Letters to the Editor

August 13, 2014

Readers share thoughts on the VA, Kemper Arena and Gov. Sam Brownback

The members of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City have a vested interest in the future of the Kemper Arena.

Medical advocate

I’ve read laudatory reports of the Kansas City Veterans Affairs hospital. I had a different experience.

My older, disabled Vietnam veteran brother used the VA hospital as his primary medical source. At age 68, this extremely literate, kind, generous and perhaps too trusting soul developed a severe pain in the inner part of his leg. The VA doctor told him he had a pulled muscle and to take Tylenol.

Two weeks later, he was dead of a heart attack.

The VA knew he was sedentary because of his age and the psychotropic drugs they had prescribed for many years. We suspect an undiagnosed blood clot, which is common in people who, because of age and medication, are not as active as most.

He was not the kind of person to complain or to contradict the opinion of a medical doctor.

The moral of this story is to not allow a loved one to go for medical diagnosis or treatment without an informed advocate. Navigating the red tape, insurance, treatment options and scrutiny of diagnosis should not be left to a person who is frightened and ill.

I can’t do this now for my brother.

Steve Shaft

Prairie Village

Kemper Arena reuse

The members of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City have a vested interest in the future of the Kemper Arena (8-8, A1, “Plan calls for youth sports at Kemper”).

We encourage the City Council to look at the economic effect of the proposed options. A sports-practice venue would not provide visitors to hotels, restaurants and stores that an event-oriented venue provides.

Parents picking up children from practice do not stop at West Bottoms restaurants for dinner. They go home. Consequentially, tax revenue to the city would be limited.

Historically, youth sports tournaments do not have as high of an economic benefit as livestock shows, based on the demographics of participants and duration of events. This is similar to our measurement of the convention business and the leisure traveler. Both are respected and important, but business travel has a greater economic effect.

The association thinks Kemper Arena is underused. It can and should become a vibrant attraction and events venue.

We actively support sports tournaments currently hosted in our area, but economically we support Kemper Arena being events focused.

Bud Nicol

Executive Director

Hotel & Lodging


of Greater Kansas City

Kansas City

Cheers for Brownback

People should cease badmouthing our fine Kansas governor, Sam Brownback.

My Kansas income taxes for 2013 decreased 27 percent from 2012, despite a 2.4 percent increase in taxable income. From reading The Kansas City Star, I understand the person responsible is Gov. Brownback.

Is this a great country, or what?

Charles Staubus


Many living on luck

Many of the people of these United States were born with nothing. Their grandpas did not have the property where they came from.

Many were lucky to have responsible parents. These days many of us who are retired couldn’t imagine trying to make ends meet.

Think about the ways our people have been robbed. There are the wars, the unions, the free-trade deal and the big-job sellouts.

What do we have here these days? Think about it.

The money and big-oil groups and our own government have worked hand in hand to put the U.S. citizens out. Shame on us all. One man can’t buck all that power. What can we do?

William Leroy Elwood

Osceola, Mo.

Missing Bill Nelson

Our children and community have lost a giant. Bill Nelson passed away (8-9, A8, “Banker William Nelson dies at 77”).

For more than 20 years, I had the privilege of working with and learning from Bill. He was a tireless advocate for children and especially for quality early learning for all young children.

While on the board of the Partnership for Children and the Early Learning Leadership board, Bill was able to improve immunization rates for young children, to lead legislation that improved the quality of early learning and supported low-income families’ access to child care and to promote the No. 1 question: “Is it good for the children?”

Bill touched the hearts of many. Bill will be missed. He was good for the children.

Jim Caccamo


Regional Council

Kansas City

Minimum wage

I recently watched William Wyler’s classic, “The Best Years of Our Lives.” All of the returning servicemen have difficult readjustments to civilian life.

The fallen angel of the skies ends up working a soda fountain at a drugstore. But he resolves that he “will not be doing that work forever.”

Sixty-five years later, fast-food workers argue for a more than 50 percent increase in the minimum wage — as if they have arrived at the pinnacle of their life achievements. It’s such a sad attitude.

If a person does a good job, promotions will follow. Some starting hires have even accomplished ownership of hamburger franchises.

My first summer job was selling balloons at the Kansas City Zoo for 65 cents at hour. That was my starting point, mixing nitrogen with helium for greater profits.

The city took over concessions from the private concessionaire before my second year. My wage doubled to the minimum wage.

And prices increased across the board by about 50 percent, from 10 cents to 15 cents for a small popcorn or soft drink and so forth.

Jim Dingwerth


Ferguson slaying

The shooting in Ferguson, Mo., is tragic. The police may have used excessive force, and the teenager may not have respected the law.

If stopped by police, I might be angered or frightened, but I would not fight or disregard the officer’s instructions. That’s what I was taught for my own safety.

When taking the law into your own hands, you can surely expect force to be used against you.

Police brutality is wrong. To use an incident as an excuse to break laws (looting and rioting) is not the answer. Respect for the law is essential for a civilized society.

Our justice system enables rectifying wrongs by government officials. To defiantly refuse to follow the law or to fight with police sets a dangerous example for others who could be hurt or killed.

As the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

Carol Elkins


Cruel imprisonment

America has 5 percent of the world’s total population but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the majority for nonviolent offenses.

I volunteer at a program that provides assistance for recently released prisoners. I cannot tell you how many clients I’ve met and thought, “They should never have gone to prison.” It’s ridiculous what some people are sent to prison for.

In many cases this leaves children without a parent, families without a breadwinner and innumerable hardships of every imaginable kind for the incarcerated people and their families. After imprisonment, their lives are shattered.

They often are denied the right to vote and have trouble gaining employment, housing and even food stamps. Their opportunities in life are severely curtailed, even after they’ve “paid their debt to society.”

We simply have to begin using common sense and discontinue the mantra of punishment. Punishment is not always the answer when actions are taken that harm others or society.

We can use our intelligence to correct wrongs without being gratuitously harsh. The current system is cruel, wasteful and just plain ignorant. Additionally, we have two justice systems, one for the rich and another for the poor.

Ken Gates

Overland Park

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