Archive for Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Investigation ongoing into whether Lawrence city manager made racially charged comment

In a sign of the city's fiscal woes, City Manager David Corliss turned down a raise in his salary as part of his annual evaluation in October 2006. Corliss is pictured in his office at that time. The current fiscal status isn't any better.

In a sign of the city's fiscal woes, City Manager David Corliss turned down a raise in his salary as part of his annual evaluation in October 2006. Corliss is pictured in his office at that time. The current fiscal status isn't any better.

June 23, 2010

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City manager accused of making racist remark

The city attorney is investigating David Corliss for saying what some say is a racist phrase. Enlarge video

An inquiry is under way to determine whether Lawrence City Manager David Corliss made a racially insensitive remark during a recent staff meeting, Mayor Mike Amyx confirmed Wednesday.

The Journal-World obtained a copy of an e-mail that Corliss sent to city employees on Monday after some employees complained that he used the phrase “spear-chucker” in a June 10 meeting of the city’s Health Care Committee. The phrase in some slang circles has become a derogatory term meaning black people.

When approached Wednesday, Amyx confirmed he has turned the matter over to city attorney Gerald Cooley to investigate and prepare a report for the commission.

“I think this is the best way to handle this right now,” Amyx said. “He’ll look at all the information that is there, and he’ll get back to us.”

Corliss will continue to serve in his position as city manager while Cooley reviews the matter, and Amyx said a timeline had not been set for the review to be concluded.

“I want to make sure everything is done thoroughly,” Amyx said.

Corliss, in his e-mail to employees, said he does not remember using the inappropriate phrase but wrote “I don’t doubt the recollection of those in attendance that believe I did.”

Corliss, though, told employees that if he used the phrase it was not meant to be a racial comment directed at anyone.

“I misspoke and uttered a phrase that can be inappropriate when referring to a person or groups of people,” Corliss wrote. “While my words were inappropriate, my intent was not.”

When reached Wednesday, Corliss said he would let his e-mail explanation speak for itself.

“My only other comment is that people who know my heart know my intent,” Corliss said.

In the e-mail, Corliss said he often has used the phrase “spear-catcher” to describe his role of making unpopular decisions that are related to the city’s budget.

At the June 10 meeting, Corliss was describing a recommendation to eliminate the subsidy the city provides to people who have retired from the city’s employment but remain on the city’s health care plan.

Corliss was recommending that the city eliminate the $58,000 expense for the 2011 budget — though on Tuesday Corliss reversed himself and said he had found a way to recommend the funding remain in the budget.

The allegations come at a moment when tensions between city management and some city employees already are heightened. The city is negotiating new employment contracts with both the police and fire unions.

Mike McMillen, president of the local firefighters union, confirmed that he and a member of the police union alerted Amyx to Corliss’ comment.

McMillen said he was told from more than one individual at the meeting that Corliss uttered the phrase.

“Our understanding is that we had an obligation to report it,” McMillen said. “It does come at an awkward time. I hope people don’t see a link between this and the negotiations because there is no link.”

In his role as city manager, Corliss serves at the pleasure of the City Commission. He’s served in the city’s top administrative spot since 2006 and has been on the city’s staff since 1990.

Despite the matter being a personnel issue, Corliss said he wants any findings the commission makes about the matter to be made public and released to city employees.

Comments

Jeremy Lichtenauer 4 years, 11 months ago

If this is true he should be terminated immediately!!! Such conduct cannot be tolerated.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

Get a life Jeremy, that is not a derogatory comment, and even if it could possibly be it sure isn't a grounds for termination.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Kansas is an "at-will" state, meaning that anyone can be fired without cause at any time.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, there are exceptions to that principle. Corliss likely has a contract that describes certain penalties if the City elects to terminate him without cause. Also, certain groups of employees have Memoranda of Understandings or Agreements...union contracts...which entitle them to due process before they can be terminated.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

He should be forced to watch the original MASH movie too!

IndusRiver 4 years, 11 months ago

Whether he did or not Corliss and Co. run this town backwards into the ground. But I hope this David Corliss gets his notice to pack up and take a hike. Maybe it will start to tear down the rest of the corrupt plutocracy in Lawrence.

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

Indus: I find your reference to Pluto in [plutocracy] offensive because my dog shook his head and panted when I read it out loud. My dog feels that your disrespectful in associating what goes on in city government and how their tax policy has effected his quality of dog food. Therefore he will bite anyone who messes with his food. Lol

Thought a [spearchucker] was Chucko's wife's new date? Lol.

Amy Heeter 4 years, 11 months ago

I think it might be fun if there were spearchucker compititions. Get all those major players on the feild see in Dave can chuck a spear in a few usless community heads and butts. I can think of a few, how bout you indus.

c_doc77 4 years, 11 months ago

Good video. Honestly I have never heard that particular epithet, and had no frame of reference to it. Though the term was only mentioned once in the video, it does offer some perspective as to its possible connotations.

As to whether this term was mentioned in the meeting, and to the question of whether this man should be fired if he used it, I will reserve comment. The email LJW obtained is merely Corliss' internal response to the allegation. Without being there, none of us know if that is what he said. I still believe people are innocent until proven guilty.

I would like to know the context in which it was allegedly said, because its hard for me to imagine someone using that term in a meeting setting, where presumably there would have been an ethnically diverse group - or at least a group where one might assume the use of such an insensitive remark would gender offense. If he is indeed telling the truth about his use of the term "spear catcher", that would seem to make sense to me.

kansasredlegs 4 years, 11 months ago

Why have the high-priced, overpaid Gerald Cooley do the investigation? How much are you costing the City with that decision Mr. Mayor? When it's not your money, it's easy to throw around or away, uh?

