Sutherland: No More Mr. Nice Guy; Steve Rose Bears Thorns


R. Crosby Kemper III

“Afterwards, you rue the fact that you’ve been so kind.”

Adolph Hitler, April 27,1945. (Last recorded remarks)

R. Crosby Kemper, III has done an outstanding job running the Kansas City Missouri Public Library. He’s overseen the upgrading of library facilities throughout the city (particularly in African- American neighborhoods, winning many friends in that community). And he’s seen to it that the collections have been brought into the digital age. Finally, Kemper has brought in a variety of guest speakers, authors of books reflecting the complete spectrum of public opinion.

In July, Kemper hosted Heywood Sanders, a professor from the University of Texas. Sanders spoke about his book, “The Convention Center Follies.” In a witty and erudite address, Sanders convincingly demonstrated that the promoters of downtown hotel and convention center projects had failed to deliver the promised results.

As in Kansas City this summer, the advocates of tax-payer subsidies to such projects subscribe to the notion of “build it and they will come.” Sanders pointed to the recent experiences of such projects in St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, and San Antonio, to show empirically why this is a fallacy.

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsides, all these hotel and convention center deals failed miserably. None of the projected increases in room occupancy and convention visitors had materialized as predicted. All these deals were disasters financially for the cities which had agreed to underwrite them, all based on dubious projections provided by the same three or four consultants.

If insanity is really defined as doing the same thing over and over, each time hoping for a different result, the people pushing the projects need to be checked for in for some quality time in Fulton or Ossawatomie. Of course they really don’t expect these deals to work, and why should they care as long as they collect their millions of dollars in consulting, bond underwriting, and legal fees?

Professor Sanders asked one of these consultants how many of his projections used to justify subsides from local governments on these projects actually came to pass. He claimed not to know what his track record was as far as whether they succeeded.

10991181_656227184505627_1285982591976167133_nThe KC Star was understandably upset that someone had so persuasively debunked one of their pet projects. (The folks down at the Star have taken a principled stand against special tax breaks for businesses unless the business happens to be the Kansas City Star itself or linked to the politicians the Star backs.)

They immediately sicced Steve Rose on Kemper for daring to rain on their parade.

In a monumentally adolescent piece published a few days afterwards, Rose accused RCK III of being in a rage and improperly using the library as a forum to promote his personal interests!

Hannah Arendt, the brilliant political theorist, said that a favorite tactic of totalitarians is to discredit people who dare to publicly disagree with you by attributing to them base and dishonest motives. In other words, in Arendt’s memorable phrase, you turn questions of fact into questions of motive.

Steve Rose and the other munchkins at the paper are masters of this device.

In fact, Little Stevie Wonder qualifies as a latter day Willi Muenzenberg, the chief propagandist for the Comintern (Communist International) in the 30’s. Despite his Marxist beliefs, Willi M. spent much of his time during the Spanish civil war – when he should have been running Communist propaganda efforts – partying in the south of France. He would drive from one five star restaurant to another in a series of expensive sports cars (not unlike a Rose-by-any-other-name, cruising around Mission Hills in his Porsche Cayenne).

Kemper is charged with looking out for the well-being of the public institution he is running. If he sees the tax base which supports the institution being eroded so political insiders can indulge in private gain, he should speak out. He should also allow experts to speak on the issues of the day. The Star should not be permitted to monopolize public discussion, deciding which points of view can be heard.

Anyone who has followed the programs of  the KCMO Public Library knows that a wide range of views, on every conceivable topic, are presented through a dazzling array of events. (This is in striking contrast to The Star’s increasingly monochromatic hue, i.e. Code Pink.)

Will the "real" Ed Eilert please stand up

Will the “real” Ed Eilert please stand up

As silly as Steverino’s column was, it reads like Edmund Burke or Ralph Waldo Emerson next to the other Star pieces on the controversy. Dave Helling said Kemper had a lot of nerve criticizing the convention hotel proposal when he was the head of a “socialist” entity like a public library. (Helling said that libraries are not typically government functions since there are lots of private libraries open to the general public. Uh, where?)

My rejoinder is that public libraries are inherently a government function, just like police and fire protection, building and maintaining streets and roads, etc. Financing a hotel is not, thus Helling’s comment is misplaced. Also misplaced was a cheap shot from The Star, quoting a library volunteer complaining that the library was acting so quickly to update and modernize its collections that surplus books had to be disposed of rather than given a new home.

Our head librarian is a book burner!

