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Best Audio and Visual Aids at a Public Meeting 

Whoopee cushions, 3-D glasses, and suckers, Johnson County Board of Commissioners meetings on the Wonderful World of Oz

Johnson County resident Phil Klein (not Kansas state representative Phil Kline or congressional candidate Phill Kline) is a magician, naturally given to using props. Through the years Klein has been a thorn in the side of the Merriam City Council regarding its use of tax breaks and bond money, has campaigned against building the Power & Light District, and has fought the conversion of Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport into a KC Southern Railway intermodal hub. These days he is focused on stopping the Wonderful World of Oz theme park. And Klein carries his predilection for props into his community activism. When the Johnson County Board of Commissioners held a series of public meetings on the Oz proposal as a prelude to approving or disapproving the project, Klein made his displeasure known in a unique way. At the first meeting, Klein stood at the door gleefully passing out whoopee cushions with "The Sound Oz Makes" stenciled on one side. Most people took the toy, though politely declined to test its auditory capabilities. (At the end of the meeting Commissioner Annabeth Surbaugh thanked the audience for not disrupting the meeting.) At the second meeting, Klein handed out "magic 3-D" glasses with the words "Oz scam" written on the lenses. This time it was easy to identify Oz supporters -- they were the ones who didn't accept Klein's offering. At the final meeting, Klein tempted taste buds by giving out suckers. The implication was obvious.

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