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

Wait...you mean...Lawrence has a policy-making body (a city commission, no less) whose authority is restricted to policy-making? And has administrative staff (in the form of a city manager) who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the government and the implementation of that policy?

Certainly that can't be the case. That would mean that we would have a manager-commission form of government with a clear division of labor.

Or, perhaps, that's the way the government is supposed to operate?

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

kansasredlegs, if the city has retained Mr. Cooley as city attorney, the answer to the question "why" is "because that's his job." It is appropriate for the mayor to use the resources already identified by the city.

As far as "overpaid," that's would depend largely on the value of the services he provides. If he provides solid legal advice and helps the city take defensible action, he's not likely to be "overpaid."

KU_cynic 4 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps Corliss was making a dated cultural reference to Robert Altman's 1970 film MAS*H, in which the character Spearchucker Jones appeared -- and was played by former Kansas City Chief-turned-actor Fred Williamson.

del888 4 years, 11 months ago

Not familiar with this film. Was Spearchucker black or white in the movie? Just wondering.??

chocolateplease 4 years, 11 months ago

Does political correctness demand that someone who utters a single derogatory term (or phrase) be fired from their job? I hope not. What I do hope is that the investigation determines what exactly he said, and how it was meant and how it was perceived when he said it.

If he meant it as a derogatory term toward a group of people, then he has to resign or be fired. Otherwise, he may just owe people an apology for being foolishly unaware/ignorant.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, because Don Imus held a political position. Further, please explain why exactly a company shouldn't be allowed to fire an on-air personality if they don't like what he says? Don't you thing Faux News would fire a talking head if he or she stated something positive about President Obama?

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

If everyone that ever uttered a derogatory pharse was fired, there wouldn't be anyone left working no matter what race they are. All jobs in the world would be open. Everyone of us at one time or another have said something that could be taken as racist. Including those of you now reading this post.

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

No, not all jobs would be open. See, many people aren't racist a holes and don't make derogatory comments towards others. You can make comments based on someone's actions, but not based on their ethnicity. Since I highly doubt that the people he was referring to chuck spears for a living, he was making a derogatory comment. Me saying he's a racist a hole is based off his actions.

If I said something like that at my work, I would be escorted out the door immediately. See, in the 21st century, you aren't supposed to judge based on skin color and aren't supposed to make comments like that. There isn't segregation and people of all colors and races work together and are supposed to be respected and have the same rights.

irvan moore 4 years, 11 months ago

Spear chucker is a nasty racial slur, he should be ashamed of himself, not to mention that using the term openly in a meeting shows he's to stupid to be the city manager

Majestic42 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, if you actually read the article, you can see how he might have meant the following: He refers to himself as a spearcatcher. Therefore, without thinking, it's possible he referred to someone who didn't appreciate his decisions as a "spearchucker." It's still an offensive term, but it's a logical progression that he didn't make the connection before he said it.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Actually, M42, I hope this really is the reason. Stupid thing to do, but one that can be explained without being hateful. Obviously, being stupid isn't a reason to fire someone in public office, and hopefully he would learn from this. I mean, has Lynn Jenkins called for a "Great White Hope" to defeat Obama recently?

Sometimes, it seems that "an ability to say stupid things" is part of the job description to hold public office.

If it was intended in a clearly racist manner, then firing might be worth considering.

Mixolydian 4 years, 11 months ago

Props for the Blazing Saddles reference right on topic!!

Shane Garrett 4 years, 11 months ago

Another best line from the movie "just let me whip this out."

whats_going_on 4 years, 11 months ago

rednecks and tea baggers profile themselves with those terms, thats the funny part. :-p

RoeDapple 4 years, 11 months ago

Please don't call me a gun nut!! I find the term highly offensive and demeaning. "Weapons Enthusiast" will do . . . or "Your Majesty" . . .

;-)

bookemdano 4 years, 11 months ago

Cripes what kind of backwoods hicks do we have running this city? Come on man, this isn't the 1950s anymore.

(facepalm)

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

"Spear chucker" was a character in the movie "Mash" I did not hear too many people getting all bent up over that. It does paint a picture of his attitudes and beliefs. But aside from all this flaunching and flailing, Core-less is not the person to be doing this job. My own personal experience with him and his carefully groomed oddly designated "city commissioners", the puppets that dance to his tune, has been very distressing. I think he should have been gone a long time ago, but the gutless and spineless elected officials continue to dance to his tune and the city will reap the harvest.

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

yeah folks, a movie set during the Korean War and made in the early 70's. Hmmm, the Korean War was 60 years ago and the movie was made 40 years ago.

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

The caveman in the insurance ad is a spearchucker ! But never ever heard of it being referenced to a black person or any reference to any race. I think that this is a far twist to make it race specific.

JustNoticed 4 years, 11 months ago

igby, So you missed it somehow. But the term is commonly understood to be just what the fuss is all about. Maybe you're from somewhere else. Besides, the interpretation is obvious. You'd figure it out on the fly in a conversation if you had half your wits about you.

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

I suppose an American Indian could be refered to as a spear-chucker.

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

I usually am not in touch with racist terms nowadays, that's a good thing, unlike those of you that are witty.

thadrosen 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm questioning just how the LJWorld got their hands on the email I'm willing to bet the City uses Sunflower Broadband for their internet service. Sunflower customers beware: big brother is always watching.

thadrosen 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm questioning just how the LJWorld got their hands on the email I'm willing to bet the City uses Sunflower Broadband for their internet service. Sunflower customers beware: big brother is always watching.

Jonathan Kealing 4 years, 11 months ago

The e-mail was forwarded to a member of our news staff by a city employee.

