Sly James

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James is exploring a new program to empower parents of school-aged children.

The Parent Leadership Training Institute is a 20-week program that helps attendees track legislation, analyze data and become involved in public policy on behalf of their kids.

James says highly engaged parents help schools function better, but knowing how to participate isn't always obvious.

Nearly everyone agrees that parental involvement is critical to kids' success in school, but knowing how to participate isn't always obvious. Kansas City Mayor Sly James supports a program aimed at giving parents the tools they need to engage with schools, and affect positive change in their children's future.


Corbis / Flickr-CC

Following allegations that two women were sexually assaulted inside their cells at the Jackson County Jail, Kansas City Mayor Sly James says his patience is wearing thin. 

"However, being impatient doesn't solve the problem," James told KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up To Date.   "We have an investigation going, outside council has been hired by the county and we’re hopeful that that investigation will be swift and conclusive and then that the county will take appropriate action." 

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

In May, the Kansas City Council abandoned plans for a new airport — at least, for the time being.

So for now, airport officials are making small changes to improve travelers' experiences, though they still face challenges with the current design.

Pat Klein, director of the Kansas City Aviation department, says the improvements will be worth the investment, even if the city does move forward with a new terminal in the next few years. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Too often, says Kansas City Mayor Sly James, adults tell teenagers where they can’t go without telling them where they can.

That’s why Jackson County COMBAT on Monday opened what it’s calling the “Hope Hangout” in south Kansas City.

“We know we have problems in the city with violence,” says James. “We don’t need to add to it. We need to subtract from it. That means we always have to be on point, giving our kids something they can do.”

The center has long been a dream of Marva Moses with the Hickman Mills Prevention Coalition.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has been vocal about his call for stricter gun control measures. During a speech Wednesday to the Missouri Delegation at the Democratic National Convention, James gave a blistering critique to Missourians who resist stronger gun control.

“I think it’s time for us to start targeting a few key legislators and supporting their opponents in the way the NRA and other people support them,” James said. 

Those views will make it difficult for the mayor to support his party’s likely nominee for Missouri Governor, Chris Koster.

Javier Giribet-Vargas / KERA News Special Contributor

After a deadly night for police officers in Dallas, a frustrated Sly James addressed reporters at Union Station Friday morning.

“You’ve got police officers being shot at from high altitudes by people with killing machines,” says James. “Weapons that were meant for war. The type of weapon I used when I was in the Marine Corps.”

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

With three last-minute alternatives on the table and no apparent consensus, Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed backed down Thursday on his plan to force a vote on Jazz District improvements.

Reed had already softened his original stance that the council should fully commit to $27.6 million in three-phase funding for the 18th and Vine area.

KC Aviation Department

For two years, KCI Airport officials have leaned heavily on promoting the idea of a new single-terminal concept when reporting aviation details to City Council committees.

Not this time.

New Aviation Director Patrick Klein reported to the Airport Committee on Wednesday and focused entirely on ideas for improving the existing terminals.

In May, Mayor Sly James said the city was putting discussions on a new single-terminal for KCI on hold after research suggested an overwhelming lack of public support.

U.S. Department of Transportation

Kansas City lost out to Columbus, Ohio, in a bid to become the first Smart City, but it’ll still get help from the U.S. Department of Transportation to turn its ideas into reality.

On Tuesday, as Columbus media reported their city won the $50 million challenge, the DOT said it would back all seven finalists as they build better-connected cities.

U.S. Department of Transportation

With $40 million from the Department of Transportation, Kansas City would build on the network Google Fiber brought to town five years ago.

That’s the pitch Mayor Sly James made Thursday before U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. Kansas City is one of seven finalists in the Smart Cities Challenge.

“This isn’t about technology,” James said. “It’s not about streets. It’s about people.”

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James joined city leaders and educators from Missouri and Kansas Saturday at the Kauffman Foundation for the Municipal Summit on Afterschool and Expanded Learning to discuss the importance of after-school and summer programs for students.

James says once students are out of school for the summer, there’s not always a lot for them to do — which he says puts them at risk for participating in dangerous activities.

James said across Missouri and Kansas, only 14 percent of school-aged kids participate in after-school events.

For children with a parent in prison, maintaining a connection can be difficult.  Steve Kraske talks with the founder of a service organization dedicated to these kids and the artist who will paint portraits of 100 prominent Kansas Citians to be auctioned off to benefit that effort.


Laura Ziegler KCUR 89-3

More than 300 people gathered downtown Friday to watch officials ranging from the mayor to the acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration open Kansas City's new streetcar line.

Mayor Sly James acknowledged it had been a long and sometimes difficult process to secure the streetcar.

"This is our moment," the mayor said to the jubilant crowd. 

Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration Carolyn Flowers said in an interview that Kansas City used the special Transportation Development District in a new way to its credit.  

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Parade Park in the 18th and Vine district will get a new look next year with the completion of the Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy. It’s aimed at motivating more kids to play baseball and softball, but some are hoping it along with a proposed $27 million investment from the city could revitalize the historic area.  

