- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Columbia Daily Tribune, Nov. 3

A year after his predecessor was ushered out of office by student protests, Mun Y. Choi is inaugurated as the 24th permanent president of the University of Missouri System.

He was introduced in Jefferson City. A UM spokesman said his entrée via the capital city emphasizes the statewide role of the university. Unspoken is a desire to reach state politicians whose antipathy toward the university focuses on the Columbia campus.

Choi steps into this recently turbulent atmosphere with a chance to preside over a new day. A native of Korea with an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and advanced degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton, most recently he served as provost at the University of Connecticut, a job he won in competition with Hank Foley, the current interim chancellor of MU in Columbia. Foley wants to continue as permanent chancellor. In this small and potentially serendipitous world, if Choi and university curators agree on Foley’s future, the two could become a successful team.

Even though UM has undergone a year of controversy, President Choi should expect a welcome reception here. Most people in Missouri and Central Missouri in particular remain strongly supportive of Mizzou. Even strong critics of former administrators can ask for nothing more than a full changing of the guard. All of us will remain skeptical in the good sense of the word, waiting for the new president to show more of his stripes. Because he was selected in total secrecy, he will have to start from scratch, but we will give him a fair chance.

Surely he knows that candor and disclosure are key ingredients for success. Of course, the resulting revelation must display strong leadership characteristics, but of all university officials the system president has the best opportunity to tell the university story, and this story needs telling all over the state.

Successful university presidents are good politicians, meaning they instinctively know how to relax with the public. They receive the benefit of doubt if they are genuinely communicative, patently honest and willing to risk exposure. If they are always careful and vaguely resentful of public intrusion, they are headed for trouble. If they make occasional mistakes by being “too” candid, we like the trade-off.

The initial benefit of doubt goes to our new president. We should expect the best. I like his academic background. As an aerospace engineer, he might guide us toward the stars, but the launching pad will have to be the culture of the MU campus. Let us give President Choi an open mind, encouragement and time to get started.

The most regretful people on Earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.


Jefferson City News Tribune, Oct. 28

Whitetail deer deserve watching.

Watch them because they are graceful animals and watch for them because they can be a menace to motorists.

The manager of a local auto body repair shop ranked collisions with animals, both large and small, as the No. 2 cause of damage to vehicles. In a story in Sunday’s Drive publication, he estimated hitting a deer could cause auto damage costing $2,000 or more.

We are in the season when the majority of crashes involving deer occur, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Most incidents happen in October and November, with the majority occurring in November.

Seasonal factors - including hunting, harvesting and mating seasons - contribute to increased deer movement.

Last year, the patrol reported, 3,732 traffic crashes involving deer occurred in Missouri, which translates into one deer strike occurred every 2.4 hours. Those crashes resulted in three fatalities and 346 injuries to motorists and passengers.

The patrol reminds motorists:

Be particularly alert from dusk to dawn; many strikes occur between the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Deer don’t confine their movements to rural areas. Deer activity and accidents within the city limits are common.

Deer often travel in groups, so be cautious if you see one deer cross a roadway or on the shoulder. Typically, other deer are nearby.

Streams and wooded areas surrounding farmland are favored trails for deer.

Don’t panic and over-react by swerving into other traffic and causing a more serious crash.

Finally, be sure everyone is wearing seat belts - the best protection if an accident occurs.

Increased deer movement this time of year creates another potential hazard for motorists.

Buckling up and remaining alert help avoid body damage - in all its forms.


St. Joseph News-Press, Nov. 3

Two Iowa cops are dead, a man who had multiple run-ins with cops is about to be charged in their ambush deaths, and all that most people can do is look on in shock. And dismay. And disgust.

These are sentiments we understand. Des Moines has much more in common with nearby Kansas City and St. Joseph than it does with the big urban areas elsewhere in the country. It doesn’t take much to think, “This could happen here.”

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined President Obama in condemning the attacks, saying “violence has no place” in our society. She also made reference to distrust between law enforcement and some communities.

That theme has received deserved attention in the last two years, but care should be taken in applying it broadly to all such incidents in which law enforcement officers are targeted. In this week’s attacks, for instance, evidence is building that the accused man was depressed, anti-social and becoming increasingly agitated over a period of several weeks. His distrust, if it existed, appears to be all on him.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on a new survey from the Gallup organization. The survey found 76 percent of Americans say they have “a great deal” of respect for police in their area. This number is up sharply, from 64 percent last year.

The survey found an additional 17 percent say they have some respect for law enforcement officers, and only 7 percent say they have “hardly any.”

These numbers leave room for pockets of discontent, but it is underreported that this may be a dwindling group.

As in the past, whites give the strongest support to police. Some 80 percent of whites say they have a great deal of respect for officers. The surprise comes in support among nonwhites, which has risen from 53 percent last year to 67 percent this year who say they have great respect.

The reality is police work is dangerous work, and we are better off focusing on the specific motivations of the perpetrators rather than being too quick to brand a neighborhood or whole community as at odds with police. Far too often, that is a not an accurate picture.

Already this year, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund says it has counted 115 deaths of officers in the line of duty, up 15 percent over last year. This is dangerous work, and in this year it is not getting any less so. That’s what we need to take away from this week’s senseless killings.

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