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KC News Features / Beth Brubaker
Published 02/26/2010 - 1:13 a.m. CDT

Charlie Hardy spoke about his experiences in Venezuela to a large group at the Kansas City Public Library. (Photo: Michael McClure)

Charlie Hardy is a former Catholic priest from Wyoming who has lived in Venezuela for the last twenty-five years. Hardy lived in a cardboard shack for eight of those in years in a barrio in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.

He spoke about his book “Cowboy in Caracas – A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s Democratic Revolution” at the Plaza Library on February 26, 2010. The following is a transcript of an exclusive interview Mr. Hardy granted to kctribune.com

Why did you decide to go to Journalism school?

“In 2002, there was a coup in Venezuela – somebody said to me afterwards “Hey take a look at Narco News”. I had never heard of narconews.com. It was an online newspaper, so I looked and they had a good article about what happened in Venezuela. Then I saw where they were going to have a school for authentic journalists. I thought well maybe I would become a journalist because I could see that the truth wasn’t getting out of Venezuela. So, I applied for a scholarship and then I got a letter saying “Sorry we don’t have enough money – we want someone in radio, video and so on down the line. It went onto say “But we do want you as a professor – you write too well and you don’t need the school but we need you”. Professors at the school pay their own way. This is a unique school, all of the students have scholarships, but all of the professors have to pay their own way.

Published 01/15/2010 - 1:13 a.m. CDT

By Beth Brubaker

Through the years, Kansas Citians repeatedly voice in surveys and at public forums that a reduction in crime is among their top priorities.

There are dozens of “Anti-Crime” and “Stop the Violence” organizations around Kansas City Missouri. Politicians and community leaders, neighborhood activists hold vigils, give speeches, write stories and decry the daily bloodshed.

Most residents believe violent crime—especially murder—has recently increased, but the Kansas City Police Department’s data does not show any dramatic increases over the last 10 years. Nationwide, violent crime was down 4.4 percent, and murders dropped 10 percent for the first half of 2009 as reported by the FBI but KCMO is holding steady at over 100 murders a year.

One recent victim of Kansas City gun violence, Nelson Hopkins, Jr., has caught special attention from the media and the surrounding community, most notably the students at Rockhurst College.

 
Published 12/12/2008 - 1:00 a.m. CDT

Joel Pelofsky in his office at Spencer Fane law firm. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Beth Brubaker

Joel Pelofsky is near the end of his second term on the Kansas City Missouri School Board. Pelofsky is a life-long Kansas City resident and attended Faxon, Paseo and Southwest High School before obtaining his law degree from Harvard University School of Law. Pelofsky also spent eight years serving as a Trustee for the U.S. Department of Justice.

He served two terms on the City Council before mounting a mayoral campaign which he lost to Richard Berkley. In addition to serving on the school board, Pelofsky has spent many years serving on the boards of Truman Medical Center and Jewish Vocational Services which assists people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities as well as those facing immigration or relocation difficulties.

Published 11/28/2008 - 1:00 a.m. CDT

Duane Kelly stands at the entrance of Northeast High School in Kansas City. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Beth Brubaker

For over forty years Duane Kelly has devoted his time to the Kansas City Missouri School District. Thirty-one of those years he taught at Northeast High School and he has been on the school board since 2000, one of the longest serving members. When we met, Kelly offered me a business card, but it's not a regular business card with contact information and an email address (Mr. Kelly does not have an email address). It is a card with a quotation printed in green in all capitals:

THE KIDS COME FIRST, TEACHERS ARE A CLOSE SECOND, BECAUSE, IF ANYTHING HAPPENS IN EDUCATION IT HAPPENS IN A CLASSROOM BETWEEN A TEACHER AND THE KID.

DUANE KELLY

Published 11/07/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

If you manage to find this sign, you are almost there... (Photo: Beth Brubaker)

By Beth Brubaker

For the past several years the trek to recover your car, whether stolen or impounded, from the City tow lot has been a frightening experience. Adding insult to injury, you must pay $75 to retrieve your car if it was stolen. This is a better deal than if you somehow manage to have your car impounded, the fee then goes up to $145 plus $20 per day.

Once you leave the main office on Stadium Drive and navigate the gauntlet half a mile down Bennington through a semi-paved road, past ramshackle housing and mounds of illegal dumping, you must guess which way to turn at the end of the road – the only signs to the lot are spray-painted graffiti like scrawls on the sides of the buildings.

Published 10/23/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Circuit City's Grand Opening is left in doubt at Merriam Village Shopping Center. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Beth Brubaker

Like Kansas City, the City of Merriam has offered generous tax incentives to developers hoping to create new streams of revenue for the city. In theory, TIF (tax-increment financing) incentives encourage developers to build projects in areas they would otherwise avoid.

