Letters from the week of October 31, 2002

The Third Man 

Letters from the week of October 31, 2002

Bite the ballot: Except for one little problem, Allie Johnson's article on the Jackson County Executive campaign is a must-read for every intelligent voter ("She Rules," October 24). Unfortunately, the article omits any mention of the third candidate in the race: the experienced and well-qualified former city councilman and Yale graduate; recently elected 14th Ward Committeeman for the Democratic Party and Republican Party and Libertarian Party and Reform Party; leader of the loyal opposition to Kansas City's ruling establishments (both black and white); and year-round political activist -- Richard Charles Tolbert.

And before anyone argues that third-party candidates never win, please remember the case of Jesse Ventura in the Minnesota governor's race of 1998.

I've been recommending Allie Johnson's article to everyone because it offers an explanation of why only Jackson County, among the many local governments of this area, cannot handle routine government functions -- such as keeping accurate real estate and assessment records -- by pointing out that many Jackson County contracts are issued with patronage in mind. Also, the article clearly indicates important differences between the other two candidates on social issues, such as gay rights and abortion.

Allie Johnson is not alone in excluding lesser-known candidates. The Kansas City Star and the television stations routinely exclude candidates who have played by the rules and met the requirements to get on the printed ballot. These exclusions are not only unfair to the candidates; they are unfair to voters, who need information on all of the candidates in order to make intelligent choices.
Richard Charles Tolbert
Kansas City, Missouri


Best Test
Davis cut: Regarding the Best of Kansas City issue (October 17), in which Bob Davis was named the Best Play-by-Play Broadcaster: You must be joking! I don't know what is the most grating: the perpetual Davis sore-throat hoarseness, the bombastic nature of his broadcasts or the crybaby excuses (I'll grant that those are mostly Max Falkenstein's) after any KU basketball loss.

Sure, no Missouri fans complain about his Royals baseball work because nobody -- Tiger fans or otherwise -- watches or cares about the Royals. Baseball games have an understated quality and pace that is matched by good baseball broadcasters; see Jack Buck (may he rest in peace), Ernie Harwell, Bob Costas and sometimes Vin Scully. Listening to Bob Davis do baseball in his overly caffeinated style -- "BELTRAN MAKES THE CATCH!!!!" (a routine fly that Carlos jogged ten feet to glove, ending an inconsequential third inning) -- is enough to make one switch to Denny Matthews, and I doubt Denny is a threat for the Hall of Fame.

The next time KU plays MU in basketball, tune in to the KU broadcast. He'll describe how Drew (he loves to use first names and assumes all listeners know them) comes "with the rebound ... off to Heinrich ... scores!" Then switch to Mike Kelly and the MU broadcast: "Gilbert crosses the timeline, at the top of the key, dribbles right, passes to Rush, Kareem in the right corner, pump fake, dribble drive, finger roll good!" Kelly gives so much more information and is so much smoother, there's truly no comparison. Take the test, and I'm sure you'll agree.
Tim Barry
Lathrop, Missouri

Nun sense: Congratulations on the best Best of Kansas City issue ever! Instead of the usual popularity contest, it's a fascinating compilation of personal and sometimes arcane observations about the real heart of our city.

Like "Best Nuns: Sisters of Loretto." You're right about their passion and conviction. And did you know there's still a school in Kansas City that teaches critical thinking and social responsibility in the Loretto tradition? It's Kansas City Academy, a fully accredited grade-six-through-twelve independent school that was founded in 1984 by a handful of committed Loretto educators and parents when that school closed.

Eleven years ago, after our son's first day as a seventh-grader at Kansas City Academy, he said, "Guess what -- at my new school we have the right to question authority." Questioning -- what a novel concept for a school! He bloomed in this academic environment where they didn't stuff his mind with facts but challenged him every day to look inside himself and form his own opinions about the world.

Parents looking for a college-prep school where their child is treated as an individual and given respect along with personal responsibility would be wise to consider Kansas City Academy. Just like the Loretto nuns, it's one of the best things about Kansas City.
Pat Housh and Fred Slough
Kansas City, Missouri

Rude to Ruchi: I didn't expect a restaurant blurb in the Pitch to affect any of my possible future world travels. But after eating at Ruchi in Overland Park, which was somehow named Best Lunch Buffet, I can cross India off of my list of places to visit.

Judging from the Pitch, other reviewers and the pleased faces of its patrons, Ruchi does some very good Indian cooking -- if you like Indian cooking. I had never tried Indian food before. I thought it was some of the most repulsive slop I have ever encountered. At one point, my wife inquired about the Pitch review, "Did they say best Indian lunch buffet?" No, I explained; best of all lunch buffets. "How many lunch buffets are there?" she asked.

Just when we thought we had stomached enough to make a graceful exit, the manager approached. He could tell from our plates that we did not understand how to mix the various mystery glops, rices and fried thingies, so he led us back to the buffet for a humiliating demonstration before handing us more plates of frightening ooze.

Throughout our visit, a steady stream of new customers arrived, and they all seemed to happily return to the buffet for seconds and thirds. As we were leaving, the manager introduced us to a customer who "eats here almost every day." Even more astonishing than that was the fact that an oversized peanut-butter-cup-and-chocolate frozen yogurt from TCBY couldn't scour away the awful aftertaste in my mouth.

I don't think Ruchi deserves the title of "Best" Lunch Buffet. But I'd go along with "Most Memorable."
Name Withheld Upon Request


NAG's Head
Turn that frown upside down: Regarding Joe Miller's "The Eternal Question No. 1" (October 24): I am a real fan of your paper and admire the position it has taken of reporting everything that the Star never seems to get around to writing about. I admire Joe Miller's "turn of a word." But it has become clear that there is a bias in the way that members of the Neighborhood Action Group are described in the Pitch. First we were labeled cranky, then we were labeled grumpy. The context in which these words were used was ageist. Both terms infer a disposition that is "cross, irritable, crotchety."

We actually are very happy, pleasant persons who research city projects and then try to get the information out to the voters. If Pitch readers want a more balanced view of the Neighborhood Action Group, they should check out our Web site, www.KCNag.com, where the critiques written after each election we participate in are posted. This is an attempt to give background to voters for future elections. We also go downtown and give testimony at committee meetings, suggesting what could be passed in an election, but they never listen. We always go downtown with a smile on our faces. Maybe Mr. Miller always sees us on the way home from these committee meetings.
Mark Esping
Kansas City, Missouri


Prophet Margin
What would Andy do: Though Deb Hipp's "Return of the Prophet" (October 10) was a less than flattering portrait of the International House of Prayer, I found that she was very fair to Mike Bickle and IHOP in general. I am a friend of Mike Bickle, going back thirty years when he came up to live at Colonial Presbyterian's Teen House. He carried with him an armful of old Andy Williams albums.

He's still an Andy Williams fan today. He had always been a charismatic Christian, in both senses of the word. I don't find the charismatic worship appealing to me, but Mike has always been a caring, decent and personable guy.
Mark Sappenfield
Overland Park

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