Charter Review Commission

Kansas Citians will vote on changes to their city charter in April. But the two controversial proposals won't be on the ballot.

The council voted against sending voters a proposal from some minority organizations to change the structure of city government.  No one on the council thought smaller districts and no at-large council seats was a good idea. But five, including Mayor Sly James, voted to put it on the ballot.

The mayor says he too, opposed the change.

Plans for an election on changing the Kansas City, Mo., charter are heading into the home stretch, but there is still some disagreement on what should go on the ballot.

One sticking point as the full city council debated the changes Wednesay was: “why send the voters any proposed change most council members consider a bad idea?” – for example doing away with at-large council seats.

Mayor Sly James's answer: because some citizen groups have proposed the changes and the Charter Review Commission thought the voters should consider them.

The Kansas City city council spent two hours discussing the two most controversial suggestions for changes in the city charter Thursday. At the end of it, they still remain divided on both issues.

The most time was devoted to discussing the charter commission's recommendation that the city do away with at large council seats and have twelve council members, each representing a specific district.

The Kansas City Charter Review Commission has agreed on the basics of the proposal it will send the city council.

Most commission members agreed with Mayor Sly James that the mayor should have more power, including the authority to fire the city manager.

Commission member Jim Rice is a long-time area health executive and political observer. He says he doubts the issue of mayoral power will go to the voters.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Clarification: Originally reported that the Mayor favored the current mayor-council form of government, he  suggested  adding powers to the elected post.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James told members of his hand-picked Charter Review Commission he hopes they keep a type of mayor-council-manager form of local government but strengthen powers of a mayor.

The Mayor also said he would listen to suggested change.

Your Guide To The Kansas City Charter Review

Sep 13, 2013

Kansas City is known as a “weak mayor” town. That’s no slight on Mayor Sly James, it’s the way the city charter sets up our government, where the mayor is a glorified city council member, and the city manager really runs the town. It's also called a council-manager system.

Courts Get First Crack At Clay Co. Charter Change

Sep 10, 2013

A radical change taking party politics out of Clay County government has been sidetracked on its path to voters in November.

Courts have been asked to intervene and declare the measure as unconstitutional.

The bipartisan panel that designed the change voters would decide drew wrath of the elected, 3-member County Commission. 

To Commissioner Luann Ridgeway it would be a costly experiment. That puts her at odds with a charter committee leader Craig Porter, and both are Republicans.

Commission Seeks Out Advice Of Former Mayors

Jul 29, 2013

The mayoral commission looking at how Kansas City should alter its basic operating doctrine hopes to get suggestions from all living ex-mayors, but the Charter Review Commission is having spotty success.

Because the outcome is so important to the basic layout of government function, members decided former mayors have a lot of valuable history to describe. The panel is trying to schedule former Mayor Charles Wheeler; former Mayor Richard Berkley is ill and unable to appear in the next week or two.

Charter Commission Takes As Long As Needed

Jul 11, 2013
Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The commission assigned the job of deciding whether the City Charter for Kansas City, Mo. needs change heard an admonition Wednesday from a longtime civic activist.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

A Commission that will look for ways to change the foundation of how Kansas City Government operates has met just once and the opening session, Wednesday, heard wide ranging  recommendations that spread from finance to setup of Council Districts.

The first assurance came from Mayor Sly James who appointed the 13 member commission. He said he would not be looking over their shoulders. If the operating  charter needs change, he'll ask for proof when recommendations are written.