Kansas City Week in Review – February 1, 2019

who will lead KC with
election day just two months away a status report on the
mayor’s race plus a status report on some of the biggest
most pesky troublesome and divisive projects in our
metro Week in Review is made possible
through the generous support of Dave and Jamie Cummings Bob and
Marlese Gourley Smithfield Foods Haas and Wilkerson
Insurance the Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust John H.
Mize and Bank of America N. A.
co trustees and by viewers like you thank you
hello I’m Nick Haines and we are thrilled you with us to
connect the dots on the news of the week in this place we call
home reviewing the news this week from forty one action news
reporter Cat Reid and from the investigative beat at the
Kansas City Star Steve Vokrodt and because let’s face it three
Steve are better than one Steve Kraske the host of Up to Date
on KCUR FM is with us and forty one action news reporter
Steven Dial now there is so much news to share with you
this week but if there was one news item that got more people
talking this week than any other in our metro was the mind
finger and toe numbing cold that shattered schools burst
your pipes and even shut down the corridors of power in our
city low for a new record will
be minus seven I’m going for
negative six that record almost a hundred years on the books
the wind chill this morning has dropped below negative twenty
degrees just being out in this kind of weather for ten minutes
can introduce hypothermia to some of our kids that are
trying to walk to school this weather is gonna end up being
the death of me if I
don’t watch it too closely the homeless definitely had the
hardest but the bitter cold also rupturing a water main
that flooded and shut down the Jackson County courthouse a
a power break cancels all businesses city hall and
plunges the offices of the mayor and the city council into
darkness so our top city leaders were experiencing many of the
infrastructure problems their residents so often complain
about Steve yeah certainly I mean that you know the cold like
this is a little bit unusual although there’s a case to be
made that these types of extreme weather events are
going to become even more common as evidence mounts that
were in the midst of climate change
and yes extreme cold weather is an element of climate change
and so yeah clearly you know it’s it’s interesting to have
city leaders have to face some of the same issues that which
he pointed out residents complain about and hit hardest
thought and you were with the homeless this week outside
with them ah did we miss the mark in terms of how
we dealt with this or did we do a good job of handling that
with that vulnerable population well it seems like a lot of
community groups pick up the slack if resources fall short
and that was the case here there were a lot of groups that were
going around visiting the camps themselves delivering pro
propane tank heaters and things which by the way the fire
department has said they’re not so sure about delivering those
but then there’s the issue of fires being started under
bridges as well uhm so those groups I think are doing a lot
when I was talking to some of the homeless people out there
they said that the shelters were full and they didn’t know
where they were going to go so these groups are stepping up to
help Steve you know just coincidentally Nick there was
an actual annual count of the homeless that took place this
week on the coldest days of the year it’s part of an annual
count that gets done across the country Kansas city officials
involved with the homeless were doing that count this week the
timing wasn’t the best You know a
lot of people complaining because ah
schools are shut down again now I have to find care for my kids
and why do we have to shut down schools you were looking at the
back story this week Steve we talked the Kansas city public
school system and they’re one of
the largest in our area and they
were saying you know think about the the type of families
that they have a lot of students are riding the bus a
lot of students are walking to school and so what those diesel
gas guzzling school buses you don’t want the bus to not be
coming on and then kids just waiting so I think they just
take a proactive approach to say let’s avoid a big issue
down the road let’s cancel school we have the snow days
let’s get it out of the way we
saw a little clip them from your report at
the beginning of the program with Mark Bedell superintendent
of schools looking very anguished but by the end of the
week though Steve I will want to point out he was feeling a
lot happier and warmer because they got very positive news in
the Kansas City Missouri school
district the number from Mark
Bedell this week eighty two point nine that’s the number of
the rating the district got based on annual accreditation
test scores that were taken a year ago huge number for the
district you need a seventy to be considered for full
accreditation again the district got an eighty two
point nine Nick this is a big moment for the district the
best guesss maybe next year full accreditation comes you can
make an argument they should get it now and again but it’s
amazing though they said they made all this progress but they
still don’t get accreditation from the state
you know it is a long difficult process I think that that this
board of education or rather sorry the department of
education has to be careful with making these decisions and
see continued evidence over time but I think that with such
a large jump in the scores it could be argued it could be
done now no even though the Kansas city Missouri police
department this week reporting fewer crimes during the bitter
cold one of my favorite tweets this week came from city
hall that reported the fact of the Kansas City skyline Grand
Rapids police had taken a tweet from Kansas City it said crime
had been canceled due to the brutal cold and just swapped out
the city’s name for ours now though this is ah is the
Kansas City skyline in the background as you see there are
they still investigating the theft Steven I don’t think
so I think the Twitter shame of that was enough I think the’ll
be ok all righty well two months from now voters in Kansas City
Missouri will pare down the whopping field of candidates
wanting to be your next mayor to just two people while it seemed
always so far away the mayoral primary is now eight weeks away
this week one candidate dropped out educator Roy Chin but
that still leaves eleven men and women actively campaigning
to succeed Sly James as the city’s top elected official
do we have a better handle on who is leading the pack as we
enter the home stretch of this campaign Steve Kraske I think
there seems to be a general consensus that Jolie Justus
city sitting councilwoman is ahead of the pack right now you
see her leading one poll I saw this week she’s raised the most
money during the fourth quarter of twenty eighteen high profile
she has the backing of mayor Sly James which might be
significant going down the road the races been pretty low key
up to now NickI think we’re going to see a ratchet up a
little bit as we get the two months to go mark as candidates
go up on TV with our ads but
you’ve got a non city councilman
attorney Steve Miller also this week bringing in US.
