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Examiner
  • Peace Planters vs. KC Council up to a judge

  • Of all governmental systems, democracy is probably the slowest and messiest.  Its one redeeming feature is that it is also the best inasmuch it is, in the long run, the most fair.

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  • Of all governmental systems, democracy is probably the slowest and messiest.  Its one redeeming feature is that it is also the best inasmuch it is, in the long run, the most fair.
    Kansas City is proving that observation at this very moment as their City Council, with the exception of Ed Ford, Councilman at large, voted this week to unilaterally abrogate the right of their citizens to vote on an important issue, even though it has a large impact on the economy and, perhaps more importantly, the moral fiber of their community.   
    This has to do with the creation of a large commercial complex, costing $673 million for construction and an anticipated $1.2 billion over the next two decades, to manufacture some 85 percent of the triggering mechanism for nuclear bombs.  Kansas City, Mo., is subsidizing the facility’s construction with $815 million in municipal bonds.  
    Several peace organizations, including the Kansas City Peace Planters, had the courage, or temerity, to protest this project. When their initial efforts were ignored, they took the step of trying to allow all of the citizens of Kansas City to vote on this important issue.
    Being law-abiding citizens, they have tried to put the question on a regularly scheduled ballot scheduled for Nov. 8. In order to legally get on the ballot they had to garner 3,572 signatures; they actually gathered more than 5,000, of which 4,389 were verified as valid.
    Peace Planters’ efforts were essentially nullified when the Kansas City Council re-confirmed their decision not to allow its citizens to vote on the project.
    “It seems almost vulgar that any governmental body, including the K.C. City Council, would support the building of more nuclear weapons, particularly when they are no longer considered a valid military offensive or defensive weapon,” says Sharon Hannah, an Independence resident who was one of 52 arrested last May for disturbing the peace during the site dedication for the new plant.   
    Remember, I warned you about democracy being messy.
    Peace Planters immediately filed a petition for writ of mandamus, which seeks to nullify the council’s decision. They argue that the council is violating Section 702 of the City Charter.  
    This writ will be reviewed and an opinion given by Judge Edith Messina at 9:30 a.m. this coming Monday in Division 12 in the 5th floor of the Jackson County Courthouse.  
    Regardless of how Judge Messina rules, the losing party will immediately file an objection which further muddies and delays a decision that must be within the next few days in order to meet the absolute deadline of getting any question on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election.    
    Democracy is most vulnerable whenever oil, money, power or prestige is threatened, but let us hope that the ultimate right of the people to choose can trump all other considerations.

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