Letters from the week of March 16, 2000

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Letters from the week of March 16, 2000

Puppy love

I'd like to compliment Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell on her great article regarding the continuing "puppy mill" problem in Kansas and Missouri ("Disposable pets," March 2-8).

During the mid-'80s, I was the assistant attorney general assigned to the Kansas Department of Animal Health and did the licensing actions (and, in some cases, prosecutions) of cruelty cases of the animal dealers in Kansas. It is tragic to see that nothing has changed in all these years. Until such time as the regulation of companion animal breeders is removed from the agriculture driven/controlled sections of government and moved to a more consumer protection-oriented arm, I fear we will never see great strides made in this area.

If consumers could see what goes on inside, these breeding facilities would be gone in short order. This is not to say that there are not good people in this arena, there are, but they are not of the ilk or intelligence to see the import of self-regulation or working with regulation agencies to improve their business.

Excellent, excellent article. Thank you for publishing it.

-- Susan G. Stanley

Westwood, Kan.

Great article on "disposable" pets. I live in Colorado and recently visited Randy Long and adopted one of his Akitas. I researched the breed and had been looking to adopt one for some time. Once I learned about rescue centers, puppy mills, and the AKC, my mind was made up to help a rescue center out.

I believe education is key, as I knew nothing about most of this before I began to read and research. I urge all my friends and relatives now to stay away from pet stores and to look on the Web for rescue centers for whatever breed they are interested in.

I hope this has made national exposure so more people can learn what is really going on.

-- David Olson

Evergreen, Colo.

Home(less) alone

I would like to personally thank the Pitch for the article on the homeless of Kansas City ("Meet Snowman and company," Feb. 24-March 1). I think it just might be the most in-depth article I've read in the Pitch in a long time. I believe it will show a majority of Kansas Citians a new insight into the problems the homeless face not only in our town but also across the country.

It's about time someone got the truth out, and John Heuertz did a great job. Now that the truth is out, maybe, just maybe people will start to question the majority of the falsehoods that the general media pushes that the homeless are just bums and mental patients. It's my hope that people will finally figure out that there isn't much difference between the homeless and themselves. I realize that idea might scare some, but my hope is that it will motivate people into getting involved with the organizations working to make change for the poor and homeless.

As a Kansas Citian, I would like to thank the UPLIFT organization for the work they do for the homeless of Kansas City. They are truly heaven sent. But at the same time, they can't do it all alone; there are countless other organizations that do their part too. All of these organizations could use your support. But by support, I don't mean just writing a check; what I mean is personally getting involved with these organizations doing the work, and in that way you'll know in your heart that you are making a difference.

I thank you for taking the time to read this comment.

-- Richard G. Tripp

Director, Care Of Poor People

www.coppinc.com

Kansas City, Mo.

What a terrific story on Kansas City's homeless! I was a little put off at the thought of reading such a long article, but John Heuertz's writing was so compelling, I flew from paragraph to paragraph. We all need to know this kind of information -- to realize that the homeless are people just like us.

-- Jane Stoltz

Corvallis, Ore.

Of facts, hacks, and fins

I just wanted to drop PitchWeekly a note and let it be known that I enjoyed two of Shawn Edwards' articles in the Feb. 17-23 issue.

The first was "Fact checkin'." I thoroughly agree ... ignorance perpetuates ignorance, and Jason Whitlock is doing all he can to stoke the fires of ignorance -- presumably for a fat paycheck and personal kicks.

The second was the cover story regarding black swimmers ("Doin' the aqua boogie"). I was on a Grandview (Parks & Rec) swim team for about seven years in the late '70s-early '80s. Now that I think about it, I don't think I EVER saw a black participant on my team or on any we competed against! What a shame. I also enjoyed this article and wish the three boys all the best and all the distance they can go!

One statement that caught my eye near the end of the article was: "Since the mid-'90s, the number of pools available for use has increased. The Parks and Recreation Department in Kansas City, Mo., operates 18 pools (17 outdoor, and one indoor), and two new pools will open by the end of this year, including the new Westside indoor facility."