Finding the next Lorenzo Cain

Alex Smith / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said Tuesday that low public support has prompted the city to abandon plans to build a new airport.

James said the city would shift its priorities to other issues after polls last week showed just 39 percent of voters supporting a ballot question on issuing airport revenue bonds to construct a new terminal.

“Although I still feel that a new air terminal is inevitable, it's clear that the time is not now,” James said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Neerav Bhatt / Flickr--CC

Google got permission from the Kansas City Council Thursday to venture into high-speed wireless, building on the success of its Kansas City, Missouri, fiber optic network.

The Internet giant asked council members for permission to mount antennas on city-owned light poles to see if it could bounce connectivity off of them.

Though the ordinance ultimately passed, there was heated discussion about whether Google has kept its promises so far in Kansas City.

Councilman Dan Fowler doesn’t think so.

When I'm 64: Sly James

Apr 13, 2016
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

This profile is part of KCUR’s occasional series, Aging in Place. We’re showcasing the many different faces of 64 in metro Kansas City. 

Name: Sly James

Residence: Kansas City, Missouri

Occupation: Mayor

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The unfolding lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, has put tap water in the spotlight.

Unlike Flint, Kansas City has few lead pipes. But it has its share of aging infrastructure.

“Well, our first sewer dates back to the Civil War,” says Terry Leeds, director of KC Water Services. “Our oldest water mains that we think we have in service date back to 1874 in the City Market.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City voters have again renewed the 1 percent earnings tax.

Unofficial results had the earnings tax passing with 77 percent of the vote. All precincts in Clay, Jackson and Platte counties were reporting as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.

“By the vote tonight, the business community and the citizens have said the quality of life in this city is what we want it to be, and we want to keep making it stronger,” said Mayor Sly James at a watch party in the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board Room at Union Station.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James gave his fifth State of the City address Thursday, with particular focus on the city's earnings tax, education and violence.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Against the backdrop of a city-wide campaign to keep Kansas City’s 1 percent earnings tax, Mayor Sly James delivered his fifth State of the City address Tuesday at the Uptown Theater.

He highlighted Kansas City’s accomplishments in recent years, ending with a clip from the Royals' championship parade downtown last fall.

“Like our World Series Champion Royals, we’ve got momentum, and we’re keeping the line moving,” James said in his speech. “We’re able to do so in part because of leaders who made tough decisions a generation or more ago.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The first time Kansas City Mayor Sly James says something to me about the earnings tax, it’s right after Thanksgiving.

I’ve already turned off my recorder, and we’re chatting as I pack up my equipment. I ask if he has plans for birthday (he turned 64 on Dec. 9).

"Oh," he tells me, "I have to go to a fundraiser for the earnings tax campaign."

"Gee, you sure know how to party," I reply.

In the months since, I’ve talked to James about the earnings tax probably a dozen times.

KCCG, Channel 2

A development incentive plan Mayor Sly James calls the Shared Success Fund faced its first criticism in a city council committee Wednesday.

The mayor wants to tap into the developer-incentive system to set aside money the city could use to help support other developments in areas with low incomes, high unemployment and a lack of new construction. 

James says the vast majority of the area that would qualify is the east-central area of Kansas City south of the river.

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.

BlueGold73 / Wikipedia

TIF (tax increment financing) is a major tool for encouraging development in blighted areas within the city. As neighborhoods transform and start to thrive, many question whether tax incentives are still necessary to lure new businesses. So what's the future of TIF, and is there a part of town that should benefit from a next round of TIF funding?


Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Mayor Sly James hopes a plan to redirect some of Kansas City’s economic development revenue could spur more projects east of Troost.

James pitched his plan to deposit payments in lieu of taxes – or PILOT dollars – into what’s being called the Shared Success Fund to the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee Wednesday.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James made an impassioned plea on behalf of the earnings tax campaign at a NAACP forum Thursday night.

“I think the earnings tax is of particular interest to Kansas Citians, whether they’re black, white or Latino,” James said before the forum, which about two dozen people attended.

Revenue generated from the 1 percent tax on people who live or work in the city makes up the bulk of the general fund and pays for vital city services like police, fire and ambulance. State law requires a vote to renew the earnings tax every five years.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Mayor’s Office wants more Kansas City businesses to adopt family-friendly policies as a workplace retention strategy.

In a joint news conference with the Women’s Foundation Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James announced the “When Work Works” initiative, which encourages companies to make their business a place people want to work.

James says he’s seeing already seeing innovative policies around parental leave from Kansas City companies.

“When you’re concerned about whether you can afford to be on that leave, it just stresses everybody out,” James says.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is no longer the target of a conservative Missouri lawmaker who wants to repeal the earnings tax.

Columbia Sen. Kurt Schaefer dropped Kansas City from his bill challenging the earnings tax on constitutional grounds. The bill, which advanced out of committee Thursday, now focuses solely on St. Louis.

Mayor Sly James credits a strong showing of Kansas Citians in support of the earnings tax for getting Schaefer to back down. James and others testified in Jefferson City earlier this month.