We¹ll never again read the Star¹s editorial page in quite the same way.

Letter Rip 

We¹ll never again read the Star¹s editorial page in quite the same way.

On rare occasions, my job as editor of the Pitch requires me to do something I don't want to do. This is one of those weeks. Someone here should say something about the fact that we've redesigned our paper, and that duty falls to me. Don't get me wrong — we love our redesign. It's just that you're all smart enough to see it for yourselves, so what else is there to say?

I don't want us to be like The Kansas City Star, where they spent weeks, weeks and damn weeks putting up billboards and crap to hype the redesign they rolled out in June. OK, so they also put up a $200 million building with imported German presses, so I suppose they wanted to get their money's worth.

There is one little thing to say. Yes, it's true. We're now using the Star's new presses, too.

Those kinds of deals get worked out by guys in suits in faraway offices. It's business. The Star's happy to cash a gigantic check from us every week; we're happy for the sweet print job. But it's no lovefest.

Just to prove that point, I'm going to tell you a little story, one of behind-the-scenes political intrigue and squishy-headed gutlessness at the Star.

First, you'll need the political background. In the race for Missouri's 10th District Senate seat, four candidates are running to replace Charles Wheeler. This piece of it involves three of them:

· Mike Flaherty, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law school grad who owns the Point — and a Catholic who makes no secret that he's pro-life (against abortion and against the death penalty, by God).

· Jolie Justus, who has made a career out of doing free legal work for children, the poor, the downtrodden, and groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union. She's director of the pro bono program at the giant Shook Hardy & Bacon law firm. (Hey, someone's got to spend all that money SHB made defending big tobacco.)

· Jason Klumb, who served two terms in the Missouri House in the '90s, when he represented the small Bates County town of Butler. He moved north to Raymore when he ran two years ago for state treasurer (and lost). Then he got a job as an assistant attorney general in Kansas City and moved to a house near Ward Parkway. There, he could make a run for Wheeler's seat.

Hey, if I were an ambitious Democrat, I'd be eager to get the hell out of Butler, too. But that's not what has Justus supporters freaking out.

Justus supporters are pissed about something the Star, the unions, the bankers, and the big-name Democrats who have endorsed Klumb don't care about — but should care about because it keeps coming around to burn their party.

Back in 1996, Klumb was one of the first politicians in Missouri to work for legislation banning gay marriage.

In the mid-'90s, when the gay-marriage bomb exploded in state legislatures everywhere, Democrats trembled like kindergarten sissies. Rather than lead — by arguing that one of their core constituencies deserved the same civil rights as other citizens — they hoped the whole problem would disappear.

At the end of the 1996 session, Klumb proposed a gay-marriage ban as an amendment to an unrelated bill. Klumb has said that the final version of the legislation contained a "poison pill" that would keep the bill from becoming law. These days, Klumb describes this effort as a brilliant parliamentary strategy blessed by then-Gov. Mel Carnahan. The tactic prevented the gay-marriage ban from becoming law — for a while, anyway. "We made it go away for three years," he beamed at one candidates' forum. "We outsmarted the Republicans."

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