People stand ready to remake the spirit of JJ’s in a new location

Several months ago, owner Jimmy Frantze tasked a longtime friend with helping him rebuild not so much the literal space that is the work of the architects but what JJ’s had encompassed — what JJ’s meant to Frantze as an owner of nearly 30 years, to loyal staff as a place of employment, to regulars as a comfortable roosting spot, to connoisseurs for its world-class wine list and to Kansas City as an iconic, independent venue.

NRA members need to step up on ending gun violence

For years, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been the best membership recruitment the NRA could hope for: a walking, talking, Big Gulp-banning embodiment of government overreach. And look what he’s done now, given the NRA yet another gift on the eve of their national convention.

No gap in Kansas law on hate crimes

One difficulty of hate-crime laws can be the high legal standards. Some call for proving not only that a murder had occurred, but at the same time that bias was the motivation. If reasonable doubt exists on either, the whole case could implode. Better to get the conviction and then offer the judge or jury the ability to upgrade the sentence if indeed the crime had been motivated by hate.

Home from war, our soldiers continue to die

Mental health is the new battlefield for many returning soldiers. At Fort Hood, the actions of Army Spc. Ivan Lopez might well serve as the military’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. Let’s see if enough people listen. The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated that 22 former members of the military commit suicide every day. Every day.

There are no absolutes in education debate

The Kansas City school board’s vote to delay the sale of Westport High School stoked accusations that members who voted “no” did so out of a reluctance to see a charter school take over the space. The idea that charters are staking out too much turf in the district isn’t new, but it doesn’t hold the same clout it once did.

Mayor Sly James seeks to empower women at City Hall

With his ongoing work toward “women’s empowerment,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James is stepping into a well-worn field of debate. Endless studies and initiatives have sought the same goal, too often only superficially. It’s a difficult job to begin unraveling institutionalized discrimination.

Special courts could be key in fighting street gun culture

The term “street gun culture” needs little explaining. Kansas City hears its repercussions amplified every night on the TV news. Worse, citizens of the urban core suffer its consequences daily. But could it be deflated if using a gun in a crime like robbery drew swift and consistent consequences?

Fred Phelps was the best argument against his cause

We reporters hated being Fred Phelps' megaphone, but we knew that he (and, more importantly, his more civil and well-mannered fellow preachers) was forcing the body politic to consider a very important question: Which civil rights can be denied to people on the basis of sexual orientation?

Congress hard at work on absolutely nothing

House Republicans call their new effort the “Enforce Act.” It passed 233 to 181. They’re calling the president out for using executive orders. But many of these same Republicans put the pen into his hand by refusing to negotiate reforms to current law.

Changes to SAT will even out the playing field

If all we are doing is drawing from not necessarily the smartest pool of talent for our colleges and universities but merely from the most privileged, we all will suffer. The country can’t afford to needlessly screen out students who have great potential, but who haven’t been coached to achieve a high score on these critical tests.

Obama and Republicans share blame on immigration policy

Republicans claim they can't trust the president to enforce laws that they might pass if they actually managed to do their jobs and take up immigration reform. That’s a ridiculous contention. This president is enforcing current immigration law to levels unheard of in other administrations, Republican or Democrat.

Bishop Raymond Boland finishes immigrant experience with journey home

News that Kansas City Bishop Emeritus Raymond J. Boland had returned to native Ireland for hospice care prompted a search for a letter from 1997. The idea of Bishop Boland returning to Ireland added a joyful layer to the otherwise sad news of his declining health. Because in that short note, he had shared a kinship with my father’s immigrant experience.

Free speech at stake in quirky Missouri gun case

The American Civil Liberties Union’s legal director for Missouri categorized the use of a protection order to limit criticism of the government as “the worst kind of censorship.” The ACLU noted that other means of voicing views, say leafleting, enjoy protections grounded in case law. But the legal record is still cloudy when the Internet is the method.

Never mind the concern trolls: It’s time for a raise, America!

Economists disagree about how employers will respond to a higher minimum wage. Proponents must admit that jobs might be lost, some businesses might go under and that many entering the low-wage workforce might face more difficulty finding a job. The question, though, is whether those adversities are offset by the benefits from higher wages for those at the bottom of the heap.

Money for the arts can help fuel Kansas City’s economy

“I see the arts as a key part of economic development to this city,” Mayor Sly James said, laying out his administration’s commitment to the arts. James emphasizes monetizing the arts, that city funding must return significant revenues in artistic and cultural tourism.

Seriously, what is wrong with Kansas?

The politicians who support this nonsense are blind to what discrimination looks like, feels like or how it historically has functioned in society. The constant cry rationalizing this bill and similar measures elsewhere is that it is religious conservatives — not homosexuals — who are apt to suffer from discrimination.

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