Thursday, March 03, 2005

A View From The Front Page - Kansas City

Another exciting day. Look for updates on the possible bomb in a van pulled over by the state troopers. You can reference that here.

In other news, a continuing spate of drive by, drive up and walk up shootings. Most of which are occuring in the areas well known for drug and gang related activities.

Heelllllloooo??? You think one of these local news programs might do an indepth report on the growing phenomenom of drug/gang related shootings in our city? How about the police? You got a drug/gang task force going yet? If so, what the hell are they doing?

Click on the link to the inner sanctum for additional front page news.

Of course, the downtown area is also suffering from a burglary ring or just one really good burglar: 30 burglaries may be related.

Ya' think? And this guy doesn't give a crap that people are home. The only thing going for him at this time is that he has not brandished or threatened anyone with a weapon, but the last house he broke into, two girls lived there and, when they didn't answer the door (because he didn't answer "who's there") he broke in anyway, they ran upstairs and called the police while he stole their purses and a few loose and easily carried items.

Home invasion. These crooks are getting ballsy. A similar spate of home invasion burglaries were occuring in the northland last year accept there were two accomplices. Interestingly, a lot of folks out on the east and west coast have this idea everyone out here is toting a gun and ready to shoot at the first blink of an eye.

Unfortunately, as has always been the case, it's not the common, law abiding citizen with the guns, it's the criminals with the illegal guns. I'm waiting to hear that the cops aren't doing enough because it's a poor area with lots of minorities. And it may be true to some extent, but it's largely about the cuts to budgets, not discrimination.

Still, I think the citizens of Kansas City ought to be putting pressure on their communities and the city government to get some more activist policing going on before this turns into a mini-New York/LA gang situation and we're struggling to clean up the effects of an on-going gang tsunami. Of course, the give away is the fact that no one knows anything or sees anything. At least, nothing they are willing to tell the cops. In which case, these communities are going to have to step up and quick.

In other violent news around the city, to go along with our breaking possible vehicle born improvised explosive situation:

Guns and explosives were found at a suspicious house fire Wednesday afternoon.

Officers on patrol in the northeast part of the city spotted smoke, and when they arrived at 6th Street and Franklin Avenue, men with guns were running from a burning house, police said.

Investigators said one of the men threw an AK-47 into a car, and other dumped weapons, including two assault rifles and two handguns, were also found nearby.

Officers said commercial fireworks were found inside the burning home.

No reports on the ethnicity or affiliation of the "men with guns". What I thought was interesting and so disingenuous of the report:

Firefighters said the explosives are illegal to keep in the house and could have been dangerous to crews if they had ignited.

Yeah. That's important. They are illegal and could have been dangerous to the fire fighters.

Look, these men had an Ak-47 and "two assault rifles" with a large quantity of "commercial fireworks". Now, what do you think these guys planned to do with these "commercial fireworks"? Any guess? My thoughts are these guys were planning on building a bomb or other Improvised Explosive Device (IED) for nefarious purposes by harvesting the explosives used in the "fireworks". The bomb squad was called in to remove them and explode them somewhere safe. Heh. That was a LOT of commercial fireworks.

I'll keep you posted if they give us more on the story. Let's see if this is just your average criminals planning to rob a bank or if they follow up with potential terrorist associations. If you haven't kept up on the news here in the heartland, you might not be aware that the Muslim American Society (known to have links with the Muslim Brotherhood) got it's start right here in the heartland. They raided the group's offices east of Kansas City last year.

Okay...enough on the violent stuff. Might give you a bad impression.


On the economic front, if you have American beef futures, you're probably sitting pretty for awhile longer as Judge Blocks Canada Beef at Border, Again. Two new cases of Mad Cow disease has the stock associates up in arms. Part financial and part legitimate concern for herd integrity. I'll be covering this later in my "Where's the beef?" commentary.

You might also want to grab up some Lab One shares as they fall off despite record revenue and profit. Of course, before you do that, you might investigate online what contracts, if any, Lab One has lost or gained lately, pending government investigations or if one of their top officers has recently departed. A lot of investors get burned in the healthcare market because they don't understand the impact of losing a contract say with Humana, which is the major HMO replacement policy for senior citizens in the KC area. Not saying that happened, but I'd investigate. Or even determine if Humana or some other contract was their major referer and said HMO or plan has lost or purposefully purged any part of their coverage area and thus number of possible "lives" for which services could be rendered and payment received.

In the meantime, I know they've been on a big hiring upswing in the last year, even luring away some of our talent and all indicaters point towards increased contracting with BC/BS of KC, Kaiser Permanente and Humana Inc. They are also reporting expansion to other states. So, the question is: what's up with the $3 drop in stock prices from the beginning of the year when they are reporting a $0.36/share dividend and increased revenue for 2004 4th Qtr? Maybe it looks too good to be true and investors are figuring on an adjustment in the first quarter? Or, they're just a little worried about the serious increase in expansion and whether the company can handle it without falling into the ditch that effects many rapidly expanding companies?

According to this article from September 2004, the CFO resigned and it takes effect March 31, 2005. It's not the CEO, which is usually the main worry for share holders when a company has been performing so well. The loss of a CEO means a possible loss of direction. But, a loss of the CFO who resigned right before the last and best quarter of the year? Like I said, maybe the investors are worried that the numbers are too good and they're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In either case, LabOne might be a good local investment. Before you decide, check out Hoover's profile on the company and its activities.

For the record, I'm in the healthcare business, but do not work for this company nor one of it's competitors.

National Ten Commandment Debate a Focus At Home

Remember when I said no one was going to remove the Ten Commandments from a courthouse around here? I was wrong.

