Senior Leverhulme Research Fellow, Department of Sociology
University of Warwick, Coventry, England
RE: The Land of “Ahs”
Thank you for your note. I can’t wait to “break bread” with you upon your return to these shores. The reference line above is both a play on words (Kansas as “OZ,” as in the Wizard of Oz and an allusion to a particularly egregious corporate welfare scheme wherein local politicians and out-of-state promoters would feed at the public trough by developing an amusement park on a toxic waste site, at tax-payer expense!
This project is a perfect metaphor for the Moderate Machine in “Jo-Co.” I don’t know why, except for reasons of political convenience, any of the good earnest liberals who make up the Mainstream Coalition would want to get in bed with these Grand Masters of Crony Capitalism.
Consider the following acts by people who have been part of the Mod-Squad:
David Adkins-Identified by the Naderite Center for Public Integrity as the poster boy for self-dealing. Held various no-show jobs for local organizations controlled by the Moderate Machine after steering millions in government and foundation funds to his wife’s “Youth Friends.” (See also Lisa Adkins.)
Charles Carlsen-Long time head of the Johnson County Community College. Serial sexual harasser whose sordid past was revealed by student whistle-blowers. Leant the prestige and authority of the College to the “Johnson Countian of the Year Award,” which was passed around over the years between members of the Mod-Squad.
Stephen Cloud-The deep-pockets behind the Mod-Squad. Pioneered creative interpretation of campaign finance laws to get tax exempt money into local political races.
Dick Bond-“El Jefe,” the head honcho for many years of the Mod-Squad, a State Senator, lawyer, and banker. Engineered coup d’etat whereby liberal Republican and long-time state senator Norman Gaar was “defenestrated” in order to take the lucrative municipal bond opinion work away for Gaar’s law office and give it to a political ally. (So much for ideology) After the Kansas Speedway went through, deposits at Bond’s bank soared.
Ed Eilert-Long time mayor of Overland Park. Only the favored few could get rezoning through the Overland Park City Commission, which detennined if development ground along College Boulevard would go from $2.00/square foot to 520.00/square foot overnight. Faced a potential rival in bid for U.S. Congress. It was later discovered that O.P. Police Department had run illegal criminal background check on rival. Police Chief, Myron Scaife, makes tearful confession in Maoist style self-criticism session, resigns, and shortly thereafter was appointed with/wife to Kansas Racing Commission. Eilert is now head of Board of County Commissioners, where he continues to work his special magic.
Larry Winn, III – Lawyer, son of long-time U.S. Congressman Larry Winn, Jr. (Chief-Of-Staff, Dick Bond!). Rezoning wizard, especially in Overland Park. Brags that he could get six-figures for handling a successful rezoning hearing before O.P. City Commission that typically lasts two hours. Called press conference to disclose files from KU Med. Center to discredit political opponent. More recently votes to close Mission Valley Middle School as member of Shawnee Mission School Board (sold to corporate client of his old law finn). Project now subject to fierce battle in Prairie Village. As a result, Winn was defeated in bid to join Eilert on the County Commission. Friends blame “Tea Partiers,” “Members of The Radical Religious Right,” and “Extremists.”
Why can’t anyone on The Mainstream Coalition, who, I repeat, are honest, decent liberals whose beliefs I respect, see that these people are an albatross around their necks? If these people are the face of “Political Moderation,” who would want any part of it? Say what you will about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and the Kochs. They rid us of these kleptocrats that have run the County and State so long by booting them out of control of the State Senate.
It’s like the Arab Spring. Do you ally yourself with radicals in the hope of getting rid of an entrenched dictatorship on the theory that you might get something better? Or do you let the Old Guard continue to run things for fear of getting something worse? That is the quandary voters here are in!
If you tell me that “moderates” (formerly—until 1994—happy to be known as liberals) will put up with these buffoons because their tax and spend policies keep the K.N.E.A. happy and they don’t have the right wing’s positions on social issues, I’ll call it a day. Just don’t pretend that none of these things happened or that the rest of us have to make the same cynical calculation or risk being labeled as “extremists.”
Very truly yours,
Dwight Sutherland, Jr.