Kansas City With The Russian Accent https://kcmeesha.com From The Mind of One Russian Jewish American Wed, 30 Oct 2019 02:32:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://kcmeesha.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/more2abb8c8f51848d1f6b87829201d7b865.png Kansas City With The Russian Accent https://kcmeesha.com 32 32 3040731 This Post Will Save Your Life https://kcmeesha.com/2016/11/12/this-post-will-save-your-life/ Sun, 13 Nov 2016 02:54:50 +0000 http://kcmeesha.com/?p=14706 I know it’s been a few years since the last post, but the rusty Fallout Shelter sign on my building prompted another trip to the library like in the olden days when I kept this blog up. Apparently the entire 7-county Kansas City Area Community Shelter Plan was published as an insert in Kansas City Star...

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I know it’s been a few years since the last post, but the rusty Fallout Shelter sign on my building prompted another trip to the library like in the olden days when I kept this blog up. Apparently the entire 7-county Kansas City Area Community Shelter Plan was published as an insert in Kansas City Star on May 17, 1970. The whole fallout preparedness thing was going on since the early 60’s when President Kennedy told the nation to get ready, but it never left people’s minds since the end of the World War II. However, in the 1983 movie The Day After you don’t see too many people using the extensive shelter network mapped out in the pages below. Maybe because people eating dehydrated food in the shelters are not good for a dramatic plot. Or maybe because none of them saved this plan like it begged them to do.

Each image should be linked to a pdf file I scanned from the microfilm; you should be able to zoom in and read the maps and locations. I tried to make the best scans, but if you don’t like the quality, you are welcome to visit the library on your own; Johnson County Library has microfilm and Kansas City Library may have the original.
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Avoid FORD Focus With Defective Transmission https://kcmeesha.com/2015/09/09/avoid-ford-focus-with-defective-transmission/ Wed, 09 Sep 2015 16:50:52 +0000 http://kcmeesha.com/?p=10877 In case you are shopping for a late model Ford Focus I am here to urge you to reconsider. The car looks good inside and out and given the popularity of the previous Focus model and a reasonable price you may be tempted to buy one, but you will be making a costly mistake, unless...

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In case you are shopping for a late model Ford Focus I am here to urge you to reconsider. The car looks good inside and out and given the popularity of the previous Focus model and a reasonable price you may be tempted to buy one, but you will be making a costly mistake, unless you know exactly what you are getting into. For some reason Ford decided to install a poorly-designed transmission on this vehicle which is not only annoying but is unsafe as well. A quick search pulls up thousands of complaints, and while your local dealer will not deny that there is a problem, they don’t have a fix for it and there is not much hope that it will be coming in the future. Below is the copy of the letter I mailed to the CEO of Ford Corporation with only my personal information and VIN redacted.

Ford Focus with Problematic Transmission
Ford Focus with Problematic Transmission

Mark Fields
CEO, Ford Motor Company
One American Road
Dearborn, Michigan 48126

Dear Mr. Fields,

Does your car decide when to go and at what speed? Does it hesitate when you need to make a left turn, cross a street or merge in traffic? Does it make you wonder what will happen when you press the gas pedal and do you feel like you are gambling every time you want your car to move?

Mine does and I do.

I own a 2014 Ford Focus, a car with transmission so complicated that even your own engineers can’t seem to figure it out. Every time I take it to the dealer I get an explanation that this is the normal behavior for the manual-automatic feat of engineering you installed on my car or get a control module “reprogrammed” without any improvement. Well, I disagree about the normality of the intermittent operation of the transmission, shudder, hesitation, mechanical noises and unpredictability. I know that you are aware of the problem as well, since Ford is quietly extending warranties for transmission-related issues.

An owner of a new car shouldn’t be in the shop more than once in the first year and that should be only for routine maintenance. I know that because previously to this model I owned a 2003 Focus for 10 years and 206,000 miles with hardly any issues during the first 5 years. That was the reason I didn’t hesitate buying a new one.

Despite my disappointment I am willing to give the Focus another try. I would trade my car for a 2015 Focus under the following conditions:

  1. It should be sold to me at the lowest price, my previous car was sold to me at the X-Plan price, all the rebates and incentives should apply.
  2. Ford should compensate me 80% of the sales tax and licensing fees, since I will be losing that amount due to trade-in.
  3. I should get a 0% 60-month loan.
  4. I should get a fair and acceptable offer for the 2014 model I will be trading in.

I would like to hear back from Ford by July 1st, 2015.