To answer the question you seem to raise: 1) We aren't able to look at e-mails sent by or to Sunflower subscribers, even if we wanted to. 2) To break into someone's personal e-mail would be an atrocious ethical breach of the worst order and one we would never tolerate. 3) To break into someone's personal e-mail is possibly against the law, which we again would not tolerate.

So, to summarize, your insinuation could not be further from the truth.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

In other words, wait and ask Whitney later.

(just kidding Jonathan)

Steve Jacob 4 years, 11 months ago

The e-mail was sent to all city employees e-mails and even stated to post for employees who don't have e-mail, so he and everyone knew it was going to the ljw quickly.

byte_mechanic 4 years, 11 months ago

The City's Internet connection is through AT&T.

nekansan 4 years, 11 months ago

Yea, how could a email sent to hundreds of people and public employees dealing with a important benefit that might be cut EVER have found it's way to the media. Seriously Thad, take off the aluminum foil hat and think for a few seconds. This is a political issue and clearly there are groups of people who share a differing view than the city manager. The email was forwarded to make the media aware of the issue and bring public attention to it.

Matthew Del Vecchio 4 years, 11 months ago

"...Corliss said he wants any findings the commission makes about the matter to be made public and released to city employees."

This isn't a tactic of guilty men.

oklahoma 4 years, 11 months ago

Now that would be ironic, wouldn't it, especially if Toni was in the meeting. I think having someone outside staff investigate makes the most sense from an objectivity standpoint.

BlackVelvet 4 years, 11 months ago

how much did the city spend on the two "roundabouts" for the walking trail on E. 15th street? They sure didn't need roundabouts for walkers!

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

It's fairly common for city administrators to be relieved of their duties after a few years. It makes sense if you think about it: a new group of commissioners comes in, and have different ideas what the city should be about, and get together enough votes to terminate the city manager. I have relatives involved in city management across the midwest and up-and-down the Eastern seaboard. (Only by the grace of God have I escaped the family business.) Few people in municipal government blink an eye when you say "I was city manager of Podunk, IL for three years and was terminated by the council."

thatonedude 4 years, 11 months ago

Are people really defending the idiot by bringing up "MASH"? Fine film, but doesn't really address the context of a guy using a racial slur during city meetings. I kind of wish we COULD hear the context, to get the best grasp on what he was actually saying.

KU_cynic 4 years, 11 months ago

I claim credit for the first MAS*H reference. I wasn't defending Corliss; I was trying to be funny.

thatonedude 4 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, but people really went running with that. I understood the quip you were making.

BruceWayne 4 years, 11 months ago

so while Amyx was checking on his laptop to see if he was the winning bidder on a new wig, he let go of the puppet strings and Corliss spoke for himself. What's the big deal?

Kent Fisher 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm glad someone else has recognized Mike's hair-hat. How ironic that a barber would be caught dead wearing that thing.

Food_for_Thought 4 years, 11 months ago

The city isn't paying for 100% of health insurance for retirees. It has only been helping with 20% of the costs. Retirees still have to pay for 80% of their health insurance expenses. $58k is a very small amount, considering these retirees' many years of service to keeping your city running...

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Amen.

If people make decisions about their employment/loyalty based on promises from management, those promises should be kept.

Otherwise, tell them the truth and let them decide whether they want to look elsewhere before it's too late.

JustNoticed 4 years, 11 months ago

You know, the story practically begs us to assume that he said, "spear catcher" and was simply misheard. I'm perfectly satisfied with that as an explanation but it isn't offered by Corliss and isn't asked by the LJW.

Why not?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

This investigation shouldn't take more than a few hours to complete. Figure out what the comment was, and in what context it was made, and it's either fire-ably racist, or it isn't.

John Hamm 4 years, 11 months ago

There's a discrepancy in this article. At one point the phrase is quoted as "spear chucker" which is definitely a racial slur. However Corliss refers to the phrase as "spear catcher" definitely a different usage - someone on the receiving end of "slings and arrows or outrageous fortune." LJ-W you need to clarify which was actually used.

Jonathan Kealing 4 years, 11 months ago

What was said is the subject of the city's investigation. The city employees say they heard Corliss say "spear chucker." Corliss says it's possible he said that, or that he said "spear catcher." But that even if he said "spear chucker," he meant spear catcher. So, unfortunately, we can't determine what was said. We'll have to wait for the results of the investigation.

independent_rebel 4 years, 11 months ago

To me, the racist connection is ridiculous. Unless he was referring to a specific person of race, then the connection has no merit. If he describes himself as a spear-catcher, is he implying he is black? Of course not. Get a life people. Is he saying the people complaining to him, the so-called spear-chuckers, are black? Of course not. It seems to me he was at a meeting with a lot of cops, often referred to as pigs, right? So in this case the pigs, almost all who are white, are the spear-chuckers who are attacking the hunter (Corliss), or the spear-catcher.

Corliss would have been better served refering to the cops as strips of bacon and himself as the frying pan, althought the cops would, in that example, felt obligated to notify PETA.

Food_for_Thought 4 years, 11 months ago

I think it's funny that the police are automatically blamed for this. The article itself has statements from Mike McMillen, president of the local FIREFIGHTERS union. The article only said that he and a member of the police union ALERTED Amyx to Corliss’ comment. McMillen said he was told from more than one individual at the meeting that Corliss uttered the phrase. It was other individuals (no mention that those individuals were cops OR firefighters). As McMillen stated in the article, if that's how people interpreted it, then he is obligated to report it.

Whether Corliss meant to use that choice of words or not, it was done so in poor taste. As a politician, he should know better than others that he must always choose his words carefully. Whether you meant to say something or not, it's always important to think about how your audience might PERCEIVE what you say.

yankeevet 4 years, 11 months ago

What is the big deal here?? so what; who cares; this guy did nothing wrong............

