Letters from the week of February 6, 2003

Parks and Wreck 

Letters from the week of February 6, 2003

Barnes dance: Regarding C.J. Janovy's "Park Play" (January 23): C.J. plays the very serious threats to Penn Valley Park like it's a silly mistake. Like there is no history. Like the conflictual arrangement between the Parks Department and Sailors was what? Like giving the Pershing building project property from the park for parking (leased at $1 a year for twenty years) is what? Allowing the Pershing building project to redesign the part of Kessler it adjoins so that Kessler himself is appropriated -- is what? And all the while not mentioning the DST elephant, which controls the Summit TIF district, which encompasses the Pershing building, Old Post Office and the land wrapping around the park where the mayor mentioned taking acreage for housing. The Summit TIF also adjoins property on the west side of the park which Sailor's company has informed us will become their development.

The officials at City Hall and in the Parks Department explain they only wanted what seemed best and really they haven't meant to be sneaky ... but sometimes they get mixed up.

C.J. says she believes the mayor is just a bumbling gal whose only real mistake was stirring up the neighborhood nutz. Why would she write that? I'm sure some of us gave her good facsimiles of nutz, but she knows what time it is; she can't be as classist and/or as capricious as she came off. What's behind that?
Tom Gould
Kansas City, Missouri

Bear Bait
Coach's challenge: I'd just about decided to stop reading Greg Hall's stuff. Too negative. Then came "Bear Knuckles" (January 30). He hit the nail right on the head. Excellent job.

I'm a big guy, and I played all sports in high school and a little basketball in college. I had lots of coaches, and every single one was a nasty human being. I can't understand why in the world our culture has embraced the notion that a grown man who bullies children is a "tough" fellow who's to be admired. Hall called it right -- coward is the right word.

So thanks for a very, very good column. Hall's read on the media take on the Raytown South episode is exactly right. He said some things that absolutely had to be said and that virtually no one else has had the insight or courage to say. And he said it eloquently. I'm going to keep reading his stuff.
Mark Funkhouser
Kansas City, Missouri

Paddle wagon: Greg Hall was definitely on target in his remarks on Coach Lathrop. The coach's defense, which Jason Whitlock and others seemed to buy, was that the kids actually enjoyed the "game." This reminds me of the Bobby Knight school of rape counseling -- just lie back and enjoy it. Having raised two sons, both of whom were involved in sports, I have seen firsthand the psychological power coaches have over their players, a fact Mr. Whitlock conveniently ignored when he accepted the coach's explanation. Young people are afraid to confront their coaches or, worse, have their parents confront them. Suppose a young man did not like getting hit. Would he risk being benched and possibly forfeiting his chances for an athletic scholarship by complaining? And even if the players did not object, what sort of lesson does this "game" impart? That violence and humiliation are an acceptable part of sports?

One more thought: I wonder if the reporters who supported the token wrist slap given to the coach would have felt the same way if this had been a girls' team.
Stu Lewis
Prairie Village

Basket Case
Hawk shot: Regarding Greg Hall's "Off the Couch" (January 23): So much for KU not losing to anyone but maybe MU in Columbia, as CU promptly knocked them off.

If CU beats them, God only knows who else will. Two out of the four KU losses have been to unranked teams. Perhaps you Nebraska guys should stick to football and figure out a way to get rid of Solich?
Eric Wilper
Kansas City, Missouri

Call of the Wild
Snakebit: Allie Johnson's "Animal Control Freak" (January 16), regarding the unwarranted persecution of Dana Savorelli by Jackson County Animal Control Officer Ray Campfield, is a step in the right direction at revealing the motives of a would-be despot. Mr. Campfield appears to be less concerned with the well-being of Mr. Savorelli's primates than he is with letting Mr. Savorelli know who is in charge.

In May of 2002, I had the pleasure of visiting the Savorelli residence while I was in your area to teach a class on snakebite to the KC Herpetology Society and local medical personnel. As the webmaster for the largest venomous-reptile-husbandry Web site in the world, I was particularly interested in looking at the production area for Mr. Savorelli's snake-handling tools. But as a bonus part of the trip, I was treated to a tour of the primate facility as well. I can guarantee you that Mr. Savorelli's primates enjoy a better lifestyle than those at many professional zoos.

It was easy to tell that both Dana and Angela Savorelli thought of their primates as family members, as do many people with close pets. Mrs. Savorelli said she had sat up many nights with female primates in labor and newborns that needed special attention. When I read that Mr. Savorelli had been incarcerated because he refused to yield his right to privacy, I was incensed. And the unsubstantiated charges which cost Mr. Savorelli both time and money should not go unanswered by the citizens of Jackson County, nor Mr. Savorelli.
Chris Harper
Danielsville, Georgia

Monkey see, monkey dude: I wanted to comment about the "Animal Control Freak" story. My kids love to drive by, and sometimes they sit and watch the monkeys in the summer when they're out. It brightens their day and makes them smile! I'm sure we're not the only ones; there have been a lot of times when we drive by and other cars are watching, too. I think it's great!

