- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Kansas City Star, April 14

Shootings at Jewish centers:

Sunday is a day for family visits at the Village Shalom retirement center in Overland Park.

At the nearby Jewish Community Center, which carries the name of one faith but opens its doors to all, it’s a day for exercise, play rehearsals and children on the autism spectrum and their parents gathering for a weekly fitness program.

Sunday was a day of love and expectation and community - all shattered by one deranged armed individual.

He struck at 1 p.m., firing multiple shots outside the community center and killing two persons - William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood.

The gunman then proceeded to Village Shalom, a skilled nursing and assisted living facility, and fatally shot a woman in the parking lot.

Police apprehended a suspect, known as Glenn Miller, within half an hour of the first shooting outside a nearby elementary school. In his 70s, the suspect has a long history of ties to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organizations, with a record including past convictions. Authorities were investigating the killings as possible hate crimes.

And so, on a rainy Sunday, Overland Park became the location of a shocking act of violence that happens with appalling frequency in the United States.

It has happened on U.S. military bases, in our schools, at shopping malls and on the streets - attacks that leave innocent people dead and wounded, and communities stunned and heartbroken.

This kind of headline should not be the norm, and no family or community should have to endure this sorrow. Yet we as a nation seem paralyzed at the prospect of dealing with it.

Even the most modest attempt to curb firearm violence is rebuffed by the gun lobby and its political allies. Talk about helping the mentally ill is rarely backed up with sufficient resources to make a difference.

Police are investigating whether the gunman targeted the two centers because they are associated with the Jewish faith. Some reports said the gunman was heard making anti-Semitic remarks.

It is a source of unending grief that some individuals will target persons of certain faiths or ethnicities. They harbor old hatreds, unable to celebrate a vibrant landscape of diversity and fellowship.

The Jewish Community Center is a local treasure - a place where all faiths are welcomed. At least two of the victims Sunday attended a United Methodist Church.

Attacks against Jewish-affiliated centers have an ugly, long history, and so preparedness is essential. That became clear on Sunday, as staffs at both facilities apparently responded to the shootings calmly and professionally.

On the eve of Passover, one of the most celebrated Jewish holidays, anger and grief spread across this area and beyond. Passover calls Jews to gather Monday evening for a ritual meal and prayer to celebrate liberation from slavery.

Liberation from gun violence is far less clear.

By Sunday evening, interfaith prayer services and vigils began to seek support and healing. Those are necessary events, and they speak volumes about the good will of this region.

But this senseless violence is becoming far too routine. We cannot accept the deaths of innocent people as a part of living in a free country.

While seeking healing, we must also seek the causes of such evil and ways to expunge it.


Springfield News-Leader, April 11

Missouri’s decision to release star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham from football team:

The drama surrounding Dorial Green-Beckham - the Hillcrest High School football standout who has now been dropped from the Mizzou team - seems to have a life of its own.

DGB, as he is known to his fans, has been in the news most recently because of an incident in Columbia involving violence against a young woman. In January, he was in the news because he and two other young men were stopped in a car along with a pound of marijuana. In October 2012, he and two teammates were arrested by the University of Missouri police after they were found in possession of 35 grams of marijuana.

In the first arrest, he was able to plead down to trespassing and paid a $200 fine. In the second, one of the other men in the car took responsibility for the marijuana and no charges have been filed against DGB.

In the most recent case, Columbia police announced that they will not file charges because there is no “probable cause.” But the police report reveals some disturbing information.

Picture an upset boyfriend looking for his girl. There’s pushing and shoving. Someone gets hurt. But then the “victim” decides it is better for everyone involved to drop the whole thing. Police decide that, without victim and witness cooperation, no charges can be filed.

The “victim,” according to the report said she was “afraid of the media and community backlash” and worried about what an arrest would do to DGB’s future NFL career.

Letting a victim who feels overwhelmed and frightened make the decision about whether charges should be filed is a further pressure on her. Police ought to be able to determine if a crime had been committed based on the evidence and the statements of both the victim and witnesses, regardless of their cooperation.

Head Coach Gary Pinkel made the right choice in dropping the troubled player, regardless of what the police do.

Pinkel, in a news release from the Mizzou athletics department, said the decision was “made with the best interests of all involved in mind.” He calls for DGB to focus on “getting the help he needs.”

