This week's "Letters" all come in the form of online comments.
Regarding Nadia Pflaum's May 14 feature "Dead Man," about Missouri's then-pending execution of Dennis Skillicorn:
"The problem with the cost of the death penalty can easily be solved. Have people bid on pulling the lever to jolt these scumbags with electricity. There are hundreds of thousands of victims of crime who would love to bring closure to their pain by carrying out the death penalty on a 'deserving' dirtbag. Make it a public spectacle, have announcers and cheerleaders, and give executioners an opportunity to tell their story about why they are helping society by ridding the world of a scumbag. The state gets paid by the auction process, advertisers, etc.
And at the same time, the public execution would send a message to
other scumbags and their families that they will be publicly executed,
and that their families' names, pictures and histories will be shown to
the world as examples of how not to act."
"The law is clear about being an accessory to murder, and Dennis
Skillicorn was involved in four. I look forward to his death. His wife
is an idiot. My sympathy lies with the victims. One of whom stopped to
help these pieces of shit."
"Three people tried to help Skillicorn and Nicklasson. The two in
Arizona were my aunt and uncle. Skillicorn and Nicklasson knocked on
their door, asking for help to get their car unstuck from a sandy wash.
It wasn't their car. It was Richard Drummond's car that they had stolen
after murdering him. My uncle left with them to assist them while my
aunt remained home. While my uncle was on his knees attaching the chain
to his Jeep to pull the car out, they shot him in the back of the head
and left him for dead as they drove back to the home and then killed my
aunt in her home. Seems to me that they had a chance to walk away and
not make these choices."
"I bet the person recommending public executions would love to bring
his children to watch? What a great lesson. Maybe torture them first
— what a show! It would be as addictive as the crack these boys
were doing. I've been in prisons — I would much rather die than
spend my life in such a hellhole. If you want punishment, ask for life
in prison without parole. Nothing is worse."
"The death penalty is appropriate for Mr. Skillicorn. Levasy is a
river town where a World War I veteran died at the hands of Mr.
Skillicorn. That man was never recognized for his service as he was a
quiet man who died from a gruesome killer. His name was Wendell Howell.
A World War I veteran."
— Weldon Woodward
"I think all those who think 'Dennis Skillicorn is a good man'
should put their money where their mouths are and put their names in a
lotto to adopt him. If you're the lucky winner, you can take him home
to your family and leave him with your wife to study the Bible while
you go to work. That way, the taxpayers don't have to cover the cost of
baby-sitting him, and you can live in your fantasy world."
"The people who make the ignorant and hate-filled comments are a far
greater fear to me than Mr. Skillicorn. There are so many variables to
this. Yes, he was part of what happened but he is not the one who
committed the act. You say he should have left, but would you honestly
tell me that if you were with someone who just killed a person, you
would tell them that you wanted no part in that and walk away? The
first thing that would have happened would have been another murder:
Mr. Skillicorn's. I sympathize with the families, but people really can
change, and if he gets through to one person and makes a difference, it
would be more than worth it."
Readers commenting about David Martin's May 14 column, "The Price Ain't Right," seem almost as passionate about tax-increment financing as others are about the death penalty:
"According to Martin, 'Critics think tax-increment financing has been used too liberally.' Not too liberally, just for the wrong purposes. TIF in Kansas City is used primarily to line the pockets of wealthy, well-connected developers and their political patrons. If it were being used for its intended purpose of battling blight, you wouldn't hear nearly so much griping about it. TIF's idea of 'blight' is a project on the Country Club Plaza, one of the least 'blighted' areas in the city.
If you want to see real blight, drive east from the Plaza. You won't
have to go very far. Where's the TIF money to fight this blight? You
won't see any because there's no way for anyone to get rich off
fighting that kind of blight."
"The city can't create wealth out of thin air with TIF projects.
They can only shift the tax burden to other parts of the city while
drawing business away from those same parts. It's a zero-sum situation.
It's just that the cost of these projects is spread out, so they're
hard to recognize. Development should be self-sustaining and worth the
investment by entrepreneurs, and not just the whims of the City Council
playing with taxpayer's money."
"Another piece of 'fair and balanced reporting' — not! I will admit that the cost-benefit model used by the EDC is not perfect; however, it is the economic model that the city and the EDC jointly purchased and agreed to use. I'm sure that Finance Director Jeff Yates failed to mention that little pertinent fact! Of course, I'm also sure that you didn't ask too many questions (if any) about the city's fiscal-impact model. Not that Yates or anyone else on his staff could explain it, since it is both outdated and so complicated and arcane that they had to have a consultant run it because they didn't know how to use it!
The city's model acts as though money only comes in and goes out once; it does not reflect the possibility or reality of any 'off-site benefits.'
Either you're a journalist and bound by the code of ethics to be
fair and unbiased or you're an editorialist who can say whatever you
want. But, please, don't masquerade as a journalist if you don't even
want to try to do some real reporting!
"Interesting article. Interesting comments, especially by InsideBub.
You certainly sound like an insider and have an ax to grind with city
staffers. I am more interested in Realist's comments, as they seem to
be more in line with the point of the article: EDC staff fudging the
numbers. If the EDC estimates were so reliable for these projects, why
aren't they being verified against actual performance?"
— fine print
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