KCI Shake Up. Aviation Director Announces Retirement
April 22, 2016

Kansas City Aviation Director Mark VanLoh abruptly announced his retirement Friday, just days before a crucial meeting on the future of KCI Airport.

“The Mayor and the City manager have allowed the department to operate like a business,” VanLoh said in a statement announcing his retirement.

VanLoh was an early and aggressive supporter of making major improvements at the 40 year old KCI airport.

“We had seen some frustration that Mark had gotten out ahead of the process. Specifically as the new terminal is concerned,” said Council member Jolie Justus.

Justus leads the council’s Airport Committee.

Next Tuesday, Justus’ panel is expected to be told by the airlines who fly in and out of KCI they support building a new terminal and they’ll help pay for it.

Another member of the committee says VanLoh’s vigorous push for a new single terminal KCI became a problem for some.

“You know that was the heat,” said Councilman Quinton Lucas, another member of the airport Committee.

City Manager Troy Schulte named veteran Assistant City Manager Pat Klein as VanLoh’s replacement on a permanent basis.

Klein has been the City manager’s coordinator for the last four years during the discussions of KCI’s future.

“Running an airport is a lot like running a city. You have your own police department. You have your own fire department, your own utilities,” Klein told KMBC Friday.

Councilmember Tersa Loar says Klein is fine as a replacement for now, but she’s prefers the city look around as well.

VanLoh led the Aviation Department for 12 years.

His retirement takes effect at the end of May.

Airlines Prefer New Single KCI Terminal
April 18, 2016

The airlines that serve KCI airport are about to recommend the city build a new single terminal airport, and the airlines are willing to pay for it and help with the debt, according to Airport Committee Chair Jolie Justus.

“I believe on April 26th all of the airlines are going to come to City Hall. And the airlines will make a recommendation that they would like a new terminal. That they would like to pay for it. And they would like to back the debt,” Justus said in an interview with KMBC TV Monday.

Justus and other members of the Council’s Airport Committee met with executives of Southwest Airlines Friday in Dallas.

Since Southwest is KCI’s busiest airline it has influence with KCI officials and city leaders.
Southwest KCI executives often represent the views and concerns of the other KCI airlines to airport officials.

Council member Teresa Loar has been a skeptic of the plan to build a new single terminal KCI airport.

“Of course Southwest would love a new airport! I think any airline would love a new airport,” she said in KMBC interview.

Loar is also pushing to delay a vote on any plans for KCI.

She says it would be better to wait until 2017, when the issue is not lost in the August primary or the November presidential election.

Justus disagrees.

If the City Council approves an airport plan in May, as expected, a measure would go before Kansas City voters later in the year.

Earlier, consultant estimated it would be less expensive to build a news single terminal for about $964 dollars than it would be to renovate the existing terminals.

Cost estimates on the remodeling have run as high as $1.2 billion.

The City’s Airport Committee meets next week on April 26th.

(AP) – A top Kansas social services official has outlined proposals for nearly $17 million in additional spending at the state’s two mental hospitals.

Department for Aging and Disability Services Interim Secretary Tim Keck discussed the proposals Monday during a meeting of a legislative oversight committee on social services.

Keck said he’s asking Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget staff to include the spending in his proposals for legislators to consider. Lawmakers return April 27 from their annual spring break to wrap up their business for the year.

Most of the money would be spent at Osawatomie State Hospitals in eastern Kansas. It would cover pay raises for nurses and mental health technicians.

But the proposals include a pay raise for mental health technicians at Larned State Hospital in western Kansas.

(AP) – Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster’s most recent fundraising has exceeded the combined total of all his Republican opponents in the race for Missouri governor, reports filed Friday with the Missouri Ethics Commission show.

Koster raised $2.2 million in cash and in-kind donations between the beginning of the year and the end of March, while his four Republican rivals raised just under $2.1 million. Koster’s $7.4 million in cash on hand is also larger than any of his GOP opponents’ campaign accounts.

Former Navy SEAL officer Eric Greitens topped the Republican field with about $1 million in donations, bringing his cash on hand to $4.1 million.

Former U.S. attorney and Missouri House speaker Catherine Hanaway reported raising about $558,000, but more than half of that came from in-kind contributions rather than cash, including $241,520 from the Missouri Club for Growth Political Action Committee. That donation was for radio ads that ran from February through the end of March, mostly on Christian and conservative talk radio programs, Hanaway spokesman Nick Maddux said.

Hanaway’s ended the quarter with more than $1.5 million on hand.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder raised about $332,000 this period, leaving him with about $624,000 in cash on hand.

