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Archive for Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Investigator finds no evidence that Lawrence City Manager David Corliss made racial slur

An internal investigation said David Corliss did not say a racial slur and the city will not take disciplinary action.

July 7, 2010, 2:11 p.m. Updated July 7, 2010, 2:21 p.m.

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David Corliss Investigation Report ( .PDF )

An independent investigation was inconclusive on whether City Manager David Corliss uttered the phrase “spear-chucker” during a staff meeting, but the investigator found no evidence that Corliss was trying to make a racial slur.

Mayor Mike Amyx released the report Wednesday afternoon and said city commissioners had determined to not reprimand Corliss since there was no evidence that his remarks were racially motivated. City commissioners met about the matter Tuesday evening in executive session.

“The City Commission has found no basis for further action,” Amyx said.

The report by former Kansas University Law School dean Stephen McAllister found that five people in a June 10 staff meeting were certain that Corliss used the phrase “spear-chucker,” which is a negative term for black people.

But McAllister said four other people in the meeting did not recall Corliss using the phrase.

None of the nine people in the meeting, though, believes that Corliss was trying to make a racial reference during the meeting.

“No one I interviewed claimed to believe or even asserted that they thought the city manager used the term ‘spear-chucker’ with the intent to make a racial slur or in a racially derogatory fashion,” McAllister wrote in the report. “Even those who brought the matter to the mayor’s attention indicated that they did not believe the city manager used the term with any racial intent.”

The leaders of the city’s firefighter and police unions alerted the mayor to the comment and asked for an investigation. Their concerns came as the city was negotiating new employment contracts with the unions. But union officials have said the tough negotiations did not have any impact on their decision to ask for an investigation.

Mike McMillen, head of the fire union, said he brought the issue to the mayor’s attention because he believed city employees had a responsibility to report such language.

Both McMillen and Mike McAtee, head of the police union, said they accepted the City Commission’s findings.

An estimate on how much the investigation cost was not available because the city has not yet received McAllister’s bill.

Other findings from the report included:

• No one present in the June 10 meeting recalled any reaction to Corliss’ use of the phrase “spear-chucker.” A majority of the nine people at the meeting later said they were not aware the phrase had a racially derogatory meaning.

• McAllister determined that it would “make little sense” for Corliss to use the phrase as a racial slur given the context of the meeting. The meeting was about health care benefits. The five who remember Corliss uttering the phrase agreed it was said in the context of making an unpopular decision about health benefits. McAllister reported individuals remembered Corliss saying something similar to: “Let the spear-chuckers chuck their spears at me. I’m ready to catch them.”

McAllister said the remark didn’t make sense in a racial context because no one in the meeting was black, and none of the city employee groups is predominantly black. The city’s work force is about 4.75 percent black.

Corliss had little to say on the findings Wednesday.

“I appreciate the City Commission’s support,” Corliss said.

Corliss previously said he did not recall whether he used the phrase during the meeting. He said he was sure he did not use the phrase to describe the racial makeup of a group of people.

Comments

Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

Not according to the result of the investigation.

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black_butterfly 3 years, 9 months ago

Regardless of his intent, it was unprofessional and of poor judgement that he used the term.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

Since neither Al or Jesse spoke on this I assume they haven't heard about it or it wasn't important enough to waste thier time on.

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Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

why, it's aunt jemima beatrice once again ! You sound just like Leonard Pitts, always whining and cryin about people that he wishes he could be like, but doesn't have enough class to rise above his own ignorant attitude.

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Mr_B9 3 years, 9 months ago

If one would be chucking spears would their opponent be catching spears? Maybe that was what he was referring too.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

Al Sharpton is pretty annoying but I like Jesse.

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kscityrobber 3 years, 9 months ago

i wish people would go after rev.al and rev. jesse for the stupid comments they make. like people do anytime a white man speaks. lets go after the people that are really hurting race relations....