If I don’t hear back from Ford with a satisfactory offer by July 1st, 2015 I will do the following.

  1. Post a copy of this letter on my website and share it on social media.
  2. Create a Facebook page dedicated to this issue.
  3. Send a copy of this letter to every local media outlet, including print, TV and radio.
  4. Send a copy of this letter to Better Business Bureau, Kansas Attorney General and FTC.
  5. Trade the car in for another brand.

I realize that one person doesn’t have a clout comparable to a corporation but with the right amount of social media experience and postage I am sure I can make my voice heard.

I don’t feel safe in my car and if I get into an accident due to the shudder and transmission hesitation, I will present a copy of this letter and a certified mail receipt and not a sheet of paper the dealership showed me trying to convince that this a normally functioning transmission.

Sincerely,

*name, address and VIN redacted. 

In response to my letter a low-level regional manager called me and told me that I can go to my local dealer again to have a technician drive with me and see if there is a problem they can identify. She also repeated the line about the shudder, hesitation and noises being perfectly normal for this type of transmission. I expressed my disagreement and pointed out that I already exhausted the amount of time I think an owner of a new car should spend at the shop. Ford’s response letter is shown below with my personal information edited out.

Letter from Ford in response to my complaint about transmission.
Letter from Ford in response to my complaint about transmission.

After some thought I will be trading this car in probably within the next month, but as I promised in my letter I will be making this information available to prospective buyers as a warning to stay away from this poorly designed vehicle and the company that will not stand behind it.

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Refund For Kansas Residents Paying Kansas City Missouri Earnings Tax https://kcmeesha.com/2015/08/26/refund-for-kansas-residents-paying-kansas-city-missouri-earnings-tax/ Thu, 27 Aug 2015 00:17:50 +0000 http://kcmeesha.com/?p=10865 Attention: Read Important Update  Attention: Read Another Important Update Following the Supreme Court ruling in Comptroller v. Wynne Kansas residents are allowed to amend their taxes and claim a refund of the amount of the Kansas City, Missouri Earnings Tax that was previously double-taxed. Just so it’s clear, you are not getting a refund from Kansas City, Missouri,...

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Attention: Read Important Update 

Attention: Read Another Important Update

Following the Supreme Court ruling in Comptroller v. Wynne Kansas residents are allowed to amend their taxes and claim a refund of the amount of the Kansas City, Missouri Earnings Tax that was previously double-taxed. Just so it’s clear, you are not getting a refund from Kansas City, Missouri, but from the State of Kansas which previously didn’t allow the Earnings Tax to be subtracted from taxable income which resulted in the now illegal double-taxation.

On August 10, 2015 Kansas Department of revenue issued the following instructions:

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 Generally, the statute of limitations for amending taxes is 3 years, so with some exceptions the eligible years are 2012, 2013 and 2014, with the deadline for amending the 2012 taxes set in April, 2016.

As of this writing the commercial tax preparation programs have not been updated to reflect this change and they are not likely to be in a rush.

After consulting with an accountant and checking Kansas Tax forms online I have decided to pay a professional to refile my forms; this is a rare case when I think doing it myself is not worth the hassle. Also keep in mind that it’s likely that the amount of the refund will be taxed on the federal level in the year you will receive it.

Knowing that Kansas is broke I wouldn’t recommend waiting too long to do this. I am sure everyone who files will get their refund eventually, but it may be a while, especially for the late filers.

Important Update: 

I finally had my taxes reviewed by a professional and the additional refund wasn’t nearly as much as I expected. Even though the State of Kansas now allows you to claim local taxes on your return, they still fall under the category of taxes paid to other states and there is a limit to how much credit you can get. The limit is calculated using this worksheet:

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If you already claimed maximum credit allowable on line 6, you are out of luck. So my suggestion is before you spend money or time trying to amend your taxes, run your numbers through this worksheet and see if it’s even worth the effort.

Another Important Update:

I received a response from the State of Kansas to my amended return where adjustment wasn’t granted. When I called to follow-up, it turned out that they also require a copy of Missouri return and a copy of Kansas City, MO form RD-109NR which actually is not required for taxpayers whose earnings tax is withheld automatically so you probably don’t have it. I downloaded and filled out the form and faxed it over together with my Missouri return. We’ll have to see what happens next.

*I am not qualified to give tax (or any) advice, so please do your own research or consult with a trained professional.