The developer receives a tax break for a number of years on the developed property and the city hopes to recoup their generosity down the road, betting that developers will build in the area (without TIF incentives) to get in on the action, and that the TIF-financed property will begin creating revenue after the TIF expires.

Merriam Village is a TIF financed mixed-use development that includes retail and some residential development on 30-acres just south of Johnson Drive on I-35. This high-visibility tract of land was formerly home to several local businesses, a car dealer, an auto body repair shop, and a heating and cooling repair shop.

With much fanfare and excitement Circuit City, an electronics retailer, was announced as the main anchor tenant of the new Merriam Village development.

Last week the City of Merriam received an email stating that Circuit City may not be fulfilling their planned lease as the anchor tenant in The Merriam Village Shopping Center according to Dan Leap, Merriam City Council Member.

Published 09/26/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Beth Brubaker

How in the world do you tag a Butterfly? That is the first question most people have when they learn about the annual Monarch Butterfly Tagging event held at the Haskell-Baker Wetlands, south of Lawrence, Kansas.

Early on a Saturday morning, each autumn for the last sixteen years, MonarchWatch.org has hosted a free public educational event at the Haskell-Baker Wetlands. During that time, they have recovered over 13,000 tagged butterflies which is between a one half and one percent recovery rate, according to Dr. Chip Taylor, Professor of Entomology at the University of Kansas and the Director of Monarch Watch.org

Published 12/05/2008 - 12:20 a.m. CDT

Derek Richey and Cokethea Nicole Hill, freshman members of the Kansas City School Board. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Beth Brubaker

Twenty-one applicants were allowed five minutes each to convince the current seven members of the Kansas City Missouri School Board to cast a vote for them to fill one of the two open seats on Thursday evening.

The board selected Cokethea Nicole Hill, a doctoral student at the University of Kansas to fill the first position. After the meeting Hill stated, “I’m just very excited to get ready to engage and work with this team.”

Derek Richey was the second candidate selected. Richey works in Corporate Strategy at Cerner Corporation and he and his wife have lived in Kansas City just over a year. Richey credits his wife with encouraging him to take a chance on the position, he almost chose to stay home.

Published 11/21/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

KCMSD School Board Member Airick Leonard West has a vision of unity for a notoriously divided school board. (Photo: Kristin McFarland)

By Beth Brubaker

The newest member of the Kansas City School Board, Airick Leonard West, recently sat down with KCTribune to review his first six months in office and his plans going forward.

What has surprised you most in the last six months?

I didn’t realize it would be this eventful. Two board members resigned last month. You kind of assume that there are some things that you can count on. I had assumed that the cast of individuals would be static, an assumption that I won’t make again. And having one resign was kind of unexpected, having two resign was positively unsettling.

Published 11/05/2008 - 1:43 a.m. CDT

State Senator Chris Koster defeated Michael Gibbons 52 percent to 48 percent in their race for Missouri Attorney General.

Chris Koster began his political career by winning a term as Cass County prosecutor, running with support from organized labor. Although labor sometimes endorses Republicans, Koster’s party affiliation at the time, labor is a mainstay of the Democratic Party.

Koster forged close ties with labor in two terms as Cass County prosecutor, using his influence to prosecute prevailing wage violations and to provide for construction of a new Justice Center in Harrisonville under a Project Labor Agreement that provided for union wages and a no-strike pledge.

Published 10/23/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Beth Brubaker

Some buildings seem to breathe a life all their own. On a triangle of land off of Westport Road, The Helen Thomes School of Dance opened in 1922, and visitors today to 115 Westport Road still fondly recall their time spent there.

After the dance studio closed, it became the home of the Local Electrical Worker’s Union until 1972 when John Perucca and his wife Connie Pryde Perucca fell in love with the building and moved their Wood and Iron store from down the street into the building in the middle of a triangle.

Published 09/19/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Lorna chats with a vendor about their produce offerings. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Beth Brubaker

It was very early Saturday morning, 7 a.m. to be exact, and it had rained for almost 24 hours. The morning air is thick with dew and a crisp but comfortable breeze passes by. The smell of spices, flowers, and fresh vegetables permeates the heavy air. People are busy loading, stacking and arranging crates and boxes of goods. Many languages are spoken, and the sounds all mix together to create a pleasant background hum.

I am waiting at the City Market for Lorna Ryman, who has been reserving her Saturday mornings for a trip to the market for almost 30 years. Lorna will be my expert guide today.