Thursday, February 25, 2016

Busy people get things done. Somewhere along the way, I heard this phrase and it sort of stuck with me. Possibly because it’s something I can relate to, but mostly because it is true. Busy people do get things done.

When I hear of an election coming up, and the potential candidate pool, I can’t help but put myself in their shoes. Typically, the names that come across my desk are the busiest people I know. They are involved in many things in the community, and they are names I know well. Sometimes, they’re unknown to me altogether. So, I do my due-diligence and get to know the person behind the name. I find out their story, their connection, the reason they’re seeking public office.

I’m frank with these people, as I’m sure are those who convinced them to run in the first place. Holding a seat in a public office is hard work. It is stressful and trying and so very rewarding. It is a commitment unlike any other, and one that should be taken seriously and respectfully.

Time and again, over the years, I have seen those, either elected or appointed, step down from their respective roles without fulfilling the commitment. For whatever reason, these individuals have decided they cannot continue what they promised to do.

While I understand health, family and life circumstances may have an impact on an individual, sometimes the reason behind resignations of public officials can be disappointing, to say the least. It puts additional work on the other public servants who continue to fulfill their obligations and then must take on additional responsibilities while finding a replacement.

I’ve never held a public office. I don’t pretend to understand the amount of pressure this could have on a person. But I can relate to the work/life balance, deadlines, meetings and the overall busy schedule of an active member of the community. I’m a busy person, too. I get it. But I also understand the importance of commitment and following through.

It is my hope that those who seek an elected position do their homework. They need to find out exactly what it is they are potentially getting themselves into before making a decision. It’s not for everyone. It takes a certain amount of passion, understanding, drive and responsibility, which is probably why we see the community’s busiest folks leading the charge.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask of these individuals to finish what they started. Public office is a commitment, and I’d like to see that commitment taken seriously.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

KCPT, in partnership with English Landing Films, on Friday premiered a new documentary, Our Divided City. The documentary looks at the social conditions that foster violent crime in Kansas City’s segregated black community east of Troost and asks whether enough is being done to make its neighborhoods safe.

I settled in to watch the film on Saturday morning, as I had recorded it the night before. I didn’t expect the flood of emotions as I witnessed the crime, segregation and downright unfairness our neighbors just to the north from our coverage area are experiencing.

A spotlight is shone on a new alliance that includes law enforcement agencies, City Hall, and academics called the KC No Violence Alliance or KC NoVA. It introduces a unique style of policing that attempts to work with the community to get ahead of the homicides.

Viewers will go inside KC NoVA as it attempts to put an end to tit-for-tat killings between gang members and it steps into the lives of ordinary families besieged by the violence. There is evidence that community leaders and certain brave citizens are already fighting back, but that for some patience is wearing thin with the city’s authorities.

During the film, I watched as familiar faces were lending a hand through clean-up efforts. I watched as our fearless leader, Mayor Sly James, became irritated when asked what he plans to do about it. He stated it’s not a political issue, and if he had the answers it would have already been fixed. This, according to James, is a community issue.

A community issue it is. Nothing will be done so long as we allow the violence to continue. Violent crimes, especially those on children, continue to rise in Kansas City. It was incredibly sobering to see, as the credits rolled, the list of names of those taken by violence in Kansas City in 2015. There were too many names. Too many children. Too many of our neighbors and friends.

The documentary will air again on Sunday, February 7, at 2:00 p.m. on KCPT.