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Don’t Avoid Detroit https://kcmeesha.com/2014/12/30/dont-avoid-detroit/ Tue, 30 Dec 2014 19:21:30 +0000 http://kcmeesha.com/?p=10615 When you tell people you’re going to Detroit they often give you that “are you crazy?” look and wish you to come back alive or at least unhurt. Pictures of abandoned and destroyed post-apocalyptic Detroit’s ruin-porn make their rounds on the internet, interspersed with scary crime statistics and sad economic news. A person with common...

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When you tell people you’re going to Detroit they often give you that “are you crazy?” look and wish you to come back alive or at least unhurt. Pictures of abandoned and destroyed post-apocalyptic Detroit’s ruin-porn make their rounds on the internet, interspersed with scary crime statistics and sad economic news. A person with common sense would probably avoid Detroit, but clearly I am not that person. During a college visit to the nearby Ann Arbor, I set aside two days to check out Detroit because how could I not. Detroit is awesome. And we came back alive and even unhurt, if you don’t count a parking ticket, which did hurt a lot.

We found Detroit interesting, packed with great architecture, unique food, plenty of stuff to see and many people who are excited about where it’s going and where it soon will be. We took a bus and a walking tour of the city because we didn’t have time to wander around on our own.

Penobscot Building



Heidelberg Project, something we wouldn’t have seen without a tour, is pretty amazing. Many museums display similar pieces of “modern art” but here it doesn’t look pretentious or out-of-place.

Back to Downtown.

Spirit of Detroit.

Joe Louis’s Fist aiming at Canada and the Transcending Sculpture celebrating Michigan’s contributions to the Labor movement.

We visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

The Dodge Brothers apparently denied this has anything to do with being Jewish and died before they could explain it.

No Detroit didn’t clean up overnight and crime, poverty and abandoned buildings are still there, but something is being done about it, people are moving back and apparently it’s almost impossible to find a place to live downtown where the occupancy rate is something like 98 percent. There are many things to see, do and eat, but I don’t recommend parking on that one street on a Saturday afternoon or you will get a ticket.

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Driving Missouri: St. Joe https://kcmeesha.com/2014/11/16/driving-missouri-st-joe/ Sun, 16 Nov 2014 22:00:42 +0000 http://kcmeesha.com/?p=10565 I haven’t been to St. Joseph for almost 20 years. Long time ago St. Joe was the first to get a riverboat casino and it seemed like a good idea to drive for an hour and a half to gamble away my meager earnings. I haven’t been back since. Either I wasn’t that impressed or...

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I haven’t been to St. Joseph for almost 20 years. Long time ago St. Joe was the first to get a riverboat casino and it seemed like a good idea to drive for an hour and a half to gamble away my meager earnings. I haven’t been back since. Either I wasn’t that impressed or more money-wasting venues propped up nearby, whatever the reason, St. Joe just never again appeared on my list of places to visit.  Then the Pitch wrote about a new pizza place, the last weekend of nice fall weather was coming up, and suddenly it seemed like why not St. Joe.

St. Joe is famous for its Glore Psychiatric Museum.

Even with the creative use of Barbie-like dolls to illustrate a variety of the psychiatric treatments from the medieval times to well into the 20th century, the place is depressing and creepy. Parts of it makes you feel like you are walking through the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; even though it’s one of my top 5 favorite movies, I am not a person who enjoys this kind of scenery.

A small reminder of the Cold War still hangs in the basement…

…next to the hands-on morgue display.

There are other exhibits and collections presented in the museum complex, but the displays were amateurish and lacking. In the end of the tour you can drown out the disturbing thoughts while shopping for souvenirs.

Much less creepy and surprisingly interesting is the Hall Street Historic District where some great old mansions could be seen in various stages of disrepair and restoration.

The one pictured above is the Shakespeare Chateau B&B run by a friendly lady who invited us for a tour; the building looks amazing inside with an impressive 47 stained-glass windows and an amazing restoration job.

Even though there were some interesting buildings in downtown St. Joe we didn’t have much time to look for a better vantage point.

Of course I stopped to take a photo of a giant mural

…and this church sign.

At this point we were ready for pizza.

This post explains why their pizza is different from others you might have tried. Since I used to deliver for Domino’s I consider myself a bona fide pizza expert and I judged this pizza delicious. Amazingly it bakes in less than 2 minutes. The restaurant was empty on Sunday night but more customers showed up while we were there.

In the end, St. Joe turned out to be a nice weekend destination and not a depressing hellhole I always imagined it to be, which it may still be on the other days of the week. In that case go straight for the pizza.

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