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 9 months ago

Maybe he was referring to Chuck Spearer and got his words mixed up.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

Clearly, the JW is keeping this story going; they must have a "dog in this race" other than viewership. The term Corless used is racist, regardless of all of the apologizers, meaning twisters, excuse makers, and know nothings than have defended his gaffe.

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stash 3 years, 9 months ago

Ah the Corliss saga continues ---- time for a new City Manager.

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feeble 3 years, 9 months ago

Clearly, the solution is to pepper your speech with words none can possibly understand, such as

"“Let the atlatls ontlatlaza their tlacochtli at me. I’m ready to catch them.”

Everyone would assume the speaker is either a Nahuatl scholar, or totally crazy. Problem solved.

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igby 3 years, 9 months ago

So, if these Firemen who made the complaint to city hall, and they lied ; could they get arrested for their own murder if they cause riots and buildings get burned and some of them die while trying to put out the fires. Lol.

Since someone seems to always get arrested when some fireman gets killed putting out a fire. It's always someone to blame for a fireman's death so could they get blamed for their own death if they incite riots with this Spear-Chucker roost just to put pressure on City Hall for more equipment and money. Lol

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love2fish_ks 3 years, 9 months ago

Three more insults to black men. He said it. The city blest it. LJW readers condone it. Time for a march on city hall.

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Mark Pickerel 3 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Corliss was merely commenting on a particularly jovial colleague as being a "Spirited Chuckler".

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stash 3 years, 9 months ago

must have been a flashback to his high school DAZE. haven't heard that one in decades!

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timetospeakup 3 years, 9 months ago

This is so dumb. I've never even heard that phrase, and despite the article I'm not sure who it'd be meant to offend.

But what the heck, let's ban some words. No more master/slave settings on your hard drives or retarded timing on your engines!

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verity 3 years, 9 months ago

Can't we just beat the spears into plowshears?

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firebird27 3 years, 9 months ago

I did not know the word spear chucker was a racist term, but I do now. I remember the term being associated with the name of a character in the movie, MASH.

But this involves a question. In our more pluralistic society, do we consider terms like redneck or cracker to be racist terms?

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

I don't even care what his intent was. I am more concerned with people who go around picking apart everything that everyone else says and then tries to apply it in a divisive manner. If People are really seeking equality, wether it be race or gender it is time to stop all this crap and start communicating with each other without all the defensiveness.

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kimmydarling 3 years, 9 months ago

I was hoping to be able to say "in before 'black people were mean to me and called me names so I know what it's like to experience racism!' " but you guys are on the ball today! Had that out within a few comments.

It doesn't matter what your INTENT was if you are using racist terms. My grandfather grew up when it was okay to call African American people "colored". Was his intent racist? no. Was the term? Yep.

I may be as white as it gets but I fully understand the idea that while I may have been treated with bigotry, it certainly wasn't racism. The day that people of color hold the majority of social and political power in this country..? Well, we'll talk about it again then.

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mistygreen 3 years, 9 months ago

What a waste of time and valuable resources.

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yourworstnightmare 3 years, 9 months ago

"“No one I interviewed claimed to believe or even asserted that they thought the city manager used the term ‘spear-chucker’ with the intent to make a racial slur or in a racially derogatory fashion,” McAllister wrote in the report. “Even those who brought the matter to the mayor’s attention indicated that they did not believe the city manager used the term with any racial intent.”

Uh, with what other intent does one use this phrase?

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

"spear thrower" and "spear chucker" have totally different connotations in my mind. I threw the javelin in high school; we were called "spear throwers" all the time but never the other.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

My point is that I have never considered any comment by Beatrice to be racist, yet to some if it is presented in a certain way it could appear to be racist. I think you give David Corliss too much credit. He appears clueless in so many other areas of city managment ( which has been pointed out by so many on this forum) I can totally believe he is clueless about this term, Also to chuck is to throw. If you google spear thrower rather than spear chucker you get a whole new group of links not even related to racism.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

artichoke: Talk about obfuscating the real meaning with your definition thread. My error though, the Richard Pryor give/take was with Chevy Chase on SNL as part of a job interview skit Pryor was undergoing. I just looked it up on the Internet. Again, knowing Corless's age and the age of the Commissioners and the popularity of SNL with that age group, there is no excuse for his error.

