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Wed March 4, 2009
Uncivil Airing Snarls Dress Debate
Kansas City, Mo. – The hearing began when Councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks opened a shopping bag. She pulled out a bra and panties to make her point that the district should police it's own employees.
BROOKS: "This is acceptable in the Power and Light District. I went into an establishment with a representative from Cordish and this is what one of the young ladies in the establishment had on."
With full attention of the hearing room, the councilwoman held up the garments, suggesting the developer, Cordish Company, would be more credible when it enforces decorum for patrons if it did the same with women employees. Cordish denies racial bias against patrons. Others, including at least three members of the city council, claim otherwise.
On one side there were Power and Light District developers, the Cordish Company, the Downtown Council and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, all opposing the council dress code measure. On the other, the president of the Urban League, Councilmembers John Sharp and Sanders Brooks, and Kevin Hannibal who identified himself as an American Legion post chaplain.
HANNIBAL: "I would hope that the city council would have enough girth under their belts to say we're not gonna do business like this anymore, there's no more business as usual. You need to change."
An uproar began when former councilwoman Carol Coe wondered if a boycott of the district was in order. Personal insults were taken and committee chair Terry Riley struggled for control of the room.
With order restored, Councilman Sharp maintained that Cordish has never budged on its dress code, in spite of repeated meetings. And with another bout of contentiousness, Riley gaveled the hearing to a close, without a vote.