Mr_B9 4 years, 11 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus is exactly correct.

lounger 4 years, 11 months ago

Gosh yall lets all dance down mass street in blackface! I mean really what does it take for people to admit it is a racial slur! If you have never heard it then you have been under a rock. Check out chevy chase and richard prior on SNL in the 1970's.

inatux 4 years, 11 months ago

I've never heard this phrase before today. Having learned it, I'd have to go with independent_rebel's assessment.

phoglight 4 years, 11 months ago

I am told he said the "spear chuckers" about groups of people. Let the investgiation play out. If he said it toward anyone he should be punished. I'm guessing many of us would be fired. You don't have to be black to take offense. It's demeaning when said toward anyone, but I'm sure it will be a lost cause trying to explain that to independant_rebel. I knew what it meant when I read it, but some of folks don't.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=spear+chucker

Randall Barnes 4 years, 11 months ago

heck i'm a white boy a honkey a cracker and yea i am a spear chucker i hunt and fish for my food so what is the big deal. ??????????

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

Everyone who has ever had an impure thought must be punished.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 11 months ago

I think this says less about Corless or language and more about the attitudes of the union leaders.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

Should Al Gore be punished for leaving DNA evidence behind?

Mixolydian 4 years, 11 months ago

He looks like a clean and articulate man.

It's not like he said catch a tiger by the toe. We all know that's racist.

werekoala 4 years, 11 months ago

I think it's funny that he can try to cut health care to senior citizens all day long, and no one seems to care. But you better not put the wrong two words together while you're doing it...

Seems like trying to get Capone for tax evasion, really.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

There are different interpretations of slang. Until this article, I thought spear chucker was synonymous with arrow slinger, which I've always understood to be a person who spreads malicious gossip.

grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

It'll be interesting to see which way this spins. I can't believe no one has heard this before, It's been around a while. I'm 55 and my grandfather used it in reference to my 1st hubby..And MASH was a movie that took place back in the 50's. I hope we've come a little further than that in the last 60 years.

YaThink 4 years, 11 months ago

I am loathe to comment on most of the LJW's articles but would like to offer these observations:

1) Spear chucker is derogatory; if it has another meaning than a derogatory reference to an African American I've never heard it used that way. 2) Spear CATCHER is not derogatory and refers to someone who gets the assignment of doing something that is essentially career or political suicide yet has to be done. 3) It's entirely possible that people heard "spear chucker" when Corliss said "spear catcher", especially if they are not familiar with the term "spear catcher". 4) Corliss is a smart guy and not known to be either racially prejudiced or insensitive.

Of course, if he used spear-chucker as a reference to an African American then it would be inexcusable and certainly cause for termination.

I'm betting he doesn't use the term spear catcher anymore.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

From the world of opera, we get the term "spear carrier" for guys who stand in the background pretending to sing whilst lugging a pike around.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

Aren't all the city commission meetings filmed? It should be easy enough to pull the film and review it for the exact contex and words if this is actually necessary.

bstew34864 4 years, 11 months ago

The term "Spear-chucker" is a racially derogatory comment. If the City Manager used such a term he should either resign or be fired. As the point person for the City of Lawrence he should be held to a high standard of conduct.

I understand that he could be a good person who just made a mistake. But, these type of mistakes cannot be tolerated from someone in his position.

Now, for those of you who think this issue is overblown I would remind you that there are a large number of KU athletes who happen to belong to a minority group. How is it we can cheer for these kids to score touchdowns and make baskets, but not hold accountable a city official who makes a derogatory comment about a trait (ancestory) over which they have no control? It seems patently hypocritical to me.

I believe that as a community we are better than that...

b

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

Missed this nugget the other day. It all depends on context and the intent therein. 'Spear-chucker' is not automatically a racially derogatory term; it was used to describe me and my teammates when we competed in javelin during high school. Shocking to see the usual suspects jerking knees.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

And shocking to see the usual suspects defending racism.

Yes, I'm quite sure that Corliss was talking about people on the javelin team.

Geez, some people are just woefully, forcefully blind to racism.

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

Point out who's 'defending racism"? Some people are just woefully, forcefully blind to rationality and fairness, with no concern nor interest in truth or facts. Some beatrices are just utter morons. Shame.

Majestic42 4 years, 11 months ago

ARE YOU SERIOUS. Beatrice, I'm going to start recommending you for removal and permabanning. All you do is hunt down jaywalker's posts and yell at him for pointless things. This is a personal attack, and is banned by the Ljworld's terms of service.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Feel free to recommend whatever you wish.

In the meantime, read through your new buddie's posts. How many people is he calling moron, idiot, stupid, etc ...?

Sure, it is me.

Whatever.

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

Lovin' ya, Majestic, nice for someone to call out this nonsense.

And bea, if the shoe fits.....

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 11 months ago

This is no surprise that he is a racist. Just look at whats been going on for years against the minorities in the community.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

Bring out your dead (horses)! Bring out your dead (horses)!

ivalueamerica 4 years, 11 months ago

We were not there, these comments are nothing more than armchair police.

if he made the statement, he deserves to be questioned and it deserves looking into.

In this day and age, anyone who doubts that is so far out of touch with the world we live in, they are beyond hope.

If the investigation shows he used it racially, as a city leader and supervisor of his magnitude, I can not say if he should be fired, but he should fear for his job.

If it was just an ignorant choice of words and nothing more, he needs to be educated warned to be more careful and we can all move on.

kscityrobber 4 years, 11 months ago

You know what ? So is honkey, cracker, peckerwood, and ect. Stuff i hear everyday of my life just walking around in Lawrence. But dont say nothing about that. Or rev. al will be at your door step....