Senate ah senator and former vice presidential candidate Tim
Kaine, Jolie Justus is not doing that Steven and that can be
different and also you talk about Phil Glenn who you know
when he’s at these forums a lot of people saying I haven’t
heard this guy speak before but I like what he’s saying I think
some things that will start to create that separation MLK Paseo
debate that definitely separated Alyssa
Canady from people like Quentin stumbling along I know Cat Reid’s ready to talk
about that but will that affect
Jolie Justus and others that are on
that airport committee do you
agree with Steve Steve Vockrodt that um Jolie
Justus is the frontrunner in this race yeah that I think
I think for a while she’s been the presumptive at least
favorite to one of the favorites to emerge out of the
primary election the poll that I
saw from about a week ago had her
with about fifteen percent of the vote so she was about five
points higher than the next person up I will say who ws the
next person up the next
person up was Alissia Canady
now I will say that a polls that’s far that or this far out
in in municipal elections are not the gospel it
also said that I think about thirty four percent were
undecided and so that’s a huge number of people that
you know or want to have time to make the name for themselves
and Steve Miller’s you mentioned he’s one who’s done
very well in raising money I don’t know how well he’s got
his name out there the Tim Kaine event may help them with
that Cat I have to say I don’t know how much the Tim
Kaine event will move the needle
it might give him a little bit
more time in the press his name out there more but I don’t
really see that that would be something that would sway
Kansas City voters necessarily is it conceivable that more
candidates will leave this race before the primary in the first
week of April Steve I think it’s possible Nick but as you
mentioned we’re just two months out now we’re sort of in the
gun we’re that this race is unfolding before so at this
point I would think that most of them will stay maybe one of
the really ah person who’s not very well known might bail
like Roy Chin did but I think the field is set last week the
city council ended months of debate and division to rename
the Paseo after slain civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther
King did the city this week managed to seal the deal as
well on the biggest most contentious project in our area
yes the new look KCI the ground breaking has been pushed back
it’s been weeks since we heard from the airlines about whether
they’re on board with the city’s plans are we any the
wiser this week Cat Reid well we were told again yesterday or
rather Thursday that this deal was imminent with the airlines
that they’re having daily calls with the airlines and are very
very close to an agreement about two weeks ago a
representative for the airlines who I will add has not been
actually in the negotiations he said that they were weeks away
from agreement so there is a feeling that it’s close that’s
what the aviation department is saying some people are
skeptical that it still you know haven’t been signed how
close are we really and the groundbreaking was supposed to
be in January we’re now into February so that has been
another delay and I will also add that we’re still waiting on
the environmental assessment from the FAA to come back and
they’re not allowed to fully complete the design until
the EA comes back however we’re only at ten or fifteen percent
design right now on this even though we Steve Vockrodt this
plan the project for KCI was overwhelmingly voted on by the
public there’s no issue that we receivied more dissenting voices
on from the public than this one was a lot of distrust about
whether this will ever move forward and not trusting what
city hall officials are saying should there be alarm at this
point in time I think there should be some
measured skepticism about some of the things that particularly
the city is saying about what’s going on because their story
tends to change new facts come out that contradict earlier
facts I will tell viewers though that these airport
projects are enormously complicated and it is not it is
not unusual at all to see major delays in airports the Denver
airport in the nineties was twice over budget and had a
couple years and delays maybe even more than that there’s an
airport in Berlin that they started working at that they
wanted to have open in twenty eleven and still not open I mean
these things these things happen I mean these are major
contracting projects they require lots of negotiations
and you know just think about some of the times you purchase
your own house and the stress and the seemingly chaos of in
that’s involved in that process multiply that by you know
orders of magnitude for this you know there’s a new little
wrinkle in all this there’s a fight on the city council about
whether it should borrow ninety million dollars out of city
general fund to sort of jump start construction here the
concern is that if you do that you’re breaking a pledge to
taxpayers that no city dollars would ever be used to build
this airport so that’s yet one more complication that city
leaders are grappling with right now and we did hear some
more details about that at yesterday speaking to Julie
Justus as she said that they may have finally figured out a way
to do that only from aviation funds and it’s at forty eight
million dollar kind of bridge loan that they take from there
