KC Approves Downtown Street Car Project
December 13, 2012

Portland streetcarDowntown Kansas City residents have approved a plan for a two-mile long street car system. The route will run from the River Market area to Union Station.
It’s the first time in years Kansas City voters have approved any mass transit plan. An earlier plan, proposed in 2006 by mass transit activist Clay Chastain was rejected by the City Council. That plan called for a much more extensive mass transit project. Chastain’s idea was nullified by the city as unworkable.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James told the Kansas City Star he viewed the approval of the street car system “will be (a) historic” moment for the city.
There were two measures in front of voters in an unusual mail-in vote. The results were announced late Wednesday. The balloting was open only to voters who were registered in the 2-mile long street car district for several blocks on either side of the route. That triggered complaints from business owners in the district who will be assessed taxes, but could not vote because they did not reside in the area.
Those voters approved a one-cent sales tax to help pay for the project by a 391-198 margin. Another vote, authorizing a property tax on the businesses in the street car district, was approved 344-206.
The street car fund will also use some federal money to get it started. The estimated cost of the project is $100 million. The plan is to have the construction finished and the street car system operating by 2015.
The City has set aside $2 million a year for the project and hopes fees and advertising will add to the fund’s sources of money.
The debate over ‘if’, and ‘how’, the city would move towards a different mass transit system has been going on for two decades.
Mass transit boosters hope the approval of the street car line will trigger more development in the future. Kansas City on-going debates over mass transit put the city on the sidelines in the 1980’s and 1990’s when the federal government was encouraging cities to develop modern mass transit. With the federal government tightening its budget, that era is over.
Jackson County executive Mike Sanders, however, has been pushing for a more extensive mass transit system centers around a commuter rail line. That plan is still in the development stages.
The City is near the final design stages of the project. Construction, in phases, could start as early as 2013.

Mayor’s Office Insists Street Care Plan Moves Ahead Without Federal TIGER Grant Funding
June 19, 2012

Kansas City Mayor Sly James office said Tuesday afternoon, ““We are obviously disappointed, but not deterred. Kansas City is not giving up on this project.”.
That statement came after Kansas City learned it’s bid for a $25 million federal grant from the Department of Transportation, was rejected.
The money would have been used to fund part of the $100 million downtown streetcar project. Ballots to the voters in the 2-mile stretch of downtown going from 3rd & Grand to the Union Station area are going out now.
The money the city was hoping for is called a TIGER Grant. That stands for ‘Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery’. It is part of the 2009 federal stimulus project.
The results of the mail-in election will be announced next month.
James says they’ll now look for other federal money.
“We move forward immediately by applying for an grant under the revised Small Starts program of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will continue to get our local financing package firmly in place,” he said.
James insists the streetcar project will movew forward.
“We’re not quitting here,” he told KMBC in an nterview.
“”We’re gfoing to look at every nook, nook, cranny, innovation, option fund, grant, whatever, to get this done.”

KC Mayor on Relative’s Scrap with the Law, “I’m Accountable for My Own Actions”
April 18, 2012

Two relatives of Kansas City Mayor Sly James were involved in a weekend disturbance where shots were fired, according to a police report.
Police said they were called to a parking lot at 45th Street and Prospect Avenue at 12:23 p.m. Saturday.
The 43-year-old victim, James King, told police that his cousin had pistol-whipped him and that the man fired two shots into his car after a heated argument. He said his cousin is the mayor’s brother.
“It’s a sad thing,” King said. “That’s my cousin. I love him, and I love Sly too.”
King said that he had been to a funeral earlier Saturday and afterward, he and the cousin had gone to his mother’s house in Raytown. King said his cousin began heavily drinking and became hostile.
King told police that his car had been on loan to the cousin and he had asked for it back. After getting the car, King went to work at the barbershop he owns at 45th and Prospect. Later, the cousin showed up at the barbershop, saying he wanted his cellphone, which he had left in the car.
King told police that he went to the car with the cousin and they continued to argue. King said when he turned his head to talk to a concerned customer, the cousin hit him across the nose with a gun. According to the police report, the cousin fired one shot into the floorboard of the car and later fired a second shot into the floorboard, threatening to shoot the victim in the hip.
The cousin then got into another car and left.
King still has bruises on his nose.
“I’m better today than I was Saturday,” he said.
King said he feels bad about the incident, particularly that the mayor has been brought into it.
“Incidents happen with our own family,” he said. “It can happen to anyone.”
Police are still investigating. No charges have been filed in the case.
KMBC’s Maria Antonia talked with the mayor about the incident at an economic forum in Kansas City, Kan., on Tuesday. James said he was not aware of the weekend incident and was not pleased when he was told about it.
“I don’t care what people are talking about. I care about doing my job, and my job isn’t affected by any of this,” James said.
James was at a forum Tuesday where he talked about crime and accountability.
“The message I want to get out is that I’m working hard everyday to do my job the best way I can,” James said. “I avoid distractions, stick with what I’m supposed to do, I’m accountable for my own actions and I try my best to make sure I’m accountable.”

Read more: http://www.kmbc.com/news/30908213/detail.html#ixzz1sOnPNy4t

James Chides Council as New District Maps are Approved
December 9, 2011

From Prime Buzz & the KC Star:

The Kansas City Council voted 11-1 in favor of a new redistricting map that follows the recommendations of a citizens advisory committee.
Councilman John Sharp was the lone dissenter. He argued the map is detrimental to many 4th and 6th District residents, neighborhoods and community organizations. He said there would have been a way to tweak the map to respond to those concerns, but the advisory committee and city council were unwilling to consider any changes to respond to constituents. He said the map as designed is clear gerrymandering, and does not create districts that are geographically compact.
Sharp warned that opponents of the map may launch an effort to overturn the map or to put it on a ballot for a public vote.
But supporters of the map said it was the result of a lengthy, thoughtful and fair advisory committee review process. They argued that moving the lines to accommodate the 4th and 6th Districts would create other problems and could violate the Voting Rights Act.
Mayor Sly James, clearly frustrated with how every debate in this town turns divisive, blew up when Sharp complained that the city turned a deaf ear to all the people who turned out for public hearings.
James said he has listened to all the comments, but people have to get their priorities straight. “Do you love your council district more, or your city more?” he asked.

Read more: http://midwestdemocracyproject.org/blogs/entries/council-approves-new-redistricting-map/#ixzz1g2bViMWE

KC Schools: nicastro backs Away from making a Decison on State Involvement AT THIS TIME
December 2, 2011

Missouri Eeducation Commission has decided not to make a recommendation about immediate state involvement in the Kansas City School district. In a statement to the Board meeting in Branson this morning, Nicastro says the state and her office needs more time to considering the situation. “While we believe that action is urgent, it is critical for us not to make a decision prematurely. It is evident that the community is just now coming to understand the magnitude of their responsibility and the imperative for immediate change. Advancing a recommendation for governance or other intervention prior to the community reaching consensus about what this should look like would simply add to the dysfunction and prolong the disruption for children and adults. The Kansas City community, the Kansas City School District and the Department must move forward as partners, not adversaries.” Nicastro mentioned the letter she received Thursday afternoon from mayor Sly james. That letter includes the options of some sort of mayoral control of the district. Nicastro brought it up in her statement. Developing.