Residents Facing Eviction Lead Effort To Recall Councilman
East side residents who will be displaced by a new police development are collecting signatures to recall 3rd District Councilman Jermaine Reed.
"I really didn't want it to come to that, but Jermaine's approach to managing the people that live there, he left us no alternative," said Ameena Powell, who's leading the recall effort.
Powell's main complaint about Councilman Reed's leadership has to do with his support of a new police campus on 27th and Prospect, which should begin construction in the next year. The four-block complex will house the police's East Patrol Division, and the crime lab.
But first, more than a hundred houses, including Powell's home, will need to be removed to make way for the project. According to the Kansas City Star, about 60 are occupied, 33 of them, owner-occupied. Ameena Powell said the city picked an area that has a lot of homeowner investment.
"I mean we're talking about ripping out a neighborhood in a historic district," Powell said. "The Wendell Phillips neighborhood ties into the 18th and Vine district, and that's where the old musicians and artists actually lived."
The rest of the council also supported the project, including 3rd District At-Large Councilwoman Melba Curls. Still, Powell thinks Reed should be held most accountable, as the in-district representative on the council.
"If the rest of the city thinks that that's great, at least have somebody there championing the interests of the neighborhoods and the communities," Powell said.
Councilman Jermaine Reed said that he helped negotiate better compensation for those who will lose their homes: up to 150% of the highest appraised value. But he also says that the $57 million project will be a catalyst for revitalization along Prospect. Reed said that citizens have every right to gather signatures for his recall, but he's focused on other things.
"I have to remain completely focused on serving constituents of the 3rd District," Reed said. "I was duly elected and will continue to work extremely hard and I have been on behalf of the 78,000 residents of the 3rd District and half a million residents of Kansas City, Missouri.
At age 27, Reed's one of the city's youngest-ever council members and represents what's arguably one of the city's most challenging districts. The 3rd District includes neighborhoods in the city's central east side, including the old northeast. These neighborhoods have some of the highest rates of poverty and crime in the metro area.
KC Currents' Susan Wilson recently interviewed Councilman Reed about some of these challenges, and asked about talk of a possible recall campaign against him. That effort died down, but a few weeks later, on May 9, 2012, a new group of residents filed an affidavit and began collecting signatures.