to and gets work started until that revenue comes in from the
bonds despite brutally cold temperatures and blustery
conditions construction continued this week on the new
eight hundred room Kansas City conventional hotel it’s been a
very long time since we looked
at that project being built at
sixteenth and Wyandotte next to Bartle Hall the hotel just
released a video of what this
will look like when complete which is
supposed to be in time for the big twelve basketball
tournament at Sprint center in March of next year there were a
lot of doubters is on this
project is it going to be open for March
madness next year I spoke with Jonathan Tish who’s
one of the leading he’s he’s with the Lowes franchise or the
Lowees companies Lowes hotel company which is the operator
of this hotel and he said it was a little too soon to know that
he was aware of the big twelve schedule and that you know
certainly they would want to get it open but they’re on a
construction timeline and as we just talked about with the
airport I mean you know the much smaller project but things
can move left or right on these types projects but aren’t
all these major conventions that
are supposed to be coming into town at that point
in time well there’s the Shriners one that’s coming
into town that June or July that year so they have some
leeway on it but he tells me the construction timeline is
fine that they’re coming in on
budget and that he’s pretty confident
that spring opening is in the cards you know it’s sort of
cool watching this thing Nick I happen to drive by it a couple
times a week as I go to the newspaper and they’re putting
up roughly a floor a week and this thing is going up pretty
rapidly and if you have the time lapse photography sense of
driving by once in awhile you’ll see the thing changing
every time you drive by I was pouring through the KCPT
archives and thirteen years ago this very week this was the top
story on this program remember this plans for a rolling roof
over Arrowhead and Kauffman
stadiums the project was rejected by Jackson
County voters in April of twenty sixteen or
two thousand six rather should I say with so much attention
now being paid to the Superbowl and Kansas city’s ascending NFL
prospects are there any plans to revisit the rolling
roof Steve no and as it sounds really cool and I
wish the city would have done it then you know maybe you not
saying this because you’re from Atlanta you don’t take any other
Superbowls from them I don’t
want to but ah Kansas city has it’s
finger prints all over the that
and the Superbowl believe it or not the
company that built the stadium the company that did the
engineering all from the Kansas city area I don’t think a
rolling roof will happen they’re
upgrading the the scoreboard and cup
holders or some people said snowball holders are on the
upper deck I think that’s good progress but I don’t think we’ll
get a rolling roof
in thirteen years we couldn’t have come up with
another plan for this you know I think that Cheif’s fans are a
hardy breed were midwesterners and so they can withstand the
cold and stand out there and root on their Chiefs well I’d
like to see
the roof I like the that would
be awesome Steve well the team’s leases at
Truman sports complex expire twenty thirty one and so one
hopes presumes that the planning for what’s going to
happen when those leases expire are starting now there’s been
some talk about you know do we
try to bring the Royals downtown
what’s that gonna cost what’s
that gonna look like and if the Royals get
something you can bet the che the Cheifs will want
something for themselves too I noticed both Olathe and Overland
Park fighting this week over a move to build ah rival
indoor hockey arenas less than nine miles from each other in
Johnson County is hockey so underserved that in addition to
the Independence events center where the Mavericks play we can
support two more indoor hockey facilities of about four
thousand seats apiece I think that is a concern in our my
colleague Arial Rothfield covered this story for us and
the other thing to point out is that they would potentially be
competing for funds to build these two arenas the argument
she’d heard from hockey enthusiasts in the areas that
you build to it creates more opportunities and more people
will get into it whether or not they can support the two is
kind of unclear right now oneof the things I wanted to do
in this program is to ask you
know it’s been now fifteen years
since we have bi-state tax ah
where we came together as a region to
support one big project that was gonna be the sports
stadiums and arts projects out fifteen years ago it approved
Union Station but when you have fighting in between two cities
even for a hockey arena does it seem too much to ask that we
could come together for another big project again Steve you
know I think there’s always hope for something like that
Nick you know if you think about a downtown Royals
baseball stadium could that be the kind of thing that could
catalyze a discussion about another bi state tax having
said that there’s not much cooperation not much
communication you don’t get a sense between Missouri leaders
and Kansas leaders we still remain no two states divided
and he everyone worried about their own thing ah you don’t
hear any talk about our bi state tax Steve do you see any
in any traction towards regional asset that we could
support with Kansas and Missouri taxpayers well getting back to