He should take the honorable way out and just apologize.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

I found this as a response on the latest leonard Pitts editorial.

beatrice (anonymous) replies… Wow, just like Tom, Bearded here has experienced racism from blacks! Shocking. I guess that means racism in America is equal and across the board. So, did you too not get your order of Church's Chicken as fast as others?

So I ask is the above not a racist response? Is chicken racist, or is Churche's chicken racist ,or is it simply the implied by the poster in this comment that is racist?

Again I say if you look hard enough for racism you will find it, intended or not.

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 9 months ago

Makes you wonder which employee(s) wasted our tax dollars on this little witch hunt and whether they have been taking their meds everyday.

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2002 3 years, 9 months ago

I have no opinion on whether he is a good CM or not. Here's what I do know, from the article:

The leaders of the city’s firefighter and police unions alerted the mayor to the comment and asked for an investigation. Their concerns came as the city was negotiating new employment contracts with the unions. But union officials have said the tough negotiations did not have any impact on their decision to ask for an investigation.

Typical, underhanded, unethical behavior from the fire and police unions. The Council can do whatever they want with the City Manager, but I hope they give police and fire a major cut, just out of principle. Maybe then the unions will select real leaders to represent them.

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Kelly Johnson 3 years, 9 months ago

Summary of this article:

Someone may or may not have said something that some may or may not find offensive. Some people may or may not remember him saying it, and some other people may or may not remember him saying it. He may or may not have said it, and he may or may not have meant it to be offensive.

I totally could have been the "neutral party" that investigated this matter, and I would have only charged $100 for my report.

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musbhiorlo 3 years, 9 months ago

he's a lousy city manager fire him for that

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

In one of Richard Pryor's most famous skits "the term" was used as part of a racist (black-white) give and take with Steve Martin (I think). It is very funny given the time/audience. To keep this unemotional I won't use their dialog terms; you can find it I'm sure on the internet.

But don't give us the line that Corless did not know the meaning or likely response. Not so funny coming from a City Manager in a staff meeting!!

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

So I looked it up I found this http://www.thebutter-cutter.com/The_DoD_Spear-Chuckers.html, which says it is a political term. I found a link that said it is a sports term as in Javilin throwing. I found a link that associates it with video gaming. I found a link that specified it as a tribal group of hunters. I found online dictionaries that connect the term to racism. I guess if you cry fire often enough you can convince anyone of anything, at least in Kansas.

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beawolf 3 years, 9 months ago

I haven't been on these blogs in a few months and the same old idiots are still at it. I would bet that every race/nationality has ancestors who threw spears at some point in their human history. Only a racist would deem the term a racial slur.

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bennyoates 3 years, 9 months ago

Liberty, Shewmon, Prune, and the usual reactionary suspects are mighty disappointed. They were counting on Corliss to come through for them with a nice juicy bigoted remark so they could claim him as one of their own and maybe get him to run for 2010 Prez on the Tea Party ticket. After all, being politically incorrect and hating Barack Hussein Obama's guts are the only qualifications needed for leading the uprising of True American Patriotism. But they can still use him as a pinup in their victimization fantasies.

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ivalueamerica 3 years, 9 months ago

I really fail to see what all the hullabalu is about.

Something questionable was said. That should be taken seriously, especially at his level of office. It was taken seriously, it was investigated and there is no evidence to question the results of the investigation.

Case closed.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

The "term" is an example of a "ethnophaulism" or a ethnically derogatory term. Suggest Corless and maybe others check out one of the many on-line dictionaries before using terms with connotations they don't comprehend. Look yourself, no race, religion, hair color etc., etc., is spared. He should have known better; and for others claiming to not know sounds kinda like a BP response.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

If nine other people in the meeting did not know it was a racist term) I'm still not sure it is) then maybe David Corliss didn't either.

