t’s summer, it’s hot, and I may or may not be wearing pants.
The Parkville March for Unity on Sunday was quite an impressive event, as more than 500-600 people (according to estimates by police) peacefully gathered, first near City Hall for speeches and then on a march to the Parkville Farmers Market area downtown. According to Mapquest, that’s a distance of 1.5 miles and it came on a day when temperatures were hovering in the mid-90s.
Kudos to the organizers for putting together a successful event that was effective and peaceful.
Two days before the March for Unity in the city, a couple of historical markers in downtown Parkville were removed by City of Parkville officials. You can find coverage of this topic on page A-12 of this issue of The Landmark.
The most noticeable of the markers–the one that sat in the traffic triangle near the Parkville Post Office–came down on Friday. That marker noted Parkville had been a river port on the frontier, home to, among other items, a “slave market.”
After noticing on Sunday that the sign was gone, I reached out to Joe Parente, city administrator of Parkville, for comment. Parente said he asked city staff “to temporarily remove the markers and have them cleaned and stored.” The word “temporarily” is interesting in his quote, since he also says the signs will be “stored,” which would seem to be an indicator the signs won’t be going back up, at least not anytime in the near future.
“Complaints were received from citizens who felt some references on the markers were offensive,” Parente told me in an email. “We are sensitive to everything going on in society. There is interest, as part of a broader dialogue within our community during these times, to also have a conversation about the public display of our history.”
During the Parkville Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night held via Zoom, Mayor Nan Johnston said she recently had “conversations with African American leadership here in Parkville. There are things that we can do better. It’s not enough to simply not be discriminatory.” Johnston said Alderman Philip Wassmer will be heading “an ad hoc conversation with some members of our black community and others to see if there are some areas in our city where we can do better.” She said that the committee intentionally “will not be a defined committee because we don’t know what we don’t know.”
Wassmer said: “I think we start on pretty high grounds. I feel great confidence in the structure of Parkville.” He praised Kevin Chrisman, police chief, for doing a great job of “welcoming this march into the City of Parkville. He welcomed it head on, was prepared for everything.” Wassmer said the march was “a perfect expression of everyone’s wishes to be treated fairly and equitably.” Wassmer commented that he will be inviting a variety of people to serve on the committee, with a goal of coming up with a presentation to the board of aldermen of “maybe adopting a series of moves that the city could make to make us even better. I think every city in the country is doing the same thing right now.”
Johnston added that while the actual group serving on the committee may be small, “anyone that has input at all is free to participate. We don’t want to leave anyone out who has an opinion, an idea or suggestion.”
I wasn’t specifically looking for her, but I didn’t notice first district county commissioner Dagmar Wood at the March for Unity. There were five or six hundred people there, so it’s possible she was in the crowd and I missed her. Anyway, I’m guessing if she was there she likely wasn’t carrying a sign with the ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ symbol she likes to post on Facebook.
How coincidental is this?
The ink was barely dry on last week’s edition when the phone rang and a longtime Platte County Republican activist was on the other end. The veteran of local Republican politics turned the discussion to fellow Republican Susan Phillips, former state representative for southern Platte County, who has re-injected herself into the public realm in what appears to be a head cheerleading role for Dagmar Wood’s sometimes head-scratching comments, her recital of Fox News talking points and her bizarre social media postings of memes and conspiracy theories.
Phillips has also recently publicly claimed that the Platte County Health Department is “controlled by Big Pharma.”
“Do you remember what I think was the only piece of legislation that Susan got passed when she was a state rep?” the caller asked me. I had to confess that I did not. “I think it was about naming a state insect or something,” the caller said.
That conversation was on Thursday. I didn’t think anything more about it until Monday afternoon when the compiled items for the Looking Backward piece that runs on page 3 arrived in my inbox. Go to page 3 now and check the first item under 15 Years Ago. It seems 15 years ago this month, Gov. Matt Blunt visited Chinn Elementary School to sign a piece of legislation filed by State Rep. Susan Phillips. Phillips’ vital piece of legislation designated the North American Bullfrog as the state’s official amphibian.
I don’t know whether to call this situation coincidental or call it ironic. That song by Alanis Morissette always gets me confused.
But anyway, you can’t make this stuff up. Actually I guess you could. It just wouldn’t have the same impact.
(Get more coincidences or irony from Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley or at the freshly renovated plattecountylandmark.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)