Streetcar District Expansion Goes Down Hard, 60-40
August 6, 2014

Kansas City Mayor Sly James says Tuesday night’s defeat of a plan to expand the city’s streetcar district “stings”.
The proposal to extend the current 2 mile starter line to the east and south was easily defeated.
Final results posted by the Kansas City Election Board showed the measure losing. The measure lost, gathering 39.67% of the vote.
The measure faced opposition from citizens who opposed the idea of using a sales tax to fund the $500 million local portion of the plan. They believed it would hurt some of Kansas City’s poorest residents and neighborhoods because a sales tax is not based on the ability to pay.
Others say the city has more pressing needs that expanding a streetcar line.
The defeat is one of the biggest setbacks for Mayor Sly James, who has enjoyed a relatively successful first term.
City Councilman Jermaine Reed says he expects the city to return to voters with a larger pan in the near future.
Had others approved expanding the streetcar taxing district Tuesday, it would have set up another streetcar vote in November.
That vote would have actually authorized the one cent sales tax and the assessment policies for those who live in expanded streetcar district.
The result Tuesday does not affect the 2-mile starter line running through the city’s River Market district, through downtown to the Union Station area.
That line has been approved by voters and construction is already underway.
The starter line is expected to be operating in late 2015.

Streetcar Opponent File Ethics Complaint Against City
June 23, 2014

Opponents to expanding the Kansas City streetcar lines have filed a complaint against the city with the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC)

The complaint accused Kansas City Mayor Sly James and the City Council of electioneering in the weeks leading up to the August 5 Missouri primary ballot and the local streetcar question.

The Mayor denies the charge in a Monday statement from his office.

In August, Kansas City voters will be asked whether or not to approve expanding the current streetcar district to include most of the city south of the river.

The complaint charges the city with spending $685,000 for an “outreach” program into neighborhoods where the streetcar line may head in the future.

Dan Coffey of the Citizens for responsible Government cited a June 15 letter to neighborhood leaders as his proof of the electioneering accusation.

The letter from Scott Hall and Associates, explains how they’re looking for neighborhood leaders to help find workers for the outreach project.

“It is our goal not to persuade bit to provide baseline information, collect and document feedback.

The letter says they’re looking for workers to help them in late June, July and October, the weekend leading up to two potential local street car elections. They are also asked if the people would be willing to wear clothing associated with the outreach effort. They would be offered $10 an hour with no benefits.

The statement from mayor Sly James’ office says the workers are being hired to assist with a program assessing the environmental impact of a streetcar line in areas where the lines may be built.

It is not known when the MEC will issue a determination on the complaint.

KC Bishop Finn Announces Opposition To Jackson Co. Medical Research Tax
October 16, 2013

Kansas City’s Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Finn is the latest Kansas City official to come out against the Jackson County Medical Research Tax on the November 5 ballot.

The Kansas City Diocese released a letter signed by Finn, former Bishop Raymond Boland and a number of priests announcing their opposition to the tax proposal.

Boosters say the half-cent tax increase would generate $800 million over 20 years. The money would be used to attract cutting edge medical researchers to several Jackson County Hospitals (see previous posts).

In Finn’s set he says he object to the tax increase on three grounds.

He said a sales tax is regressive and is not based on any ability to pay, so it hits the working poor the hardest.

Finn says another problem is that the County is asking taxpayers to fund a national goal when basic needs in the city are not being met.

Finn adds there is nothing in the ballot language that prevents what he calls, “embryonic-destructive research”, and so he objects to the plan on that grounds.

This is the second top Kansas City figure in as many days to announce his stance on the issue.

Tuesday, Kansas City Mayor Sly James’ office released a statement says the Mayor finds the goals of the plan worthy, but he is not taking a stand on the issue.

Boosters had hoped Mayor James would support the tax increase question.

Earlier this week, Jackson County Legislator James Tindall endorsed the Research Tax. Tindall is also a Bishop in the Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ.

KC Police Chief Supports State Control for KCPD, No Change Needed
September 4, 2013

Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte says the Kansas City Police Department should remain as it is, under state control.
Forte broke his silence on the issue of local control with along piece he posted late Tuesday on his blog on the KCPD website.
“Our form of governance has served the people of Kansas City well for generations'” Forte wrote in the blog statement.
“It shields their police from corruption, fosters accountability and provides the most professional service possible. Our department’s model of governance should be perpetuated for generations to come,” he said.
The Kansas City department is the only one in the nation now governed by State control. The city of St. Louis took over its department this month, after a statewide vote approved the change. Kansas City Mayor Sly James appointed a citizens panel to look at the issue of state versus local control earlier this year.
Forte maintains that distinction, of being the only state controlled department, can be good.
“Being unique isn’t a negative thing,” according to the chief.
Forte says the present system works. He noted that the Governor appoints members of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. that Board automatically includes the Mayor.
He says many local state officials routinely recommend nominees to the board and the State Senate votes to confirm them.
“Everyone who is in control of the police department lives in Kansas City, Mo.,” Forte maintains.
The Chief says the present system has been largely scandal free.
-The Chief says the state controlled police department has a layer of protection from politician influence from City Hall.
-Forte says the city does controL the Police Dept. budget, even under state control.he notes the Police submit a budget to the City Council like every other department. The Council, not the state, allocates city money.
-Forte also maintains the claim local control could save taxpayer dollars is not true. He claims some state money the department now receives could be lost.
“Our form of governance has served the people of Kansas City well for generations. It shields their police from corruption, fosters accountability and provides the most professional service possible,” wrote the Chief.

Kit Bond Hired By City Hall to Lobby for KC in DC
January 2, 2013

City Hall says former Missouri Senator ‘Kit’ Bond has been hired to be a federal lobbyist for the city in Washington.
Bond was a long-time Missouri Senator. He was known for bringing federal projects and federal money back to the state, Kansas City in particular.
Bond was never apologetic about his role even when “pork” became a dirty word on Capitol Hill.
“I am proud to say that Kansas City will be the only governmental entity Kit Bond Strategies will represent,” said Mayor Sly James. “There are few other than our current elected officials who know our needs and priorities as well as Kit Bond. He has long been a friend of Kansas City and will be a powerful voice in Washington to assist in accomplishing our goals.”
“In the Governor’s Mansion and in the U.S. Senate I championed Kansas City’s priorities, from revitalizing neighborhoods, to improving transportation infrastructure, to increasing access to health care, and I am excited to continue fighting for the City on this new front,” said former Senator Bond in a statement.