Consider by way of contrast Rose and the Star’s portrayal of a real angry man, Johnson County Satrap for Life, Ed Eilert. In a long and inglorious career Eilert has systematically trashed the reputation of political opponents. His supporters have illegally gained access to peoples’ confidential records (e.g. the Overland Park Police Department, the KU Medical Center) in order to find damaging information against them. All this was done with Rose’s enthusiastic support because of all the legal notice publication fees that the City of Overland Park paid Rose’s Sun Newspapers. When Rose’s Democratic opponent for Mayor pointed out that The Sun didn’t have the paid circulation required by state law to publish such notices, Steve paid $50,000 of his own money to bolster Eilert’s reelection prospects, running radio ads likening Eilert to Abraham Lincoln. (I always thought he looked more like the character “Lurch” on the Addams Family than Daniel Day Lewis as Honest Abe, but no matter.)

Most recently, Steve wrote an opinion piece lauding Eilert for standing up to the “bullies” who had the temerity to oppose Eilert’s request for yet another increase in Johnson County real estate taxes. When I saw this, I thought of the county official whose wife miscarried about the time of a particularly savage attack on his competence and integrity by Rose (“He should be indicted!”). I thought of another county official who committed suicide after word leaked out that the Chief of the O.P. Police Department had run a criminal background check on a potential primary opponent of Eilert’s.

Who’s the “enraged” one, Rose or Kemper? Who are the bullies, Rose and Eilert? Or those who dare to oppose them?

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39 Responses to Sutherland: No More Mr. Nice Guy; Steve Rose Bears Thorns

  1. Mind-Boggled says:

    Can anyone explain to me how this convention deal is anything other than socialism? They are taking money from other hotel operators, to those hotels substantiated and documented detriment (Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, Drury), in order to give the money to a direct competitor (Hyatt). It is absolutely mind boggling, and is the anti-capitalism, it is nothing other than taking from one, causing irreparable harm that is without question, and giving to another more favored company.

    • the dude says:

      Nah, this is capitalist-led bureaucracy run amok. They seem to think public coffers are free welfare funds for the corporations while public infrastructure and schools suffer.

      • Mind-Boggled says:

        No this is redistribution of wealth, led by Sly James. Sly James political affiliations have always been questionable, and this gives some insight into his true feelings on American Democracy and Capitalism. These are the type of tactics that are proposed and supported by one Bernie Sanders.

    • kriskle says:

      Oh, I don’t know. Probably under the theory that all hotels will benefit from increased convention business attracted by the fact that we finally have enough hotel beds to handle the really big conventions? And thus, the people who benefit the most should be the ones who pay?

      Nah, can’t be that.

      • Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. says:

        You make a valid point but the whole tenor of Sanders’s remarks was that the same theory had been tried in recent years in four other cities and had not worked,to put to mildly. A big reason is that attendance at conventions has declined dramatically after 9-11 and the 2008-2009 recession.The American Dental Association had 55,000 attendees twenty years ago,35,000 ten years ago,and 20,000 last year.Chasing convention business these days is a chimera.

        • the dude says:

          Chasing conventions is a waste if you are not LA, Vegas, New York or Miami. People do not get excited about attending a convention in KC.

      • Mind-Boggled says:

        Kriskle, your point would make sense if not for the fact that PRIVATE money is flowing into the city to build hotels. There is no need for an inflexible behemoth. Marriott, Hilton, and smaller companies are currently building smaller hotels adding almost 500 rooms downtown due to open this year. All privately financed.

    • Frank says:

      Corporate capitalists wouldn’t be the corporate capitalists they are if they didn’t ask for socialist handouts (TIF). Everybody knows that.

  2. Mind-Boggled says:

    Under penalty of law, and with the full weight of their governmental powers, the City is compelling one business to charge their customers a tax in order to benefit a competing company. This tax is so targeted that its bias against one company in favor of another is undeniable.

  3. So every time I hear some politician or other slimeball use the melodramatic cliche, “[insert opponent’s name] is gonna RUE THE DAY…,” I should now give them props for channeling their inner Hitler? Good to know. Now, if I could just find a way to link use of the word “robust” to some murderous dictator, I’d be all set.

  4. Libertarian says:

    Red flag #1: They wont let the tax base vote on whether or not we want this.

    • the dude says:

      Oh heeeeeell no! Can’t have the tax paying public have a say on this epic boondoggle! Too many piggies at the public trough to feed!

    • Mind-Boggled says:

      Correct me if I am wrong. But you are not the “tax base” unless you live in a hotel or rental car. The initial outlay is being financed by the Convention & Tourism Tax, which is assessed on hotel rooms and rental cars. Which is why “The Dude” is wrong in his critique of my assessment above.