what I was mentioning earlier with these two stadiums the
leases are expiring at the same time
your potentially considering the prospect of at least two
major stadium renovations maybe one new stadium maybe two
new stadiums who knows and that’s gonna to be you know
sports stadiums now we’re going
for a price of six hundred million to
more than a billion depending on what you want to do
one way to pay for that would be maybe a five County regional
tax and yeah hope you know presumably hopefully they’re
starting to make those discussions now because twenty
thirty one will be here sooner than you know and I wonder what
you know the governors of both states Laura Kelly and ah Mike
Parson they’re having that I called it a barbecue summit I
doubt they’ll pick barbecue but planning a meeting in Kansas
City to talk about you know certain things especially the
border war when it comes to stealing business jobs from
each other but that could be a part of the conversation who
knows over in Wyandotte county is it conceivable that one of
their biggest attractions maybe shattering its doors the
Schlitterbahn water park
declining to discuss whether it will re open for a
new season in May Steve Vockrodt yes they’ve had bad publicity
with the tragedy on the Verruckt water slide what evidence is
there that they would give up their investment in Kansas city
having spent so much money developing this project here
well I’ve got I’ve never gotten a
clear picture of what their finances have been since that
incident in two thousand sixteen where the young boy
died on the Verruckt water slide however there have been signs
that there are some concerns and problems that particularly with
the company that has the mortgage on the property over
there and so I was pretty surprised when I went on to
their website a week or two ago and I saw that you couldn’t
buy season passes so I asked the company Hey why aren’t you
guys selling season passes for
KCK water park where you are from
Texas right now and they said well we don’t really have any
news for you I asked are you
guys gonna be open for this year and
they said well we don’t have a news for you right now if I ask
you Nick is KCPT gonna be open tomorrow you say yes well I
haven’t I haven’t any news for
you currently, but we’ll get back
to ou on that so they said there would be an
update maybe in March or something like that but I think
there it is reasonable concern about hey is this park gonna
open are they may be exploring
the possibility of selling it given
that ou know the Schlitterbahn
name is not here is not what it is
in Texas I mean they’ve taken a black guy
in the last few years this is why Steve Vockrodt is
such a great reporter only he
would notice something like like to
ask questions about a good for you Steven yeah now we on this
program always like to keep tabs on what’s happening under
the capitol dome in both our state capital some people find
it boring it is incredibly important in Missouri this week
there’s another push on a bill to expunge the records of
anyone with a prior misdemeanor conviction for
marijuana possession and this week governor Mike Parson says
he’s open to it really he said that that was spokesperson said
that depends on what the final language will be and I actually
yesterday asking people in the Kansas city area because
councilman Quinton Lucas posed
that question from a star editorial
and I’m a lot of people including myself didn’t know the
mayor had power to pardon people from municiple conviction
and we couldn’t find anyone who was against saying
that we think someone who committed a non violent
marijuana municipal charge was convicted I think it should
be exspunged so its intersting to see that this is a
statewide conversation that even the governor is taking at
least look at Cat you know I think the conversation on this
nation wide is just changing so much a lot of advocates said
that Missouri passing medical marijuana would really move the
needle nationwide on the conversation and I think you
see after this passage that just opinions are changing on
that but it all on one side of
the state line right now though Steve well
right now but it is amazing that Cat’s point Nick the extent to
which the politics around that unmet marijuana in general is
changing you can only begin to imagine that recreational
marijuana legalization isn’t that far down the road to have
governor Mike Parson a former sheriff very conservative even
taking a say that he will look at legislation like this
depending on the language begins to suggest how things
are changing let’s keep looking at some of these bills said
this week in Missouri Republican lawmakers pushing to
overhaul how universities handle sexual assault claims
adding more protections to those being accused some of the
bigger headlines this week
though coming from Kansas where
lawmakers begin working on a constitutional amendment that
would effectively outlaw all abortions by declaring that
life begins at fertilization it’s getting a lot of musing but
there is a new governor who’s a Democrat can they make it
happen without her support Cat I don’t think it can happen
because it also doesn’t have the support of one of the
state’s largest pro life organization why not um well
because I think it would fate face a very lengthy court
battle and also we’re waiting on a decision from the Supreme
Court about whether or not abortion is at protected right
under you are hearing a lot nationally mainly among
