publisher's note
June 20, 2008



Stupidity for all, a threat to one
by Bruce Rodgers

In 1971, the comedy troupe Firesign Theatre released their fourth album, I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus. The title is an apt description of how light rail has been handled in this city — providing one of the supposed leaders of the effort would “think” and admit to the bozo-ness of the whole endeavor.

Of course that’s likely not going to happen, at least not until someone running against one of these “enlightened” public servants brings up the fact that the light rail yearnings of a public buckled over by $4 gas have yet to be satisfied; and there’s a lot of people to blame, except for the one guy that got the one light rail plan ever passed by voters in Kansas City.

Recounting the whole mucked-up recent history of the light rail effort since a majority of voters agreed with Clay Chastain’s plan in November 2006 would require spread sheets, graphs, pie charts, a Power Point presentation and a bibliography, along with likely a team of consultants — paid with taxpayer dollars — to figure what plan was pushed by what group or individual — be it Mayor Mark Funkhouser, the Mid-America Regional Council, ATA, The Kansas City Star, KCOne or Bob and Steve or Sally and Betty or whomever at just about any local bar and grill.

Even for folks not on the right-wing side of the political argument, Kansas City’s light rail planning has proven Ronald Reagan correct — “Government is the problem.”

One byproduct of all this stupidity is the stirrings among some folks that maybe Clay Chastain’s plan — the one PASSED by the people — wasn’t all that bad. At least, the confusion factor was absent, no doubts what it did and who it came from. Chastain, for all his faults, isn’t shy about and is straightforward in what he advocates.

He believes the public was subjected to a “propaganda” effort in becoming convinced that his plan was unworkable soon after it was passed. Chastain also correctly points out that initially he was viewed as “pulling off a miracle” with passage of his light rail plan. Soon after passage, he held a series of meetings, including a closed-door discussion with Funkhouser, and talked with various city council members and other officials.

The good vibes were short-lived. The establishment, so to speak, found that if it abided by the vote, it would have to adjust the planning and financing for a project that a single citizen had put together. Oh, the embarrassment! Chastain had finally done it — without city hall, without MARC, without the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, without the Civic Council, without the ATA, without the endorsement of The Kansas City Star, without anyone except thousands of regular voters.

It wasn’t long before Chastain knew “the ruling class” wasn’t going to accept such a scenario of having them not calling the shots. So, said Chastain, “People kept hearing this propaganda over and over that this (the light rail plan that was approved by voters) was unworkable.

“That’s what propaganda does, to get control of the media and the media controls the thinking of the public. There was no other dissent other than me.”

He said he was always open to changes to his plan (a claim that can be disputed), providing an independent review process was brought in.

“(The plan) needed an outside, independent view, and a judge to rule on some issues raised against it,” said Chastain.

Instead, he said, “the media got lazy” and let the city council rescind the November vote, leading the city to where it is now — divided and agonizing over another November vote, unsure of what plan to put forward to the public, two years after the public voiced its want of light rail at the ballot box.

Chastain said it all could have been avoided. “They could have gone back to the voters with changes (to his plan). I would have supported going back but instead of doing that, they killed it.

“This whole process has to discourage anyone from trying to use the initiative petition process to challenge the ruling class. It dehumanized me and distorted my ideas.”

Left without any other option, Chastain filed a lawsuit. A ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court is expected soon.

Meanwhile, the hate factor against Chastain has emerged. In April, he and his wife received a threatening letter after filing the lawsuit.

“They kicked us around and we fought back, and we got the death threat,” said Chastain.

He contacted his local police in Virginia and on one visit to Kansas City had police protection while speaking at a public meeting.

The following is what the letter said; beware of the crude language:

“Listen up motherfucker. You have NO STAKE in Kansas City. We don’t give a fuck who you have buried here. We don’t give a fuck who you have sick here. As the Kansas City Star said, you don’t live, work, vote or pay taxes here and have NO SAY in anything concerning this city. We don’t give a fuck where you take your family here. We don’t give a fuck which barbeque you prefer. We don’t give a fuck how many blowjobs you give at the Star so they’ll publish another one of your lame ass opinions. We don’t give a fuck about what you think. We don’t give a fuck if you ever show your sorry fucking ass here again. The bus tax passed, shithead. That means you won’t see a single dime for light rail for the next 15 years. Or ever! By that time maybe you will be dead . . . you and the cunt you live with. Your lawsuit is moot. We will do what we want, when we want, and in the manner we want and neither you nor that shit faced lawyer you sleep with is going to have any say. You are nothing more than a fucking pest and we will crush you like the insect you are. We have you so tied up, you have no idea. Take your fucking light rail and shove it up your motherfucking ass, cocksucker. Keep pestering us and you could have a very, very bad day.”

Said Chastain, “(The threat) shows what can happen to citizens that get involved to try and help the community.”

Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at


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