KCMO Government

courtesy A. Zahner Company

By a unanimous vote, the Kansas City City Council approved $1.6 million in funding on Thursday to repair one of the iconic sculptures called Sky Stations on top of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.

"I think one of the most famous, or perhaps sometimes infamous, pieces of art that have been placed in this city are the Sky Stations," says Councilman Scott Wagner of the sculptures, popularly known as "hair curlers."

Much of the business development success in the metro today is due, in part, to TIF — tax increment financing — that has attracted investment and built big projects. But TIF also comes with a cost and increasingly, some say that cost is too high.

Guest:

  • Kevin Collison is a KCUR contributor who covers development in Kansas City. 

Just a few weeks ago, three district seats remained open on the Kansas City Schools Board. Now, a competitive field of at least five write-in candidates has coalesced. KCUR’s Kyle Palmer sat down with Kansas City Mayor Sly James to discuss the elections, the district’s new superintendent and master plan and and challenges facing the district and the city.

Bob Bennett

The job summary is a little daunting: Kansas City seeks a creative thinker to find innovative and smart solutions to the city’s complex problems. No big deal, right?

For Bob Bennett, Kansas City’s new Chief Innovation Officer, it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. His 24-year tenure in the U.S. Army afforded him plenty of daunting tasks. While he served in Iraq under General  David Petraeus, he developed interagency strategies between the military and aid organizations — something that neither institution is prone to do.

Drawn by A. Ruger. Merchants Lith. Co. Published by Madison, Wis., Ruger & Stoner - This map is available from the United States Library of Congress's Geography & Map Division / Wikipedia

Through a series of formal steps, it sometimes happens that a public street leaves the city's ledger to become part of a private development. One concerned citizen worries about the city losing its soul, one block at a time, in the process.

Guests:

The Kansas City Council on Thursday grudgingly repealed the minimum wage ordinance it passed in July. 

The council instead endorsed efforts to get the minimum wage increased at the state level.

Council members unanimously said the repeal did not indicate abandonment of the minimum wage cause, and that the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the Missouri General Assembly.

Kansas City's one percent earnings tax is up for renewal in 2016.  Since the passage of Missouri ballot initiative “Proposition A” in 2010, Kansas City and St. Louis must submit their e-taxes to the voters for renewal every five years. 

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly voted to renew the tax in April 2011. But uncertainty over whether it will be renewed again next year looms over city budgets and the city's credit rating.

City of Kansas City. MO

Kansas Citians are more satisfied than ever, according to the latest Citizen Satisfaction Survey. And the city held events Thursday to thank both the citizenry and the employees who delivered the customer-pleasing performance.

Kate Bender of the office of performance management says the best gains were in the most important areas. 

Creative Commons / around-the-world.wuerth.com

Kansas City has been selected to participate in an initiative aimed to help officials better implement the city's strategic goals through the use of consultants and technical experts.

"What Works Cities" is sponsored by the Bloomberg Foundation -- as in former New York mayor and business scion Michael Bloomberg -- and it’s dedicated to enhancing openness and using data to improve government efficiency.

Kansas City, Missouri is in the midst of hiring a new Chief Innovation Officer, but what exactly does that job entail? The position, which is common in tech firms, is a relatively new trend in local governments. 

Guests:

  • Chris Hernandez is the Director of Communications for Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Jeffrey Stinson covers the business of government for Stateline, which reports on trends in state government for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The newly elected Kansas City, Missouri, city council features six members who have never served on the before. On yesterday's edition of Up To Date, we spoke to three of those new members, and today we meet two more newcomers to the job. 

Guests: 

The newly elected Kansas City, Missouri, city council features a lot of new blood— six out of the 12 members have never served on the council before. On this edition of Up To Date, we talk with three newcomers to the job.

Guests:

  • Quinton Lucas will be the 3rd District At-Large councilman.
  • Jolie Justus will represent the 4th District.
  • Alissia Canady will represent the 5th District. 
Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James floated to an easy victory over opponent Vincent Lee in Tuesday's municipal election, while Katheryn Shields beat out Councilman Jim Glover in a tight race for the 4th District seat. 

James won with 87 percent of votes, according to unofficial election board results. Despite thoughts that a June election might increase turnout, the opposite turned out to be true: only 13 percent of registered voters in Jackson County cast a vote.

Turnout was even lower in Clay and Platte counties, both of which saw just 8 percent of voters show up to the polls.

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte have unveiled their proposal for next year's city budget. 

The mayor and city manager would increase city spending 3.5 percent next year, with the largest area of increase  for the fire department. 

That roughly $10 million is primarily to cover costs of operating the city ambulance system. City communications director Chris Hernandez said more than $700,000 of that is for installing new equipment on fire trucks to create a larger force for medical emergency response. 

Eric Langhorst / Flickr Creative Commons

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. 

Guests:

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? 

Guests:

Kansas City Opens 'Dead Letter Office'

Jul 8, 2014
Google Images - CC

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.

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.

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 Pelican Institute

The Kansas City council committee has endorsed changes to the city's red-light camera ordinance. If the full council agrees Tuesday the cameras will be back in operation in ten days

Kansas City stopped issuing red-light camera tickets earlier this month after a Missouri court ruled that running a red light is a moving violation, and must be charged against a specific driver.

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.

KCATA

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.

The full Kansas City city council followed through on plans to extend the red-light camera program for another five years Thursday, but a vote on a new city ethics code will wait till next week.

The Kansas City city council is set to vote on extending the red-light camera program for another 5 years. And though public opinion on the cameras is divided, a council committee had no doubts.

Ethics bills continue to stumble in the state capitols, but Kansas City, Missouri's ethics code is about to get an update.

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