revised   14.09.01  .On the web since.1997.     You may remember I don't drive and I like the Westport Coffee House because it is usually quiet enough to have a conversation.

click for information about these symbols of world religions and liberation movements

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Map of Main Street Corridor west with near sections of Westport and Plaza
East of Main, W 47th Street becomes Emanuel Cleaver II  Blvd, formerly Brush Creek Blvd.
South of 43d Street  Broadway becomes J C Nichols Parkway, and Broadway brcomess Wornall south of 47th.
The Westport Coffee House, 816.756.3222 -- 4010 Pennsylvania Ave, is the BLACK spot.
 C=Californo's,  816.531.7878 -- 4124 Pennsylvania.

Zoom out to KC   --  Zoom out further to KC area   --  Hiwy Map  --  Vern's photo & bio   --   More coffee/eateries   --   NYTimes on Westport

Westport Road is a neighborhood road for visitors and shoppers, not for thru traffic-- use 39th, Broadway, Main, 43rd.





Not to be confused with The Broadway Cafe, 4106 Broadway, one door down from the Southwest corner of Broadway and Westport Road:
The Westport Coffee House
I like the Westport Coffee House because it is usually quiet enough to actually have a conversation. It has a private room often available and a large choice of hot and cold drinks and some snacks. Address: 4010 Pennsylvania Ave, on the west side of the street, between entrance to the covered parking garage and the open parking area; phone  816.756.3222 -- the black blob map on my website at http://www.cres.org/pubs/map_westport.htm. This is walking distance from my house, so it would work for me simply to meet you there. I am being picked up for another meeting elsewhere thereafter, and this would make it possible for me to keep that appointment without concern about transportation time. Is this agreeable?


NOTE the new expanded curbing at Main and Westport to slow traffic from Main to Westport. Also from
http://westportkcmo.com/parking-in-westport/

"Westport was originally designed for pedestrians and horses, hence the narrow streets and the zero lot line buildings. It’s roads were never intended to be a high-speed thoroughfares or arterial roadways for automobiles. At best, the narrow historic streets of Westport could function as low-speed neighborhood streets.

"With the addition of four-way stops at the Westport Road intersections with Pennsylvania Avenue and Mill Street, attempts are being made to bring this historic roadway back to the pedestrian focus it had lost when thousands of cars were speeding through just to avoid catching the next traffic light. A vehicular trip eastbound or westbound on Westport Road will now take longer with the recent traffic calming changes. At the same time, pedestrians will now find it easier – and safer – to cross Westport Road. Through traffic just trying to move from east to west across midtown are encouraged to consider alternative routes such as 39th Street, 31st Street, 43rd Street or 47th Street."
 



 
 

#Vacation

THE STAR AND WESTPORT VACATION

~1. The Star's misleading editorial about Westport street vacations
~2. My email to The Star, not for publication
~3. The Star's (inadequately informed and inaccurate) response
~4. My assessment of The Star's research on this question
~5. Problem reconciling reports 
~6. Reader calls editorial "reckless"
~7. My submission to Letters to the Editor
~8. Email to KCPT KCWIR news reviewers 
~9. Guest Commentaryin The Star by Franklin D. Kimbrough
~10. Vern's follow-up to The Star's Editorial Board




1.
2017 July 20 Editorial:
WESTPORT STREETS MUST REMAIN PUBLIC
Privatizing streets isn’t the solution to Westport crime problem
By The Kansas City Star editorial board

Westport survived the Civil War. It will make it through the turmoil of this era. But it’s going to stepped-up efforts from a broad range of stakeholders to end the mayhem that has taken hold on too many weekends.

A spate of shootings has resulted in more than a dozen injuries and escalating fears about public safety. Police have resorted to pepper spray, and last weekend, they closed bars early in an effort to force unruly crowds to disperse.
Clearly, people who are armed and looking for trouble don’t belong in Westport or any portion of Kansas City. But there’s a problem. Unless someone brandishes a firearm or shoots one, there is little that police can do.

