What Child Is This

David Chartrand

David Chartrand

It is 8 a.m. and there is someone in my little boy’s bed.

Pushing up through the blanket is the outline of a man’s body. Draped over the edge of the mattress are a man’s hands, thick and slightly hairy. Something is wrong.

I am certain this is my son’s room. I stop here nearly every morning for small talk with a small child.  So why do I see Size 10 sneakers on the floor?

I knock firmly on the bedroom door. Continue reading

Chartrand extra…

A Father’s Letter to Santa

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  This essay was first published 20 Christmases ago, on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. It launched my career as a newspaper columnist and author.  It also made my son the most popular kid at school, at least among kindergarteners who read The Wall Street Journal.

The piece has since been republished in newspapers, magazines and Web sites around the world. It was included in the first “Christmas Soup for the Soul” anthology as among the most memorable Christmas essays of all time. On Tuesday morning (12.24.13) at 7:55 am CST, the piece will be “performed” by syndicated radio talk show host Bruce Elliott (WILM/1450 AM/Dover, DE)). Elliot has done a live reading of “A Father’s Letter” every Christmas Eve for the past 20 years.)

Dear Santa:

My five-year-old boy scribbled out his Christmas list. It’s there by the fireplace. The Coke and M&Ms are from him, in case you’re hungry. You know 5-year-olds these days. The Cheezits are from me. Continue reading

Olathe news briefs for the week of Dec. 23

City Council
The Olathe City Council will next meet Tuesday, January 7, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall for a regular session. Regular sessions are broadcast live on OGN (Comcast channel 7, AT&T channel 99 and on the City’s website). To see the complete agenda for this meeting, visit the City’s website at  For a recap of the previous Council meeting, visit the City Clerk’s webpage.

City Holiday Schedule
City of Olathe offices will close at noon on Tuesday, December 24 and remain closed on December 25 for the Christmas holiday. Monday and Tuesday trash recycling collection will occur on schedule. City offices will also be closed on January 1 for the New Year’s holiday. Monday and Tuesday trash and recycling collection will occur on schedule. Continue reading

Height of arrogance

KanCare officials need well crafted charm offensive

Freelance writer/editor

When a holiday guest enters your home, social etiquette Midwestern style demands your best manners — maybe a welcoming cup of pretty-strong coffee and most certainly a Scandinavian sweet.

So it came as a simple case of bad manners — not to mention poor public image creation — when for-profit, managed-care officials in Kansas snarled at “East Coast” interlopers who in December had the audacity to “parachute” into the Topeka prairie to lecture them on how to improve the care of 380,000 Kansans. Continue reading

You’re only as old as you feel or until somebody tells you

Chuck Kurtz

Chuck Kurtz

It’s not that I don’t know I’m getting older.

I mean, that’s just a fact of life. From the day we’re born, it is our destiny to get gray-haired, wrinkled, to feel aches and pains longer, and to develop love handles.

I get it.

But I don’t need to be reminded of it! Continue reading


Getting sick can make you feel better

David Chartrand

David Chartrand

A lifetime of luxury could be a legal defense for serious crimes committed by the spoiled rich who claim they didn’t know better.

At least that’s the argument now advanced by attorneys for Texas teen Ethan Couch who was driving drunk when he caused a crash that left four people dead in June.

Simply put, the defense calls Couch’s condition “affluenza,” a condition stemming from having wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for him. Continue reading

Justice Department may probe profit over quality care

KanCare draws ‘deep concern’ from National Council on Disability

Freelance writer/editor

TOPEKA, Kan. — Big news on the Kansas managed care front could reshape the health care landscape and growing national debate on the merits of privatized, for-profit care.

In a Dec. 13 letter from the National Council on Disability, several significant and non-binding recommendations to improve the state’s for-profit Medicaid plan — also known as KanCare — were made to the President and Congress.

“It’s clear to NCD that many unresolved issues remain for people with disabilities” in Kansas, the report said. “The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should conduct an oversight review of the current administration of KanCare.” Continue reading

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