LETTERS: Child, family rightly rebuked on little library

To the editor:

The editorial on the little library missed the target altogether (“Throwing book at kids,” July 6 Review-Journal). The editorial criticizes the City of Leawood, Kan., for sending a letter to the family of 9-year-old Spencer Collins, advising them that the 2-foot-by-4-foot “neighborhood library” in their front yard had to be removed, as it was in violation of a Leawood city ordinance.

Contrary to the editorial, the city’s letter hardly constitutes some oppressive lesson in the power of government nor indicates the government’s desire to “crush opportunities for young people.” Rather than crushing an opportunity, the city’s intervention provided an excellent opportunity for Spencer to learn that, however good his intentions, he is required to follow the law. If blame must be ascribed, one need look no further than the three adults: Spencer’s mother (an elementary school teacher, no less), his father and his grandfather, none of whom apparently contacted the Leawood City Council before assisting Spencer in placing the library in a manner that violated the law.

In a time when young people are acting irresponsibly — posting cruel Facebook comments, bullying one another, sending suggestive photos, bringing contraband to school, etc. — we should be teaching kids to learn about and respect the law. This was a prime opportunity to do so.



Discovery Museum CEO

To the editor:

This is in response to the article about Discovery Children’s Museum CEO Linda Quinn and the 30-member board (“Directors seek new approach,” July 7 Review-Journal). First of all, praise to the soon-to-retire Ms. Quinn and her staff for all their hard work these last nine years to raise the museum out of debt, increase the membership, staff and attendance to record levels, and move into a new facility. The museum was lucky to have found such a hard-working, successful CEO.

Next, 30 people on a nonprofit board is far too many. From my 18 years of museum staff experience in Salt Lake City, getting this type of entity to a healthy state and increasing attendance, funding, community support and all other areas of maintenance is not easy at all. I saw many directors for the Utah Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City come and go. There really should be no more than 12 to 15 people on the board, and even that number is high.

However, boards are often much larger, due to locals having contacts with friends and colleagues who have substantial incomes and influence. As is often said, “Friends like to give to friends.” Museum CEOs are often hired from somewhere else and thus are strangers to the community. Professional introductions are made with new hires, but potential donors feel more comfortable giving to a long-time friend. This is one of the duties of the board of directors — raising large sums of money. The museum chief and the board of directors should work together to achieve that need.

Furthermore, if members of the board of directors are well off, they should willingly contribute substantial sums annually to the museum. Potential donors want to know that their friends on the board believe enough in the museum’s mission to contribute financially themselves. I hope all the Discovery Museum’s board members do write checks each year and that they all attend board meetings faithfully.

With a large operation such as the Discovery Museum, why hasn’t a staff development expert (with great local connections) been hired, instead of grumbling that Ms. Quinn isn’t the cocktail party, fundraising socialite? Ms. Quinn’s job is a career — a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week commitment as it is. It is a balance of knowing how many projects the staff can take on — daily duties, outreach programs and planning for new projects — and when it has become overwhelming for staff and volunteers to do any more without jeopardizing the operation. New activities and projects demand new staff to fulfill them, but are the funds available to take on more? Does the board of directors know that the American Association of Museums has training courses for board members, or that it has an affiliate organization for board members?

Best wishes to Ms. Quinn in her retirement. Here’s hoping the board succeeds in finding a replacement who’s just as good.



Compromise part of job

To the editor:

Our republic is in trouble, but it can be saved. We hired 535 people, plus the president and vice president, to govern this country. That is exactly what they need to do: govern.

Attention elected officials: You were not hired to complain about your co-workers. You were not hired to stand in front of a microphone and tell me why you can’t do your job. You were not hired to get re-elected to your job. Your job is not to spend more of my money than you collect in taxes. I don’t care if you are Whigs or Tories or “none of the above” like me, do your job.

It will take compromise and negotiation. Do not tell me you can’t negotiate. It’s likely that every one of you has either bought a car, bought a home or has a spouse. Therefore, you have negotiated before. You have been successful. You do not get everything you want.

Do the job that you were hired to do, or we will fire you and hire someone else.