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jessanddaron 3 years, 9 months ago

Here is something to wrap your minds around...if a term is racially hurtful there is NO way you can use it in a context where it isn't offensive. Think about it, in what way would "kike" be acceptable in ANY conversation whatsoever? Why is this so hard to grasp? He said something racist, who cares what the context was...

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igby 3 years, 9 months ago

Everyone's a Spear-Chucker nowadays, and guess what? If your from the country in Africa, by the name of Niger, your a Niger. So he's just a stupid bigot who thinks being a city manager, his job role is protecting the elected special interest crooks, the CC's, from the Spear-chuckers, the general public.

When special interest controls a government through manipulated election tactics that limit voter turnout through limited public awareness, it called legalized corruption.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

artichoke: With your signin name as a clue, maybe you like I grew up in California. The "term" was unknown to me out there, but I quickly saw it's usage and learned it's meaning as soon as I moved to Kansas as a teenager in the 1960's. Many other "terms" as well.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

Until this came up I had never heard the term "spear chucker" either. Guess I live in a bubble or something too.

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stash 3 years, 9 months ago

Q: Why do WASPs play golf? A: So they can dress like pimps.

--Andrea Zastrow

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stash 3 years, 9 months ago

Coreless didn't mean it!

"When any principle, law, tenet, probability, happening, circumstance, or result can in no way be directly, indirectly, empirically, or circuitously proven, derived, implied, inferred, induced, deducted, estimated, or scientifically guessed, it will always for the purpose of convenience, expediency, political advantage, material gain, or personal comfort, or any combination of the above, or none of the above, be unilaterally and unequivocally assumed, proclaimed, and adhered to as absolute truth to be undeniably, universally, immutably, and infinitely so, until such time as it becomes advantageous to assume otherwise, maybe.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

beatrice: Per your paragraph #2; where did these people grow-up to not know the meaning of the "term". Makes you wonder how unaware these people really are and how capable of understanding other "street issues".

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beatrice 3 years, 9 months ago

"A majority of the nine people at the meeting later said they were not aware the phrase had a racially derogatory meaning."

Nice to know Corliss wasn't trying to make a racist statement, but how can a majority of city leaders be so woefully ignorant to the derogatory meaning of certain phrases used in our society?

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blindrabbit 3 years, 9 months ago

Think any internal pressure here to "brush this under the rug". Reminds me of a saying my next door neighbor, a CIA Cartographer, liked to use: "Prosecutors Will Be Violated".

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Kontum1972 3 years, 9 months ago

how about the phrase..."BUCKWHEAT"...?

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somedude20 3 years, 9 months ago

My friend Chuck Spear does not have a problem with what went down

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thuja 3 years, 9 months ago

Any further commenting is a waste of electricity.

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stash 3 years, 9 months ago

5 recall 4 do not. Yeah right clearly there was no evidence of wrong speech. Fire the dude! get a new City Manager - he is known as a bully anyway.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

The investigation is over. David Corliss has been cleared of any wrong doing. Any further investigation is a waste of money.

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independant1 3 years, 9 months ago

He's absolutely guilty of poor choice of words.

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Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

Fvck all you crybaby a$$holes !!! Why should the real world buckle under every time some baby wants to cry wolf. Words mean absolutely nothing to anyone but the weak minded. Why should words mean anything ? Unless you are just looking for a reason to employ violence. Pride has no place in this world, but, left up to the idiotic masses, pride seems to be all that matters.

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lawthing 3 years, 9 months ago

(See Ref: Report rejects fired officer's claims : LJ World 2003) http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2003/jun/07/report_rejects_fired/?more_like_this

"We knew Dean McAllister would provide a knowledgeable and thorough investigation of the allegations," Corliss said. "We didn't deem it appropriate to refer to a law enforcement agency with the information we had at this time.""

