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Metro Op-Ed / Richard Charles Tolbert
Published 10/31/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

Each election campaign develops its own persona and key issues. The opposition in the light rail election campaign of November 4, 2008 has boiled down to two major issues: We should vote "No" because the starter line is proposed for the wrong place, and because the wrong types of rail cars are being proposed by City Hall

The starter line refers to the miles of railway that can be built with the money raised by the local tax the the proposal would impose. Later, when federal money is obtained, the complete system can be finished.

Published 10/17/2008 - 9:08 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

There are five statewide ballot propositions on the November 4, 2008 ballot. We should vote “Yes” on four of them, but “No” on one of them.

We should vote “No” on the casino gambling Proposition A for at least three reasons:

If passed, Proposition A would repeal the current loss limits. Loss limits are a reasonable compromise between those of us who want casinos, and those who believe that casinos are morally wrong, harmful, and the devil’s playground. The proposition before us would allow us to lose a lot ore money. Therefore, we should vote “No”.

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

By Richard Charles Tolbert

There are two general schools of thought in opposition to the light rail tax to be voted on November 4, 2008.

The Big opposition group is headed by former city Councilman Bob Llewellen and campaign expert Pat O’Neil and seems to be opposed to light rail itself.

The other major opposition camp is represented by supporters of the Clay Chastain plan, that voters passed but the city council rescinded; and streetcar advocates, such as Tom Bogdon, the Editor and Publisher of KCTribune.com. These folks support light or passenger rail, but oppose the tax because we can get a better deal

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

By Richard Charles Tolbert

Mark Funkhouser won the election for Mayor of Kansas City. He said that his wife, Gloria Squitiro, was his campaign manager. Every mayor I’ve known, beginning with Ike Davis, has uses his or her campaign aides as staff members in the mayors office.

This is why it has probably taken me longer than most to take the criticisms of Gloria seriously. And now, all 12 city council members have voted to oust Gloria from City Hall.

I am not a supporter of Mayor Mark Funkhouser. I voted for him because he talked a good game. But he has disappointed me more than any other person for whom I have voted, because he has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of political skill and experience in putting his words into action.

Published 09/05/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

The other day at the McDonald’s breakfast gang, at 14th and Prospect, I could not resist sticking my nose into a conversation overheard at the next table.

Marlon Hammons, my arch enemy and a fellow McDonald’s breakfast gang member, repeatedly said, “All politicians are crooks!”

As a practicing politician, I take exception to that assertion. But I have heard it, or a variation of it, from so many different people, so many times, that I have started writing a book on political idiocy.

Published 08/22/2008 - 1:00 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

The enemy of the people, today, is not government. The enemy of the people, today, is the mainstream news media.

This assertion comes from one who is a new junkie. I go to sleep at night listening to the news on either television or radio. No matter how early I get up in the morning, I can’t do any serious work until I read the daily newspaper.

I’m a news junkie because I want to know what is going on around me. And I want the bad news first. But perhaps most of all, I’m a news junkie because I am a political person.

As a political person, I believe that we can make the world a better place. The stress here is on “we”, because when it comes to changing things in the world, in our nations, in our city, in our neighborhood, in our families, on our jobs, and even among our circle of friends and associates, the individual must almost always work with and through others. This change is politics with a small “p”.

Published 08/07/2008 - 6:00 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

The mayor and city council of Kansas City, Missouri committed themselves to putting a light rail proposition on the November, 2008 ballot, ready or not. This was done, in part, as atonement for their unanimous rejection of the people’s vote in favor of the Clay Chastain light rail plan.

Published 07/25/2008 - 6:00 a.m. CDT

7th Street Station on the LYNX light rail line in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

By Richard Charles Tolbert

We all have a stake in the light rail election that seems headed for the November 5, 2008 general election ballot, because it will contain a sales tax increase.

The Mayor and City Council of Kansas City, Missouri have pledged that a light rail proposition and tax increase will be on the November ballot, come hell or high water, read or not, in order to make amends for the Council's unprecedented action of overriding the earlier vote of the people, which passed Clay Chastain's light rail plan.

