St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 13
If big-name football, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer stars can be wooed with multiyear, many-multimillion-dollar contracts, then why not stars of the slightly less prominent sport of chess?
(Yes, the International Olympic Committee recognizes chess as a sport. Also korfball and netball, which are a lot alike, and tug-of-war.)
Chess, along with giving money to politicians, is the favorite sport of retired investor Rex Sinquefield of St. Louis. On Tuesday, the New York Times hinted that Mr. Sinquefield may be part of a clandestine effort to lure Italy's Fabiano Caruana, the No. 2 player in the world, to play for the U.S. Chess Federation.
"It's funny how these things happen," Mr. Sinquefield told the Times, while neither confirming nor denying involvement in recruiting the Fabulous Fab.
Chess players come a lot cheaper than some athletes. You merely have to pay the World Chess Federation 5,000 euros, which is about $5,260. If the guy hasn't been a resident of his new country for two years, you have to pay his former national federation 50,000 euros, or $52,600.
Mr. Sinquefield routinely drops $5,000 on obscure political candidates and as much as $1 million on more prominent ones. Chess players are cheap. Also less dangerous to the public good.
(Cape Girardeau) Southeast Missourian, March 12
The justice system is vital to a free society. There are laws, and those who break laws, depending on the infraction, may find themselves in prison. But for most inmates, there's life beyond the bars.
A recent story by Katherine Webster in this newspaper highlighted some eye-opening numbers. In Missouri, about 20,000 inmates per year are released from prison and become members of their communities, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections. When you consider the number on probation or parole in the Show Me State, about 24,600, it further highlights the issue.
For these individuals, it's important to find work and not to return to a life of crime. Part of doing this means having access to key documentation and a high school equivalency test.
The Community Caring Council helps former inmates with things such as birth certificates, personal identification and HiSET, the high school equivalency test. But the organization previously lost a grant that funded the services.
In an effort to help fund the services, the event Bikers for Re-Entry was started. Through a scavenger hunt and sales of a painting and reprints, about $3,000 was raised. This is the amount lost from the grant, according to an organizer.
The next Bikers for Re-Entry ride is Oct. 3. You can learn more on the website bikers4reentry.webs.com.
We understand the challenge business leaders face in hiring an individual with a criminal record. It's not something to take lightly. Each situation, and individual, is different. But we're pleased to see an organization like the Community Caring Council help these individuals in their pursuit of gainful employment. Thanks also to the Bikers for Re-Entry fundraiser and those who support similar programs that help those in need.
Columbia Tribune, March 15
Now that Hillary Clinton has been onstage trying to soften criticism of her use of a private email account as secretary of state, is she safely across the rapids or are the currents rising around her neck? Maybe she never really entered the water.
In my estimation, we saw about what we should expect from the almost certain Democratic presidential nominee.
Hillary never has been known for clever light-footedness in the face of challenging political situations. She does not have the charming touch of her husband, who is able to handle almost any situation. He is one of the most gifted stand-up politicians in history. Instead, Hillary gets by.
So, I thought she sort of did that in her email foray. There was no fatal blow there, but she left the issue on the table. She wasn't stupid, but she wasn't smooth and endearing.
That said, her prospects for election are not affected. Most political wizards opine that not many people care that much about the issue. These days everybody knows the vagaries of email. If Hillary had used a government account, how many among us think that would have ensured more transparency? Hell, how much transparency attends the messaging of any public official no matter what means are used?
As noted here before, the Internet guarantees unwanted secrecy and unwanted disclosure at the same time. It's a handy and perverse technology. Whether Hillary used an account named "Hillary" or an account named "U.S. Government," so what? As she noted, her official business messages went to and fro from people with government accounts. She also did messages about her daughter's wedding. Blah, blah.
The news conference was more notable for what it displayed of Hillary's demeanor as potential leader of the free world and the domestic political jungle.
The impression of most of us has been more or less in place for a long time and was not changed this week. Hillary is smart enough and tough enough to lead. She lacks personal characteristics that would make her more appealing to her public. No one can accuse her of being sweet and gentle. She's tougher than Barack Obama and can hold her own against anyone on either side. A schmoozer she ain't.
She probably won't be the best campaign debater. As putative favorite, she probably will want to minimize debates while her Republican opponent will see her as a front-runner to attack as often as possible.
The dynamics of the presidential electoral system favor the Democrat. Hillary's job will be to hold that advantage. She is not a perfect candidate, but unless the world turns over, she will be the nominee; this far ahead, her election odds are at least 50-50.
Her unexciting news conference did nothing to change anything.
Kansas City Star, March 14
With unflagging energy and a charismatic personality, Mayor Sly James has kept his promises of being a bold, reform-minded leader for Kansas City.
In endorsing James during his initial 2011 campaign, we wrote he could direct his talents at "uniting a still-fractured community into a unified, more confident and upbeat metropolis."
And so he has.
James restored trust in local government after the desultory Mark Funkhouser years, while promoting successful elections to pave more roads, provide stable parks funding and build a downtown streetcar line.
He strongly backs an anti-crime initiative that has helped reduce murders. He has read to thousands of students in a program that has many other supporters. He works well with City Manager Troy Schulte to use statistics to improve services from city departments.
And he has boosted Kansas City's visibility on the national scene, engaged with thousands of people on social media, and placed more women, minorities and younger residents in active roles of creating a better community.
Given this track record and his solid ideas for a second term, The Star recommends Sly James in the April 7 mayoral primary and in the June 23 general election.
He deserves another four years to continue working with the City Council, civic officials and neighborhood leaders to keep moving the city forward.
James sketched out some of those ideas in a recent session with the editorial board. The key to accomplishing them is to stay focused on the highest priorities. Among them:
— Decide how to finance a bond issue to improve roads, bridges, public buildings and other infrastructure. James previously has said the cost could be about $1 billion, but isn't committed to that figure. He wants to know what residents want — new sidewalks, for example, and what else?
— Improve the KC No Violence Alliance program that has helped reduce homicides. A key is to set aside more funds to help at-risk residents find and keep jobs, he said.
— Attack long-term economic problems and transit needs on the East Side. "It's a heavy lift," James said when it comes to knocking down even more dangerous buildings but also figuring out how to attract residents and businesses to areas of disinvestment. James wants to find funds for a Prospect MAX line to provide faster bus service on that corridor.
— Take a second look at extending the streetcar system. The most logical spine would go south on Main Street to near the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In a rare, high-profile failure in his first term, James could not get voters in 2014 to approve an expansion plan, including streetcar service to the East Side.
— Finish first-term priorities, led by deciding how to upgrade Kansas City International Airport. City Hall now awaits a report from aviation and airline officials on how they want to proceed. Also, James said city officials are "closer than we've ever been" on reaching a fiscally responsible deal to subsidize a downtown hotel.
The mayor's good sense of humor will be one of his strengths going forward. He should curb a tendency to be overly brusque with people, even if he thinks their arguments aren't based in fact.
If re-elected — and that's extremely likely given the low-profile campaigns of challengers Clay Chastain and Vincent Lee — James will be working with plenty of new City Council members thanks to term limits.
The mayor will have tremendous opportunities to push his initiatives toward success. Sly James has earned more time to pursue positive changes for Kansas City.