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Veritas in Advertising

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A candidate running for the Jackson County Legislature graduated from Harvard.

And it took only 13 weeks!

Henry Carner, a retired Independence fire captain, is vying for the seat held by Robert Stringfield (you know, the punchy politician in District 1). Carner's campaign brochure states that Carner "graduated" from the Trade Union Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Business.

Carner may have graduated, but he did not earn a degree. Rather, he completed an executive-training program, which allows professionals to play student and come home with a fancy piece of paper from a brand-name university.

The Trade Union Program is actually the oldest leadership program at Harvard, according to its executive director, Elaine Bernard. Bernard checked the records and found that Carner came through in 1973, while an Independence firefighter.

Bernard says Carner would have learned from the likes of John T. Dunlop, a Harvard professor who went on to become labor secretary in the Ford administration. The program lasted 13 weeks at the time Carner participated.

"It's a pretty distinguished program at Harvard, but it's not a degree-granting program," Bernard says. "It's a certificate."

Including a certificate on one's list of educational accomplishments would seem to fall into a gray area. After all, a reasonable person could look at Carner's brochure and conclude that he earned an MBA at Harvard — just like President George W. Bush!

Bernard, for one, believes that Carner's brochure plays fair with the facts.

"If people say they have a degree from Harvard, given by the Trade Union Program, that's inappropriate," she says. "It's not a degree. But if they say they have received a certificate or that they have graduated from the Harvard Trade Union Program, then that's perfectly all right. I know of hundreds of people who have that distinction."

David Gaston, the director of the University Career Center at the University of Kansas, agrees that it's OK to include nondegree coursework in résumés. "I have something similar on my résumé or my [curriculum] vitae, and I know it's appropriate for me," Gaston says.

Carner, a Democrat, did not respond to messages. Though Carner is a union scholar of sorts, organized labor is said to favor another candidate, Garry Baker, in the August 8 primary.

Deal or No Deal?

Gary Huggins' transformation from part-time Kansas City librarian to director ("Screen Test," January 19) continues. His first film, First Date, is a disturbingly realistic tale about an ex-con desperately trying to meet a young boy he found online. It's been shown at big-name film festivals — Sundance, South By Southwest and France's Clermont-Ferrand.

The film plays coast-to-coast June 23, when it screens simultaneously in San Francisco and New York City. From there, Huggins takes First Date to Outfest in Los Angeles on July 9.

This summer, Huggins will shoot his second short, a film about the relationship between a man standing before a firing squad and one of his executioners. He's also writing his first feature film, a yet-to-be-titled drug thriller.

And the latest twist: Filmmaker has selected Huggins as one of the quarterly industry magazine's "25 New Faces of Indie Film," an annual list of writers, directors and actors on their way up.

All this comes after what first appeared to be his biggest setback. Huggins got a verbal offer for First Date a few months ago from a Sundance Channel film buyer.

"They called me and loved it and wanted it and said we're in business together," Huggins says. The buyer told him to check his e-mail for the contract. But the agreement never showed up. When Huggins inquired about the late contract, the buyer e-mailed him and said that when he showed First Date to his bosses, the film didn't receive favorable reviews. So a week after making t he offer, Sundance backed out. "Oh, they bought it," Huggins tells the Pitch, "and then they unbought it."

Sundance gave First Date serious consideration, says Sarah Eaton, the cable channel's senior vice president of public relations. "There was a big advocate for the film," Eaton tells the Pitch. "But in the end, it just did not make the cut."

Meanwhile, Huggins is back at the Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library, where, for now, he can be found checking 'em in and checking 'em out.

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