      Kansas City has a hotel tax of over 20% in some parts of the City, and some rental cars have taxes near 50%. These taxes, that hurt customer satisfaction, and hurt the business of current hotels is being used to build a competitor.

  5. hou eaarley says:

    just more b.s. from the thieves.
    Would you rather cut off the trillions of dollars floated overseas illegally
    to other countries like the Bahamas/Switzerland/cayman etc. that the
    corporations are stealing from u.s. taxpayers or have thatv money to finance
    the largest boom times in American history.
    sorry southy…you and your ilk have no right to tell us whether or what we
    should do with our tax dollars.
    OF US HAVE TO DO………….

    • Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. says:

      H-Man,I wish you had been there on July 21st to hear Professor Sanders. The crowd included everyone from the Occupy Kansas City types to several c.e.o.s. This disgust with crony capitalism cuts across party and ideological lines. I don’t know why you think I have any role in multi-national corporations hiding money off-shore or why that problem means we shouldn’t focus on our local corruption right here in River City. I also don’t think my post touched on federal tax policy or international trade.I think if you would stop and think and not just reflexively attack you would find yourself in agreement with me on this point.

  6. chuck says:

    Excellent article imo.

  7. chuck says:

    So your Boyeeeee, Steve Rose was on RUCKUS. The panelists all discussed the sale of the Plaza by Highwoods. Deftly pirouetting around the issue of thugs running violently rampant in the Plaza Shopping Area with code words and insinuation, they all lied right into the camera and Pollyanna’d their way through the topic, until, at one point, Mr. Rose blamed the sale on the city not allowing Highwoods to rent to a Tesla Dealership. I sh*t you not.

    It’s morning on the Plaza.

    • No Chuck, it’s “mourning” on the Plaza.

      • uhou eaarley says:

        DONT KNOW….if someone wanted to put a tesla dealershipon the plaza there must be something good happening down there. they must be getting some big dollar buyers down there…not
        the hobos from kcc.
        tesla is 120K….and the place to put a dealership in on the
        plaza…too bad…those cars are going to change the world along with musk’s home unit battery.
        plaza was packed the other night….stay away chuck…
        SUGAR BEAR.
        the plaze will be around long after you’re gone!!!! guaranteed!

  8. CFPCowboy says:

    Fantastic article, just after the Kansas City Star stole 15 million from Kansas City taxpayers in the form of a TIF extension. Now, the University of Missouri Chancelor has gone a little overboard by requiring racial training of every student and faculty member because someone used a racial slur. In the meantime, at another facility of higher education, a professor refers to a Presidential candidate as a “coon”. Enough of this. I was afraid to use my expletive deleted “f word” rant for fear the masses would publicly punish my sex education teacher for obviously not really explaining the meaning of the word. It is more of a case of I can talk that way because I have a just cause, like Obama using taxpayer money to fly to Oregon to console the families who lost loved ones to gun violence, even though the community doesn’t want him there. I just hope he gets the right residences as it wouldn’t look good for him to trespass without a warrant. At one White House Press Dinner, I once heard a President say that the ends justified the means, and, just for Harley, I can say it wasn’t Nixon. In thinking about it, the ends never justify the means, as your enemies are entitled to the same argument. So, from Goebels saying “God is on our side,” in the Longest Day, it may hurt when somebody says something you do not like, but our Constitution gives them the right to make a fool of themselves, whether it is race, sex, or any other speech. It is well passed time that we stop impuning the motives of people, based on political correctness. I am a proud follower of the First Amendment, but I weigh my speech carefully, as more than judging a situation, I understand that I am judged by it. In sales, we are taught to listen, something that our officials, public and private, seem to have forgotten, whether it be espousing gun control to the NRA, or Congress, that in the last August vacation, finally listened to constituents, resulting in the challege faced by the House. Perhaps, we need to celebrate the fact that Mr. Kemper did something, helped out the library and accomplished what many were not willing to do, bringing alternative points of view to the public. I do not look for motives, but I am the fool if I do not listen.

  9. Jack Springer says:

    Liberals do not want dissent of any kind. Conservatives have been banned from many college campuses now.

    Rose attempt at being a newspaper publisher failed because of his elitist positions. How the Star can continue to pay this loser after firing so many able people is beyond normal thought.

    • Mike T. says:

      They still have Jenee’, so a big waste of newsprint is apparently of no concern to them.

    • uhou eaarley says:

      what universities ban conservatives…ya hear that on newsmax or
      drug report?
      as far as rose…he and his family made millions…millionsof dollars off the
      sun. I’m sure he won’t starveif the star doesn’t payhim.
      He/stanand Shirley were pioneers here in kc.
      please stfu because you know nothing of what you’re talking about.
      The sun was a big big moneymaker as were their other papers…they
      sold out and mademillions.
      what have youdone lately mr springer? sold boxes?

      • Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. says:

        Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Condoleeza Rice were prevented from speaking at Brandeis,Yale,Rice and Rutgers.(Interesting that even black women are silenced if they are conservative.) On your second point,Steve sold The Sun for big money to an out-of-state buyer who just assumed it would be a gold mine,given the demographics of JoCo,even though it had been hemorrhaging money for a long time. That turned out to be as big a pipe dream as these convention hotel schemes. Several years later the new owners,having rejected MY approach to buy the struggling paper on behalf of a group of prospective purchasers,shut it down,losing their entire investment.Steve Rose is a prime example of the”bigger fool theory” long as there is a bigger fool to sell something to,you’re golden!

  10. paulwilsonkc says:

    Nice read, kind sir….

  11. John Altevogt says:

    While The Star has correctly been denounced for being a left-wing propaganda rag, those familiar with these metro area establishment scams to loot the public treasury will also recognize that shilling for them and the establishment’s lackeys trumps ideology every time in a community JFK Jr.’s magazine denounced as one of its Top 10 corrupt.

    Take for example The Star’s endorsement of Cleaver over the squeaky clean Jamie Metzyl at a time when Cleaver had more baggage than a passenger train. Or try and figure out using any other explanation The Star’s endorsement of a felon convicted for public corruption over a former community college president for a seat on the KCKCC board. And my personal favorite, an endorsement of a conservative state senator for the first time ever when she got on board with the latest establishment scam in JOCO. You could literally sense the columnist throwing up in their mouth at the end of each sentence.

    It has been thus at the Star ever since the tenure of Art Brisbane who, emulating his namesake, mouthed socialist platitudes out of one side of his mouth whilst serving as the lawn jockey at the River Club in real life. Under Mi-Ah Parrish we no longer see front page “news” explaining the Civic Council’s latest goals, absent any explanation of who, or what, exactly the Civic Council is, or a reason why the citizens of KCMO should give a hoot in hell what they think to begin with. But then again Parrish is leaving and the same disgusting establishment shills will still be cranking out the editorials. Heil Barb, heil Yael, and heil Dave and Steve and …

    In essence, both The Star and The Sun are/were little more than handmaidens to corruption. Today, The Star savages Kemper in KCMO for not supporting the hotel scam. In WYCO they support the boondoggles of the feckless Mark Holland while trying to slime the reputation and real world accomplishments of Ann Murguia. And in ever sleazy JOCO they continue to protect Eilert and his $18 million gift of the King Louie project to the parasites feeding off that homage to JOCO’s superior ability to loot the tax payer’s pocketbook. Whores by any other name…

  12. miket. says:

    unrelated… noticed a Mike T. posting. to help readers avoid confusion (should you even care), i post with lower case m and t.

    i believe this may be an outward sign of a suppressed sense of low self-esteem, that I’m somehow not worthy of capital letters.

  13. Stomper says:

    Good piece, Dwight. To read that an esteemed conservative like yourself would actually put in writing that the duties of government include not only the building and maintaining the nation’s infrastructure and providing for emergency responders, but also expressing that libraries are public institutions that are deserving of governmental support warm’s this liberals’ heart. You actually staked out a position to the left of the Star’s Dave Helling. 🙂

    • John Altevogt says:

      Not really, Helling is a whore who assumes whatever position The Star tells him to take while Dwight is a principled thinker whose arguments are based on the common good. (See my comment above re The Star as handmaiden to corruption.)

      • Stomper says:

        “based on the common good” ?????

        Careful, John, that phrase sounds like it’s right from the playbook of the Progressive Left. 🙂

  14. CFPCowboy says:

    I think as Dwight pointed out, Chris used the assets well in providing for added infrastructure, but not just infrastructure for the sake of building something, but needed changes. What is unconscionable today is spending for spending’s sake, including a 92 million furniture allowance at EPA. The big argument I have against the naysayers of Chris’s work and guidance is that the critics usually don’t contribute. For those who think it is their job to stand back and direct the indians, is that we indians are not afraid to take the scalps of “so called” chiefs. Want to criticise? Try getting your hands dirty.

  15. chuck says:

    “The duties of government” is a hell of a gig, if you can get it.

    A 92 million dollar furniture allowance is a drop in a galaxy sized bucket full of the coin of the realm, er…, taxes we all pay to keep these pukes in power and control the “boots on the ground” enforcement of the laws that only benefit the left.

