Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar Fires Back After Election Challenge From AFL-CIO

Jun 8, 2017

Teresa Loar, right, on Thursday fired back at criticism about her stance on a new single-terminal plan for KCI.
Credit The City of Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar on Thursday fired back at people who say she's working against the interests of Kansas Citians. 

At the conclusion of Thursday's public hearing on a proposed single-terminal KCI, Loar defended comments she made in a guest column in the Kansas City Star. 

That commentary prompted Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO President Pat Dujakovich announced he would run for her 2nd District at-large council seat in 2019. 

In her commentary, Loar questioned the rush for a new single terminal.

"Why would we go to all of the trouble, time and money to solicit proposals for a new single terminal, with a price tag of over a billion dollars, before we have a vote of the people," Loar wrote. 

In an e-mail to the Star announcing his decision, Dujakovich said the airport project could potentially bring 18,000 well-paying jobs to Kansas City. 

"Furthermore, I have been consistently disappointed by the fact that her answer is always 'no.' ... My answer will always be 'yes!' to jobs, progress, and doing what is right," Dujakovich said.

Although Loar did not single out any individual, she seemed to be responding to those allegations.

In a two-minute speech, Loar said that throughout her campaign, her constituents told her over and over again that they did not want a new terminal. 

"So I came into office understanding that there's a possibility that we needed to move forward with this (a new terminal) but also understanding that the taxpayers elected me and they pay me, so I do represent them," Loar said.

In fact, she said, she's eager to put the issue to a public vote. 

Loar said the source of much of her concern about Burns and McDonnell's initial plan to design, build, and privately finance a new terminal was about jobs. 

"The reason I wanted to slow down is because the MOU (memorandum of understanding) we got from Burns and McDonnell, and I love Burns and McDonnell ... did not guarantee, for all of my labor friends out there, did not guarantee prevailing wage. It said it would comply with state law. Well you know what? In August, that state law is right-to-work."

Right-to-work means that unions can no longer require workers to pay full dues, even if they're working in a union shop. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed legislation making Missouri a right-to-work state in February. 

"I wasn't looking to screw labor because, by God, I have a 100 percent record on labor down here," Loar said. 

She also said she wanted to be sure any agreement for building a new KCI terminal also includes requirements for minority and women-owned businesses. 

"So don't ever accuse me of not having the integrity to look at what we're doing, to slow down, to make sure we're doing the right thing for the citizens of this city," Loar said.  

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig