Reporter's Notebook

Friday, March 21, 2014

Clay Chastain calls, rails about Clay Chastain, transit, Clay Chastain

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM

The irascible Clay Chastain.
  • The irascible Clay Chastain.
Yesterday I got a call from Clay Chastain. "I'm frustrated," he said right after I answered.

This is nothing new. If I count Lawrence as part of the Kansas City metropolitan area, I've been reporting in this city since 2005. I can't imagine a scenario in which any reporter in any medium, who has covered local government for even a third of that length of time, hasn't crossed paths (or phone lines) with the irrepressible transit activist. 

It's not a secret among local journalists that when the 540 area code representing Chastain's western Virginia residence flashes on a reporter's caller ID, one has to think twice about answering the phone. Some don't care for the annoyance. For me, it's a matter of time management. I appreciate calls from anyone. But Chastain has an otherworldly ability to keep people on the phone listening to him, eating chunks of your day in half-hour or hourlong increments. If Chastain hadn't pursued transit as a guiding principle for his life, he may well have made a fortune in telemarketing. 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11's impact isn't limited to today's anniversary

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 9:01 AM

9/11 is an event I now see from afar.
  • Flickr: 9/11 photo
  • 9/11 is an event I now see from afar.
This marks the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that it wasn't the first thing I thought of when I woke up. I was focused on getting breakfast on the table. Emptying the dishwasher. Making sure my wife didn't forget her coffee. I thought first of the daily tasks that add up to a morning.

Only when I sat down at this keyboard did the ripples of 9/11 hit me again. I stopped moving, and the events of that day caught up. They came with the faint taste of bile and the realization that, on its 11th anniversary, 9/11 is both squarely in the past and something I'm still processing.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Who paid for the World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, anyway?

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Government sources provided most of the money to restore and expand the Liberty Memorial.
  • Government sources provided most of the money to restore and expand the Liberty Memorial.

A history of the Liberty Memorial Association says the organization "raised" $102 million for the restoration and expansion of the monument that recognizes the sacrifices of World War I veterans. But given the level of public support, "received" might be a more appropriate verb.

Researching this week's feature story, I identified more than $87 million in funding from the city, the state and the U.S. government. The most substantial burden fell on taxpayers in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Now we will fill a hole in your heart with midget-wrestling pictures

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM

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Last weekend, we followed St. Jo's Little Kato and the Half-Pint Brawlers into the gritty world of midget wrestling (see the feature "Little Bastard" for more on that). It's a tough way to make a living, to put it mildly. Promoters try to screw you; sometimes you have to drink your own urine; and, if you're lucky, you get cash stapled to your tongue. Because we're professional journalists, we put ourselves in the center of it, but there's only so much that can be conveyed by the written word. Click on the pic of the wee brawlers for a ringside seat to the midget bloodbath, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

WWE denies Little Kato's claims that midget wrestlers were sexually harassed

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Little men wrestling with big issues.
  • Little men wrestling with big issues.

St. Jo's Little Kato (or Chris Dube, as it says on his birth certificate) has been to the top of the wrestling world. At the height of his career as a midget wrestler with the WWE, he performed before thousands of people in Madison Square Garden.

Kato didn't stay with the company long. In this week's feature ("Little Bastard"), Kato claims that one reason he and his father, Lord Littlebrook, left the company was because they complained about inappropriate advances from WWE matchmaker Pat Patterson. The WWE didn't respond to the claim before this week's edition went to press, but company representatives are now denying Kato's story.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scenes from Knobtown slideshow

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 10:01 AM

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The recent Pitch feature story about the life and death of John Uhlmann provides a glimpse of Knobtown, a section of the Kansas City area between Lee's Summit and Raytown. Cut by the Little Blue River and a state highway, the sparsely populated area gives tattoo artists, drag racers, quarrymen and exotic dancers a place to operate. Photographer Sabrina Staires captured images of a portion of the city that doesn't appear in Zagat guides. Click here for a slideshow.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

In airline museum drama, a lawsuit took a sneaky turn

Posted By on Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 9:30 AM

A lawsuit pitted the Airline History Museum's members against the board.
  • A lawsuit pitted the Airline History Museum's members against the board.

What the Airline History Museum lacks in profile it makes up for in drama. Last fall, former Executive Director Paul Sloan admitted to stealing from the museum, which displays vintage aircraft in a hangar at the airport in downtown Kansas City.

At around the time that Sloan was being charged, a court case involving past and present museum members came in for a landing. One aspect of the case that was omitted from this week's feature story was the apparent attempt by one side to use a Trojan horse to keep the lawsuit from being dismissed.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Airline History Museum's purchase of books remains a mystery

Posted By on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Paul Sloan said he bought books with the money from a fundraiser.
  • Paul Sloan said he bought books with the money from a fundraiser.

John Travolta appeared at a benefit for the Airline History Museum in 2007. Questions arose about the handling of the money not long after the star left town.

This week's issue of The Pitch describes how the suspicions about Paul Sloan, the museum's former executive director, eventually developed into a prosecution for felony stealing. Before the jig was up, Sloan told the museum's supporters that proceeds from the Travolta event were used to buy aviation-related books and CDs that were distributed to schools.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

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