Be nice if everyone could be investigated by their good friends instead of the KBI

Good ole' boy Lawrence

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biggunz 3 years, 9 months ago

I dare anyone here to call a black man a "spearchucker" whether it be a co-worker, customer, or complete stranger. See how it works out for you. It's just a word.

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Pilgrim2 3 years, 9 months ago

Much ado about nothing, start to finish.

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redneck 3 years, 9 months ago

Yup, play the race card when ever you want to get you're way. That's how it works in this mixed up world. Do you have to be black to be a spear chucker? I can chuck spears, and I'm not even slightly brown. Maybe he was referring to someone who is native to Lawrence (AKA Lawrencian), and he was trying to stay away from the word "native". May have been a bad choice of words, if he actually said it. Beats me, but lets make sure we stone that SOB in the town square.

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OonlyBonly 3 years, 9 months ago

There seems to be a lot of commentary that "spear chucker" isn't a derogatory term towards Blacks. Now I might suggest that those who firmly believe it isn't proceed post haste to the area os Prospect, Troost or the Paseo - say around 31st Street (or maybe a little further north) in KC, Mo and yell it out a few times. Then report back, Okay?

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Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

The fact is, all you pvssies on here who are whining and crying like there's no justice in the world are the same a$$holes who cry about the waste of taxpayer dollars, which, ironically, is what it is to have taken this non-issue as far as it has already gone. You people seem to exist only for the oppurtunity to cry about anything that your tiny little minds deem as unfair, or inexcusable, so much so that you are unable to differintiate between facts and sensationalism. Get a fvcking life a$$holes, your whining reminds one of Leonard Pitts.... you get a tiny bit of unwarranted recognition (in Pitts case, a pulitzer) and you start believing that someone actually gives a damn about your lame opinion !!!

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BruceWayne 3 years, 9 months ago

Amyx wears a wig. He is a wigger.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 9 months ago

Oh do let us spend more money on this. It's only tax money, what the hell!

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

Independent Investigation is not enough on matters such as this. After all it was inconclusive.

Are there smoking guns? We don't know that.

Is there some underlying motivation behind this activity?

Personally I would be shocked if Dave Corliss did use the term "spear chucker" in a very public staff meeting. He wasn't born yesterday.

Nonetheless this should should move to a more in depth investigative process under the circumstances.

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tange 3 years, 9 months ago

Boy, that took a long time. What's on the gossip board, this week?

( The gob is getting restless. )

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blue73harley 3 years, 9 months ago

Who made the original complaint? Emily Litella?

Nevermind.

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bangaranggerg 3 years, 9 months ago

I am an african american board-certified neurosurgeon and I answer to the name "Spearchucker". Trapper and Hawkeye tell me it's because of my javelin-throwing prowess though..

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IndusRiver 3 years, 9 months ago

Now, IR, you are leaving out the part where you defamed someone, were told to provide evidence, but have neglected to do that.

Anybody who thinks they can sue me, sue me.

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kansasredlegs 3 years, 9 months ago

Independent Investigation? Right. City always uses McAllister when it needs a predetermined outcome. Hope he wasn't on KU's Professor clock when he was charging the City his $300 - $500 per hour. btw: What happened to the Honorable Gerald Cooley who was supposed to be the one conducting the investigation as first reported?

Way to spend, er, throw away the City's money, Mr. Mayor.

LJW: It's an open record, right? Report how much Mayor Amyx wasted on this 'independent investigation.'

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Tarball 3 years, 9 months ago

What did he say? Redneck? Tea bagger? Cracker? Casper? It's good that they found that he was not racist if he said those words. Those words are not racist. They are LJW sanctioned liberal verbiage used by the in-the-know crowd.

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JackFrost 3 years, 9 months ago

Was he referring to an African-American, an Amer-Asian, or a gentleman of Middle Eastern descent? If so, did he offer said person a carbonated beverage on the way to the People Department? Was there a disconnect? Moving forward, the city should roll out an ethnically sensitive manual regarding this matter. It is what it is. My PC, corp.-speak, catch phrase lesson for the day. I will never utter those hideous phrases again. Word!

