The Twilight District, Episode Eight
Walter Cronkite might be the most respected man in America, but he’s no Al Mauro. The courteous little guy on the Kansas City school board also has a spot on Jackson County’s recently published list of its “most prominent” citizens ever. But the famed alumnus of Kansas City radio and CBS News does not.
It’s hard to tell who’s in better company. Ernest Hemingway didn’t make the county’s 175th anniversary list. Neither did Joan Crawford, Jackie Robinson, Rush Limbaugh or Eminem.
But on December 18, Mauro led a pack of board members who declared themselves fed up with Superintendent Bernard Taylor. Mauro said that Taylor had improperly reorganized the school district’s administration without consulting the board, and he demanded that the board meet in private “executive” session to discipline Taylor.
“We’re still in executive session — we’re just in recess,” protested board President Helen Ragsdale (who, with Lee Barnes and Michael Byrd, repeatedly voted in Taylor’s defense that night). The board had started the night’s meeting in secret, then recessed to hold the public meeting.
Apparently, private meetings are good for getting public business done. Mayor Kay Barnes told the board that the members of her hush-hush education “collaborative” could legally meet behind closed doors in part because the group included just three school board members. “This has been very important for the ability to pull together people from the community without the public scrutiny and misunderstandings that can occur,” Barnes said.
Well, we understand about misunderstandings. As soon as board members voted to give Taylor what he had coming in private that night, they began to worry that they hadn’t allowed enough legally required time between announcing the secret spanking and actually making Taylor bend over. So Patricia Kurtz moved once again that the board immediately go into executive session — then she and everyone else voted “no.” Ragsdale kicked out the public and resumed the previous executive session after scheduling Taylor’s private whipping for January 8.
And Taylor might be in big trouble. Mauro, after all, keeps company with atomic president Harry Truman and former FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley.