Monday, March 10, 2008

The Columbia Heart Beat -- 3/10/08

News and Commentary for Columbia's Blogs and Listservs

Northern Lights, A Little Masterpiece


REGARDING HENRY: Whatever Happened to Henry Lane, In his Own Words
CAN YOU TALK STRAIGHT TO A FIFTH GRADER? Kids Question Candidates, Part 1
THE CHANGE GANG: Valuing our Devalued City Council; Bass Ackwards Planning
ARCH BROOKS: Grants A Candid Exclusive to the Kids from Grant

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: Responds to "Unbalanced" Forum Criticism


VILLAGE VOICEOVER: Orr Street Studios Kicks Off Part Two
RESTAURANT REVIEW: I've never had a bad meal at....; Best Soup in Town



For Congress
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Group seeks Assessor candidate(s); Citizens Oversight Committee; League of Women Voters forum; Women and War

REGARDING HENRY: Whatever Happened to Henry Lane, In his Own Words

I don't know how many people over the years have wondered: whatever happened to Henry Lane? And why, when his pronouncements and predictions about the Columbia school district are finally coming to pass, isn't he running for school board -- again?

The answer is simple and it's at the end of this column. And if I ever have to ask my children the thing no parent ever wants to ask -- why are you giving up on your dream -- Henry's answer is the one I hope they give.

For readers who don't remember Henry, he was the perennial school board candidate, running and losing six times. And though he clouded his message with political missteps and a curmudgeonly persona that never resonated, it ultimately rang true. Four years ago this month, Henry wrote to the Columbia Tribune:

"Classroom instruction is the Columbia school district's core operation, its whole purpose for being. The teachers who provide that instruction are essential employees. They should, therefore, be the last thing cut in the district's current effort to reduce expenses, with administrative and support activities being the first. But just the opposite is occurring. Teaching positions are being axed while large potential savings in administrative and support activities are ignored."

Oh how history could repeat. And oh how Henry Lane was savaged for his prognostications upon it.

And oh how one person stood by his side.

"In regard to Tony Messenger's recent feature, 'Last man standing should give up school board dream,' about my good friend Henry Lane -- I am appalled," she wrote the Tribune. "When he runs again next year, I'll work my tail off for him, and he will be elected. When that happens, the people of Columbia will have the best school board member ever. He's the most honest, honorable and dedicated man I've ever known, and the best kisser as well!"

Now if she hasn't provided a clue to Henry's answer -- that he was "the best kisser" -- you may be too young to understand. And if you aren't sure what Henry saw in Mari Lou Weilbrenner, and how she ultimately stole his heart, well -- the answer to that question is pretty simple, too.

"She was a farm girl from Davis County, Iowa, the oldest of three children, and she and her brothers attended a one-room school where art wasn't given a second thought. 'We were very, very poor. Extremely poor,'" Mari Lou told Columbia Tribune columnist Sara Agnew. "Art wasn't something that was offered where I went to school."

Art lover. And pioneer. "She was 33 and the mother of two daughters when she enrolled in her first art class at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. It was the mid-'60s, and there were few women her age in college."

And forty years later, Mari Lou was a woman who decided that she too, had a long and unfulfilled dream.

"I only permit myself five or six hours of sleep a night because I can get more done," the 71-year-old artist said. "I always have a million things running through my mind that I want to do. I'll need to live to be 150."

"A diminutive woman, dainty and busy like a hummingbird," Mari Lou was primarily a jewelry maker, Agnew tells us. She used semiprecious stones and a process called "electroforming," to create "wonderful textures and unusual designs."

But her art wasn't diminutive. Her creations were "large and bold, as if the creative energy that had bubbled in her for so many years erupted in a grand fountain."

Mari Lou traveled all over the world with her husband -- to art shows in Japan, Switzerland, Austria, and Singapore, selling thousands of dollars of wearable art. Widowed in 1999, she gave dozens of art shows here in Columbia over the years.

When she met Henry Lane, no doubt she saw a kindred spirit, a man who thought he could make a difference in our stubborn little burg. Henry was, like Mari Lou, still crazy enough to dream after all these years.

In January of this year, when Mari Lou Weilbrenner died at the age of 76, I remembered seeing her in church at Henry's side, with a pretty spring hat and and the prideful glow of a person in love and admiration.

And I thought about something Henry told me at a reception a few years ago, the answer to that question, Whatever happened to Henry Lane? Why did he finally give up his dream?

"I found love," Henry said. The best answer of all.


Mari Lou Weilbrenner, 1931-2008
Emerging Artist: Mari Lou Weilbrenner

CAN YOU TALK STRAIGHT TO A FIFTH GRADER? Kids Question Candidates, Part 1

Many thanks to Jennifer Wingert's Fifth Grade Class at Grant Elementary for providing these questions to local political candidates. And many thanks to the candidates for answering.