Published 07/18/2008 - 6:06 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

I made myself a vow, around the 4th of July, 2008, that when gasoline cannot be purchased for less than $4.00 a gallon, I will fill up my tank, park my car, only drive in emergencies, and catch the bus.

In mid July I started collecting bus schedules because most gas stations in Kansas City were selling all grades of gas above $4 a gallon. I found one station selling unleaded at $3.99&9/10th, on July 17th, at 31st and Cleveland. But the end of $4.00 a gallon gas seems near.

I live a 17-minute walk to the nearest good bus line on Prospect Ave. The nearest bus line, the poorly serviced line on Cleveland, is a 14-minute walk. On past occasions when I have had to catch the bus, these long walks, and my aching shins, have motivated me to think of what can be done about these high gas prices.

Published 10/03/2008 - 4:51 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

Almost everyone agrees that plucking the government turkey is wrong, whether we’re talking about earmarks, pork barrel projects, subsidies, tax breaks, incentive checks, tax cuts, TIFs, or 700 billion dollar bailouts of Wall Street.

Yet, time and again, people seem to say, “It’s not right, but if everyone else s going to feed at the government trough and pluck the government turkey, then break me off a wing. If government is going to give away free tax money, then give me some.”

Almost everybody is taking about the 700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street and the financial sector. And almost everybody is using the old saying about privatizing gains and socializing losses.

The use of that old saying, containing as it does the “s” word, socialism, in polite discussions and in the mainstream media, suggest that we have reached a new era in American discourse where we can openly discuss something that has been heretofore taboo: The relative merits of socialism vs. capitalism.

Published 09/12/2008 - 5:06 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

A month ago (KCTribune.com 8/15/08), we advanced then of many good reasons to vote “no” on the upcoming November 4, 2008 light rail tax increase ballot propositions.

Since then the mainstream media of Kansas City have run true to form, by ignoring most voices of opposition to the tax, while during the same publishing or broadcasting at least eight, so called, “news” stories explained why we should vote “yes”.

Published 08/29/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Richard Charles Tolbert

At different times in history, different groups have special burdens thrust upon them.

As we approach the first election in American history featuring a black man as the candidate of a major political party, the special burden of having to deal with white racism has been thrust upon the white middle class.

The white racism burden is that a majority of lower class white people have shown an implacable resistance to giving Barack Obama the voter support most analysts predicted.

Published 08/15/2008 - 6:00 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

1. The November 4, 2008 light rail ballot proposition is a tax increase measure: We should vote “No” on tax increases unless we get good value for our money. This one offers very poor value.

Published 08/01/2008 - 6:00 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

I saw something in the Northeast News newspaper (7/23/08) that took my breath away. It was the complete financial disclosure form list of political contributions to an incumbent candidate for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives.

Published 07/23/2008 - 11:28 a.m. CDT

By Wayne Flaherty

Sit down, shut up, and do what you’re told or you will be punished. No, it’s not some frustrated mother talking to her annoying child. It’s the Johnson County Commission talking to you, Mr. and Mrs. Voter, the same people you pay $57,000 per year to run your county government. Like me, you probably thought since they are elected they are public servants. Obviously Chairman Annabeth Surbaugh doesn’t agree with you.

Published 07/11/2008 - 6:00 a.m. CDT

By Richard Charles Tolbert

Gasoline is selling for more than $4.00 per gallon in the Kansas City area. That simple fact has fundamentally changed the light rail debate.
Clay Chastain, a major participant to the light rail debate for the past decade, has been publicly calling for compromise among the seven or so plans that have been put forward.

The Kansas City Council has committed itself to putting a light rail proposition on the November 2008 ballot, and seems to be within weeks of deciding what will go before voters.

Now, therefore, seems an appropriate time to put forth a black community light rail proposal that has achieved a consensus on some aspects of the light rail debate.

After many small and large group discussions throughout the black community, a light rail consensus has formed that the best interests of the black community will be served by light rail and comprehensive transportation plans that place jobs as the Number One need of the black community and the East Side.