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

Funny - i've lived here for 20 years and never heard honkey, cracker, etc... And I've lived in more "ethnic" neighborhoods and walk downtown most nights.

yankeevet 4 years, 11 months ago

maybe because u look like a cat holding a rifle.......

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

Speaking of racist comments.... Who said this? “…We’re giving relief to people that I deal with in my office every day now unfortunately. But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people…” http://hotair.com/archives/2010/06/24/dem-rep-says-minorities-defectives-not-average-good-american-people/

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

So now if you call people, average, good american people, in your opinion thats a racist comment?

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

I think his point is that in the way that piece written or spoken, "average, good American people" are "not minorities". I'm fairly certain it was a lapse, but then dependent on who spoke it all hell would break loose.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people…” http://hotair.com/archives/2010/06/24... "they are not minorities": they may be but he's not calling them that. "they are not defective" some may be but he's not calling them that. He's calling the whole group with the combination of a group of different people "average, good american people.......Now how can that be considered as a raciest comment?

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

It's kind of like a 'danglng modifier', 50, but like I said, I'm fairly certain whoever said it didn't mean it in that way, just like you spell out.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 11 months ago

Unacceptable. The Amyx's have been on the city council for too long anyway...

slowplay 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm almost 50. I have never heard the term "spearchucker" used as a racial slur. And I have known some serious racists in my time. BTW, if any of you have played darts seriously, you would know that "spearchucker" is a common reference to the thrower.

slowplay 4 years, 11 months ago

Considering that you have posted almost 1,000 times, You don't get out much either.

slowplay 4 years, 11 months ago

Somehow, I think only a racist would identify that as a racist term.It seems to me every ancient ancestor of every known nationality threw spears at one point in human history. BTW, you don't play darts you "toss darts." Throwing a few soft points down at Dempsey's doesn't qualify you as spear chucker.

Alceste 4 years, 11 months ago

"Mike McMillen, president of the local firefighters union, confirmed that he and a member of the police union alerted Amyx to Corliss’ comment. “Our understanding is that we had an obligation to report it,” McMillen said.

Say what? What a load of umittigated gall I wonder if the ever so helpful Mike McMillen and a "...member of the police union......" alert their supervisors or the Mayor whenever they have their ribald joke telling times; or their ever so colorful speech patterns (which includes quite frequently) words that rhyme with truck or punt or witch or trigger and on and on it goes. Goes on every darn day up their in the fire houses and amongst the boys in blue. Tell me I'm lying.....

I don't care if Corliss was just being a regular guy......and don't care what he says....I care what he does. I don't agree with much of what he does.....and I agree that Lawrence is worse for having a toothless "government process" with the way the City Commission is structured....City Staff DUE run the City....not the elected officials......but this "Mommy he said a bad word..." stuff is certainly very laughable. And what is even more laughable is that anyone is paying any attention to it. It is business as usual....focus on the dinky because you can't do anything about anything of substance.

like_n_Lawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

In 60 years I never heard this before. I guess I live in the "dark ages". Not to be misconstrued...I mean "old ages".

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Okay, this is funny. Some of the people who are here saying that this is all no big deal and should be ignored are the same ones who called judge Sotomayor a racist and screamed that she shouldn't have been named a Supreme Court Justice for calling herself a "wise Latina." Heck, she didn't even use a racially disparaging remark about others, yet that was enough for some to claim she is a racist and wasn't qualified to be a judge. Now they are saying this isn't enough to get someone fired. Funny.

If Clueless .., um, Corliss wasn't speaking about the local javelin team and was speaking specifically about black people, then it appears to be some deep-rooted, old school racism coming to the surface. That simply isn't a term often used today, not even by rappers. Is this the first time he has done anything like this in a meeting? How about around the office? I don't know if he should be fired over it, especially if it isn't part of a routine, although I probably wouldn't feel comfortable dealing with him from here on. That isn't the type of thing that just slips out, unless it is the type of thing you are think.

If you disagree, imagine for a moment that he used a terribly derogative term to describe whatever group you associate with. How would that sit with you? What if he were black and used a derogatory term to describe whites -- say, one that could also quite harmlessly and without racism describe a bunch of saltine or Ritz crackers? Would that be okay with you, since it too is possible to use the term in a non-racist manner? Political correctness can run too far, certainly, but at its core is the idea of showing respect and having empathy for others. How would you feel about him if what he said was against you?

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

"If Clueless .., um, Corliss wasn't speaking about the local javelin team and was speaking specifically about black people, then it appears to be some deep-rooted, old school racism coming to the surface"

That's a gigantic' IF', beatrice. Is there anyone on this string that has said if did use the term specifically referencing black people that it would still be no big deal? Any chance you can sit back and rationally wait for the facts to come out, i.e. context and impled intent, before jumping off the deep end? For the love, get a grip.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Jay, I guess you looked past comments like "What is the big deal here?? so what; who cares; this guy did nothing wrong..........."; the simple "wahhhhhhhh........!"; or this wonderful nugget, "Get a life Jeremy, that is not a derogatory comment, and even if it could possibly be it sure isn't a grounds for termination."

Please oh so amazingly brilliant jay, tell me how "that is not a derogatory comment and even if it could possibly be it sure isn't a grounds for termination" isn't the same as saying that if it references black people that it would still be no big deal. Please, explain this one, oh amazingly intelligent jay of the javelin team.

For the love of anything other than yourself, please, explain! What context should I read such a statement? Please, enlighten.

And yes, people speculate without having all the facts on virtually every single story on here. Shocking, I know! Without speculation, these boards would be one, "Well, I don't know so we better wait to get all the facts before we comment," statement after another. I agree. Yes, I know this is exactly what you do because you are so much better than everyone else around here as you so routinely like to point out, but that isn't what the rest of us do. I guess the rest of us just don't live up to your lofty standards of perfection and brilliance, oh great jay.

