Hearne: Quoth the Raven, ‘Restaurant Inspections Are Vital’

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Jay Leno & Ray LaMar

Here’s a funny one…

Did hear the one about the chicken that – hold it -I mean, the column that Kansas City Star “public editor” Derek Donovan wrote about the importance of the restaurant inspection reports business reporter Joyce Smith runs regularly in the newspaper?

Perhaps you’ve seen them? Too bad for you if you haven’t because they’re “vital,” Donovan purports. I’ve got a question for the D Dog:

If running those mini vignettes about the restaurant workers who get dinged for not wearing hairnets or touching something with a bare hand are so indispensable, how come nobody at the newspaper thought to publish them until I spanked Smith for blowing a front page story about the closing of the fabled LaMar’s Donuts?

It was exactly 10 years ago this month that Smith reported that LaMar had closed his crusty, converted gas station donut Mecca in midtown because – as she reported – “The Lamars say they’re just plain worn out.”

“Health problems are forcing them to retire,” Smith continued.

Not so fast

Health Department problems turned out to be the actual culprit.

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Arthur Bryant

For years and years LaMar’s had run a nasty-beyond-belief operation with countless Health Department violations. Some of the specifics were so horrid that – combined with the fact that LaMar had become practically a white Arthur Bryant media darling in KC – my editor decided they would be too gross (and too cruel) to describe them.

Unfortunately for Smith – not having looked into those health records at all – she had not a clue and was embarrassed beyond belief when six days later my column headlined, “A hole in the LaMar’s doughnut story” appeared in the Star.

“The real reason LaMar‘s Donuts at 240 E. Linwood closed down July 8,” it began. “After a decade with dozens of health violations – filth, fruit flies, pest feces and sundry others – the Kansas City Health Department dropped the hammer on the legendary biz.

“Due to the unsanitary conditions that pose an imminent health hazard to the public – KCMO Food Code Book 8-404.11 – health permit has been suspended immediately,” the report read. “When a health permit is suspended, all food service operations shall immediately cease.”

Smith – and now laid off Star editor Rick Babson – were devastated.

Babson emailed my editor declaring that by my reporting the real reason for LaMar’s closing I had done Smith a grievous wrong. Obviously they were pretty much alone in that thinking since my column had flown past a bank of Star editors prior to being published – including the editor Mark Zieman.

Screen shot 2013-08-09 at 9.51.35 AMWhat’s all of this have to do with Donovan’s missive about restaurant inspection reports being vital?

Because ever since Smith established a practice of checking in regularly with Kansas and Missouri side health departments and publishing her findings in the Star.

I’d call it a bit of an overreaction because most of those “reports” are pretty mundane. And as often as not they’re about nondescript, minor league eateries of little or no interest to the vast majority of Star readers.

Hey, but you never know when you might stumble onto a gem – that needle in the haystack – that could save an embarrassing front page error.

So yeah, I guess you could call them “vital” 

Donovan, on the other hand, doesn’t have a clue about any of this, but he’s got to write about something.

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13 Responses to Hearne: Quoth the Raven, ‘Restaurant Inspections Are Vital’

  1. Libertarian says:

    Hearne, if there were two words that ever belonged in the same sentence, its ‘Donovan’, and ‘clueless’.

    • JayhawkTony says:

      Not to mention, Donovan is a disrespectful asshole when it comes to requests related to factual errors in the paper. This douchebag actually called my boss after I called him one day when I complained about some events/dates related to my company were screwed up. My boss basically told Donovan to eat shit and threatened to pull all our advertising via our ad rep if things weren’t corrected and/or made good…

      • admin says:

        He basically refused to correct an incorrect assertion that Mike Hendicks attributed to Nigro that was flatly wrong.

        Unlike past reader reps – forget Donovan’s trendy new title of Public Editor – bogusly cloned from Art Brisbane’s at the New York Times – unlike past readers reps (I played one on a couple of occasions at the Star) Donovan’s primary mission is to defend the realm. In effect he’s more the “newspaper’s rep” than the readers.

        Writers and editors feared and respected past reader reps because whensomebody complained or questioned something, the rep came right after the reporter and//or editor. Frankly, it was almost a case of guilty until you could prove yourself innocent. Donovan generally takes the opposite tack unless it’s a completely obvious error such as a misspelled name.

    • John Altevogt says:

      Bingo, the only words possibly more appropriate would be “Donovan” and “Stalinist”.

  2. LET GO says:

    Letting Go

    To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring,
    it means I can’t do it for someone else.

    To let go is not to cut myself off,
    it’s the realization that I can’t control another.

    To let go is not to enable,
    but to allow learning from natural consequences.

    To let go is to admit powerlessness,
    which means the outcome is not in my hands.

    To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
    I can only change myself.

    To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

    To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

    To let go is not to judge,
    but to allow another to be a human being.

    To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
    but to allow others to effect their own outcomes.

    To let go is not to be protective,
    but to permit another to face reality.

    To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

    To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
    but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.

    To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
    but to take each day as it comes, and to cherish the moment.

    To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
    but to become the best I can be.

    To let go is not to regret the past,
    but to grow and live for the future.

  3. Sargent Shriver Stedenko says:

    I like to write lil’ D when they omit the race of at-large suspects in stories and ask him what is missing. His deceptive answers are quite telling.

    • Here's why says:

      Because racist morons virtually line up to spew offensive garbage, even when they use favorite code words like “thugs” or “ghetto.” That’s why they leave it out, and that’s why comments on stories are disabled on other stories: people can’t control their racism.

      Glad I could straighten that little issue out for you. Now you can leave him alone.

      • Sergent Shriver Stedenko says:

        If they are at large and are asking for public help in apprehension, why would you leave out the major identifying characteristic? Otherwise you are just taking up space.

        KCPD releases the races of suspects. The Star just omits them.

      • expat says:

        Yeah god forbid anyone notice the factual patterns of crime and draw any conclusions about it. Keep lying to them instead! The purpose of the KC Star should be to keep readers in the dark.

        Your kind if thinking is why the star has lost relevancy and will shutter before long.

  4. admin says:

    Honestly you guys, I don’t think the Star brass have any idea how Derek treats people.

    Many people at the newspaper do, but it hasn’t risen to the top apparently, because with his temperament, he’s the last person that should be dealing with complaints from readers.

    He labeled former Stareditor Jim Fitzpatrick a Star Basher several years ago after Fitz called to ask one tough question. And as anybody who follows Jimmy C undoubtedly knows, he compliments the Star far and away more than he critiques it.

    Here’s a tip to any Star editors who may be reading this:

    The Double D totally loses it way too often with readers to be charged with representing them. or dealing with them at all. Let him stick to music and theater reviews, “social media” and have an answering service take and type up the complaints for newsroom employees to review and/or respond to.

    It’ll be far less painful for the readership

  5. cu_member says:

    One of the classics–the reason there are so many errors and typos is because is due to staff cuts. That is an acceptable reason for getting things wrong in the newspaper according to the Star’s ‘public editor’.

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