St. Louis businessman John Brunner raised about $163,000. Although he raised the least in the Republican field, he has demonstrated an ability to self-fund his campaign. He spent more than $7.5 million of his own money on an unsuccessful race for U.S. Senate in 2012, and so far he has poured more than $3.7 million into this race.

Brunner’s campaign spent about $522,000 this quarter, topping the field. Koster’s campaign spent about $510,000, while Greitens spent about $320,000.

Greitens’ has faced criticism for not returning $1 million given to him in previous quarters from a donor accused of sexual abuse. The donor, Michael L. Goguen, has denied the allegations and does not appear on this quarter’s list of contributions.

Hanaway’s campaign spending, which does not include the radio ads, exceeded $207,000. Kinder spent about $149,000.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is barred from re-election because of term limits. The state’s primary elections are August 2.

Voters will also choose party nominees for new lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state – none of which have incumbent candidates this year.

Big Overhaul of Missouri’s Criminal Laws Advancing
March 5, 2014

(AP) – Missouri prosecutors and victim advocacy groups are urging the Legislature to pass an overhaul of the state’s criminal laws.

At a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday, supporters argued the measure would lengthen jail terms for violent repeat offenders, while going easier on non-violent criminals.

The measure’s sponsor in the Senate, Democratic Minority Leader Jolie Justus, says the biggest obstacle facing the bill is its length – 1,100 pages.

Justus’ bill would create new classes of felonies and misdemeanors, as well as reduce the penalties for certain drug crimes for first-time offenders.

House and Senate panels have both endorsed the legislation. The Senate version is awaiting floor debate, while the House bill is in the Rules Committee.

Missouri Senate Republicans Have BIG Ideas
November 9, 2012

(AP) — Republicans in the Missouri Senate pledged Thursday to focus on education and jobs in the next legislative session and planned to iron out the specifics at a caucus meeting next week.
Newly nominated Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said the acronym “BIG” describes the GOP’s priorities in the Senate: “build” infrastructure, “invest” in education and “grow” the economy.
“We’re working first on a jobs agenda, getting people to work. And that’s our focus,” said Dempsey, R-St. Charles.
Although next week’s meeting was expected to focus on the policies, some ideas were already surfacing.
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Kirkwood, the chairman of the Senate’s economic development committee, said he wants to consider broad-based tax cuts in addition to an overhaul of the state’s existing tax credits.
Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, who was chosen Thursday as the majority leader for the 2013 session, said he intends for the Senate to concentrate on economic development.
In past sessions, the Republican-controlled Legislature has included changes to employment discrimination laws and the workers’ compensation system as part of a package that it said could improve Missouri’s business climate. But Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed the bills, citing concerns about weakening the legal protections for workers.
The Republicans this week preserved their supermajority in the Senate, controlling 24 seats in the 34-member chamber. The GOP picked up several state House seats, now giving it a veto-proof majority in that chamber too.
Still, Dempsey said he plans to work with Nixon’s administration and legislative Democrats.
Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, who as chosen Thursday as the chamber’s minority party leader, said many Democrats are interested in enacting new economic development incentives.
“I suspect there’ll be a big emphasis on job creation – that seems to be what we’re all talking about right now,” Justus said.

Jolie Justus Tells Slate Missouri Dems ‘Have Hit the Bottom’
October 5, 2012

Justus, NY Daily News photo

From Slate via Johncombest.com:
“The good news,” says Jolie Justus, “is that I really do think we’ve hit bottom.”
We, in this case, are Missouri Democrats. Until 2012, nobody had ever heard of a competitive presidential election that leaves out Missouri. Missouri joined the union in 1821, and for 187 years no Democrat won the presidency without carrying the state. When Democrats lost, they at least kept it close here. Even Michael Dukakis lost Missouri by only 4 points.
Then, in 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency while losing Missouri. It was close! Only 3,903 votes separated Obama from McCain, while Ralph Nader—of course, who the hell else?—snagged 17,813. Then Obama took office, and the Democrats went back into decline. In 2010, Republicans defeated Rep. Ike Skelton for a mostly rural seat that Democrats had held since before Sputnik.
The red wave gave Republicans 28 of 34 state Senate seats. Justus, the first openly gay senator, was one of the few Democrats left, representing urban areas, huddling together for warmth. In 2008, the Obama campaign’s score of rural GOTV offices became a model of the hope and change candidate’s vast appeal. This year, the Obama campaign has two offices in Missouri, in the liberal nodes of Kansas City and St. Louis.
“We’re in new territory,” says Justus. “The fact is that we are getting to be seen as a red state, that we’re more like Kansas.”