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SettingTheRecordStraight 3 years, 9 months ago

The real story is this line, "But union officials have said the negotiations did not have any impact on their decision to ask for an investigation."

Are we to believe that union bosses would not make something out of nothing in order to improve their position in contract negotiations?

Does anyone believe the city isn't slightly intimidated by the union's (unfounded) claim and now much more likely to give the union bosses what they want?

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BigPrune 3 years, 9 months ago

Hey Holm, I can dig it! You know he ain't gonna lay no mo' big rap upon you man!

translation: Yes, he is wrong for doing that.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 9 months ago

I think he said spare chukker, referring to the game of polo.

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50YearResident 3 years, 9 months ago

This case is closed even though "stuck-in-the-middle" has a big chip on his shoulder for some unknown reason. Trivial issues like this do not require a supreme court decision to decide if a law was broken or a racial slur was commited.

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sixone_bigfun 3 years, 9 months ago

"I said 'bigger' I swear"...everything about this story is a joke...

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

O.K. indus I know there are alot of things about Lawrence that anger you. Really though don't you think this whole spear chucker thing is stupid? Even for Lawrence?

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IndusRiver 3 years, 9 months ago

Is guilty until proven innocent one of your core values or do you just dislike the person in question? Save your outrage for real cases of racism and it will have more meaning. You are just squandering it on this.

I'm always guilty until proven innocent. Doesn't seem to be any problems there. My "core values" would have tossed this town's lying, thieving politicians out on their butts a long time ago.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 9 months ago

How much did this investigation cost?

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macon47 3 years, 9 months ago

“Even those who brought the matter to the mayor’s attention indicated that they did not believe the city manager used the term with any racial intent.” if that is the case, why did dumbo rat him out in the first place??

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yankeevet 3 years, 9 months ago

He never said anything wrong..............freedom of speech....

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IndusRiver 3 years, 9 months ago

Actually, it's been my experience with Corliss that he sides with an African-American who is racist toward whites.

Now, sit back and wait to be censored. Nah, we're not commie.

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KEITHMILES05 3 years, 9 months ago

I thought it interesting when I asked a very good friend of mine who grew up in Alabama and knows every form of racial epithet about blacks and all forms of ebonics. He had never heard of this word. I have no idea if this is something which is readily used in the derogatory manner or not nor did he.

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IndusRiver 3 years, 9 months ago

to tell you the truth... I would have thought that using the term "spear-chucker" in this forum could have gotten you blocked or banned...

You can be blocked or banned for far less. Report fraud or corruption, see what happens.

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IndusRiver 3 years, 9 months ago

In Lawrence they all get one another off. That's why this town is all one way.

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stuckinthemiddle 3 years, 9 months ago

apparently "spear-chucker" isn't forbidden... that's interesting...

to tell you the truth... I would have thought that using the term "spear-chucker" in this forum could have gotten you blocked or banned...

and... it makes you wonder what other terms people who work for the city can use without being reprimanded...

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Lindsey Buscher 3 years, 9 months ago

You're suggesting a law professor is a "good 'ole boy"? You are also suggesting that the unions and this professor and the city commission are all part of some conspiratorial network and that the city manager really is a racist? Well, if that is the case then surely somebody is lying, so you are implying that someone is a liar. Nice conservatard reactionary response.

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consumer1 3 years, 9 months ago

The thought police will have to find someone new to hang! Oops! can I say hang? or is that now a forbidden term?

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kansastruthteller 3 years, 9 months ago

"None of the nine people in the meeting, though, believes that Corliss was trying to make a racial reference during the meeting. "

And yet, it was made into a racial incident.

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consumer1 3 years, 9 months ago

Don't fret lefties, political correctness still as fragile as ever.

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coldplay 3 years, 9 months ago

"Spear chucker"? Black people? If he did say it, he's an idiot for more than one reason.

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edjayhawk 3 years, 9 months ago

The Good 'Ole Boy network still at work.

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