That reality is courtesy of the Missouri legislature, which has relaxed concealed carry laws in recent years. Gun-toting felons don’t show up flagged with an “F” stamped on their foreheads, and police have few options if they simply suspect someone has a weapon.

So, Westport stakeholders got creative in their efforts to create a gun-free zone. Public safety is their goal. But one proposed remedy, privatizing the streets so that people entering the area can be checked for weapons, is a recipe for racial animus. The perception will be that the unwanted entity isn’t guns, but rather the people who tend to arrive late on summer Saturday nights: a predominantly African-American crowd.

Any perceived variation in how different patrons are checked for weapons no doubt would spur accusations of disparate treatment and civil-rights violations. And closing off streets to foot traffic so everyone could be checked for firearms would be a herculean, if not an impossible, task.

A meeting Friday with Westport Regional Business League included input from a California-based nonprofit that advises cities on entertainment districts. Pursue that avenue. Managing crowds is not unique to Kansas City.

Westport’s numerous 3 a.m. liquor licenses are also drawing scrutiny. But the issue isn’t necessarily what time Westport needs to clear out the patrons, but rather how quickly that can be accomplished. Congestion is a central problem, especially when the streets are closed off on weekend nights, heightening the party-in-the-street atmosphere. Besides, the city can’t yank liquor licenses without cause.

Westport is in flux. New property owners are eager to grow the area as a residential hub and expand office space, restaurants and other services. That’s a good recipe for building density and forming new communities in midtown.

It’s essential that stakeholders continue to work with city staff and consider a range of ideas for making Westport safer at night. But privatizing streets isn’t the way to accomplish that goal.




2.
On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 10:47 AM, Vern Barnet <vern@cres.org> wrote:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Dear Editorial Board -- 

Lives are at stake, including mine, but you have obviously and apparently cavalierly failed to research the question of street vacation in Westport. As I resident, I am alarmed. The editorial seemed to be based on serious misunderstandings of the proposal.

This morning I contacted Franklin D. Kimbrough, Executive Director, 816.531.4370  C: 816.509.4478, kim@wrbl.org, Westport Regional Business League, westportkcmo.com, to find out if you had invited him to a meeting of the Editorial Board. He told me the only recent contact he has had with The Star were two reporters, neither one of which asked about the street vacation. 

I have heard the city lawyer, Mr Kimbrough, and others at a wide community meeting that lasted well over an hour at the Westport library. Those initially opposed were won over by the end of the meeting. In addition, Mr Kimbrough also appeared at the last Heart of Westport Neighborhood Assn meeting. Your editorial promotes misconceptions about the proposal on many scores. 

Three examples: 
     (1) You make it sound as if the vacations are permanent, instead of on week-ends between 11 pm and 4 am (I forget the exact time when the vacation would end). Failure to mention this is, at a minimum, sloppy. 
     (2) Second, introducing the racial issue implies that only African-Americans are the ones carrying guns. This is not true, and leads one to ask -- Is the Board is guilty of racial profiling by its editorial? After all, security wands do not see color. 
     (3) Third, although you mention 3 am licenses, you easily suggest there are alternatives to this problem apparently without hearing the other avenues that have been tried -- and you do not propose any solution. You report none from the California-based nonprofit you mention. The editorial does not indicate any study of the recent increased prevalence of guns brought into the neighborhood. Although most Heart of Westport residents live on the east side of Broadway, this is a serious spillover concern for us, as well as wanting to protect all lives everywhere.

You owe it to the Westport businesses and neighbors to invite Mr Kimbrough to a Editorial Board meeting  and to study the proposed legal agreement with the City, to see if you might reconsider the damage you have done to efforts to save lives.

Most editorials are well-researched. The simple fact that you did not investigate  this issue sufficiently is apparent from what you have published. You have every right to oppose the proposed Westport street vacation, but today's editorial fails because you do not demonstrate that you have studied this question with the attention it deserves. Please return to the research standards your readers expect. 