My opinion about the story is that Campfield should not be so nosy and should be suspended or lose his job. There was no reason for all this harassment. If it's not broke, don't fix it. I'm sure those animals are being well taken care of. After all, they have a jungle gym just for the monkeys!

Good luck to the Savorellis!
Jamey Fletcher
Lee's Summit

Freak out: Knowing that Mr. Savorelli is federally licensed, which far exceeds the state laws (in this case -- none), what gives Mr. Ray Campfield the right to be "animal God"?

Does he know better or more than the USDA? Anyone who is familiar with the USDA knows that the rules you have to follow to have these animals are extremely strict. Is he trying to be the little town hero by trying to take down a small businessman and harassing his family, making laws that suit him instead of the federal laws? So now that the man knows that there is no law to back him up, he ends by saying, "All he had to do was let me in three years ago?" Pleeeeeeease -- weak.

You know it is a sad time when we have to fear our own city, the place we have chosen to work and raise our children. Now it's not good enough to pay taxes and work hard, but now they're trying to make a law that you have to open your front door to animal control because he says so.
Ben and Deborah Jackson
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Head of the Class
A certified challenge: I read Joe Miller's article about Alta Vista High School ("La Familia" January 23), and while I applaud his efforts in showing a balanced view of what is going on in this alternative learning environment, I am curious about something that was hardly mentioned in his story. He discussed how the teachers work very hard to keep the students engaged in learning. He also mentioned how the students take an active role in which teachers should stay. However, I am wondering how many teachers are actually certified at Alta Vista, and how this affects the actual learning happening at Alta Vista.

I am a new teacher in the Kansas City, Missouri, School District. I teach English as a second language at Northeast High School. I am in the middle of my second year there. It has been enormously challenging, because many of the students I have taught couldn't handle being at Northeast and either dropped out or enrolled at Alta Vista. They have found success because of the smaller classrooms and the closeness Alta Vista offers. I hope their success continues.

Even though the media consistently paints a rather sour portrait of Northeast and the schools deemed "academically deficient," as a teacher I am trying to make a difference. In addition, our school is moving in the direction of smaller classrooms and more of a communal feel. Personally, I am looking forward to working in a small learning community and having good working relationships with certified staff, certified administrators and our very ethnically diverse student population.
Tamar Ginzburg
Kansas City, Missouri

Treasure Island
Tiki torch song: Regarding Charles Ferruzza's "Island Fever" (January 23): I want to let you know how impressed I am with his column. I look forward to reading it every week. As a former restaurateur and now food manufacturer, I appreciate his candor and truthfulness.

Growing up in KC and being the son of a restaurant guy, we always went out to eat on special occasions, and his recent review brought back some very fond memories. Max Bretton and his maître d', Joe, were legendary, and we always went there on Easter Sunday. We also went to Trader Vic's and thought it was the best.

Thanks for the memories.
John D. DiCapo
Kansas City, Missouri

Bar Fly
Cheers!: I enjoy Jen Chen's "Night Ranger" commentary on the club scene here in KC. I laugh my head off every time. Sorry to say, but I always have been amused by the chic/suave wanna-be crowd here in town.

Keep up the good work!
John Graves
Overland Park

Bad Times
Poets cornered: My eye was drawn to Geoff Harkness' article entitled "Good Times" (January 16) -- specifically the quote "There was poetry classes for us to go to. [sic] That took my writing to a new level." I was intrigued by someone attending a poetry class who could not speak proper English, even at the collegiate level. Properly stated, the sentences should have been "There WERE poetry classes to go to (even though that sentence ends with a preposition). THEY took my writing to a new level."

It's an issue of plural and noun usage. Even understanding his errors in syntax, I still had no idea what the speaker was trying to say. I believe it was something along the lines of "There were poetry classes that we could attend. The classes brought my writing to a new level." Being curious, I read the entire article and discovered that Mr. Good, being an aspiring poet, cannot speak English correctly with clear and unambiguous meaning.

This caused me to wonder, "How can this 'poet' expect to illuminate life through his 'art'?" The only possible explanation I could discern for his grammatical lapses was that he is a graduate of the Kansas City, Missouri, School District. And don't tell me I don't understand different cultural language usages. If you want to be a poet, your goal must be clear communication by the written or spoken word in a creative and uniquely artistic manner. My advice is this: Stay in school, and this time, pay attention.
Name Withheld Upon Request

Editor's note: Hartzell Gray took the photo of Little Hatch used in last week's Around Hear column.


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