Oh, and since I know that you are wicked intelligent but not always the first to catch on, I am being sarcastic. Just wanted to be absolutely clear on that point.

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, that looks incredibly long-winded, but you lost me after the opening paragraph. No, sorry, I haven't read any of the comments except for the last dozen or so; got to the story late and just skipped to the end this morning.
Don't know what all the above histrionics of yours say or accuse or assert or allude to, probably more of the same. All I'm saying is quit jumping to conclusions, particularly when it comes to a topic as volatile as race. If the man meant it in a derogatory way then it will come out, and he should probably lose his job, at least in my opinion. But I'm sorry that I won't join your "Crucify Him Brigade" until we know what was actually said.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, you were just mistaken. You aren't a liar at all. Riiiiiiiight.

In other words, you were simply incorrect once again!

If I take you at your word (because your word is worth so much!), then your comments defending racist statements here was based on an assumption, not on actually reading the comments! Then, you claim an inability to read what I wrote to you! Problems with reading comprehension and incorrect assumptions. Wow.

Amazingly (and this is the key as far as I'm concerned) it fits in perfectly with your usual routine when it comes to race issues.

Oh, and please point out where I said we should crucify him -- or did you just assume that as well? Geezus H. Christo, you make me laugh ... you know, not in a "funny haha" kind of way, but in a "how ignorant yet pompous can one person be" kind of way.

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow. You seem to have gone 'round the bend a tad, dear. Take a breath.
First, I was "just mistaken"? What are you talking about? Second, my "comments defending racists here"? Please cite one - just one. I've never defended racists nor 'racist comments', no matter how much your twisted little mind wants it to be true.
Third, I didn't say I was unable to read your last bloviation, I just had no desire to trudge through your typical, tired, predictable muck. There's a significant difference between 'can't' and 'don't care to.' Lastly, no, you never said "let's crucify him", but judging from the tenor of all your posts thus far and your well-documented history around this issue, you've already made up your pea-sized mind on the matter, which in general is "if you don't agree with me on this andhaven't jumped to an unintelligent, unsupported opinion, then you must be guilty/a racist/a defender of racists/blahblahblahblahblah....."

Like I said, if the man's context and inherent intention make it clear he used the term derogatorily, he should pay the price. 'Til those FACTS come out, however, I'm not going to call him "Clueless" or rail against the man for what might be an honest misunderstanding or slip of the tongue. Sorry you're too irrational to judge things fairly.

Seek help, bea. You're becoming more and more like porch person with every rant and moronic post.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

And you are remaining exactly who I believe you to be. Nice attempts at childish name calling, however.

To clarify, I do not accuse people of racism just because they don't agree with me. That is just an outrageous lie. Not surprised you would claim this. What I say to you is directed toward you. I do point out racial issue on occassion, however, and these are the things you forcefully pretend aren't there.

Again, I return to your recent defense of the Oreo log on name as not being racist (since removed because he is repeat offender with racist issues) and your attacking me for repeating Tom's phrase "Whites are powerless now." after he called our President a "mofo" and a "thug." I wasn't repeating it on a random story or out of the blue, but in the context of racism, and you attacked me for it. That was two times recently. Today, you sadly claimed nobody was saying that if Corliss's comment was meant as a racial slur that it wouldn't be a big deal when in fact people have, so you follow it up stating that you haven't actually read any of the comments and was just assuming nobody had. Just as you assume things about me.

That is it in a nutshell. You defended Tom, you defended the oreo character (you know who he is, too), and you are defending people today even when you haven't read their statements. Wow indeed.

I don't think you are anyone else. You are you. Own it.

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

You're beyond tiresome and you're off your rocker, dear. Virtually everything you wrote is an outright lie, an obfuscation of the truth, or complete distortion. So much of this has already been hashed out needlessly that I refuse to digress back into your dementia. However, just to show you for the liar, fool, and/or mentally disabled individual you are, this little nugget....:

"Today, you sadly claimed nobody was saying that if Corliss's comment was meant as a racial slur that it wouldn't be a big deal when in fact people have,"

... is an excellent example of how disturbed you are. I "claimed" that, did I? Hmmm, let's check the tape:

" Is there anyone on this string that has said if [he] did use the term specifically referencing black people that it would still be no big deal?"

Huh. That reads like a question to me, not a "claim." And it was a sincere question because, as I said, I hadn't felt like wading through the 100 plus comments that were already on this string when I first logged on to it; I didn't want to read the tedious back and forth, from the racial instigators to the knee-jerk 'racist' labelers like yourself.
That's a question, moron. Not a "claim." Nor is it a "defense" of anyone here, just as I wasn't defending oreo or Tom in any fashion.

You're damn right I'm me. I'm someone that weighs issues and filters them through myself before coming to a conclusion. And I'm proud that I don't run around throwing insidious labels like 'racist' without even a whisper of support. Pity you can't say the same.

I'm done with you here. You're either a liar, a complete fool, or psychologically challenged. Whatever the case, you've got nothing so you're merely a waste of time. Get back to me when you cop a clue.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Trust me, I'm not your dear. You are a complete and absolute liar to say I call anyone a racist without cause. You, of course, never would call anyone a racist. If you think things like calling our president an Oreo or making statements like "Whites are powerless now" just because we have a black president isn't indicative of racism, then you are ... well, exactly what I've already said about you previously.

As always, love your attempts at childish insults. They really strengthen your arguments.

jaywalker 4 years, 11 months ago

"You are a complete and absolute liar to say I call anyone a racist without cause"

That's a lie right there. You've done it to me numerous times recently. And you can keep regurgitating the oreo/tom nonsense ....