Vern Barnet




3.
On 7/20/2017 11:28 AM, [Name] wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to write.
I can assure you that the editorial was both well-researched and that conversations are on-going with many of the stakeholders.

And yes, the board is extremely interesting in hearing more from Mr. Kimbrough. I have stopped by his office and have left messages with his staff, specifically asking about views on the proposal for privatizing the streets. The last one, left several days ago by phone, was proposing the idea of him coming to meet with the editorial board, perhaps to do a Facebook live session as well. [emphasis added]

The issue of racial perception is a huge and has been a large part of the conversation.

Unfortunately, some African Americans have not felt welcome in Westport going back to issues (and subsequent lawsuits) that occurred in the 90's. It is an issue of extreme importance. One if the concerns with wanding people is that studies have shown that despite good protocols, disparate treatment often occurs. That is a topic that Westport stakeholders have discussed, among many. And there have been some really strong efforts to write in what are basically civil rights protections into the proposal.

Yes, as you say....security wands many not see color, but the people operating them do. It's more than just the wand, it's how they are used, what is said during use, what happens if someone announces that they do not want to be checked, how are pat-downs managed.

As you can see, just this one topic gets very complicated, very quickly.

The California non-profit is a new connection for the group. Some work is being done to learn more about how satisfied other cities were with their work, what the costs might be to go forward and engage with them, who would pay, etc. So it is a bit premature to delve in too heavy right now in an editorial.
There are also efforts to get more data from police, knowing what guns they might have been able to confiscate is a part of that conversation.

In short, there is much more to this than what can be conveyed in one editorial. A lot of very diligent work is being done by people who are extremely concerned about being fair, finding workable answers and ensuring the safety and security of Westport, its residents and the financial health of its businesses.

There will certainly be more that can and will be said on the situation as people work toward solutions.

[name]
Editorial Columnist
The Kansas City Star
1729 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
816-234-4752
[[name]@kcstar.com




4.
From: Vern Barnet <vern@cres.org>
Date: Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 12:54 PM
Subject: % Reply to [Name] Editorial on Westport street vacation
To and CC: [Editorial Board members] 

Dear [Name],

Thanks for taking the trouble to respond to my concern as you have. All I will say now is these five things, quickly -- 

(1) Without having successfully made the contact with Mr Kimbrough, for whom I understand you left a message yesterday, a few hours before the editorial appeared,  the editorial was very "premature," to use your word, 

(2) The editorial seemed to dismiss the serious efforts to deal with what you rightly recognize is a "complicated" (your word) problem with what many of us read as a snide and dismissive comment, "So, Westport stakeholders got creative . . . ."

(3) There is no plan for "pat-downs" such as you mention, which is a further evidence that your editorial is poorly researched. Your statement that it was researched further undermines the credibility of the editorial. You should have waited until you heard fully from all sides. Be fair.

(4) I'm surprised you suggest that more police data are necessary since so many have been studied and form much of the basis for the proposal.

(5) I'm glad you have the 90s in mind, but the care with which the merchants have approached the racial issue should receive your applause and congratulations, not prejudicial recollections.

For years I have admired your work, this present error will not diminish my admiration. Thank you again for letting me know you will continue to examine this situation.

Gratefully,
Vern 




5.
Reconciliation problem --

Since I received no  further response from the writer of the editorial, I remain perplexed by the apparent discrepancy in the material I have bolded above in items 3 and 4.

I do not know how to explain the difference between the report of the editorial writer that the writer contacted the Westport office several days earlier with the report that the only contact from The Star of any staff of the Wesport Regional Business League was a few hours before the editorial appeared, except for a single question from a reporter whose focus was on an unrelated matter a couple weeks earlier. 

Vern Barnet




6.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. THE LANSAS CITY STAR
JULY 29, 2017 

Westport safety

It’s a reckless idea for The Star to suggest in its July 20 editorial, “Westport streets must remain public,” (14A) that checking for weapons creates racial hostility. The Star is postulating that the gun-carrying culprits are of a distinct race and those people would view checking for guns as racist.

