Archive for the ‘Emanuel Cleaver’ Category

When Cleaver Retires, Who Will Go to Washington?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

It’s been a rough year for Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.  He turned 65, he got spat on and called names, and his efforts to return civility to Congress have been spectacularly unsuccessful in the most polarized Congress since Sumner got caned.  He shows no signs of retiring, but, eventually, he will.

Who will take his place?  A crafty old insider, or a rising star?

Over at, I mention Al Riederer, Jolie Justus, Kay Barnes, Mark Funkhouser, Jason Kander, Airick Leonard West and Mike Sanders.  (I was kidding about Funkhouser, though I’m still correct about him having the best chance of winning the 2011 Mayoral election.)

Whom did I miss?

Kansas City is Spitting Mad at Jo Ann Emerson (R – Mo)

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Jo Ann Emerson’s choice of whom to stand with could not be clearer. On the one hand, you have a mob of crazy tea-baggers, calling a civil rights hero the “N word” , calling Barney Frank the “F word”, and actually spitting on a fellow Missouri Congressman. On the other hand, you have Reverend Emanuel Cleaver, a dignified Methodist minister and hard-working representative of fellow Missourians.

Jo Ann Emerson is making the wrong choice. She’s standing with the spitters.

While she did not do the spitting, she egged on the unruly mob and has refused to reject the vitriol of the tea-baggers.

It’s funny to contrast Jo Ann Emerson’s immaturity and lack of discipline with the class and discipline of her opponent in this election cycle. Tommy Sowers is a straight arrow – if anyone dared to spit on a minister in his presence, no matter what the politics, educator/Green Beret Tommy Sowers would have the right stuff to put a stop to the nonsense, instead of encourage it.

Sometimes, the fog of politics rises for a moment, and you can see what kind of person someone is. Jo Ann Emerson is the kind of person who hangs out with people who would spit on Kansas City’s chosen representative.

Stop Naming Public Assets After Living People

Monday, May 25th, 2009

I’m writing about this now so that it won’t appear that I’m going after some beloved public figure getting richly-deserved public recognition for his or her tireless work on behalf of yada yada yada.

Don’t name a bridge after a living person. Don’t rename a street. Don’t attach a living person’s name to the next airport, or community center, or park.

Regardless of their merit or lack thereof as people, I don’t want to see a Kit Bond Bridge, a Mayor Funkhouser Community Center, or a James B. Nutter, Sr. Park. For that matter, I don’t particularly like driving on Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard, and I won’t refer to Longview Golf Course as the Fred Arbanas Golf Course.

It’s simply inappropriate.

The US Postal Service has a rule that it will not issue a postage stamp commemorating a person until he or she has been dead for at least 5 years
. It’s a good rule, saving us the embarrassment of honoring athletes who turn out to be creations of chemistry, and politicians who have accepted bribes.

It also prevents official endorsement and promotion of individuals. Why does our government maintain a highly-traveled road emblazoned with the name of one candidate for Congress, without doing the same for his opponent? Why should a person running for the County Legislature be disadvantaged by a parks department avidly promoting a lush golf course in the name of his opponent?

Naming rights have real monetary value. Why should our public entities give something of tremendous value to favored individuals? If we took Swope Memorial Golf Course and renamed it Cerner Golf Course, we would expect millions of dollars in payback from Cerner – why should it be any different for a living person? The naming rights for the Sprint Center cost $62.5 million – why did the County and City give away similar (though smaller) rights for free?

Personally, I think it’s an ethical lapse for any politician to accept such a valuable gift from a public entity. What would we be saying if, instead of naming a golf course after him, the County Legislature had simply decided to cut Fred Arbanas a check for a few million dollars, just because they think he’s a swell guy?

Finally, no human being is universally revered. If we renamed the ground around Liberty Memorial something like “Obama Plaza”, since he drew such a huge crowd to it during the election, those people who disagree with our President would be justifiably disgruntled. Our public squares ought to be dedicated to unifying principles, not divisive politics.

It’s time for local, state and federal governments to stop naming public assets after living people.

The Real World Between Cynicism and Optimism

Monday, October 6th, 2008

A couple weeks ago, I posted a piece suggesting that readers contact their congressional delegations to voice their opinions on the bail-out bill. First up in the comment section was Kansas City’s Best Blogger and nonvoter Meesha, advising me with all his world-weary wisdom that “it will happen anyway”.

Sure enough, it happened anyway.

So, was my call to action an exercise in futility? I don’t think so, and neither do the millions of people who now will gain access to mental health coverage with their insurance. 24 million taxpayers will get relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. A lot of changes were made to the bill, some of which were good, some of which were transparent gifts to special interests. The fact remains, though, that our calls got their attention, slowed down the train, and got us at least a more palatable bill.

Total victory? No. Total defeat? No, but dangerously close. Worth a few phone calls? Absolutely.

