At the July 10 meeting, when Patricia Kurtz admitted that the board couldn't sell the D.A. Holmes school that night because her committee had overlooked its paperwork, Warrick brooked no excuse from the whiny white lady. "We are all volunteers here, Ms. Kurtz," she snapped. "I am certain that your volunteer time is no more valuable than anyone else's." You go, Elma. That woman was dissin' you.
At stake is a historic firetrap at 3004 Benton Boulevard renamed in 1963 for a long-lived Baptist minister who waged war against the district's tradition of withholding funds from black students' public schools. Activists from the Santa Fe neighborhood want to turn it into the Derrick Thomas Academy charter school. The DTA executive board bid $400,058 (with the help of Edison Schools Inc.). A loft builder, Jeffrey E. Smith Investment Company, had a higher bid, however.
Then a tall stranger addressed the board. "My name is Aaron Gnirk, and I'm from Los Angeles, California," he intoned. Back in the day, he continued, the Holmes school was Thomas Hart Benton Elementary, and Walt Disney was one of its pupils. Gnirk, himself a Claymation hobbyist as a youngster, made a pitch to preserve the sainted Imagineer's childhood landmark. Of course, the board could do nothing because of Kurtz's snafu.
Moments after Gnirk sat down, board president Helen Ragsdale looked past three TV cameras near the front row and demanded that Mr. Disneyland stop his small digital video unit near the back of the room. "We don't allow taping of our meetings," she growled. But Warrick told Ragsdale, "We can't do that," so Gnirk kept recording for purposes unknown to even him.
Then the meeting settled down to routine. Stargazer Duane Kelly offered his fortnightly astronomy lesson, promising that Venus would disappear behind the moon for nearly ninety minutes on July 17. The crowd sat silent and puzzled, trying to understand what occultation has to do with fixing Kansas City's dismal education system, as Kelly explained that "astronomers live at the total mercy of the moon," and "there's no atmosphere on Venus." Which brings to mind a question: Is Kelly getting enough oxygen?