I applaud Westport for taking the initiative to do what is best for safety and to protect the people. The radical suggestion that safety isn’t paramount is a scary position and disregards doing the right thing to protect all people, regardless of color.

Pam Ptacek
 




7.
My submission to Letters to the Editor 

The Star's editorial board did not hear from the point person on street vacation from the Westport Regional Business League before its irresponsible editorial on the subject appeared. The wholesome purpose of street vacation is to make it possible for safe entertainment by eliminating guns. 

The editorial failed in many ways, including to report that the proposal presented to the community involved "privatization" only for week-ends from 11 pm to 4 am (and some other times, such as St Pat's Day), and most weeks the streets revert back to City ownership and control 158 hours of the 168 hours each week, 94% of the time. This is seems a significant detail The Star neglected. The citizens lose nothing and gain safety.

Vern Barnet
2017 July 29




8.

Dear [KCPT Kansas City Week in Review news reviewers]--

I regularly appreciate your keen insights when you appear on KCPT's KC Week in Review, but I remain disturbed by comments based on a poorly-researched July 20 KC Star editorial about proposed Westport street "privatizations." The fundamental fact that the streets would remain City streets 94% of the time most weeks was ignored, although Lynn's comments about week-ends seemed implicitly to recognize this, but it was not made clear at anytime on the program. Otherwise, your discussion was balanced and fair and useful. I wrote The Star complaining, and the surprising response from the writer of the editorial confirmed that the point person for the proposal was not consulted before the editorial appeared, and the variance between the writer's report of efforts to make that contact and the contact's record of such attempts further undermines the integrity of The Star's work on this issue. 

A letter in the paper this morning calling the editorial "reckless" rekindles my concerns, so below I am sending you this link to a page which contains
1. The editorial
2. My concerns about the editorial
3. The writer's disturbing response
4. My deepened concerns
5. My inability to reconcile the report of the Star writer with the report of the point person

Please do not depend upon a poorly-researched Star editorial for your own remarks when you appear on KCPT's KC Week in Review. I know [name] said there was quite a bit of discussion on the Star's editorial board about this, but it does not seem the discussion was informed by hearing from the merchants' point person, which would have been fair. [A different Name] seemed to be knowledgeable, but the essential point about the streets being "vacated" only 6 % of the time most weeks was not mentioned. (Frankly, I'm in usually bed between 11 pm and 4 am . . . . ) 

I welcome and respect a variety of views, including on this issue, but to mislead the public about the nature of the proposal by failing to report that the proposal routinely concerns only 10 hours of a 168-hour week is a disservice to those concerned about public safety. It is because I value and trust your work that I hope you will welcome my alerting you to the problems with the unfair and sloppy -- perhaps unconscionable -- way this particular editorial was produced. I am grateful to [Another Name] and KCPT for choosing to include this topic on KCWIR as so much misunderstanding about the proposal exists, and the discussion aired promotes the kind of attention this Westport problem deserves.

http://www.cres.org/pubs/map_westport.htm#Vacation
Respectfully yours,

Vern Barnet


The Kansas City Star 2017 August  15
GUEST COMMENTARY
Safety must be the first priority in Westport
BY FRANKLIN D. KIMBROUGH Special to The Star

For more than 25 years, the many local businesses in historic Westport have worked closely with the city of Kansas City and the Kansas City Police Department to ensure that people coming to the most authentic and pedestrian-oriented part of Kansas City feel safe. Such efforts have taken on many forms and multiple partnerships over the years, and most of these undertakings have proved successful — until just recently.

Unfortunately, the 150-plus locally owned and operated small businesses that fill Westport’s historic storefronts and line its narrow streets now have to deal with the fallout from our state’s new law that allows the carrying of concealed firearms in public places, including city streets where crowds gather late at night.

