Letters from the week of December 26, 2002

Flipping the Bird 

Letters from the week of December 26, 2002

Where the wild things are: How funny it was to remember Joe Miller's article criticizing KCTV Channel 5 ("Anchors Away!" April 4). I couldn't help but laugh when he belittled their reporting expertise. Why? Because of the shabby reporting your paper did on WildCare Inc. (Allie Johnson's "Predatory Practices," October 10).

I have volunteered at WildCare for the last ten years. Johnson's interpretation of a former, bitter volunteer was one-sided and false. Did Johnson check her source's expertise? If she had, she would know her source only volunteered at WildCare for a short time. She was never allowed to handle raptors, just small baby rodent mammals and baby songbirds. She also alleges abuse that supposedly happened seven to eight years before she was ever there. Johnson did not check. You failed your readers in a big way.

Johnson's source was part of a tangent group that wanted to take over WildCare. They didn't want to organize their own program but wanted one fully assembled with permits, buildings, nonprofit IRS status and a complete volunteer base handed to them on a silver platter. When their efforts failed, they set out to destroy the director. They are hurting the reputation of a long-standing, successful wildlife rehab facility. I also feel the need to let you know that birds of prey do have a prayer at WildCare -- with over 1,100 animals having come in this year and a release rate higher than the national average. I ask you, Pitch: How can you even think of critiquing another news source when you haven't done it yourself?
Kristen Lockwood

Sales Forced
Pay check: As a financial advisor, I can't help but comment on Allie Johnson's "The Hard Sell" (December 12). It was absolutely brilliant! In fact, I felt like cheering as I was reading. It was the most consumer-friendly piece that I have read in any publication for many years.

What she revealed is exactly what consumers need to know. There are a great number of companies and their agents that are pushing life insurance as the total financial solution, and it is not in the client's best interests but their own.

I must applaud Johnson on her courage to take on such an assignment. In my book, this one is worthy of a Pulitzer.
Timothy J. Walla
Overland Park

For debtor or for worse: This was a great article, but Northwestern is not the only culprit. Many "captive" insurance companies treat their new agents like indentured servants. The career agency system is dying. There is so much competition from independent insurance agents, financial planners, banks, stockbrokers etc., who are not obligated to sell a particular company's product.

I was one of those former captive people. I racked up a lot of debt by "investing in my own business." I spent $4,000 just on postage when I was marketing their products! Thankfully, I escaped to a regional full-service financial firm. I represent more than thirty insurance companies, and I actually recommend true investments -- individual stocks and bonds, mutual funds, separately managed accounts, annuities, private equity funds and hedge funds.

My advice is to run as far as you can from a captive agency -- investor or potential agent.
Name Withheld Upon Request

North by Northwestern: Great article! I've been meeting with a salesman from Northwestern Mutual. I haven't purchased any policies, so I don't have a story to tell, but thanks to Johnson's article, I will be very cautious with the company in the future.
Jaclyn Steiner
Overland Park

Drum and Dumber
Show and tell: After reading Luke Y. Thompson's review of Drumline ("Beat It," December 12), I feel that he is totally clueless about the importance of the halftime show at historically black colleges. At these schools, the halftime show is the reason to go to the game, not the team. The competition between the opposing school and home school on the field is exciting and riveting. The glue that holds the band and the dancers together is a great drumline; without a drumline that can keep the audience on their side, they are sunk.

The members of these bands are hardworking and devote just as much, if not more, time to making sure that their routine is "off the chain." I would advise Thompson to attend a football game at a historically black college next season and see if he still feels the same about the marching band. You will not get this experience from attending a KU or MU game. And before he says that I must have been in a band before, the answer is no, I can't play a lick of any instrument. I do appreciate the music and the time taken to make a halftime show something to watch.
Name Withheld Upon Request


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