It seems to me that there have been several news items in the last couple of years about pools closing down due to lack of lifeguards, poorly maintained facilities, etc. Are these run by the Parks & Rec Dept. of Kansas City? If so, are the 18 pools fully operational? If not, why open two new pools? Might be another story here, or just my misunderstanding.

Anyway, keep up the good work! Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we are NOT seeing, as well as what we are.

-- Stephanie Benter

Belton, Mo.

Skewed view

I agree with Michelle Rubin's assessment of the Pamela Butler story as being the "best local news story that (we're) sick and tired of" ("Best of Kansas City," Jan. 27-Feb. 2), but I don't believe it is accurate to accuse the media (as Rubin does) of exploiting this story and giving "minimal play" to another.

They are different types of stories. In trying to illustrate the excessive coverage of Pamela's story, the writer unfairly compares her story's coverage to that of the deaths of Larry and Gary Bass (seemingly because they occurred around the same time and are about the deaths of children). This is a mistake, and it ignores the role that publicizing a story plays in its newsworthiness.

What merited extensive coverage of Pamela Butler's story was the possibility that it could have led to her safe return. The media's efforts helped to generate leads by making the public aware of the details of her abduction. She was abducted in broad daylight one afternoon in front of witnesses with good descriptions, making quick, vigilant action the only chance for her safe return. Sadly, these efforts failed.

In contrast, the case of Larry and Gary Bass was after the fact. Their mother neglected them and hid the abuse when Family Services was sent to conduct checks on their well-being. Upon discovery, all that could immediately be reported was that the damage had already been done.

Rubin closes with an unanswered question implying that Pamela's story received "such widespread attention" because she was a "cute little blonde girl." I think this is a highly cynical and questionably sensational assertion in its own right. The fact that Bass boys' story came to light after they could be helped explains why it was given "minimal play" in comparison to Pamela Butler's story, not the color of their skin. Hopefully, if the roles had been reversed the coverage would have been as well. Had the support systems involved in the Bass boys' cases acted as vigilantly to keep them from harm as the media did on Pamela's behalf, they might still be alive.

The only significance to the stories breaking concurrently was that it sounded an alarm, alerting us to the continuing deplorable treatment of children in our society, not only by strangers but also by their own mothers.

-- Mark Corey

Kansas City, Mo.

No plan in place

I've often wondered about the accomplishments of the Kansas City Sports Commission. Cody Howard's article ("Major or minors?" Jan. 27-Feb. 2) tries to suggest a very hands-on organization, yet never quite gets past the impression that the commission is merely visible. Even their own Web page, which states they work behind the scenes, never conveys anything more than wannabe power brokers that hang on to the coattails of events that are going to happen.

The Blades' saga of surviving in Kansas City is an excellent example of the wannabes at work. Kevin Gray is quoted in the article as saying if the Blades left, "a plan B would be engaged." Yet he doesn't know if this would entail an International League team or a Central League team. A "plan B" ought to have legs; this appears to have only guesswork. At this point, we may never know what the commission would have done if it actually had to have a plan B. Or will we?

Since the announcement that the Blades had exercised the option on the lease, Gray has met with city leaders to discuss what would happen should the Blades fail to fulfill the lease. A Central League team still is in the picture, but now for the second time, an NHL owner has used Kansas City as a possible move site to get headlines and leverage back home. Gray and another participant, Paul McGannon, seem to enjoy being used by the NHL for this purpose, and one suspects this will happen a few more times in the future.

Nowhere in this is it clear that Gray understands that dropping from triple-A minor league hockey (the International League) to a single-A league (the Central) would be a setback to Kansas City's sports image. Yet both Gray and McGannon seem to be eager for the Blades' failure so a Central League team can come in. Gray seems to be playing no role in ensuring the Blades stay in Kansas City.

Some might consider this leadership. I see it as a visible figurehead who occasionally gets quoted in the Kansas City media. Visibility and accomplishment are not the same thing.

-- Blair D. Tarr

Topeka, Kan.

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