October 9, 2013
Last Tuesday, this newshound was privileged to cover the city sponsored picnic in Swope Park that kicked off October as National Crime Prevention Month. It was an impressive show of resources by KCPD, including one of the department armored vehicles, the mounted patrol, as well as a variety of PD’s on and off-road vehicles.
The event also doubled as an awards ceremony for the city’s Good Neighbor Award recipients, spotlighting those selfless neighborhood volunteers who give generously in the form of time, sweat and energy in order to make their community a better place to live. Historic Northeast was represented well as a number of Pendleton Heights neighbors received awards, as did Maria King in Scarritt Renaissance and Budd Jones and Winnie Jones in Indian Mound. Unfortunately, the ceremony itself was an utter disgrace, and the city of Kansas City, Mo., owes a big apology to the award recipients who attended due to the complete and total lack of respect they were subjected to.
Background music for the event was provided by someone holding up an iPhone to the stage microphone. Seriously? The event’s flyer touted that Mayor Sly James would be presenting the awards, but apparently he had higher priorities. Gotta make sure those streetcar districts are gerrymandered accordingly, ya know. Keep in mind that oft times, said Good Neighbors are actually doing what the city should be doing to keep neighborhoods livable. Standing in for Mayor James was Venessa Huskey from the city’s Neighborhoods and Community Services Department. Huskey, with all the enthusiasm of a funeral dirge, offered no background on the awards, no introductory bio on the awards’ recipients and drolly read each recipient’s name off a sheet of typing paper. Huskey, whose job is to work with neighborhoods mind you, even mispronounced the name of one of the city’s northernmost neighborhood groups. Shameful.
The whole affair looked like an afterthought as the Good Neighbor awards were swept to the tail end of the event. Neighborhood volunteers deserve better, Mr. Mayor. Lots better than the pitiful display and poorly organized sham of a ceremony they were subjected to last Tuesday. Next time, either take the time to do it right or don’t do it at all. These fine community volunteers who give selflessly give for the benefit of their communities are owed an apology for the sham of an awards ceremony.