In 2003, workers for the Unified Government removed the Ten Commandments monument that had been located on the front lawn of the Wyandotte County Courthouse for 42 years. Now located at a nearby Catholic church, the monument's fate might hinge on the Supreme Court's ruling.

Or it might not.

Hal Walker, chief counsel for the Unified Government, said he's not sure what would happen if the Supreme Court rules that such displays are legal.

Would the monument stay where it is, or might there be a movement to return it to the courthouse?

“There are just too many ifs and ands,” Walker said. “If that's the case, I would detail that to the new mayor and the commissioners. I couldn't even begin to guess how 11 of them would feel.

I should have realized the same Democrat government that's been busy running the KCK area into the ground with their land grabs and other mixed bag of political tricks would resort to stupid PC behavior.

It was the Democrat government of Wyndotte County and the Unified City government that used the imminent domain issue to kick about 200 people out of their homes to build the speedway while paying these folks the absolute least they could get away with. A number of people, (let's say half) did not get fair value on their property. They then had everyone elses houses re-appraised for 300% above the previous years appraisals and hiked the taxes on shitty homes that were already paying almost twice as much as I pay on my nice place in the northlands, a key reason why I decided not to buy there.

They are the same government that has been consistently accused of embezzlement, mismanagement and a few other possible criminal activities not to mention the crappy way they treat the city and county law enforcement officers. Both groups have seen a continuing revolving door on their employees who get a little experience and then move to the suburban police departments because the city pay and benefits suck and, of course, they don't get shot at as much. Yes, I have personal experience with that, I know a number of current and ex-officers. The city has instituted some pretty draconian contracts to try to insure they get a major recoupment out of officers after they send them to Police Acadamy.

I don't blame them, but recruitment has fallen off.

So, there they are, in 2003, removing a 40 year old monument for the sake of political correctness. What I want to know is if this group is planning on busting out hammers and chisels to remove the rest of the religious references attached to these buildings?


His a scary note. Did you know Duran Duran staged a come back last year?

And, Ashlee Simpson, sister of Jessica Simpson, will be down at the Memorial Hall Monday. Memorial Hall isn't that big really. In the scheme of places you could perform in this city, it's a step or two below the Kemper Arena which is only surpassed by Arrowhead Stadium where the Eagles (I mean the band) have played as well as George Straight and one or two other notables. But it is a step above the Grand Emporium.

But, if you're looking for a smaller, more hip setting, check out Rauol's Velvet Room. It's down in the J.O. area (Johnson County for all you non-residents) the upscale yuppie suburbia, ultra hip folks, drinking Cosmopolitan crowd hangs there. I went down a couple of times to see a band that was headed up by my friend's boyfriend. At least, I think he was her boyfriend. I'm not sure, but it was the only time I ever hung out at the "groupies and girlfriends" table. Er...well, not the ONLY time, but the most recent, few and far between episodes.

I digress. It's small. It's "trendy". It caters from the early 20's to the the early 30's crowd. Don't go there if you don't dig closed in spaces with lots of people. And potentially seeing chics exchanging "air kisses". I think they go by that really old rule about a "crush" being a success.

Or, you can check out Paul Westerberger this weekend at the Grand Emporium down town. I've been there as well. Turn of the century store front. The pressed tin ceiling is in place, but it's been painted brown (no doubt to cover all the cigarette smoke). It's got crappy linoleum floors and the tables are crowded around in no particular order. The stage and accoustics, let's say "rustic". I caught a new wave rock-a-billy band there. They kind of sucked. I know some friends though that would be dying to see Paul Westerberger.

The crowd is more ecclectic. Anything from biker to goth to home boys and a few dime store cowboys thrown in. I don't want to start any rumors, but the bathroom had a large amount of extra-curricular activities going on.

Interesting note on the blog side, I found a blog titled "downtown Kansas City". I believe it's run by a student who fancies himself a rebel. Don't look now, but he's comparing the local government to Nazis. LOL

Still, he has some interesting research on the KC historical perspective in regards to business.

Maybe I'll email him and get him to allow comments?


Jim said...

Same old story on those shootings, unfortunately. If no one cooperates, it's damn hard for the police in either KCK or KCMO (or anywhere else, for that matter) to solve the crimes. And even if they know who did it, of course they have to build a case that'll stand up in court, which means people would have to testify.

I didn't realize the amount of skulduggery that went on around the racetrack development in KCK. This type of abuse of eminent domain is a huge problem all over the country, and one that should be causing immense concern as a serious erosion of freedom. The right to own and control one's own property is a chief underpinning of our society, and when government starts abusing that right as egregiously as it now does in far too many cases, we're headed for serious trouble.

I've seen a few good shows at the Grand Emporium, but I haven't been there since it changed ownership.

Kat said...

yeah...I don't completely blame the police and the community isn't either. These guys are stretched. With all the new building and city spending, you'd think they'd put a little more money in the police departments, but, I think there was a serious down turn in crimes in 2001 and 2002. I think they figured there was enough police. I don't think they really take things like population booms into consideration well enough when figuring these budgets.

2003 started a small upswing in burglaries and violent crimes, escalating by a small degree in 2004 (I looked it up on our local sites) and now 2005 looks like it's starting out with a bang. Pun intended.

I was really torn about the speedway. It did bring in jobs and thus state, county and city tax revenue (even though they got some sort of waiver I think for property tax for 10 years). The people that got it the worst were people that owned acreage around their homes. They definitely did not get what people were getting when they sold their property for housing developments out towards Piper.

I don't think that was fair at all.

what really gave it away was, soon as the track was in, suddenly, everyone's houses were worth more money. That had to burn some of these folks big time.

I don't think the Grand Emporium was my scene, but it was interesting as sort of a one off situation. Fortunately, I was riding motorcycles with some folks so we were dressed appropriately and fit in with a certain part of the crowd.