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Free — but not cheap
I read Allie Johnson’s article on Topeka State Hospital and Dr. Cynthia Turnbull (“On Dangerous Grounds,” May 4-10). I am the attorney who represented TSH in that case. Johnson’s article devoted little space to our defense. It was told almost entirely from Dr. Turnbull’s perspective, even though Johnson had access to the transcripts, evidence, and court files and could have easily included more about the defense. As a result, her article is very one-sided and smacks of sensationalism.

Oh well, I guess one should not expect unbiased, objective journalism from a newspaper of such dubious quality that it must be given away for free….— Alan Hughes

Topeka, Kan.

ROTC debate rages on …
I would like to thank Andrew Miller for his article on our efforts to reform the NJROTC program at Shawnee Mission North (“Opponents of ROTC Up in Arms About Military Presence in Schools,” April 13-19). The Johnson County Sun and The Kansas City Star had been covering this issue for a couple of months, but neither paper has succeeded in publishing an unbiased story. I am grateful for the in-depth coverage and to Miller for actually writing about more than the conservative side of the story. Thank you, PitchWeekly.

I would also like to respond to the letter from Kelly Olinde of Belton, Mo. (Mail, April 27-May 3):

1. This is America, and we can voice whatever “stupidity” we feel.

2. I am aware of only one school shooting associated with ROTC. A Detroit JROTC squad leader shot and wounded one person, and in 1994, she ordered a “hit” at her high school in which one student was shot twice. However, other crimes have been committed. In Arizona, a 17-year-old ROTC enthusiast wore military fatigues as he murdered nine residents of a Buddhist temple. Gangs have been formed that have murdered, vandalized, and robbed.

3. Mr. Emiliano Huet-Vaughn is not antisocial.

4. This country was not started by war. It was started by people who weren’t able to say what they wanted or believe what they believed. That’s all we’re doing.

5. I am amazed that you devoted three paragraphs to criticizing an entire group because of the appearance of five of its members. In fact, I find it shallow of you to take any time at all to use it against our OPINION, which is neither a hairdo nor a piece of clothing.

I promise to research your side more if you promise to research ours. The only difference is I won’t change my mind.— Mary Chakhtoura

Kansas City, Mo.

I know that you are just reporting the news, but the ROTC story was by far the most disrespectful thing I have seen in my life directed toward our military. The men who teach JROTC are retired military veterans and have served their time. They are authorized to teach students enrolled in JROTC the safe and proper way to handle their pellet rifles when they are firing on a controlled range. As far as the drill team, they use demilitarized rifles for the purposes of drill and ceremony only. They are not or could not be handled in any other manner. I have some background on what I am talking about because I am a former Drill Team and Rifle Team commander at East and Paseo high schools in the Kansas City, Missouri, School District, as well as the 2nd cadet in command of the entire KCMSD JROTC my senior year in high school.

As far as Emiliano Huet-Vaughn’s comments about the current army and “war crimes” that are not portrayed in the history classes taught in JROTC, he needs to have a lot more respect for the men and women who have fought and died for their country so that he can even say what he is saying, because if he were in China, he would already be in prison. I would love to see Huet-Vaughn talk like that to some man who is in a wheelchair or is blind because he believed in America and fought for those beliefs, or even better yet, let him take a walk through Arlington National Cemetery and let him read tombstones for a day. Then maybe he and his friends could learn a little respect.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully.— David White

Kansas City, Mo.

Andrew Miller’s article on the ROTC raises some relevant issues across many generational boundaries about ROTC, the military, and our presence on campus. As a member of the Army for 20 years and a ROTC graduate, I find myself still interested in what our young adults are thinking these days. However, this is not the purpose of my note. Rather, it is the title of the article that I wonder about. Having read the article closely myself, I must ask you if you think it adequately represents the perspective of the students.

Certainly the title attracts the eye, and the picture of the students does too. But after reading the article, I’m not sure I see the logic to the title. Are these students “opponents of ROTC” or of specific elements and methods of training and education with which the ROTC unit engages in? To me, the title implies they are in opposition to ROTC “presence” on the campus. Are they? I did not get that feeling from their discussion in the article. Did you? May I ask you to explain your point of view about the title? I’d like to understand your thinking about it so I can better appreciate your perspective.

I look forward to reading follow-up articles about this subject, especially anything from the head of the ROTC department there. I’d love to meet and dialogue with these young adults, as their understanding of the military is important to our future.— Dave LaCombe, LTC, U.S. Army

Fort Leavenworth, Kan.My husband and I greatly appreciated the fairness and timeliness of the feature about the students at Shawnee Mission North who raised questions about its Junior ROTC program.

We deplore the accusatory tone of the letters to the Pitch about these students. Instead of being glad that they took the route of petition instead of mere protest, some readers attack the students as unpatriotic. Some unfairly disparage the conscientious objection to the Gulf War taken by the mother of Emiliano Huet-Vaughn.

We have seen news photos of youths so young they have difficulty holding the guns they are given by the armies or guerrillas in other countries. Most people deplore the turning of young people into soldiers, but they forget that enrollment in the JROTC is as young as 14 years old in some cases. Seeing U.S. youths learn the same skills should bother us as much as the fact that it encourages other countries to do as we do.— John and Marj Swomley

Kansas City, Mo

Freedom with responsibility
I am writing this in response to the letter by Ms. Angie Scott (Mail, May 4-10).

You miss the point of a publication such as PitchWeekly. This paper is designed for things like freedom of speech and freedom of the press. With those freedoms (which I am sure you also enjoy) comes the responsibility to take the bad with the good. If you don’t like the ads, DON’T READ THEM. Do not allow your children to read them. However, don’t think for one second you have the right to tell people what not to read or what they can and cannot choose to do with their lives.