We're going to mix it up a bit, with our first batch of responses from 1st Ward Council Candidates John Clark and Karen Baxter; School Board Candidates Rosie Tippin and Darin Preis; and County Commission Candidate Skip Elkin .

Read their responses here.

THE CHANGE GANG: Valuing our Devalued City Council; Bass Ackwards Planning

An all-volunteer government is great for a small town, but not for the city Columbia wishes to become. The mayor would no longer be a member of the council (currently the at-large member and the figure and talking head for Columbia) but would sit as the head of the executive branch of the city government. No more "City Manager" who is not directly responsible to the citizens. (I like Bill Watkins, not the political appointment he holds.)
-- David Rosman on why we should pay the City Council

When it comes to growth and development issues, the Columbia City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission are stumbling around in the dark. As a result, plans proposed by developers that seem to work now are likely to result in inefficiencies, cross purposes and squandered opportunities down the line as development proceeds. -- County Commission Candidate Sid Sullivan on the consequences of poor planning

ARCH BROOKS: Grants A Candid Exclusive to the Kids from Grant

Controversial school board candidate Arch Brooks speaks candidly to Jennifer Wingert's Fifth Grade Class at Grant Elementary:

Q: How does the School Board help decide what curriculum students learn in school?

A. I strongly believe African-American studies and racial sensitivity curriculum needs to be included.

Before Dr. King, segregation was the separation of whites and blacks based solely on outward appearances. There were "white only" accommodations and "black only" accommodations.

The desegregation of Columbia Public Schools was not accomplished until the mid sixties, even though most places accomplished desegregation in the early to mid fifties. Just as Missouri was the last state to end slavery, Missourians are not easy to change. Most other states consider Missouri to be backwards in many regards.

The recent violence at the Hickman high school is a direct result of a lack of education about cultures and tolerance of different cultures.

For decades Columbia Public Schools have totally disregarded addressing most all issues involving questions of race. Our past administrations felt that job was better left for someone else to do. Last week at Hickman High School those chickens came home to roost.

The fight and approximately eight arrests were the results.

Q. How will you ALL work together to improve Columbia and Boone County?

A. Boone County has a well documented history of violating the civil and human rights of its own African-American, Boone County citizens. Lynching was a common practice in Boone County, which was generally held at the steps of the Boone County Court House (on Eighth Street in Columbia).

An allegation would be made against a Boone County African-American. There would be no proof of guilt and no trial was held for the accused African-American. But because white folks wanted entertainment, a rope would be placed around the African-American's neck, then white folks hoisted and hanged the African-American citizen by the neck until they were pronounced dead.

This common practice of lynching is fully documented on murals hanging on each floor of the Boone County Court House. Not only are there nooses in the pictures, but there are African-American's necks at the end of each noose and white folks look over the proceedings.

Those murals are considered a part of Boone County's heritage. I am fighting now to have these egregious paintings removed from our courthouse permanently. It is a difficult fight because most folks at the Boone County Government Office want their horrible reminders of human rights violations to remain in place.

I think we would all agree lynching is not the way Boone County Citizens should be treated, especially in 2008.

I tell you this truth to let you know I don't know how Boone County Government and the Public Schools can work together.

There has never been an African-American elected official in Boone County government. I cannot predict what the outcome might be! Boone County has always resisted treating African-Americans fairly for hundreds of years (centuries) and even today. Boone County Government shows no signs of changing anything in the near future.


Consternation was the rule of the day when Class Notes blogger and Tribune education reporter Janese Heavin announced the presence of a naughty new blog, Chasing Phyllis, a take-off of a Class Notes take off on the "Chasing Farrah" E! network reality show.

Were we responsible, Janese asked on the phone? Though we love to be naughty, it wasn't us.

Could the superintendent herself actually be responsible, using sneaky pseudonyms in an act of subversion, as CPS watchcat "Tracy" suggested.

Or could the creators of Chasing Phyllis remain one of Columbia's best kept secrets?

If one could only become the proverbial little fly on the the office....of the Superintendent....



LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: Responds to "Unbalanced" Forum Criticism

Responding to a recent criticism that the League of Women Voters' forum on Thursday last week allowed Columbia Public Schools administrator Sally Beth Lyon to talk about the tax levy proposal but did not provide an opposing viewpoint, League president Elaine Blodgett writes that "we share your concern. There was presentation by only one side on the school tax issue with no time for questions and discussion."

