Another year has passed, and Kansas City is still standing. In fact, as 2010 stumbles to a close, normalcy abounds in this land of smoked meat and inconveniently placed borders. The Chiefs are still positioned to break the hearts of countless men in Elvis Grbac jerseys. The streets have more dead bodies than a Golden Girls reunion. And while 47 people are running for mayor, few are worth putting on pants to go vote for.
But just because Kansas City ends the year as it began it — flat, broke and without a team for the Sprint Center — doesn't mean plenty of ambitious citizens haven't tried their best to make things even worse. So without further ado, we present the 2010 Larry Johnson Awards, a celebration of degeneracy named for one of our city's most depraved alumni.
Johnson, once a celebrated Chiefs draft choice, spent six seasons here setting records for bad decision making and general moral mayhem. He left Kansas City the way all the great ones leave — by calling people "fags" on Twitter. It's about time someone feted him, even if we just learned what "feted" means.
The men and women we honor today didn't quite attain Johnson's standards — who has the time? — but they all distinguished themselves with their own unique brands of incompetence. May their legacies be sealed today, and may they continue to live by the Credo of Larry: "It's Been a Few Hours — I Should Probably Do Something Really Dumb Now."
Executive of the Year
Running a university is a lot of work. There are budgets to balance, funds to raise, dreams to nurture so they can later be crushed by reality. If you're going to do all that work, you've gotta be well-rested. And you've gotta look good.
These are truisms that Karen Pletz knew well. For 14 years, Pletz served as the president of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, working tirelessly to build a legacy that would make a jealous Bernie Madoff soil his jumpsuit. If you believe a lawsuit filed by the school, she succeeded, using $2.3 million in university funds to make it rain rather heavily on her and her family.
According to the lawsuit, Pletz reimbursed herself for trips to Jackson Hole and New York; falsified meeting minutes to increase her pay; and used university money to throw herself and her friends lavish parties — all strategies culled from Kenneth Lay's best-selling memoir, Holy Shit Are My Board Members Clueless.
But it was a trip to San Antonio that carved Pletz's bust into the Mount Rushmore of Thieving Bastards. (It's a very big mountain.) For that trip, the university says, Pletz pulled $4,000 from the university's coffers, claiming that she needed the money to entertain well-heeled alumni. Instead, she used it to have cosmetic surgery on her face, the school alleges.
Pletz denies the school's allegations and has filed a wrongful-termination suit. But the university is expected to enter into evidence her face, which looks like a gremlin that just got back from the beauty shop.
To honor her achievement, The Pitch invited Pletz to pick up her award at our headquarters, right after we hid all of our cutlery. But word is, she hasn't left the house since the school took away her credit card.
Employee of the Year
Some employees depart with dignity, leaving a well-constructed bridge standing in their wake. Some burn the bridge on the way out. And some rent a crane, put on an ill-fitting bathing suit, sit up in the crane eating barbecue, wrap themselves in dynamite and, just when everyone is getting used to them being gone, cannonball onto the bridge.