthand coverage, relying primarily on the Associated Press for coverage.

Ristau

All I can deduce from the Reece Ristau shuffle — from Tulsa World to WaPo — is that his workday had concluded at the World and he then rushed over to Branson after being contacted by The Post…He’s doing more work for The Post on the story today, but The Post is no longer identifying him as a freelancer. In fact, they’re not identifying him at all.

**

Adler

The Star’s story about the Branson Belle passengers’ accounts was the most descriptive of The Star’s four stories in today’s printed edition. Veteran reporters Eric Adler and Laura Bauer spoke with people who gave graphic accounts of the disaster.

A 20-year-old man who witnessed the sinking told The Star, “People were swimming. You could see life vests floating around.” A 15-year-old girl was quoted as saying, “There was a lot of screaming.”

The only thing that was missing in that story was how far the Branson Belle was from the duck boat when it went down. It couldn’t have been very far because one witness told the reporters that the high wind “pushed bodies against the hull of the Belle.”

Leave it to The New York Times, however, to give the most dramatic account.

Eligon’s print-edition, which ran on the front page today, began like this:

“The image from Table Rock Lake that onlookers say they will never forget is the heads, one after another, bobbing in the wild, darkened water.

“One would pop up on the surface and then disappear. There were so many of them amid the pounding waves — there one moment, and then gone.”

The story concluded by centering on the pivotal issue of the life jackets — which were available on an overhead shelf but apparently ignored for the most part.

Eligon interviewed a 20-year-old man who helped pull people out of the water in the immediate aftermath. The man told Eligon not one of the victims he came in contact with was wearing a life jacket.

Eligon’s last sentence began with a quote from the rescuer and ended with a telling description of his demeanor.

“I don’t want to say 100 percent, but it’s really hard to drown with a life jacket” he said, pausing as he stared silently at the ground.

I’ll tell you a story about “duck rides.”

Patty and I used to go to Hot Springs, Ark., for the horse racing at Oaklawn Park, and we continued going after our children, daughter Brooks and son Charlie, were born in 1988 and 1989.

There’s a lot to do in Hot Springs besides going to the track, including walking and hiking in the Ouachita Mountains and enjoying the many bars, restaurants and retail stores along gently-curving Central Avenue downtown.

Another popular attraction has been the “duck rides,” in the amphibious vehicles, like the one that went down yesterday in Branson, taking the lives of 17 people, ranging in age form 1 to 70.

I never was much interested in the duck rides, which start downtown, then dip down into nearby Lake Hamilton, cruise around and then return downtown. The duck rides were — and possibly still are — big business in Hot Springs. Back then, two or three companies offered rides, and they competed aggressively, with carnival-type barkers buttonholing passers-by and making their pitches.

For some reason, on one visit when the kids were about 7 or 8, I think, we decided to take a duck ride. I don’t remember what it cost (there’s something else I didn’t remember, and I’ll get to that in a minute), but my most vivid memory is that when we were nearing the water, the driver/captain casually announced that life jackets were available if anyone wanted one.

I’ve always been safety conscious, especially around water (got it from my father), and I went to the shelves where the life jackets were stacked up. It appeared to me that none of those jackets had been used in months. They were covered with dust and so tightly wedged together it was difficult to dislodge from their holding place.

I got four, dusted them off as best I could and distributed them to Patty, Brooks and Charlie. I think we all put them on. I know I did because I remember to this day being irritated because smudges from the dusty jackets got onto my pants.

At any rate, the boat proceeded into the lake, and we drove around on the lake for 15 to 20 minutes without incident, before getting back on land and returning downtown.

Two or three years later, I was shocked to hear and read about the first big duck-boat disaster. Thirteen passengers, including three children, drowned on May 1, 1999, when a duck boat named Miss Majestic went down in Lake Hamilton.

Miss Majestic, after being pulled out of Lake Hamilton, near Hot Springs, Ark., in May 1999

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the boat started to go under seven minutes after entering the water. One passenger escaped before the boat submerged. Everyone else was trapped under the vehicle’s canopy roof. Six of those who were trapped were able to escape and swim to the surface, and boaters came to the rescue.

Obviously, all four of us recoiled at hearing that account and felt a retrospective sense of great relief that the “duck” we had ridden a few years earlier had stayed afloat.

Needless to say, none of us has ever ridden a “duck” since — and never would.

**

Now to the other thing I had forgotten about that day in the mid- to late-1990s.

Brooks, now 30, sent me a text from her workplace this morning, saying: “I ALWAYS KNEW THOSE DUCK BOATS WERE  BAD NEWS…Remember when I tried to hide in the bathroom so you wouldn’t make me go on it!?!!!”

I told her I did not remember that but reminded her about breaking out the dust-covered life preservers.

She texted back, “I was so scared I almost threw up in the bathroom and tried to stay in there so that it would leave without me, and you guys would get off.”

It sure sounded like something Brooks would have done. She’s always been squeamish about amusement park rides and such. I recall a time at Silver Dollar City when Patty, Charlie and I got on a ride, and Brooks remained in a waiting area so she could avoid going on the ride. We went on without her and retrieved her afterwards.

I have two thoughts today: May God be with the families of those 17 people who died on Table Rock Lake yesterday and… it’s time to ban those damn duck boats.