Government

KCUR News
1:50 am
Fri October 16, 2009

Council Keeps, Toughens 3 a.m. Closing

Councilman John Sharp argues for a uniform 2AM time for bar closings, not the current system of 1:30 AM or 3:00 AM closings.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – After nearly two years of debate Kansas City, Missouri has changed its rules for establishments that serve liquor by the drink. And one places things could change is on the city's college campuses.

One purpose of the new liquor ordinance is to bring Kansas City into line with a Missouri law that allows colleges and universities to choose to apply for a license to serve alcohol at sports events, plays, concerts and the like.

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KCUR News
3:33 pm
Thu October 15, 2009

Chastain Kicks Off Double Petition Drive

Clay Chastain tried a fiery oratorical style as he announced his latest ballot initiatives at Union Station. (Click to enlarge.)
Video frame courtesy of TV-9

Kansas City, MO – Activist Clay Chastain is back in town to kick off petition drives for two ballot measures.

Chastain and his supporters will be circulating petitions for his latest transit plan - and for a revision to the city charter that would take away the city council's power to veto it if it passes. Such was the fate of a Chastain plan voters approved in 2006.

His latest one features a 3/8-cent sales tax to help finance a 35-mile light rail spine, a Union Station hub and redone Penn Valley Park with a Ferris wheel.

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KCUR News
3:35 am
Thu October 15, 2009

City's Shortfall Eases But Budget Still Tight

City budget director Troy Schulte appeared relaxed as he told the Finance and Audit Committee \"reasonably good\" budget news.
Video frame courtesy of Channel 2, KCCG.

Kansas City, MO – After taking last week off, the Kansas City, Missouri City Council went back to work on the budget yesterday and got some relatively good news from the city budget director. Between belt tightening and some revenue windfalls, Kansas City is operating in the black -- at least so far.

Sharp pencil wielder Troy Schulte came out of the budget basement, surveyed the damage of the economic storm and proclaimed it a relatively good day.

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KCUR News
9:19 am
Wed October 14, 2009

Tax Incentive Delays Risk Losing KCK Stadium Deal

Kansas City, MO – Kansas may be about to botch efforts to lure a corporate office complex and major league soccer stadium to Kansas City, according to some legislators who are pressuring Gov. Mark Parkinson's administration to close a deal.

Medical software maker Cerner Corp. and the owners of the Kansas City Wizards are proposing a $414 million development near NASCAR's Kansas Speedway. The project includes an office complex for 4,500 Cerner employees, an 18,500-seat stadium for the Wizards and two dozen soccer fields for amateur teams.

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KCUR News
8:26 am
Wed October 14, 2009

Economist Says Kansas Could Save Money By Switching To 401k

Topeka, KS – The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS, is facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall in coming years. Yesterday , the Kansas House Appropriations Committee heard about changes that some economists believe could save the state money.

A University of Kansas economist told legislators they could quickly start a new 401(k)-style pension plan for teachers and government workers.

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KCUR News
3:14 pm
Mon October 12, 2009

New Commuter Rail Gambit

Proposal depicts some station stops in new regional plan.

Independence, Missouri – A new metro wide commuter rail plan is unveiled by Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders. The price tag is slightly more than a billion dollars.

Sanders calls his concept the most cost effective transit plan in the country. As he envisions it, the system would use existing rail corridors to save money and would cost about $7 million a mile to build.

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KCUR News
10:47 am
Mon October 12, 2009

Construction On Kansas Turnpike Near Lawrence Set To Start Next Year

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas Turnpike Authority has approved a $23 million project to replace the last remaining stretch of original concrete on the turnpike.

The project northeast of Lawrence is scheduled to begin in June and last until November 2011.

The Turnpike Authority's board of directors approved the project last week to remove the 54-year-old concrete and replace it with fresh asphalt. It will be financed by turnpike tolls.

Nearly 30,000 vehicles pass through the area each day.

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KCUR News
9:07 am
Mon October 12, 2009

Kansas Looks At Next Generation 911

Topeka, KS – A group of lawmakers is looking at ways to update the emergency 911 system in Kansas. Statehouse Reporter Stephen Koranda has more.

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KCUR News
9:01 am
Mon October 12, 2009

Missouri Faces Further Budget Woes

Jefferson City, MO – The state of Missouri has borrowed $150 million from its budget reserve fund, as state revenue collections continue to decline.

The latest dip into the fund brings the total borrowed this fiscal year to $350 million. State Budget Director Linda Luebbering says the $150 million borrowed this week will cover several current expenses.