Call Congress Today – NO to Bail-Outs

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

I can remember a few years ago when the Bush Administration was begging for authority to act rashly, and the case to support the action was wrapped in secrecy and fear. Congress went along, and America has suffered because of our trust.

Now, the administration wants to launch the most expensive program EVER, without time for debate and without explaining its plans.

Does it make sense to pay higher than market prices for bad assets purchased by people who ought to know better? Is anyone else struck by the handwringing and lack of empathy from Republicans when we were talking about extending unemployment benefits, in contrast to the rush to compassion for the country club Republicans we’re seeing now? Why do our schools need bake sales, when $700 billion was available for a compelling need like broke bankers? Why was this money unavailable for the uninsured?

It’s bad policy. But it’s going to happen if you don’t pick up the phone and call Congress and tell them you don’t want this to happen.

Here is a site that gives you the contact information for your elected representatives. I will be calling mine today – and, to make it even easier for you, here are the numbers for:

Kit Bond: (202) 224-5721
Claire McCaskill: (816) 421-1639
Emanuel Cleaver: (816) 842-4545

Do NOT assume that any of these individuals will vote the way you expect or hope they would on this matter. In fact, each of them has shown a tendency to favor banking interests over Missourians in the past. They need to hear from you today. Be polite, but be clear. We do not want to shower $700,000,000,000 of our tax dollars on an undisciplined financial services industry.

Gone Mild Endorsements for August 2008

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Two weeks from today, the primary season of 2008 will be completed. The Star will start issuing its endorsements this week, so I thought I would beat them to the punch with my own. I’d hate for anyone to think that the Star’s analysis influences me . . .

I’m tempted to put in a cautionary note on the difference between endorsements and predictions. Sometimes, the better candidate doesn’t really stand much of a chance, but, in this cycle, I’m feeling pretty confident that each of my favorite candidates will win his or her respective race, so these are both predictions and endorsements.

In order of the ballot:

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon – By no means is Jay Nixon my favorite Democrat, but he’s the best candidate in the governor’s race by a long shot. He has the ability to win the general, and the experience to be successful in the Governor’s Mansion.

Sam Page - Sam Page may be one of the nicest people I’ve met in politics, and his sincere desire to serve the public as our Lieutenant Governor is exceeded only by his qualifications. He should win the primary easily, and then the real race begins. Look for Sam Page to oust Peter “Crooked Cash” Kinder from the office of Lieutenant Governor.

Robin Carnahan - She’s served us well, and will win the general in November, too.

Clint Zweifel – This is going to be an interesting race. I like Andria Simckes a lot, but Clint has the edge in qualifications and savvyness. Either would be great in the office, but Clint has had a sharper campaign team.

Jeff Harris – No surprise here for regular readers. Jeff has experience, integrity, and a willingness to outwork his opponents. As a result, he has better poll numbers without selling his soul through unethical campaign finance shenanigans. Jeff is just plain solid – a great guy with a good sense of humor and an outstanding sense of himself. If you want to see Missouri’s Attorney General’s office function as one of the best and most ethical AG offices in the entire nation, then vote for Jeff Harris.

5th District: Emanuel Cleaver, II – He’s had a couple surprisingly bad votes (favoring the credit card companies over his constituents was particularly egregious), but Emanuel Cleaver is one of our best, most dedicated public servants. I hope he serves a long time.

40th District: John Patrick Burnett – This is not my district, but I cannot understand why Rizzo would try to unseat John Burnett. John is smart, hardworking and effective. He deserves to retain his seat.

44th District: Jason Kander – This comes as no surprise – I’ve admired Jason as a person of integrity and serious purpose since I met him before he went to Afghanistan. When I started this campaign, I thought he was a great candidate running against two good candidates. I haven’t changed my feeling one iota – Jason’s integrity and class have proven to be exactly as I thought they would be. Less importantly, but still persuasive, is the fact that he is precisely the kind of straight-shooting, dependable, competent, hard-working, thoughtful leader who will stand out in the legislature. He doesn’t waffle, he doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t whine. He will get things done in Jefferson City, and he will be a spark for the entire Democratic team in our Capital.

Jim Kanatzar – Jim is a fine prosecutor, and will continue to serve us effectively.

John Bullard, Jr. – John Bullard is simply the kind of guy you want in the Sheriff’s office. Law enforcement is what he thinks about when he wakes up, and he stays on point all day long. He has great plans to increase cooperation among the local departments, and he has the credibility to pull it off. He will also make the Sheriff’s office more accessible and visible.

8th Ward, Stephen Bough – Stephen Bough is fair-minded, has solid values, and is the hardest working politico in Kansas City. We disagree often enough that I know my endorsement isn’t solely due to lockstep agreement – he’s just a great volunteer, and belongs on the County committee.

8th Ward, Mary Frances Weir – Mary is a solid Democrat with a solid grounding in social justice. In 2006, she received the prestigious Tiera Farrow Community Award from the UMKC Association of Women Law Students for her work on behalf of victims of domestic violence.