JUST

LIKE

PORCH

PERSON

WOULD!!!!

...but it just doesn't make them true.

SEEK

HELP

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

I have stated you defend racists and racist comments on these boards. You may not like things repeated, but it is the cause of all of this. You inserted yourself where you shouldn't, you put yourself in the way of Tom's "Whites are powerless now" line (defensive move by you against my pointing it out) and claimed that likening our president to an oreo cookie wasn't at all racist (it was done by a well-known poster who has been removed many, many times for ... as your new friend likes to say ... wait for it ... racist comments, shock of shocker! Feel free to ask Jonathan.) Keep calling me porch if you want, that doesn't make that true either, although I do recall his making the same claim of your defending racist statements from others. Interesting that more than one person would make that observation.

I'll bet that even where you live you could find race sensitivity training classes. I'm sure you would benefit from them.

And nice use of line spacing! Really. Reminds me of someone I'm sure you looked up to by the name of Marion ... someone else you likely would claim wasn't a racist either.

Now, are we done are aren't you?

statesman 4 years, 11 months ago

People, GET A LIFE! The last I heard, the first amendment is still legit. Why has this culture gotten so politically correct that we can be fired and publicly chastised for some off-the-wall comment? There's not a one of you out there that hasn't made racist or disparaging remarks in your lives and likely will continue to do so in the future. I, for one, am very tired of having to watch everything I say, that I'm ready to give up and call a spade a spade. I'm ready to chuck living in the USA and move to a country who puts their priorities in the right order.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

I couldn't resist injecting a little humor into this descussion.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

This reply was to a post that dissapeared. Someone has an eraser and wipes the slate clean when they don't like what they see. Must be the new person that is in training.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

Well the post reappeared. amazingly just as I posted my last statement. But my second comment has not returned and there is no referance to it being deleted.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Statesman, shall we check travel times for you?

So are you saying that just because we all may have used racist terms at some point in our lives, then racist comments should be allowed in the workplace? Indeed, most likely have used racist terms at some point, but then, most of us got out of grade school and moved beyond using such words.

Jay, care to jump in on this one too? I believe statesman needs your defensive skills, because it appears he just defended using racist language.

beebo 4 years, 11 months ago

Referring to the current City Manager as "Clueless" is classless, judgmental, immature and ill-informed.

The specific words or phrase that he uttered has not yet been proven nor conclusively established (and may never be), so the presumption of his guilt and by extension, his '"racistness', is premature, unsubstantiated and small-minded.

God help any of us if we misspeak or someone within earshot misHEARS what we said and then our job, career, lifelong reputation etc are all in jeopardy. I'm sure none of you have EVER used a poor choice of words or been misconstrued or misunderstood......that never happens in real life, right?

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 11 months ago

Corliss promises to investigate the allegations after the case is finished.... Well the charged were dismissed by a federal judge yet Corliss Never started an investigation probably because there were black minorities involved.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 11 months ago

What's your point? Does that make it okay to say either?

BigPrune 4 years, 11 months ago

He isn't going to get ousted. He is a liberal in a liberal town. Liberals/Socialists are exempt when they make a racially provocative comment. If this guy was conservative he'd already be jobless.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Being questioned and being burned alive are the same?

I believe the Godwin rule should apply to the Salem witch hunts as well as the Nazis.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Indeed, not burned, just hanged, with one person crushed under stones. (I always thought some were burned. My error.) They were killed by other means.

My point is that investigating whether or not a public figure is using racist language in meetings isn't even close to killing people, be it by burning, hanging, or being crushed.

If what he said was intended as a racist slur, and there is a real possibility that it wasn't, but if it were would you think it should be ignored? Is asking questions about the use of a racist term in a group setting really groupthink and being over sensitive, or is it practical to make sure you don't have people in public positions whose views on race might effect their decisions?

booyalab 4 years, 11 months ago

racially charged ˈrā-shəl-lē, ˈchärjd Function: "journalese"

: Who cares about the definition, just go with whatever makes you feel the most righteous indignation.

IndusRiver 4 years, 11 months ago

Hey Artichoke up there!!

Can't kill us so deal with us, huh? Monkeys on our back? Freakin' weird wizard state : )

Amy Heeter 4 years, 11 months ago

Not sure what you are trying to say there Indus. Please explain so I can respond to your comment.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

I like Corliss. I don't know if we can get a more qualified guy that knows the city the way he does. I hope this turns out well for him and for the city.

Maybe a zero tolerance policy on gaffs and goof ups is not always a good idea.

oxandale 4 years, 11 months ago

So, did he say "spear chucker" or "spear catcher". The article refers to him saying both. Spear chucker, as i see it, is racially insensitive, but as for spear catcher.. i get this image in my head of some one being impaled. NOt a good image.

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

It was really no different than saying this: " It's my "Cotton Picking" hands that have helped rob all the tax payers in Lawrence. Also, it's my"Cotton Picking" hands that keep you dump CC's out of trouble and make your cushy butt land on a cushy seat when you screw up. Also, it's my "Cotton Picking" hands that keep all the wing nuts and other "Cotton Picker" from making you look stupid. I smack they're "Cotton Picking" hands when they make primitive attacks on the CC's and the City. It is I, and I alone that justify your stupidity and make sense of all your intents because your just an elected feather in the wind and it's my "Cotton Picking" hands that wipe your behind after all the "Cotton Pickers" are done picking at you.

No difference!

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

Igby, please get the chip off your shoulder.

