LTE: Investing in at-risk youth is an important step in reducing crime

I agree Mayor Lucas’ new initiative to hire 500 at risk young people for summer internships is a step in the right direction. I benefited from a similar program in the 90’s when I lived in the East Side; it was a good program but I gleaned nothing constructive from it. I am also aware the mayor is not getting any love from the business community in compensating any interns they may take in. One could consider the incentives these businesses might have enjoyed in the past from taxpayers; some not deserved, in more honest times this would be called theft.

The program is based out of Omaha. It seemed to curb violence, increase high school graduation rates and is aimed to 14-18 age group. The initiative is not fully funded. The mayor cannot rely on the business community and may have to lean more on civil society. My humble opinion on how to fund it lies with the root of most violence – “the drug war.”

This war has affected minorities disproportionately for decades, demonized them via different mediums, bringing about injustices in judicial fronts and tears in the social fabric. Inconceivable decades ago, the admired entrepreneurs of today along with their sordid political allies have made marijuana, the Mexican name popularized as negative and foreign, available to the thoughtless consumer. It’s a win-win. They bring more revenue to fund charitable causes such as veteran groups, an uncontested cause, to gain political clout from the general voter to the more progressive and becoming a lauded business ally at the same time.

The local level could tax this new revenue stream where big weed business has conveniently forgotten the oppressed on where its new empire is built upon. This higher excise tax could fund meaningful programs, such as the summer program or beyond that a similar but local and watered down version of Mexico’s own recent federal initiative; under supervision, business owners hire recent high school graduates who are not college bound, wages subsidized by the government and if not hired by the employer after a year, a business loan is available at zero interest with long payback periods and small business guidance. This is an effort to pry the young from organized crime, again a morbid result from the drug war. It could be funded even more by charging a quarter at the metro routes; the community along with business owners enrolled in the program could feel involved in the formation of the youth in the urban core at the same time building their confidence for the future. Furthermore the state could tax it as well and fund programs in rural areas where the drug epidemic has expanded.


The summer program may nudge the youth to the stage but what about the rest of the school year? Perhaps stipends for ALL kids who stay in high school, which is a tough time for any developing child. A local bank could offer saving accounts and coach them on financial responsibility. Austerity measures in the school district, on our city council, to fund more programs as well, such as family services and mental health to slowly fill in those social pitfalls in the urban communities. Do we really need high salaried “public” servants who have no real direction or are already thinking about their next political step?


A concerted effort by leaders of all aspects to print a widely available moral pamphlet without bias from any distinct group but with an absolute ethical principle; the respect of life for one and others as well as our environment, there are some out there already. This isn’t a cultish new age inclination but a millenary practice by the original people of this continent. It is at home where our children learn to be patient, to say thank you, please, to forgive and our society has not benefited many of them with that condition. It is not up to our teachers and police to be our last line of defense but a part of a combined communal effort. This approach will be called idealistic, impractical even foolish because is not conducive to conventional wisdom but I ask: are the suburbs the answer then or do we just commit it to “God helps those who help themselves” type proverbs in a place where social mobility is nonexistent? Bootstraps not included.


The Mayor could exercise a beautiful concept in government that has little or no use in our representative democracy called direct democracy. Another “primitive” practice in Latin America that has not been fulfilled due to conflicted foreign interests. It is when the individual who has been delegated the power to govern from the people turns to them and says “ You put me here, I am all ears, I lead by obeying you”. This is ideal during the election process because neighborhoods with their own representation can pluck out candidates who don’t have their priorities at heart, sort of like a primary. A candidate whose bright idea is to partner with developers to bring more luxury apartments to blighted zones can be brushed aside for the candidate who wants to invest in the sewer infrastructure, roads and neighborhoods. During their term they could be audited by the people for compliance or risk recall. But our Mayor Lucas is already in office, he could call for roundtable discussions, input, and consensus through a popular vote. As an Indian guru once said “It is not a measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. We could finally stand for something or get back to our regular programming, only notice the news and move on down a spiral that closes in.

Thank you for your time.

Oz Baeza
Northeast resident

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • LTE: Call 9-8-8 for suicide prevention

    August 31st, 2022
    by

    A couple of weeks ago you published an article (July 27 issue) about the new suicide number #988mentalhealth. I am […]


    LTE: Don’t let the election pass you by!

    August 24th, 2022
    by

    Be Prepared Election laws have changed in Missouri. They go into effect on August 28, so if you voted in […]


    LTE: Responsible Pet Ownership

    August 10th, 2022
    by

    We adopted two shelter dogs during the pandemic. One is a beautiful (but jealous) Red-Heeler mix named Rosie. The other […]


    LTE: Fireworks are illegal in city limits

    July 6th, 2022
    by

    Thank you for giving the people of Northeast an opportunity to express their views on fireworks! They have been illegal […]


    LTE: The Construction Industry Has a Solution for College Debt

    June 15th, 2022
    by

    The construction industry has a skilled workforce shortage of 650,000 and desperately needs new talent. For those who pursue a […]


    LTE: Chief Rick Smith was great

    May 4th, 2022
    by

    I want to commend Michael Bushnell for his recent article taking a stance on behalf of former Kansas City Police […]


    LTE: “Neighborhoods” issue is a hit

    March 30th, 2022
    by

    Dear Editor, I was fascinated with the March 16 issue of the Northeast News that I just had to have […]


    Letter to the Editor: Correction

    January 26th, 2022
    by

    Following the publication of our story “Eagle Carving Takes Flight” on January 12, we received this letter from the artist, […]


  • Letter to the Editor

    December 22nd, 2021
    by

    Teachers. In so many ways they represent who we are as a humanity. Sometimes that’s not the best. We all […]


    LTE: KCPS wants to hear from you

    November 9th, 2021
    by

    Flying cars. Bullet trains that go from KC to Saint Louis in less than an hour. Solar powered homes and […]


    LTE: What are you thankful for?

    November 3rd, 2021
    by

    I am thankful that you are still around so I can see and imagine what is going on in my […]


    LTE: Constitutionally speaking

    August 25th, 2021
    by

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator […]


    LTE: What does it mean to be a Missourian?

    December 16th, 2020
    by

    Gary R. Kremer is the Executive Director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, which is in charge of coordinating […]


    LTE: Highway 24

    December 2nd, 2020
    by

    One of the first actions I took as a State Legislator was to initiate a conversation with MoDOT to reroute […]


    LTE: Daily paper has abandoned journalistic integrity

    December 2nd, 2020
    by

    As an employee of the KCPD, a two-time Emmy-nominated journalist, and a lifelong resident of Kansas City, I can only […]


    LTE: Rethink tent camps

    November 11th, 2020
    by

    This tent camp proposal makes me furious. Not because they are opening a camp because I totally support the idea, […]


    LTE: Northeast has a rich history of providing services to the vulnerable

    November 11th, 2020
    by

    The lobbying by The Downtown Council to have the City and County work together to fund an innovative social services […]


    LTE: De-escalate mental health crisis with compassion, not guns

    November 11th, 2020
    by

    I remember my first truly crazy person. I was a television reporter at the time, working for a station in […]


    Amendment 3 is a necessary fix. Vote YES.

    October 28th, 2020
    by

    By Jasper LoganPaid Political Content Paid for by Jackson County Republican Committee Lately, our TV sets and mailboxes have been […]


    LTE: Tracey Chappell will bring change

    October 21st, 2020
    by

    It isn’t that often that I agree with you but on the subject of Jean Peters Baker we are in […]


  • Northeast Newscast


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?

    Remember this?

    14 hours ago
    by

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.