Editorial: Star Brights, celebrating the good around us

Happy retirement to WDAF-TV’s Phil Witt.
Happy retirement to WDAF-TV’s Phil Witt. DAVID PULLIAM

Phil Witt, signing off

Our friend Phil Witt, the longtime anchorman at WDAF-TV, is retiring.

Phil has been the face of Fox 4 News since early in Ronald Reagan’s first term. It wasn’t called Fox 4 News then — the station was an NBC affiliate in 1981.

There have been changes in Kansas City since he started. Downtown barely resembles the worn-out collection of haunted houses and tattoo parlors it was when Phil started.

Mayors, congressmen and women, senators, presidents have come and gone. And television news has changed, of course.

Phil has kept an eye on it all. That’s no small accomplishment. In a business that devours its young, Phil Witt has helped his community while fulfilling his job as a journalist.

We will miss him. Back to you, Phil.

Taking on assault

We strongly support Sen. Claire McCaskill in her dogged efforts to address campus sexual assault with concrete, commonsense reforms. This week, the Missouri Democrat and colleagues on both sides of the aisle reintroduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act — legislation that would strengthen new training standards, require uniformity in disciplinary proceedings, bar athletic departments from handling complaints and impose penalties of up to 1 percent of a school’s operating budget on institutions that fail to comply with federal reporting requirements.

When McCaskill’s party controlled the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid never scheduled a vote on this important bill. We hope his Republican successor, Mitch McConnell, will.

Progress in Raytown

Congratulations to Raytown voters for taking an important step this week.

The town of 30,000 people elected its first African-American alderman on Tuesday.

That’s former Missouri state Rep. Bonnaye Mims, who will represent Ward 5.

Raytown has had an appointed black alderman before, but Mims, a former Hickman Mills School Board member, will be the first to serve in her own right.

She won a squeaker over Diane Krizek, 236-231.

Mims was an advocate for mental health during her years in the General Assembly.

She said she was grateful and humble and “looking forward to serving the diverse population in Raytown.”

Two decades of artistry

Can Kansas City FilmFest already be entering its 20th year? It’s true.

It was 1997 when what was then the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee debuted. It started out with 10 shorts, all from Kansas City, all shown in Royall Hall at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Today, FilmFest boasts a slate of more than 100 films and events with an international reach. Attendees have choices such as a documentary on a Baltimore girls’ high school dance team, a block of science fiction shorts, a brunch discussion on woman filmmakers and even an all-dog mini-festival.

“The primary selection criteria will be artistic vision,” founder Fred Andrews told The Star in December 1996. Andrews died in February 2016, but his standards live on at FilmFest today.