Letters: KC readers discuss Strickland’s injustice, Kelly’s caving and JoCo sheriff

·4 min read

Let injustice stand

Who among us, with any sense of decency, does not feel that a gross injustice was rectified, albeit 42-plus years late, in the exoneration of 62-year-old Kevin Strickland by a Jackson County judge? Much thanks to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, the Midwest Innocence Project and The Kansas City Star for their investigation and dogged persistence in gathering the evidence to clear Strickland.

There is absolutely no thanks to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who for their own political reasons justified keeping Strickland locked up against the mounting evidence of his innocence.

Parson, who has the pardon power, refused to allow that to happen, saying it was not a “priority.” What? And, of course, Schmitt is running to succeed Sen. Roy Blunt in the U.S. Senate.

How should this sordid matter be viewed: good versus evil? We saw how those who did not give up on Strickland prevailed against those in positions of power who let politics dictate their intentions.

- Steve Weneck, Kansas City

Ball dropped

Once again, the caring public has come to the rescue when our state of Missouri punked out. Thanks to everyone who generously made it possible for Kevin Strickland to have a new start in life. (Nov. 26, 1A, “Donors around the world give over $950,000 to Strickland”)

Missouri needs to step up with so many things.

- Margaret Kensinger, Raytown

Deep dives

I have appreciated The Star’s in-depth coverage over the last several months of a number of critical issues: police shootings, violence against women and more – the latest being inmate innocence and no reparations for false imprisonment. (Nov. 24, 1A, “Strickland freed; Exonerated man won’t get a dime from state”) It is great to get more details and background on important issues of local relevance.

- Roena Haynie, Kansas City

Wrong moves

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly was strong in the early pandemic, closing schools and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and science guidelines. Midway through the pandemic, she weakened and signed Republican-led legislation limiting her own executive powers to manage the pandemic.

Now, she has signed legislation widening exemptions to the vaccine mandate and allowing unemployment benefits for those fired for refusing vaccinations. (Nov. 25, 1A, “Kelly cites ‘compromise’ in signing vaccine bill”) This legislation resulted from a special legislative session called by the Republican supermajorities in the Kansas House and Senate. In doing so, Gov. Kelly has fully surrendered to the Republicans.

One must now wonder whether she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, wearing a Democrat cape but in reality, a Republican.

Make no mistake — the disagreements over the vaccine mandate are not about an individual’s right. They are about the right of a society to make rules to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. No individual is above the entire society.

Those who refuse vaccines do have a choice: Vaccinate or lose their jobs. They can decide. Society is not forcing vaccines on any person. Society is deciding what is best for society.

- Kirk Duncan, Overland Park

Free thinking?

Is it just me? It seems about half the country is screaming about personal freedom while the other half is concerned and doing something about maintaining freedom and democracy (not to mention trying to save the screamers’ lives). Yet, the ones screaming about personal freedom are more than willing to let their leaders and talking heads think for them, even to the extent that it seems they would be thrilled with a dictatorial government.

I want to ask that half of the country how they’re going to like it when they get their dictator and the U.S. becomes a former bastion of democracy, but they’ll just go along with the talking heads. The world is watching.

- Gerald Valet, Kansas City

Public safety

So Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden is going to spend $30,000 of taxpayer money on “public safety” personnel who selfishly refused to be vaccinated. (Nov. 25, 12A, “Johnson County sheriff to provide antibody testing for staff”)

What will he do with the antibody-tested employees who do not show adequate antibody levels? Suspend them? Why the expensive end run around the obvious and responsible solution: having all staff vaccinated?

We all know vaccination is more consistently protective and reliable than natural immunity. Why cater to these rebellious, nonconforming officers who are putting themselves and the public at risk over something so simple and straightforward as vaccination?

Who is this sheriff really serving? What department policy would really have been in the interest of the safety of our citizens? We elect a sheriff to be intelligent, informed, competent, professional, nonpolitical and dedicated to protecting the interests of all county citizens, not just right-wing extremists.

And why should taxpayers pay anything because of the unprofessional and irresponsible actions of nonconforming employees? If these misguided individuals want antibody testing because they choose not to do what is free and effective, let them pay for the testing themselves.

- Daniel Claiborn, Mission Hills

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