Want to commit fraud in Kansas or Missouri? Try that in a small town | Opinion

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Lesson for Aldean

The Star’s special front-page investigation about fraud and abuse of power among officials in small municipalities across Kansas and Missouri (Aug 27, “Broken government”) made me think of country singer Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town.”

The song’s lyrics list offenses such as holding up a liquor store, cussing a cop or stomping on the flag. It proclaims: “‘Round here we take care of our own/You cross that line, it won’t take long/For you to find out.”

The Star’s story provides examples of small towns not “taking care of their own” when government funds are misused. The most egregious case is the former city clerk of Center, Missouri, (population 528) who stole more than $316,000 and got into a shootout with the sheriff’s department when she was found out.

The article notes, “Localities are often a petri dish for fraud and other wrongdoing” because there are no strong safeguards on how money is received and then spent. Thus, in small localities “lines are crossed” too easily and frequently — and no one knows or cares to take care to stop the fraud and abuse.

Aldean is coming here in October for a concert. I hope he reads this story so he can either update his song or write a new one about the fraud that is successful in too many small towns.

- Bob Yates, Kansas City

Trump’s no RINO

Every candidate on the stage at the first GOP presidential debate last week had to sign a loyalty pledge vowing support for the eventual Republican nominee in 2024. (Aug. 25, 5A, “GOP candidates vie for attention at 1st debate”)

Donald Trump refused to sign the pledge unless he wins the primary. So, is he a Republican In His Name Only?

- Mike Cunningham, Kansas City

What words mean

On Aug. 23, a letter writer said that he and a college professor define the term “woke” as “the attitude of a person who regards his or her opinions as so obviously correct and so profoundly enlightened that those opinions may not legitimately be challenged or questioned.” (8A)

Well, that’s not the definition of “woke” that most people accept. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “aware of social and political issues, especially racism. This word is often used in a disapproving way by people who think that some other people are too easily upset about these issues, or talk too much about them in a way that does not change anything.”

The letter writer is free to disapprove of wokeness all he wants, but he shouldn’t create his own definition and then reject it. I could define “conservative” or “Republican” the same way the letter writer defined “woke,” but that would be dishonest.

- Dave Mullins, Kansas City

Climate action

A ruling in favor of young climate activists recently made headlines. A Montana judge decreed that their state’s oil and gas policies infringe on young people’s constitutional rights to a safe environment. (Aug. 19, 6A, “Sorry, kids, the courts won’t save the planet”)

This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go, as scientists have determined July 2023 was the hottest month on record globally.

How much hotter must it get before we hold the true culprits — the fossil fuel industry — accountable? This industry would love to keep things as they are to continue prioritizing profits over people, which we can no longer accept because we are running out of time.

Whether we like it or not, our climate situation is dire and requires a call to action. Let’s disrupt the status quo and answer that call to enact real, legitimate change. With assistance from the nonpartisan, grassroots nonprofit organization Citizens’ Climate Lobby, help me write to our members of Congress at cclusa.org/action about climate bills every month. It’s easy yet effective.

Let’s take a lesson from the young people of Montana and continue stepping in the right direction.

- Jennifer Lyle, Overland Park