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

Don't like being called or your racist apathy do you. This is not something that should be taken lightly. The Civil War was fought and started right here in Lawrence. To have a City manager using terms this openly is very stupid and reckless and it reflects an atmosphere of apathy and acceptance of racial references toward any group of people in general or the underlying wink or smirk to the public in general. Using "cotton picker" instead of "spear-chucker" is a fair comparison. This should not be judged by these CC's who all have a special interest in sweeping this under the rug and moving on. Condoning this type of remark and playing it for something else other than what it is would be a mistake and may cost The City and these CC's if the fed thinks there's cause to take up the complaint.

There's no chip on my shoulder, just pointing out the truth.

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

...to add insult to injury, if he was not making a racist reference ... (then he really thinks the public, in the due process of city business are primitive spear tossing little people. Who he feels that are below him.)..... So, he's either the devil racist or a cocky city appointee with a bad opinion of public input into the cities due process. Regardless, he has shown his a$$ and for this result we have a system of education in America, schools, college and business skills, so that primitive ignorant people can live free from stupidity such as this. lol.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

First of all, it hasn't been proven yet that he said the phrase you are referring to and second you have added "cottin picker" as another raciest term. Lighten up.

HogJiver 4 years, 11 months ago

As a former government manager, I have heard the term "catch a spear or fall on a sword" mentioned many times during budget reduction meetings.

But, "spear chucker" is not appropriate.

Sunny Parker 4 years, 11 months ago

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! DId he say this to a big crowd of black people? What a waste of time and money!

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

Sunny, please explain why this is ridiculous. What part is ridiculous exactly?

pace 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't think it is an appropriate phrase. I also don't think it should be taken out of context of his body of work and actions. I have not been aware of any other actions or speech by Corliss that led me to think he was overtly prejudiced. Everyone I know has made a mistake in phrase or judgment. Some people make too many mistakes or don't even know the attitude belongs in the past, to an evil river in the past.. I was glad to see a former city official retire, he was a too attuned to what race someone was. I once thought of asking him if the dues to the klan was tax deductible, but he was careful in his speech, but not in his body language or facial expressions. I certainly don't think it matters if Corliss's audience was a big or small crowd of people of any particular race. It would be insulting to use that language in any profession setting, to any professional personnel.

Jeremy Lichtenauer 4 years, 11 months ago

So, whenever the city manager sits in judgement on the hiring, firing, contract, discipline, laying off, or promotion of someone of color, the process will forever be tainted with "spear chucker". Why don't we disband the ACLU, EEOC, Fair Housing, Racial Profiling, Statement of Indivudual Respect, and any other efforts to reduce racism in this country while were at it.

While it looks good on paper, it ain't practiced and creates significant problems for the tax payers come lawsuit time. Let me remind you: Title 42, section 1983. Otherwise known as a 1983 civil rights action lawsuit.

Any person of color (aka spear chucker, et. all) who has been denied city employment, fired from the city, not awarded a city contract, disciplined as a city employee, or denied promotion as a city employee should immediately contact an attorney for further action.

equalaccessprivacy 4 years, 11 months ago

Bigotry is wrong, but in a whitebutt place like Lawrence where racism is the norm it seems completely hypocritical to bash people for making slurs with absolutely no due process. This is not how healthy respect for diversity works. The culture here is racist, sexist, ableist and everything else, but for people in charge, being themselves obviously not the most shining or stellar characters, to point such harsh and vindictive fingers of blame is an extremely shallow and window-dressing and self-serving way to handle things.

grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

"Whitebutt place like Lawrence"... Really? Looks like we've got another one.

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

With abut 80% of USA population counted as caucasion it seems there are many whitebutt places outside Larryville. Lawrence is about 82% caucasion (3% Native American) as opposed to Martha's Vineyard, MA which is about 89% or Wichita 76%. Aren't almost all US cities kinda 'whitebutt'?

I hate this racial division stuff. Then I gotta hate parts of my genetic makeup.

Death knows no denomination. Death draws no color line. (Will Rogers)

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

good to see there is no tolerance for ugly words

but what a gang tackle, so much piling on

opinionated1 4 years, 11 months ago

Apparently no one in the US may ever chuck a spear again? It would take more than the term alone for me to believe someone is a racist. I could see the term being used to describe someone who was trying to cause problems with something or stop an action. I would even point out that congress and our senators and representatives constantly chuck spears at one another especially when party lines are involved. I highly doubt this will turn into anything.

grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

Agreed Beo. I moved here 25 years ago with my 4 bi-racial kids. I could not believe the looks and attitude we got in this "progressive" town. I went to KU back in the 70's and it was like a complete turn around in attitude.I really expected more open-minded people than where we came from- Topeka.

Majestic42 4 years, 11 months ago

...wanna tell me where this racism is at? I mean, besides YOUR racism towards those you automatically assume are "racist" because of what race THEY are.

BruceWayne 4 years, 11 months ago

is it a violation to have a monkey on one's porch? how about an ape in the yard?

Armored_One 4 years, 11 months ago

Whatever happened to the concept I was taught as a child...

Words have no more weight than what the listener assigns. Basically, you can't BE offended unless you WANT to be offended.

pace 4 years, 11 months ago

The concept that words have no meaning nor effect, never made sense. Sticks, stones and words all have effects. Words of course mean something and to say otherwise would mean that a person has no responsibility for what they say. If you can't stand behind what you say or if you routinely say things you don't mean, then your words would have less weight and you should be ignored. . I would not go into someone's home and say their parent was obviously very stupid. I would say, one should be as good as one's word. There is no license absolving people of what they say because the hearer could choose to pretend not to hear. I can choose not to be offended but that does not mean the language was not offensive.

equalaccessprivacy 4 years, 11 months ago

Let she/he who has not sinned throw the first stone. Only hypocrites and children make a big show of bashing others with charges of racism. How does this improve the generally hostile climate for diversity for anyone?

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

If you can take the hot lead enema, then you can cast the first stone. (Lenny Bruce)

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