Remember that wive’s tale about bad things coming in threes?
Let’s do an audit…there’s Walt Bodine dying, the KC Strip trolley going bye-bye, (don’t think I’ve forgotten about the letting you guys in on the racist situation that lead to the Strip’s getting its ticket punched by the Power & Light District) and today’s news about former KC mayor Charles Wheeler and his wife getting bounced from their $600,000-plus mansion for being two years behind on their (reverse) mortgage payments.
Make no mistake, it’s a sad day for Kansas City when political boss and real estate magnate Jim Nutter Sr. has to pull the plug on a former mayor for being what almost appears as destitute.
And kudos to Nutter for putting up with two years of having to pay Wheeler’s taxes for him. It’s abundantly clear that Nutter more than bent over backwards to be kind to Wheeler and to try and allow him to save face at a time when he’s clearly down on his luck.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine who might ride to Wheeler’s rescue now.
Short of a grassroots campaign lead by ??? to raise enough money to keep Wheeler afloat, the future does not look bright for the 86 year-old KC icon.
He’s one of Kansas city’s most colorful and powerful people ever.
Make that once powerful, but still colorful. I mean, think about it.
There was the time Wheeler wrestled a bear when he was mayor. Wrestled a bear. It wasn’t a life or death clash – more like the WWE – but the very fact that he did it speaks volumes as to what a character the former mayor was. Not to mention an odd duck.
And come to think of it, maybe the state of Wheeler’s fiances explains his continually running for office well into his 70s and now 80s.
“What could possibly be the impetus for Wheeler, already a doctor, lawyer and stockbroker, wanting to re-enter local politics?” I asked in 2000 after Wheeler announced that he would run at age 75 for Harry Wiggins Missouri State Senate seat.
For crying out loud, the MD had only just passed his Series 7 stock jock exam a year before.
Wheeler’s rep as one of the town’s most colorful characters was driven home years ago by former Pembroke Hill instructor Ralph Wedin.
“I had him as a first-grader in physical-ed,” Wedin told me. “I brought the boys back to their teacher once, when I noticed a loose ball on the playground. ”
When Wedin asked Wheeler to get the ball, the 6-year-old refused. Again Wedin asked, and again Wheeler refused.
“He put his hands akimbo, looked at me and said, `I won’t do it. I stand on my constitutional rights,’ ” Wedin recalled. “He was just as stubborn as a mule…just like when he was the mayor of Kansas City. ”
That old mule sure could use a helping hand…