We, too, hope this young man with so much potential can learn to control his behavior so he can go on to have a bright future.

Director of Athletics Mike Alden said the decision was also made with the university and the team in mind. “We have a high standard of conduct for our student-athletes. Though we provide the resources and mentoring to all of our student-athletes, we are also responsible to the community at large and to the ideals and values of the University of Missouri. We have determined that this was a necessary step for our football team, athletic department, the university and our community.”

The Columbia police need to have the same level of interest in the community. The police report reveals plenty of cause for an arrest. The young woman had bruises, and both she and DGB’s girlfriend, who was there at the time, acknowledged the assault. The victim also provided evidence of coercion by the girlfriend, Samantha Bass, to drop any complaint against the player.

Green-Beckham is a talented football player, and he is likely to find a way into the NFL if those who love and care about him can help him onto the right path.

So far, he has not had to face any real legal consequences of his actions, so it is important that the Missouri University athletics department took that action. It appears that his coaches understood that if he had been allowed to avoid any consequences this time it could have given him the message that he is above the law.

Mizzou made sure that didn’t happen.


The St. Joseph News-Press, April 7

Funding for state’s roads:

Missouri is finding there is no good alternative to growing the economy, adding new well-paying jobs and expanding the tax base.

This is particularly true when it comes to how to pay for such necessities as modern roads and bridges, which underpin the economy. The answer lies in spreading the costs now, then tapping into the growth in tax revenues in the future.

Our system for funding road upkeep and improvements has been broken for some time. And of this there is no doubt: Improvements are overdue. Just look at the gridlock that daily overtakes the intersection of U.S. 169 South and Interstate 29. Or look at how congested things get around U.S. Highway 36 and Riverside Road.

We are not fans of one radical thought, which would be to save costs by simply turning hundreds of miles of state-maintained roadways over to local governments. Rural residents almost certainly would see a cost shift that would disproportionately drive up their taxes and force reductions in their services. Either that, or the roads would deteriorate and these areas would be cut off from future economic growth.

The truth is much of Northwest Missouri has promise today precisely because roads exist to connect our smaller communities to larger ones. Just as significantly, changes in communications and technologies have made our rural areas more viable - but only if they have adequate infrastructure, including safe roads.

One proposal floated in the legislature seems clearly insufficient. Estimates say this idea for raising the gas tax by 3 cents on every gallon, along with a higher increase in the tax on diesel fuel, would produce $180 million annually. But this would provide only about one-fourth of the money required in coming years for road maintenance and improvements.

A cautious, divided state House has advanced a proposal to have voters approve a 1-cent sales tax increase that would generate $800 million annually for transportation during the 10 years it would be in effect. The proposed constitutional amendment will be on the November ballot if the Senate goes along. Last year, in a similar scenario, it did not.

This past week, advocates for our region descended on Jefferson City to press our concerns, with transportation needs at the top of the list. They heard about the penny sales tax proposal, ideas for tolls along Interstate 70 and possible increases in fuels taxes.

Hardly any of these options is appealing. Still, a solution is needed, it needs to be fair to rural areas, and it needs to move forward soon.


The Lake Sun Leader April 12

Poor voter turnout:

With the April election behind us and the August primary in the not too distant future, it might be a good time to ask exactly how many of us made the effort to cast a ballot on Tuesday. Based on the election returns, not enough. Morgan County voters led the lake area with approximately 27 percent of those registered turning out at the polls.

Camden County saw slightly more than 14 percent of the registered voters take part with Miller County trailing with right at 13 percent. Once the ballots are cast, it’s too late to get involved.

Municipalities, school districts and other taxing entities play a huge role not only in how your tax dollars are spent but also in the quality of life at Lake of the Ozarks.

The August primaries will bring more opportunities to get out and vote. While the number of contested county races are slim, those that are on the ballot are important.

Many of us are quick to say our piece and complain about what our elected officials are doing or not doing, so do something about it.

A voter who complains without actually voting is a meaningless and empty opinion, since they failed to back up their beliefs by making their opinions heard with a vote. Stand up and let your voice be heard. In the months ahead, if you aren’t a registered voter, that’s the first step. There’s plenty of time. If you have questions call your county clerk’s office. They will be happy to explain how and where. Take time to learn the issues and the candidates. The campaign rhetoric is going to get deep.

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