- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

St. Joseph News-Press, July 25

Airport fight not over:

“Convenience” might be hard to quantify, but it is a nearly tangible asset and matters greatly to thousands of area residents who fly in and out of Kansas City International Airport.

This is a discomforting fact for proponents of a dramatic overhaul of the current airport design. To get what they want - construction of a single large terminal with an array of restaurants, shops and other amenities - they must resort to talking about things other than convenience, or change the definition of what that means.

This is what happened this past week, when a study group made up of airline representatives and consultants working for the Kansas City aviation department offered this assessment: After reviewing 27 improvement concepts, it is in the city’s best interests to set aside all proposals for renovating the airport’s horseshoe design terminals.

The group did not give in-depth specifics but offered the explanation that this recommendation primarily was about convenience - there’s that word again - security and affordability. All of the buzz after the announcement was about how the study group now believes building a new terminal would cost significantly less than a major renovation of the existing terminals.

We agree with U.S. Rep. Sam Graves it is hard to comprehend how a renovation project, which the study group said would come in at more than $1 billion, would cost more than building a large single terminal from scratch. Like everyone else, we look forward to specifics and an apples-to-apples comparison.

We also think loyalists who favor the current design should press these points:

- Renovating might mean more hassles for passengers than building new, but that’s a small price most airport users gladly would pay for long-term convenience.

- Renovating might, indeed, limit architects as they incorporate new technologies and seek to improve space usage. But we need to know what these tradeoffs are before accepting that building from scratch is better.

- The notion that a new single terminal would provide “more passenger conveniences” requires translation. Many have spoken to this point: While they might like more restaurants and shops, they give the highest priority to the convenient in-and-out access to the airport they currently enjoy.

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The Kansas City Star, July 24

Damaged state Sen. Paul LeVota had to resign:

Sen. Paul LeVota has decided to resign from the Missouri legislature, and rightly so.

Recently revelations leave little doubt that the Independence Democrat made sexual overtures toward at least two college interns assigned to his office.

On Friday evening, LeVota blamed “media attention” for distracting him from doing the people’s work.

In reality, LeVota had lost his credibility to continue in office.

LeVota had denied allegations by a University of Central Missouri student who abruptly left her internship this year. But a new report authorized by the university appeared to corroborate a key piece of ex-intern Alissa Hembree’s account - that she stayed overnight at LeVota’s Jefferson City residence rather than drive home after having a few alcoholic beverages.

Hembree said he proposed that they sleep together, but she slept alone on his sofa.

A married lawmaker should not be alone after hours with a college intern, much less invite her for an overnight stay. To lie about it reveals a flawed character.

A second former intern produced text messages showing LeVota also made overtures toward her when she interned for him a few years ago. Both interns said they were isolated and cut out of good assignments once they turned down the senator.

LeVota, a longtime legislator, worked passionately on behalf of some worthy issues. But other Democratic senators rebuffed his bid for a leadership post this year, and these disclosures recent revelations turned him into a sideshow.

LeVota had already been removed from the Senate Ethics Committee, which would have the job of investigating the allegations against him.

His Facebook post Friday evening was accurate on this point: By remaining in office, he could not have been “as effective as my constituents deserve.”

LeVota’s resignation, effective Aug. 23, should help residents of east Kansas City, Independence, Raytown and Sugar Creek get the representation they deserve, from a senator of better repute.

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Jefferson City News-Tribune, July 26

Arm trained soldiers against attack:

In the aftermath of attacks at a military recruiting center and a reserve center, both national and state officials are debating whether military members at those types of facilities should be armed.

Politics aside, we believe trained military personnel deserve to be armed.

This issue has been revived following the back-to-back attacks by a lone gunman who killed five military members at the Naval Reserve facility in Chattanooga, Tenn.

In response, Missouri lawmakers - largely Republicans and including candidates for higher office in 2016 - have called for National Guardsmen to be armed.

Nationally, Gen. Mark Milley, nominated to be the next Army chief of staff, said at a U.S. Senate hearing: “I think under certain conditions on both military installations and . recruiting stations . we should seriously consider it. In some cases, I think, it’s appropriate.”

We’re aware of the arguments for and against restrictions on firearms. And we’re also aware of the specific reasoning and legal restrictions on the military. Recruiting for the military is designed to be welcoming, not intimidating. In addition, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the federal government from using military forces for domestic law enforcement.

The Washington Post reports that an April 1, 2011, Pentagon directive is the most recent on the subject: “Qualified personnel shall be armed when required for assigned duties and there is reasonable expectation that DoD installations, property, or personnel lives or DoD assets will be jeopardized if personnel are not armed.”

However, the newspaper also noted: “It’s unclear what the military can do for recruiters. They commonly work out of commercially leased office space, and must adhere to state laws when it comes to carrying weapons in public.”

But we also are aware that armed attacks can occur and have occurred anywhere - in shopping malls, restaurants, schools and military facilities.

In the final analysis, a firearm is simply a tool. It is a very efficient and effective tool in hunting, marksmanship and protection. It also is a very dangerous tool, if misused.

Training in proper safety rules, handling and use is essential.

We support school resource officers because those men and women receive career training in the proper use of firearms to serve and protect the public. We have reservations about arming teachers, despite training requirements, because their training, and focus, is education.

Following the recent attacks, armed civilian militia members have been showing up at recruiting centers to protect unarmed recruiters. Despite the civilians’ good intentions, they may be less proficient at armed response than the recruiters they are attempting to assist.

An integral part of the training for military personnel involves proper handling and use of weapons.

They are trained to protect our country, at home and abroad. When they are on the job, it seems reasonable to arm them to protect themselves and others against attack.

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The Joplin Globe, July 26

Equal access and the ADA:

It’s hailed as one of the most far-reaching and groundbreaking civil rights laws in American history. Given that it has changed the lives of people of every age, every race and every gender, the Americans with Disabilities Act should be observed as a great turning point in our recent history.

Yet, like many actions that have come about to further create equal opportunities for all, it took considerable effort and courage. On the 25th anniversary of its passage, we applaud those champions who fought for accessible sidewalks, navigable public buildings, transportation for those in wheelchairs and basic rights in the workplace.

Locally, the Independent Living Center is among those entities that provides advocacy and support to those with disabilities. The not-for-profit serves Barry, Barton, Dade, Jasper, McDonald and Newton counties. Assistant Director Stephanie Brady, commenting on today’s anniversary, said improvements are continuing in the Joplin area - some of them because of the 2011 tornado.

“I think the recovery from the tornado provided a positive opportunity for our community to become much more accessible than ever before. And while many developers, the school district and the city took that as an opportunity, we still have a long way to go,” Brady told the Globe.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission has made universal design - broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities and people with disabilities - a requirement in their new developments starting this year.

“I believe that the positive experience that Missouri Housing Development Commission had working in Joplin after the tornado where they encouraged universal design provided the starting point for it to become a requirement,” Brady said.

Like Brady, we look forward to a time when those with disabilities can expect to find accessible housing throughout the region and can choose based on their wants and needs rather than just access.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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