Letters from the week of January 21

Feature: “The Year in Killa City,”
December 31, 2009

Where’s Kansas City’s Government?

Anyone who is reading Justin Kendall’s “The Year in Killa City” or who has kept up with the series of Plog pieces reporting the senseless, random and endless violence in parts of our community must be appalled. Those who should be particularly engaged include the mayor, City Council and police chief of Kansas City, Missouri.

Having government provide security is the most basic of responsibilities and an absolute minimum of citizens’ expectations. And extraordinary challenges demand extraordinary efforts and meas­ures, not just occasional police sweeps. Surely if there’s time to fight about Gloria Squitiro and the P&L District’s dress code, there must be time to make public safety on the East Side an a top priority.

The neighborhoods in question are populated by thousands of law-abiding, hardworking people who are making better lives for themselves and their families. And they deserve to live in safe neighborhoods without intimidation and fear.

The time for planning and talking and vigils is long past. The moment to address this issue publicly and commit to its solution has arrived.

Bill Kostar
Lee’s Summit

The Kansas City Spirit Lives

I was stunned to see your cover showing “The Kansas City Spirit” painting with blood splashed over it. The accompanying stories were well done and painted a chilling picture of our community. However, I can lend perspective.

Each year, the Gillis Center, KC’s oldest child- and family-service agency, sponsors the “Kansas City Spirit Awards,” named after the painting and honoring community members who have dedicated significant portions of their lives to “rolling up their sleeves” and tackling the problems that Kansas City faces. Two of last year’s award winners, Opal King and Joyce Riley, created major anti-violence organizations in embattled Kansas City neighborhoods. These courageous women are proof that the Kansas City spirit remains alive.

There are answers. The Centers for Disease Control, the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention have identified treatment models that show long-term results for violence prevention. Gillis offers two of these “models,” with the best and most consistent results to Kansas City.

We must help emotionally troubled young people deal with their anger and find a sense of self-worth, and give their families new strategies to build healthier, more supportive home lives. It just takes an investment of time, money and continuing resolve.

Give generously to Gillis (gillis.org) or our region’s many other fine human-service agencies. Give your time — volunteer opportunities are rich and rewarding. Give your vote and advocate for political action. Every cut in social-service funding is another child we can’t reach.

Mary Ellen Schaid
President, Gillis Center

Peace, Please

I just wanted you to know that I’ve never read an article that is so forthcoming about death and murder, items that are not spoken of in my daily world. Death and murder are all around, yet until they force themselves into a person’s life, they are difficult to comprehend. My first reaction to your story was to be afraid and stop reading so I wouldn’t be scared of bumps in the night.

I’m not sure whether the article makes me want to go help in a homeless shelter or hide on my couch eating chocolate and watching something funny on TV, which will let me forget the facts.

Thank you for writing this article and for keeping track of last year’s murders. My only prayer — and I seldom pray — would be that next year there are fewer murders.

Jessica Franz
Kansas City, Missouri

Correction: In last week’s Night + Day section, the Happy-Hour Hit List should have been credited to Berry Anderson. Also, in the write-up for Thank You, Gregory, a Tribute to the Legends of Tap, Lonnie McFadden’s name was incorrect. We apologize for the errors.

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