Blodgett says the League requested 20 minutes with questions, but "due to miscommunication," there was no time left for questions. Blodgett also said that an opposing presenter (she did not name) had been scheduled but failed to show "as promised."

"Please be assured that League always works hard on these presentations, and has every good intention for the fair presentation of candidates and issues," Blodgett concluded.

VILLAGE VOICEOVER: Orr Street Studios Kicks Off Part Two

Congrats to Mark Timberlake, Chris Teeter, and the folks at Orr Street Studios for kicking off Part 2 -- a total redo of the old Sunshine Linen building, also known as "The Diaper Factory." My family and I drove by yesterday (Saturday, 3/8) to see work crews on hoists and forklifts, moving sheet metal, building walls, and reconstructing this new addition to the Village of North Central Columbia. So far, the vision has worked -- inexpensive and quasi-communal art studio space, fashioned with clever but economical renovations. Kudos!

The annual meeting of North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association members is Sunday, April 13, from 3-5 pm at Brian Pape's Mule Barn at 501 Fay Street. "We will all bring snacks and finger foods for a fun get together, and then vote. I hope many of you will want to help your neighborhood by volunteering to serve on the board," says board president Linda Rootes. "Thanks for all you already do to make our neighborhood safer and better for our children and families. Serving on the neighborhood board is one more way to help." In order to stand for election or to vote for the Board of Directors you must be registered with the secretary each year. Contact Linda Rootes for more information.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: I've never had a bad meal at....; Best Soup in Town

I've never had a bad meal at Peking Restaurant on Green Meadows Blvd. (Chinese); Murray's, also on Green Meadows (American); Bangkok Gardens, on Cherry Street (Thai); The Turtle Club on Main Street in Ashland (Best Steaks in Boone); Shakespeare's Pizza (9th Street, Downtown); Upper Crust Cafe, Village of Cherry Hill. My experience at many of Columbia's large chain restaurants near the freeway has faired more poorly, as both their service and food have declined dramatically in recent years.

Best Soup in Town: Klik's Restaurant on 10th Street across from Wabash Station downtown (try the chili, too); Hoss' Market on the corner of Nifong and Forum Blvds. (try the gumbo)

BROCK OLIVO FOR CONGRESS: Paid for by Vote, Brock Olivo!

Here...Here, and Ready. A Republican, for now.


Citizens for Property Tax Fairness seeks a qualified candidate or candidates for the 2008 Boone County Assessor's race. "We seek to help finance, organize, and campaign hard for the right candidate or candidates, regardless of party affiliation." According to 53.010, RSMo, the county assessor must simply be a "resident of the county." The Boone County assessor currently earns $81,203.20 per year with generous benefits. Filing deadline: March 25.

For more information, please go here.

The League of Women voters is looking for someone who opposes the city and the county sewer tax item to speak this Tuesday night at the County Government Center. If you know anyone who could speak, please contact Elaine Blodgett or

CANDIDATES AND ISSUES FORUM League of Women Voters Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Roger B. Wilson Bldg, Council Chambers 801 E. Walnut Street 6:30 – 9:00pm; Refreshments at 6:00 pm

Candidates for Boone County Hospital Board – 5 year term, all county voters
Candidates: Keith Schnarre, Fred Parry, Brian Neuner (Brian is unopposed)

Sewer Bond Issue Presentations:
Steve Hunt, Publics Works Sewer Engineer from City of Columbia
Tom Ratermann, Sewer District General Manager and June Pitchford, Boone County Auditor

Candidates for Boone Fire Protection District Board -- Boone County voters outside city limits
Candidates: Phyllis Fugit, John Sam Williamson, James "Mickey" Nichols, Mike McMillen, Lloyd "Mike" Becker, David Griggs (unopposed)

The Citizen's Oversight Committee will be holding open meetings to secure input from the public. Opinions are requested to help determine whether or not a Police Review Commission is needed in Columbia. The following dates and places have been established for the public to come and voice their concerns:

Thursday, March 13, 2008 7:00 – 9:00 P.M.
Smithton Middle School, 3600 W. Worley

Thursday, March 20, 2008 7:00 – 9:00 P.M.
Oakland Junior High School, 3405 Oakland Place

Thursday, April 10, 2008 7:00 – 9:00 P.M.
Parkade Elementary School, 111 Parkade Blvd.

Join the dialogue on " Women and War" Monday, March 10. 7 p.m., Boone County Gov. Ctr., Rm. 220, 801 E. Walnut "The Other Side of War: Womens' Stories of Survival and Hope" will be featured. It is an eight minute video compiled by President of Women for Women International, Zainab Salbi.

Mike Martin Blogitor-in-Chief
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National Association of Science Writers (

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1 comment:

  1. Mr. Martin,

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