    “In 2014 federal civilian workers had an average wage of $84,153, according the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).5 By comparison, the average wage for the nation’s 111 million private-sector workers was $56,350. Figure 1 shows that average federal wages grew rapidly for a decade, then slowed during the recent partial pay freeze, and then started rising again in 2014.

    When benefits such as health care and pensions are included, the federal compensation advantage over private workers is even larger, according to the BEA data. In 2014 total federal compensation averaged $119,934, or 78 percent more than the private-sector average of $67,246, as shown in Figure 2”

    The corrupt Federal Government will never enforce laws against Sanctuary cities, because immigrants illegal and legal, vote Democratic and the Fed is chocked full of Liberals. Lois Lerner, a categorically proven felon that broke laws in pursuit of destroying conservatives and aiding and abetting the ongoing malodorous malfeasance of the Obama administration, collects a huge pension and the accolades of Fascist Kleptocrats who laugh up their sleeves at the Rule of Law and encourage the despicable behavior of apparatchiks like Johnathan Gruber.

    Guys like Gruber, populate and run, at the behest of Liberals, our corrupt Federal Government, soup to fu*king nuts. If there are conservatives in the Federal Government, they are around 15% tops. The enforcement of the law, is, from those RICH, anonymous, Liberal Federal workers, who will never, in an unbiased manner, enforce laws against their own.

  16. Beverly Gossage says:

    Thank you to Crosby Kemper III for presenting facts and balanced opinions at your library events. We all benefit when open discourse is fostered.

  17. Rainbow Man says:

    Kemper has done an awesome job with the library and his events/ lectures there are an enhancement to our community… They are accessible…. much unlike the ridiculous arts and charity ball crowd events. There are some very, very, very cool rich people in this town… and then there are the pretenders… and the hangers on. So Kemper has earned the right to a bullhorn in the library every now and again. The Star is chock full of a bunch of over-educated and underpaid wonks who take themselves WAY too seriously. I had to stop watching Nick Haines and Ruckus along time ago. The real leaders in this city are too busy working and making real things happen to sit around and commiserate with these cultural elites.

    • chuck says:


      If I have any criticism of Crosby, it is only his predilection for setting his face on his hand on camera. I love the guy, but that posture, to me, reflects an attitude of the pecuniarily insouciant, which, while not noticed, or articulated by many, seems to me, to be insulting in a man of power.

      Probably just me, but, in my opinion, even a devil like Eli Gold, would correct.

  18. Hot Carl says:

    Steve Rose is, and always has been, a punk who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and has somehow lived off his old man’s good name all these years.

  19. Tracy Thomas says:

    Dwight Sutherland, you are a local treasure. Thanks for revealing many truths here. I also appreciate the depth of debate here–kind of shows that sometimes the boy commenters on this site actually have some intellectual depth. Altevogt, you are being way to cryptic here–name names of candidates, etc. Otherwise, busy folks have no way to form an opinion about folks like Eilert, because nobody ever read the Star or studied the news or history like you and Sutherland.

    As for King Louie, the total hustle of tax dollars is $32 million, not $18 million. You cannot delete the first $4.5 million, to buy the building and remove the asbestos from Eilert’s buddies, rescuing it from condemnation and the seller and the bank from a huge loss. A year later, when the county Nor can you ignore the exorbitant cost of interest that we are paying on the $22 million rehab, which takes it to $32 million. That interest on the bonds is 3.5% to $4%. Because they were lease purchase investment bonds. Available only to the 1%ers who had inside contacts with a handful of bond houses–and not the general public, and only in packages of mostly a minimum of $10 grand, for 10, 15 or 20 years. A great payoff, guaranteed by the county. Those bonds sold out to the insiders in a matter of 20 minutes. Of course, Eilert, Allen, Shaffer and Klika, the ultimate unemployed turncoat who promised not to vote for anything till we rebuild the courthouse, had other options, re King Louie.

    They could have not bought it, period. They could have negotiated the price, and done an appraisal, which they failed to do for 13 months. Only when forced to by the bond sale, which revealed the property was worth $430,000 and the building worth zero. We paid $4.5 million by that point, but they refused to stop.

    They could have paid for it out of reserve funds, which is how they initially did it, till their goons flipped it to a special off-the-books line item. Or they could have used their regular bond financing, which would only have cost the taxpayers about 2%, not 4%. Altevogt is so right. JoCo leaders are far more skilled than KCMO in hiding their tax grabs.

  20. Jason says:

    Excellent… MORE DWIGHT! MORE DWIGHT! No fewer than five heroes lauded and six db’s bopped in the nose in one article. Give this man a medal.

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