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.

Aviation Audit May Contain Caution Flag
January 6, 2016

A new audit of the Kansas City Aviation department shows the agency’s books to be in good shape.

The audit, however, also shows a concern.

Auditor Doug Smith report says the Aviation Dept. is “breaking even.

The report, however says “if additional debt is incurred, Aviation may need to improve margins” to cover its debt.

That may be an issue depending on if the city moves ahead with improvements at Kansas City International airport.

The City is expected to decide what, if anything, it will do at KCI during the first half of this year.

The audit also pointed to another issue. City Auditor Jones says the Aviation Dept.’s capital assets are aging. That earned the department an “unfavorable” rating in that category.

Most other categories earned a favorable rating from the auditor.
Jones says the financial condition
of the Aviation Dept. is “generally favorable”.

His audit also measured the financial health of two other city departments that are considered “enterprise funds”.

That means they operate more as separate businesses than most City Hall Departments.

Enterprise fund agencies are expected to operate based on the revenue they collect for their services. in the case of the airport that would be fees from airlines and passengers.

In the case of the water service and waste water departments, it would be the revenue collected from billing.

The financial condition of the sewer and water funds was rated, “mostly favorable”.

Airlines Say New KCI Terminal Is Cheaper
July 21, 2015

The airlines serving Kansas City KCI airport are unanimously support building a new terminal.

The group made its preliminary recommendation to the City Council Tuesday.

The group presented the Council with 4 options; two to renovate the existing terminals and two more to build a new terminal.

“the major renovation options are estimated to be significantly higher than a billion dollars to construct,” said the groups spokesman Steve Sisneros of Southwest Airlines, KCI busiest airline.

While the new terminal options would be less than a billion, Sisneros added.

The opinion of the airlines is important since the seven airlines serving KCI will have to help pay the costs of any new or remodeled KCI.

That’s a reversal of expectations.

Very early estimates put the price of a new single terminal for KCI at $1.2 billion dollars.

Sisneros stressed this was a preliminary recommendation. But he suggested the City table consideration of renovating KCI and move toward building a new terminal.

Resistance continues to the proposal.
City Councilman Scot Wagner, who is opposed to the early single terminal project, said KCI curb-side convenience should not be let go.

Dan Coffey’s group who is pushing for a city wide vote on any airport project said he believes voters will still get the final say on the airport.

The new City council, which takes office within a few days will probably decide what to do with KCI, sometime in 2016.

McCaskill Meets With KC Chamber
February 1, 2014

KC Business Journal via John Combest:
Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill talked a out jobs and infrastructure in Kansas City Friday.
McCaskill, D-Mo., said the problem is especially grave in Missouri. She said recent announcements from the Missouri Department of Transportation that it cannot fund new projects is especially concerning. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said the lack of infrastructure funding is a crisis that requires immediate resolution during an appearance at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
How that funding gap will be bridged is unclear. McCaskill said federal infrastructure funding is drying up and there needs to be a new program to replenish the nation’s infrastructure coffers.
She said she will support new legislation that would provide incentives for U.S. businesses with money overseas to repatriate that money in the form of infrastructure bonds.
McCaskill said that program could send more than $75 billion toward federal infrastructure programs. While saying the legislation will be high on her priority list this year, she did not say how soon a bill might be introduced.
McCaskill said she supports the streetcar program and thinks that Kansas City has a good case for seeking federal funds, since the metro area has lagged behind others in terms of federal assistance for public transportation projects. But she said that both the city and the federal government should be realistic about the availability of money to fund proposed streetcar expansions.
McCaskill declined to opine on the airport, saying that it’s an issue that Kansas City needs to decide itself.