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KCUR News
9:42 am
Fri October 9, 2009

Economic Impact To Play Larger Role In Choosing Highway Projects

Kansas City, MO – Recent budget cutbacks mean that there are now fewer state dollars for highways. That's got the Kansas Department of Transportation looking at new ways to select the road projects it takes on. In the past, the state has only examined traffic volume and road conditions, but K-DOT spokesman Steve Swartz says local input and a project's economic impact could play a bigger role in the future.

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KCUR News
7:22 am
Wed October 7, 2009

Kansas Governor Request Review Of Prison Policies

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson.
(Photo courtesy of Kansas Governor's office.)

Kansas City, MO – Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson says his office is responding to reports of sexual misconduct by workers at a Topeka prison. An article in the Topeka Capital-Journal described sexual contact between male workers and female inmates at the Topeka Correctional Facility, including male workers exchanging sex for contraband. Parkinson calls the conduct "despicable."

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KCUR News
6:30 am
Tue October 6, 2009

Moore Pushes For Public Option

Kansas City, MO – Kansas Congressman Dennis Moore says he's pushing for a public option in national health reform legislation. Moore, a Democrat from Lenexa, is part of the Blue Dog Coalition. The group is made up of more than 50 fiscally conservative Democrats in the U.S. House. Moore says he hopes a public option will be part of a bipartisan bill.

Moore: "It's not about trying to establish some kind of national health care plan. It's about giving some competition to some other players out there and making sure that everybody has an opportunity for health care in this country."

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KCUR News
1:42 pm
Fri October 2, 2009

Proposal To Limit Mayor's Powers Fails 11-1

Councilman Ed Ford assails the mayor about recent appointments to economic development commissions.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – Two weeks ago it looked like the city council might limit the mayor's power over appointments to boards and commissions. But support for the idea vanished Thursday.

Three weeks ago councilman Ed Ford proposed requiring that nominations to commissions that make spending recommendations be in the form of ordinances. (Proposed ordinances automatically go to committee.)

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KCUR News
8:31 am
Fri October 2, 2009

Council OKs Bonds For New Radios

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Council approved issuing up to $35 million in bonds to pay for a new emergency radio system. Before the vote, Assistant City Manager Rich Noll told council members recent history has changed the concept of emergency communications.

Noll: "When we built this system when you were talking about interoperability you were talking about Police being able to talk to Fire being able to talk to Public Works. Ever since 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina interoperability means one city being able to talk to another city in the region."

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KCUR News
9:53 am
Thu October 1, 2009

Committee Approves Funding For Police Radios

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Council's Finance and Audit Committee advanced a resolution to devote up to #25 million dollars in general obligation bonds to financing a new emergency responders' radio system. Assistant City Manager Rich Noll explained what the resolution will do if the full council approves it.

Noll: "It enables the finance department to proceed with the financing and enables us to proceed with reaching a contract within the next three to four weeks with Motorola - even in advance of having issued the bonds."

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KCUR News
7:12 am
Thu October 1, 2009

Beth Phillips Nominated For US Attorney Post

Kansas City, MO – President Barack Obama has nominated Beth Phillips to be U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, which is centered in Kansas City. The Obama administration announced the nomination yesterday.

Phillips has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Kansas City office since last year and has prosecuted child exploitation cases. She served as an assistant prosecutor in Jackson County from 1997 to 2001, when she entered private practice.

The appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.

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KCUR News
6:41 am
Thu September 24, 2009

Chastain Returns With Petition In Hand

A light rail train like those envisioned in Kansas City beside a contemporary bus.
Picture courtesy of kansascitylightrail.org

Kansas City, MO – Die-hard activist Clay Chastain is returning to Kansas City with still another light rail plan. And this time he wants to change the city charter so the council can't repeal a voter-approved initiative as they did with his 2006 plan.

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KCUR News
2:35 pm
Sat September 12, 2009

Rep. Graves & Cleaver Respond To President Obama's Healthcare Speech

Kansas City, MO – Up to Date host Steve Kraske speaks with Representatives Sam Graves and Emanuel Cleaver following President Obama's speech to Congress about healthcare.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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KCUR News
4:23 pm
Thu September 10, 2009

Better Buses Coming To Troost

MAX buses like the one here should be cruising Troost by late next year.
Frank Morris

Kansas City, MO – People from the city, neighborhood associations and the federal government officially broke ground on a new bus rapid transit corridor along Troost Avenue yesterday.

It's an almost 31 million dollar project, with four out of five of those dollars coming from Washington.

The MAX will run deluxe buses, three of them hybrid electric models, from South East Kansas City through downtown.

