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Letters from the week of October 25, 2001

Desk Jockeys
Board of the flies: After reading Joe Miller's "Taylor Made" (October 4), I am so glad I moved my family out of the KCMO School District three years ago. The only way to fix this horrible system is to fire all of the current board members and let the state take control. Then and only then will there be a group of people who actually care about the children and not their hidden and not-so-hidden agendas.
Marc Gagne
Greenwood, Missouri
Head Rest
Brain trust: I felt compelled to respond to Deb Hipp's "Psych Out" (August 23). While she should be commended for addressing issues in our society that are far too often ignored by the general public (and legislators for that matter), she did a poor job of presenting this troubling story in the objective, unbiased manner we are supposed to expect in modern journalism. I have worked in the Kansas City mental health field for nearly a decade. During that time, I have had numerous opportunities to work very closely with Western Missouri Mental Health Center.

Certainly an institution as large as WMMHC will have its obstacles to overcome. Nevertheless, these problems have been inappropriately attributed to Gloria Joseph and Dr. Dick Gregory. Yes, they have a responsibility to address the issues raised by the investigators and their constituents; however, the problems run much deeper than their individual responsibilities. The article failed to address the ongoing problems created by deinstitutionalization, budget cuts (look at Governor Bob Holden's budgets) and their effect on community mental health centers, societal stigma/apathy toward serious mental illness and the fact that treating serious mental illness is one of the greatest challenges of our time.

It is unfortunate that the article failed to present the whole story -- the individual success stories, the WMMHC programs that contribute to wellness/recovery, the staff members who have positive experiences to relate and the patients that truly appreciate the hope that WMMHC has provided for them. In spite of inevitable problems, WMMHC needs society's support, not its damnation.
Randall Staton
Johnson County Mental Health Center

The Ruling Class
My est friend: I read Kendrick Blackwood's article, "Brain Wash" (September 20). I don't know Chancellor Martha Gilliland. I have never met her nor have I ever spoke to her. I also do not work for UMKC or with anyone mentioned in the article.

It appears that Chancellor Gilliland is a woman of great courage. I gathered from Blackwood's article that it sounds like she's inviting her colleagues at UMKC to do some "real thinking." Thinking "outside the box" can be challenging, and it appears many of them are doing just that. Also, I could hear in this article that many seem to appreciate what she's attempting to bring to UMKC.

Those articles on est Blackwood mentioned are all yarns. Here's an example: If you had to go to the bathroom, you just went to the bathroom. Nothing very exciting or dramatic about that. Now the yarn was, they wouldn't let people go the bathroom. Much more interesting.

The scene in Semi Tough, a '70s movie with Burt Reynolds, showed him (with the aid of sound effects) peeing in a bottle strapped to his leg while he sat in a training program called BEAT. It was a spoof on est. Some reporters in those days didn't get that. I may have never taken est if I hadn't read their wild articles. After all, isn't that what it's all about, selling tabloid magazines?

I'm 54 years of age. My wife and I and our three children have all participated in the Landmark Forum. The benefits each of us received from the Landmark Forum marked this as one of the most significant and valuable educational events of our lifetime. I trust that all you want to do is make a difference, too.
Michael McInnis

Corrections:: In Kendrick Blackwood's "Silo Sale" (October 11), the address for Ed Peden's Web site should have been reported as Joe Miller's "Taylor Made" (October 4) should have reported that former Kansas City school board member Michelle Hensley's nephew went to Gladstone Elementary school, not Wheatley; also, Elma Warrick replaced Terry Riley on the school board. And contrary to what a source told Andrew Miller for his October 11 "Around Hear" column, Ann Sharp is the sole owner and proprietor.

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