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Sat July 20, 2013
Top Stories Of The Week
The emerald ash borer reared its greenish head in Johnson County. And finally, city officials had a citizen satisfaction survey they could smile about. KCUR's Steve Bell recaps on those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.
KC citizen satisfaction scored best in years
Citizen satisfaction scores improved across the board in the latest survey conducted by Kansas City, Missouri. The city was rated as a good or excellent place to work by 75 percent of respondents.
Whereas 58 percent of reporting citizens were dissatisfied with leadership at city hall at the end of the Mark Funkhouser administration, only 17 percent were this year.
Mayor pro-tem Cindy Circo said the secret to the ratings was that city government was now communicating internally as well as with the citizens. The next job, said Circo, was to remember that and keep doing it.
Traffic lights restored but concerns remain
The council responded with mixed feelings when citizens and the school district asked to have traffic signals turned back on at 16 intersections. The lights are old, there is no budget for replacement, and federal studies suggest there is not enough traffic to warrant them.
The city restored the lights in question to operation, but several council members said that could not be the permanent solution.
Along with instructions to turn the signals back on, the council ordered staff to study what should be done at those intersections and how to inform the public of that.
Plans keep rolling on downtown streetcar
Despite two lawsuits, the city moved ahead on plans for a downtown streetcar line – choosing a managing contractor and letting the contract for replacing a bridge that would be used to expand the system to the Northland.
One suit asserts that the tax with which the city plans to support the construction and operation of the line is unconstitutional. The other, by activist Clay Chastain, seeks to force the city to allow a vote on an alternative transit plan.
Different angle proposed on gun proliferation
It appeared the city would move ahead with the mayor's plan to prohibit its pension funds from investing in gun manufacturing companies.
Critics said it would make the city look “anti-gun,” to which James replied that his was not anti-gun, but rather anti-idiocy and anti-violence. He questioned whether reaction in Jefferson City could result in any less cooperation on firearms restrictions than the city is currently getting.
With only one vote against James' proposal in committee, it looked like he would get his way.
Committee rejects Kobach provisional ballot plan
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach did not get his way on his idea of “fixing” an election problem by temporarily adopting a provisional ballots system. 12,000 Kansans' voter registrations are “in suspense” because of computer problems at the Department of Motor Vehicles
The provisional ballots would be held and counted only if the voter then secured the proper proof of citizenship documentation within a specified period.
Republican Senator Vicki Schmidt, a member of the elections committee said Kobach's idea was rejected because it did nothing to fix the records problem and that it could mislead many voters into thinking their ballots would count... and therefore not get the required documents to make their votes count.
Emerald ash borer dected in Johnson County
For the first time since the iridescent green beetles started of the bugs began destroying thousands of ash trees nationwide, one of the species was detected in Johnson County. It was found near the Johnson County landfill.
The beetles lay their eggs on the bark of ash trees and the larvae invade the tree with disastrous results.
First ozone alert presages more to come
One of the less pleasant aspects of summer arrived in earnest in Kansas City with the first ozone alert of the year on Thursday.
Doug Norsby who monitors air quality for Mid America Regional Council said some of the ozone is generated locally but not all of it. He said a good deal of the pollution drifts in from Oklahoma and western Texas where much of it is generated ty oil refineries.
Ozone production in Kansas City is within acceptable levels, but is constantly monitored lest it return to the high levels of 20 years ago.
Marine Corps re-ups for another 25 in KC
The Marine Corps signed up for another 25-year hitch in Kansas City, extending its lease on its information technology center beyond its current 2017 expiration. New Orleans had been vying to get the technology center after the shorter agreement expired.
The center has about 450 employees.