Democrats running for president
that we need government healthcare for
all new Kansas governor Laura Kelly inching further towards
that this week she sends to lawmakers a measure expanding
Medicaid health coverage to one hundred fifty thousand more
people these are Kansans who too much to qualify for
Medicaid now but in too little to buy private insurance the
federal government will pick up ninety percent of the costs but
who picks up the rest of the money what happens when the
federal government ends its financial match that’s the rub
for many lawmakers who say that unpredictable funding could
create a financial nightmare for the state Kansas has tried
this in the past Steve they got it through the
legislature but the governor vetoed it they got a governor
who wants it but it has the legislature change too much to
get the support of lawmakers you know that’s a possibility
Nick you know before the session began my thinking was
given this issue’s history that it would get through again
governor Kelly would signed it you talk to lawmakers who
backed this idea of Medicaid expansion and they’re raising
all manner of cautionary flag saying just what you did the
legislature has shifted here a little bit key leaders in the
legislature are conservative they’re gonna try to bottle up
this bill and not let it out for of votes on the floor of
the house and the Senate so don’t hold your breath over
this Missouri has also blocked Medicaid expansion
there are thirty seven states
that currently provide it but
there’s a new governor in Missouri is there any change
there Steve I don’t know because I I was talking to some
members of the Democratic Party yesterday from our Kansas city
delegation and some have said it seems like there’s been a
sense at least on the house that is kind of a if Democrats
propose of Democrats say something we’re not going to
listen to it and so new governor yes but I got a look
at the leadership of the Republican Party in Missouri
just like in Kansas is changing what I suspect is going to
probably happened in Kansas and Missouri is what we already saw
happen in Idaho where residents as part of a referendum passed
Medicaid expansion and that is a red red state and public
attitudes you know we talk about marijuana public
attitudes about healthcare are also changing and we’ve there’s
some pretty considerable evidence that if you phrase it
the right way or you call it a certain thing people
are much more enthusiastic about it and I suspect over
time that’s probably it’s gonna start happening this week a
column about Medicaid expansion costs a Kansas City Star
columnist his job Steve Rose resigns from the Star after
being accused of falsely attributing comments about
Medicaid expansion to Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim
Danning the top ranking Republican lawmaker who lives
in Overland park claims he
hasn’t spoken to Rose in two years he
filed a defamation suit against the long time Star columnist was
formally led the Johnson County Sun newspaper does this story
though complicate the
opportunity to expand Medicaid expansion
now in Kansas I don’t think so Nick I think this is kind of a
incident off to the side here and the debate over Medicaid
expansion will continue unabated in in Topeka Jim
Denning out who’s one of the subjects in this case is a big
Medicaid opponent anyway so that doesn’t change anything
while a border wall with Mexico has been one of the biggest
trending political stories for months is
Kansas City about to build its own wall Nelson Atkins museum
green lighting a wall that will shut down busy Rockhill Road
which runs next to the museum for the better part of the
months the city has given the Nelson permission to close the
street for the walls construction it is an art
project from British artist Andy Goldsworthy there was
indignation and gnashing of teeth when the city closed off
Westport from public access so they could handle security
concerns how was the shutting down of the major public
thoroughfare for about a month going down with citizens and
motorists Cat well I think there is some frustration from
neighbors or people who frequently use that I for one
frequently drive that way so do I yes full dislosure
you know I’ve seen some citizens is that they’re really
excited about the art people who live near there are excited
to see it so you have differing opinions I think it will be a
major headache but it’s amazing the city could do this
it is but this guy is cool I’ve seen documentaries that that
that talk about his work I think citizens are gonna be
really excited to see what he comes up with bt he says this is
not about the current wall that discussion this is it so what
is the purpose of this art well because it’s art and it
gives people a a deeper fulfilling sense of their city
and what the possibilities I was worried about Cat and my
carbon footprint cause we’re
gonna have to travel further to get like or I will be
environmentally damaging or we could take a Bird or a Lyme
very good
that is our Week in Review our thanks to our news reviewers
from your Kansas City Star Steve Vockrodt and Steven
Dial a forty one action news Steve Kraske keeps you Up to
Date weekdays at eleven on KCUR FM and Cat Reid keeps you
informed from our streets to the studios of forty one action
news I’m Nick Haines from all of us here at KCPT thanks for
spending part of your weekend with us

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