A wake-up call about your child

This nugget of an idea fell out amid the many PowerPoints at this week’s Urban Crime Summit: Give parents a formal letter documenting the pathway to bigger troubles that their child is on. It’s a cop’s heads-up, a letter to confront parents in denial.

Recall effort has lessons for future gun policy

The recall of two Colorado state senators should be a wakeup call for gun control advocates everywhere. Future legislative efforts need to be accompanied by massive voter education on how current gun laws affect crime, and how they inadequately address mental health and a whole range of other problems.

There’s no such thing as a stray bullet

“There is somebody, somewhere, who is responsible for every bullet fired,” Melvin Wackerle said after his daughter, Deanna L. Lieber, was killed last year while driving her family home from Starlight Theatre. He’s right. It’s a matter of accountability. The connotation of a bullet “straying” seemingly exonerates the shooters, as if there was no intent to harm.

No shame in preserving history of KCK church

First and foremost, the significance of St. John the Divine Catholic Church needs to be honored. From 1937 to 1992, the church was a focal point for its parishioners. Their lives opened and closed there, celebrated in baptisms, weddings, fiestas and funerals.

Ariel Castro’s final act, highlights prison suicide

The suicide of Ariel Castro highlighted a little known fact about American prisons: More inmates die by suicide than murder, overdose and accidents combined. The vast majority of prisoners that experts pinpoint as at-risk to commit suicide are nowhere near as depraved as Castro.

Seek transparency in medical research tax

Backers of a Jackson County sales tax to fund medical research point to multiple levels of transparency, including a five-member board appointed by the county executive, a community advisory board and money for outside audits.

Let’s have an honest conversation about poverty

Analysis and policies about food stamps and requirements for those receiving aid continue to stem from the attitude that people are poor due mainly to their own failings. It’s why America spends so much on anti-poverty programs, yet fails to address many of the underlying problems.

A good woman in Georgia prevents a massacre

The role of Antoinette Tuff in thwarting the gunman who entered a Georgia elementary school is significant. Tuff is the embodiment of the wisdom that not every threat of violence needs to be met with more violence.

Social justice calling doesn’t recognize borders

There are commonalities within social justice movements. It doesn’t necessarily matter what is the country, or the level of and core reasons for the violence. A wrong turn set William Dowdell’s course, and an introduction to local race and class divisions is now leading him to Burma.

For Lisa Young Alston, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is personal

Lisa Young Alston was 10 when “Uncle Martin” died. “As a child, my experience was not Dr. King; my experience was Uncle Martin,” she said. Alston is the middle daughter of Andrew Young, one of King’s closest confidants. She moved to the Kansas City area last summer. She’ll be in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Debate on bus safety should focus on injuries, not fatalities

Thankfully, no children died in the crash of a school bus carrying Pembroke Hill children to a camp in Kansas. That’s helpful in leaping over the mantra long used to squelch reasonable questions about safety — that very few children are killed in accidents while riding a bus.

Prison orange too much in vogue in U.S. policy

While the changes proposed by Attorney General Eric Holder are encouraging, reshaping America’s prisons and our punitive mentality will not be easy. What is the human cost of our penchant for revenge, our emphasis on punishment without much attention to the equal need for rehabilitation?

Missouri voters deserve a say on campaign donation limits

Rex Sinquefield has filed a lawsuit to keep Missourians from having the opportunity to vote on restoring limits on campaign donations. One of his arguments is that limits would undercut his free speech. Hey, Rex, how about the free speech of those with less money, like the average voter?

Let’s remember the March on Washington for what it was

History tends to recall the 1963 March on Washington — which culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial — as a singular event, rather than framing it in a long program of direct action, one step in an extremely long movement for justice.

Consider carefully before reconfiguring Kansas City council districts

It’s important to understand the concerns raised by those backing changes to how Kansas City Council seats are currently carved up — six in-district and six at-large. A case can be made that current configurations, coupled with density and demographics, have set the city up for a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Working for McNuggets no dream for low-wage Americans

As the low-wage sector goes, so goes the nation. That’s the message every middle-class American should be getting. A major challenge for this country in the coming decades — perhaps the central challenge — will be ensuring that the vast majority of its citizens have access to work that affords a decent standard of living.

Local grandmothers join campaign against gun violence

For one grandmother, everything began with acceptance. Her love alone would never erase what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She was deeply shaken after her grandson survived, hidden in a closet. Now Grandmothers Against Gun Violence is forming a chapter for the greater Kansas City area.

The long-term costs of a student loan

Higher education policy in this country ought to be simple. It needs to be cheap, widely available and genuinely useful for getting people ahead and promoting economic growth. Our university system is showing signs of an incipient crisis. Congress seems barely to have noticed.

Rebuilding Kansas City schools from the grass roots

New generations of families are planning their children’s futures within the boundaries of the Kansas City school district rather than fleeing to the suburbs or private schools. A month-old Facebook page has generated more than 200 responses from families who are intrigued by the idea of starting a public community school, perhaps a charter, within the district’s boundaries.

Follow the money to find Los Zetas

Los Zetas’ focus never wavered, not before Miguel Angel Trevino Morales’ capture and not now. It’s a criminal organization with many lines of enterprise: drugs, smuggled humans, stolen and counterfeited items, cargo theft and import/export fraud.

Zimmerman case invites stereotypes, but commands reflection

The George Zimmerman case can be a basis for deep intellectual discussions about how stereotypes originate with a sliver of fact, then spiral out of control to horrendous ends. It can inform thoughtful conversations and action around self-defense and stand-your-ground laws and broader understanding of federal civil rights law.