Kansas City Strip

Missing link: After the Kansas City school board tried to fire him and then hopelessly mired his job in lawsuits, even man-of-steel Benjamin Demps Jr. broke down and wept while resigning. His critics suggested that Demps wanted to avoid questions about how he had run the district. But with all of Kansas City focused on a desperate attempt to raise test scores, we wonder whether Demps just wanted to skip reliving his past.

Back in 1981, when Ronald Reagan fired 11,500 striking air-traffic controllers, Demps was in charge of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. Officials at the air-traffic academy there gave scab plane-spotters passing grades when they failed the Controller Skills Test, according to a 1984 transportation department report. Demps had been overseeing what an inspector general called a “desperate attempt” to put warm bodies into control towers, and academy staff allegedly altered answer sheets to justify the false scores. Demps and the FAA blamed a computer.

While we’re on the topic of Reagan, it’s time to confer new authority (and an English accent) on his appointee, Judge Dean Whipple, the school district’s federal overlord. We think Whipple should have at least as much power as Anne Robinson, The Weakest Link‘s schoolmarm from hell.

This week we said “goodbye” to Demps. Every week from here on out, Whipple should dismiss the weakest link among the remaining mob of rioters who claim to be running the district “for the good of the children.” He should start with Michelle Hensley, who says she asked Lee Barnes Jr. for advice on whether to call an apparently illegal emergency meeting to boot Demps. Why is a law school graduate relying on a chicken butcher for legal advice? (Thanks to Hensley, we’ll soon see Senator Peter Kinder, a Republican from Rush Limbaugh‘s hometown, seize control of the district.)

And, Judge Whipple, remember when you warned Demps that the school board was full of self-serving, greedy meddlers who had directed public funds into contracts with their own family members and demanded that the district hire their relatives? That was nearly two years ago. Maybe it’s time to go downstairs to U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker‘s office and file a criminal complaint against the offending board members.

If you don’t, you are the weakest link.

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