You accuse the editors of the Pitch of being contradictory. Well, maybe … but by not eliminating the “smut” ads, the editors have proven that free speech is possible. Allow the ads, bash the product — everyone’s opinion is valued, regardless of their values.— Aaron Gad

Mission, Kan.

Nothin’ but a greedy grocer
Thank you for your recent article with the former Associated Wholesale Grocers supervisor (“Former AWG Warehouse Manager Says Union ‘Bent Over Backward,'” April 20-26). I cannot tell you the amount of people who think my husband and his union brothers are on strike because they did not get a big fat raise.

I have been verbally assaulted as we hand out handbills. My daughter had an elderly woman show her an obscene gesture, and then three men threw trash at her (by the way, she is 9 years old). These men are trying to get the message to people that they were locked out and AWG intended all along to do so. The Pitch is the first to have the guts to put this in print, and as the wife of a former hardworking and loyal employee of AWG, I, and my four small children, thank you.— Tina Espy

Shawnee, Kan.

Howard Terry made a lot of good points. But what has not been mentioned so far is what AWG has done to its middle management and supervisors. They were terminated, even though these supervisors are one of the main reasons AWG was successful. They are the men and women who worked 12 to 16 hours; they came in on their days off to help put in new programs. Their jobs are gone. Those who took jobs with CSI and Perryman got jobs that are basically without benefits — a far cry from what they had. Even some of them who were not vested lost both their retirement and their 401(k).

The accusations of AWG being money-grubbing are right on the money. Now there is an unconfirmed rumor that AWG is going to fight the unemployment payments.— David V. Ripper

Kansas City, Mo.

Thanks for the article on AWG. Other than Howard Terry’s giving himself maybe a little bit too much credit for improvements since he’s been there, your article is right on. This is the best representation I’ve seen of how AWG went down. I just hope that some people out there in the community will see this and consider honoring our boycott of the stores. Other than a favorable ruling from the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), consumers’ hitting them in the pocketbook will be our best shot at bringing about justice in this case.

Once again, thanks for the excellent article.— Brad Rincker

Outsourced 12 AWG warehouse employee

North Kansas City, Mo.

Light bright?
I enjoyed Bruce Rodgers’ article about the Power & Light District (“Power & Light Fizzle,” April 20-26). I never believed all the glitz and hype of the previous campaign. Surprised it is alive at all. I am of the opinion that the Chamber (of Commerce), not-for-profit organizations, and city, county, state, and federal governments have done just about everything possible to make downtown a complete failure. Even in spite of all the negative help, the area will rebound. Members of the Chamber opened stores in the outlying areas — and guess what? Their customers went to the new stores. A decent transportation system under private ownership was destroyed. Parking lots replaced businesses. The school board tore down the Tower Theater. Other destinations were taken out. The federal government under GSA ruined the 911 building. The previous occupants were adamant that the government not appropriate or confiscate; they lost. The federal government took the building and wrecked it and then abandoned it with possibly improper upkeep and new rules and regulations that made building less than desirable.

Sprint chose to locate in Overland Park. They should have located in the downtown loop. The GSA located IRS offices in Rosana Square — what a bad decision. Look at all the buildings on College Boulevard; the earnings tax guaranteed this transformation. If just the businesses that located in Overland Park had located in the downtown Kansas City loop, we would have had one of the nicest downtowns in the country. It took years to accomplish the destruction; it will take years to reverse it after the leaders admit their errors and the civic leaders make a decision that it is time to locate in downtown Kansas City.

It will happen. The chance for me to see this is slim because it will take about 25 years after the civic leaders get together with the city and city staff on a plan of action that will draw widespread support both locally and nationally. The money is available right now, but the guidance from the city and our prosperous city leaders have not put a realistic plan of action on paper.

The earnings tax will have to go first, but that will not do any good for years to come. Inner-city properties will need a higher appraisal. Homes and businesses, both north and south, have appraisal values that are more than adequate. Appraisals on many properties, including mine, are just way too low, but maybe more than the property is worth. The Kansas City Star and local news stations have given the area a free ride, with very generous articles on not much of anything being accomplished. I loved downtown Kansas City. I am still disturbed that it was destroyed.

My definition of the vibrant portion of downtown Kansas City was generally a square from the auditorium to 10th and Grand plus the city hall and county courthouse buildings on the East. Again, thank you for a nice article.

P.S. — I like to read many of the Pitch articles, which are researched adequately with the story told in detail. Keep up the good work and, hopefully, you will continue to print without the need or compulsion to be politically correct.— Bob Dalton

Overland Park, Kan.

Somehow, we doubt it, too …
I picked up the Pitch and found “Defenders of Last Resort” (April 27-May 3), concerning the lawyers working with the clients on death row, most intriguing. It was great and was very informative with multiple opinions.

I wonder if (Missouri Attorney General) Jay Nixon ever reads the Pitch. Somehow I doubt it.— Laura Hughes Zahner

Kansas City, Mo.

Screening gloom
As an avid reader of the Pitch, I felt that I must comment on the Screening Room article by Melina Neet (“Expect Nothing,” April 13-19). In discussing Bruce Willis, Neet compares the Die Hard movies to The Sixth Sense. She writes, “He doesn’t have a line as memorable as ‘Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker,’ but he helps Osment not see dead people anymore.” As anyone who has seen The Sixth Sense knows, Osment does see dead people after the conclusion of his sessions with Willis.

Neet has made blatantly wrong comments about films before. I felt it was now time to call it to your attention in as harsh a fashion as she reviews films. This statement would be wrong for a layperson, but as a reviewer of film this is totally unprofessional and irresponsible. I hope that you will bring this to the attention of Ms. Neet.— Mike Talboy

Kansas City, Mo.

Categories: News