Throughout the year we put the Kansas City metro area under a microscope examining the details of the events and issues facing its residents and leaders.
On this edition of Up to Date, we zoom out for a broader view. Steve Kraske and three area journalists bring us their analysis, thoughts, and observations on what's working and what's not in Kansas City, Mo.
Technology is all around us, and it's extending into the fabric of our cities as well. Kansas City, Mo., currently has a letter of intent with Cisco to explore the feasibility of implementing a "smart city" framework. Some are calling Kansas City a potential "laboratory" for the smart city concept. What does that mean, and how can we expect it play out in the day-to-day lives of Kansas Citians?
Last month, the city of Kansas City, Mo., opened what they’re calling a 'Dead Letter Office,' which is actually a website where the residents and business owners can petition to repeal out-of-date city regulations.
Assistant City Manager Rick Usher focuses on small businesses and entrepreneurship. He says due to Kansas City’s long history, some of the old rules are still in the books.
“Kansas City you know we’re over 150 years old. The city has weathered every economic, political, social, environmental crisis that has occurred through those times,” Usher said.
Next Tuesday, Kansas Citians will decide whether to make changes to the city charter. The city council has submitted voters three charter-revision ballot questions. Most city council members hope one of them will “warm up” voters attitudes on city elections.
Question 3 would move the city Mayor-Council primary election from late February to early April. And the city general election would move from late March to Early June.
The thinking is: “better weather equals better turnout.”
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.
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.
Just as city attorneys thought they had come up with changes to save Kansas City's traffic-cam ordinance from one court decision, another court rendered the changes useless.
As he withdrew the revised ordinance, Councilman John Sharp expressed frustration. “It's been very difficult for us to follow court direction when we're getting different court directions in a very brief period of time," he commented.
The Kansas City city council is asking city pension fund boards not to invest in companies that manufacture guns – and will request that the Board of Police Commissioners consider the same policy for police retirement funds.
Mayor Sly James told the council that the goal is discussions with firearms companies on letting cities with gun violence problems enact more restrictive gun control laws within their jurisdictions.
Kansas City, Missouri wins the latest round in the economic “border wars.” by regaining a company that started on the Missouri side, but moved to Leawood.
A. B. May Company will be moving its headquarters to a former “big box” retail building at 50th and I-435 in Eastern Kansas City. The Economic Development Committee endorsed property tax abatement to offset May's payments on the $12 million in bonds the city will issue.
A city audit of the repurposing of the old Richards Gebaur air force base concludes that a company owned by a Port Authority attorney should never have been certified as a qualified minority contractor.
The audit also concludes that the 2007 certification of William Session's TWS Technical Services kept legitimate minority contractors from bidding on more than $10 million worth of work.
A city council committee continues to delve into how to finance the Area Transit Authority yesterday.
Most of this week's ATA funding committee meeting was spent speculating on the size of the funding shortfall as a streetcar system and other expenses bite into transit tax revenues that may or may not increase.
As discussion opened third district councilman Jermaine Reed expressed concern that all 34 tickets issued last year were to African-American kids.
That prompted a surprise appearance from Mayor Sly James who admonished the group to stick to the issue and not drift off into race relations. James agreed that the problem has some racial factors, but insisted that they are not the heart of the problem and that the city cannot allow the public to have the impression that it is not safe to go to some of its entertainment districts.
The Kansas City city council gave a preliminary okay to two new community districts on Main just south of the Plaza yesterday. But there were some members were concerned that sales-tax-financed development could be getting out of hand.