Recent state legislation has put Kansas City’s favorite and most venerable entertainment district between a rock and a hard place. We have long worked with the city to cordon off Westport’s core streets late at night on weekends in order to check IDs and ensure that everyone coming in to enjoy the district at that time of night is 21 or older.

Now that carrying firearms on the streets is legal for just about everyone, the threat of violence in Westport has become more real and pronounced. It cannot be mitigated by simply adding more police officers and security personnel. If we are to turn away this new and potentially deadly threat to Westport as we know it, we must think outside of the box. We must do whatever is possible to keep our patrons, visitors, neighbors and employees safe.

Localization — or privatization — of short portions of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue through closing streets during the late night hours (11 p.m. to 4 a.m.) on the weekends and during the larger Westport special events such as St. Patrick’s Day will allow security personnel to scan for and disallow weapons in the entertainment district during the late night and early morning hours when gunplay has become a serious concern.

In the world that we live in today, and especially here in Missouri, the vast majority of people understand that keeping large crowds in confined spaces safe should be a primary objective. Almost all sports stadiums, airports, most government buildings (including City Hall) and even some amusement parks now regularly scan for weapons before anyone can enter. Why should the narrow historic streets of Westport be treated any differently with regards to prohibiting firearms when large crowds gather to socialize?

Our proposal to privatize (and pay to care for) portions of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue through street closing will not in any way change the way the streets function during daylight and early evening hours. The only difference is that firearms will be prohibited and those wishing to enter the already-closed streets (late at night or during major festivals) will have to be scanned for weapons.

If another legal way to keep guns out of the large crowds that gather in Westport several nights each week existed, the businesses and property owners in Westport would readily embrace it. Unfortunately, no other option has been found.

Privatization of these small streets in order to prohibit weapons needs to move forward before more young lives are lost and Westport as we now know it is gone forever.

Franklin D. Kimbrough is executive director of the Westport Regional Business League.


Vern's follow-up to The Star's Editorial Board

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Dear Editorial Board--

Thank you for following up your 2017 July 20 Editorial, "WESTPORT STREETS MUST REMAIN PUBLIC: Privatizing streets isn’t the solution to Westport crime problem," with today's "Safety must be the first priority in Westport" by Mr Kimbrough. I also watched your half-hour session with the very sparsely attended editorial board meeting with him. Thank you for making that available electronically. 

I hope this interaction will encourage the editorial board to adhere to its usual standards of doing proper research before writing in the name of the paper. I remain astonished that the editorial appeared just a few hours after messages were left for Mr Kimbrough and before he had a chance to respond to provide information about the proposed street vacation.

I still think the headline for your editorial was grossly misleading, as was the text itself, in failing to note that most weeks, the issue involves six per cent of the time, not a 100% take-over by the business group from City ownership, that most weeks the streets revert back to City ownership and control 158 hours of the 168 hours each week, The nicest word I can think of to describe this omission is "sloppy." 

By misrepresenting the situation, your editorial neglected to weigh the value of human lives against an unidentified "range of ideas" -- and perpetuated a racist narrative where none need exist, exacerbating instead of solving problems.

Those of us who live in Westport, and love Westport, and who are concerned about this safety issue, are grateful for your giving Mr Kimbrough a chance to outline the well-considered and detailed street vacation proposal accurately.

Vern Barnet
 

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================================
Select Editorial Board members
mfannin@kcstar.com, cnelson@kcstar.com, dhelling@kcstar.com, skraske@kcstar.com, mhenneberger@kcstar.com, msanchez@kcstar.com
============
KCPT JCWIR
"Dave Helling" <dhelling@kcstar.com>
"Lynn Horsley" <lhorsley@kcstar.com>
"Steve Vockrodt <svockrodt@kcstar.com>
"Barbara Shelly Only_Pitch_Email_I_Can_Find" <tips@pitch.com>
"Nick! Haines" <Nick_Haines@kcpt.org>
=========
Westport Merchants
Kim Kimbrough <kim@wrbl.org>