KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Missouri legislator advocating for pro-law-enforcement policies in Kansas City is guilty of “colonialism at its worst,” according to the Kansas City Star, because he technically doesn’t live there.
That’s despite the fact that the majority of the Star’s editorial board doesn’t live in Kansas City either, yet tries to influence city policy on a regular basis – nor is the board even elected to do that much.
And, in fact, the Star tells other cities, counties and school boards in Missouri and Kansas what they should do, regardless of the fact that editorial board members don’t live in those jurisdictions – what the board might call “colonialism at its worst.”
In several opinion pieces, the Star editorial board has seemed intent on branding Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer as a “Parkville Republican,” as if to suggest Luetkemeyer’s opinion on KC-related policy shouldn’t matter because he’s from the Kansas City suburb.
In one 2021 editorial about Kansas City Police Department funding, the board quoted a tweet from Luetkemeyer in which he said, “It’s time to push back if we want to save our city.” The board quipped back in the article, writing “Our city? He lives in Parkville.”
The Star’s odd stance also ignores the fact that a good chunk of Luetkemeyer’s Senate district includes Kansas City.
The Star’s most bizarre and confusing attack on Luetkemeyer’s advocacy for KC police funding is its assertion in a March 2 editorial that “Luetkemeyer’s proposal reflects colonialism at its absolute worst.”
“It’s a cheap way to try to win the argument,” says Pete Mundo, host of the Pete Mundo Morning Show on KCMO Talk Radio. “The reality is, we live in a metro with two states and several different communities. You can have an opinion or a legislative idea that is either good or bad and those ideas should be debated based on their merits. But if your argument is simply going to be ‘You don’t live there so you don’t get to have an opinion,’ it’s funny how that typically only works with the Star editorial board and their allies in one direction.”
The strange claim isn’t an isolated attack, either. In a May 23, 2021 article, the board wrote, “Nothing says ‘colonialism’ like state legislators telling Kansas City what it can and can’t do with its most important function.”
“If you want to make it about policy, make it about the policy,” Mundo said. “But cheapening the conversation and cheapening the debate is all they’re doing by claiming that Sen. Luetkemeyer does not represent enough Kansas Citians to have an opinion on the topic or have a good piece of legislation on the topic.”
Notably, over half of the Star’s editorial board members live in KC suburbs.
According to TruePeopleSearch.com, board member David Helling lives in Lenexa, Kansas, and board members Mará Williams and Toriano Porter both live in Independence, Missouri – making up three out of the five total board members. Melinda Henneberger and Derek Donovan both live in Kansas City, Missouri, and comprise the rest of the editorial board.
With 60% of its own editorial board members living in suburbs, why the apparent hypocrisy by the Star? And would the Star’s editorial board say the same about Sen. Luetkemeyer if he were a Democrat proposing to decrease KCPD funding?
“Of course not. There’s no way they would,” Mundo said.
Luetkemeyer’s advocacy for pro-police legislation, and for additional funding to combat ongoing staff shortages and rising crime rates, directly conflicts with the city council’s and the Star’s desire to strip the KCPD of millions in policing funds and repurpose them for unspecified “crime prevention” efforts.
In October, a Jackson County judge ruled that KC Mayor Quinton Lucas and a majority of the city council violated state law by passing two ordinances that defunded KCPD by over $42 million. In an Oct. 5 editorial piece responding to the ruling, the board called it “deeply disappointing,” and said the judge took a “disturbing position.”
Meanwhile, the Star routinely criticizes the Kansas Legislature, despite only one member of the editorial board actually living in Kansas. Colonialism on the Star’s part?
“The KC Star editorial board has been woefully lacking in common sense the past few years,” Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar said. “Their desperate need to be ‘woke’ has skewed every opinion to conform to some sort of ultra-progressive agenda. I have found that midwesterners, including Kansas Citians, are more down to earth, reasonable and decent folks – maybe the reason the Star is lacking in subscriptions these days.”
Weighing in on various political jurisdictions’ practices and policies is certainly legitimate editorializing, even if the editorialists don’t live there. But in the Star’s view, Luetkemeyer, and not the Star, is engaged in “colonialism” – even though he has some 60,000 Kansas City residents in his Senate district who arguably deserve representation.
“I’m fine with them having an opinion on the topic, even though their editorial board does not mostly live in Kansas City. It’s their job,” Mundo said. “But let’s actually have an honest conversation and debate the piece of legislation – why it’s good, why they may not like it – and then go from there. But it ties back to them trying to cheapen the conversation instead of actually going based off the merits, or lack thereof, of the bill.”
The editorial board, which did not return a request for comment, might hang its hat on the fact that the senator has legislative power over Kansas City whereas the newspaper does not. Of course he does. That’s what he was elected to do.
He, in fact, officially represents Kansas City at the state level – as opposed to newspaper editorialists.