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KCUR News
3:30 am
Thu September 10, 2009

Council, Mayor Clash Over Appointee Approval

Kansas City, MO – Another storm appears to be brewing between Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the city council - this time over the amount of information provided on appointees to boards and commissions the council must approve.

Council members say they need more information on appointees to TIF and economic development commissions, citing tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars the city pays out in business incentives.

The mayor resists, saying appointees will decline the jobs if they have to be vetted.

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KCUR News
1:31 am
Fri September 4, 2009

Kansas Citians Happier With Services, Less So With Leaders

Mayor Mark Funkhouser enjoys some banter about improving city communications services after reading improved citizen satisfaction numbers.
Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – Mayor Mark Funkhouser's "City that Works" campaign may be starting to work according to a new survey of citizen satisfaction released by the auditor's office Thursday.

Over a thousand households polled in June and July report Kansas City doing a better job for its citizens than a group questioned a year ago. The city's ratings improved on 47 items, and though it remains to be seen if those gains will hold up in the next quarter's survey, the Mayor was pleased.

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KCUR News
1:36 pm
Thu September 3, 2009

MAST Makeover Nears Reality

KCUR News
12:31 pm
Wed September 2, 2009

Green Zone Builders Boosted By White House

(L to R) Shaun Donovan, HUD Secy, John Porcari, Depty Secy, U.S. Transport. Dept., Alfonso Carrion, Dir., White Hse Office of Urban Affairs.
kcur photo by dan verbeck

Kansas City, Mo. – The White House is intent on making the Kansas City Green Impact Zone a national model for urban rebirth. Cabinet level attention made it clear what the Obama Administration wants as the stimulus venture is just beginning to take shape. KCUR's Dan Verbeck reports.

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KCUR News
3:04 pm
Tue September 1, 2009

Kan. Governor May Consider Cigarette Tax Increase

Topeka KS – It could cost more for Kansas smokers to light up in the future.

Today, Governor Mark Parkinson said he'll consider a tobacco tax increase in the coming legislative session if state tax revenues don't improve.

"If we don't need to increase revenue, if we can meet our budgetary needs without increasing taxes, we won't increase tobacco taxes just for the sake of increasing them," Parkinson said. "But if we need the revenue, we'll look at it."

Some estimates have put next fiscal year's budget deficit at more than 500 million dollars.

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KCUR News
12:18 pm
Mon August 31, 2009

Top Republican Senators Hold Private Health Forum At Children's Mercy Hospital

Up to Date host Steve Kraske questions Senator McCain and Senator Bond.
Elana Gordan
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KCUR News
10:23 am
Fri August 28, 2009

McCaskill Continues Town Hall Series, Faces Tough Crowd In Jefferson City

Jefferson City, MO – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill continued her series of health care town hall meetings Tuesday in Jefferson City.

The Missouri Democrat once again faced a crowd that was for the most part less than friendly.

Nearly 400 people crowded into Lewis and Clark Middle School to hear and sometimes jeer McCaskill.

She told the audience that doing nothing to America's current health care system is not an option.

"Should it be constitutional for us to deny health care to people?" McCaskill asked.

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KCUR News
2:23 am
Fri August 28, 2009

Council Repeals Funeral Picketing Ordinance

A member of the Westboro Baptist Church smiles as she displays the group's message.
Photo from the Westboro Baptist Church web site.

Kansas City, MO – It is no longer illegal to picket at funerals in Kansas City, Missouri. The city council repealed what was said to be the nation's first municipal funeral picketing law Thursday.

Kansas City's leaders passed an ordinance prohibiting picketing at funerals several years before Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church started picketing the funerals of servicemen killed in action. But the ordinance was never enforced, even on the occasions the Church picketed military funerals in Kansas City.

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KCUR News
12:36 pm
Thu August 27, 2009

Liberty Memorial Asks To Tap Endowment Interest

Kansas City, MO – Facing a budget trimmed $300,000 by the city council, Liberty Memorial officials are asking permission to use 90 percent of the interest from the Liberty Memorial Endowment fund for routine maintenance on the Kansas City landmark.

The Liberty Memorial endowment fund was originally intended to grow by compounding interest for future major maintenance projects.

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KCUR News
1:24 am
Fri August 14, 2009

Funkhouser Veto Survives Override Attempt

Kansas City, MO mayor Mark Funkhouser and his wive, Gloria Squitiro.
Photo from Funk's Front Porch Internet blog.

Kansas City, MO – When a judge said the limitations that banned the mayor's wife from her City Hall volunteer post were unconstitutional, the council re-wrote them and put them back.

On Thursday, the mayor announced that he was vetoing the restoration.

His opponents were caught on legislative day with two supporters of the changes absent and needing 8 votes to override. They got five.

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