Sly James

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

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.

Guests:

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?

Guests:

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.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

City officials kicked off a campaign to save Kansas City’s 1 percent earning tax Monday at Union Station.

It’s sometimes called a “fly over” tax by opponents because about half of the people who pay it commute from the suburbs to work in the city.

“I don’t care whether you call it an earnings tax or a fly-over tax or a ground tax or a water tax or whatever the heck you call it, $230 million would have to be replaced,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

The White House

White House Press Secretary and Kansas City native Josh Earnest called Mayor Sly James one of the three best in America during Thursday’s briefing to reporters.

James is in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Along with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Fresno, California, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, James participated in the daily briefing.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Topics ranged from youth empowerment and education to Kansas City's historic jazz district when Mayor Sly James spoke at a community forum Sunday morning.

All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church holds forum discussions with civic and community leaders every Sunday morning, but the latest was part of a nearly 20 year annual tradition of inviting Kansas City's mayors to the discussions.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James met with health care counselors and members of the public at Samuel Rodgers Health Center Saturday to promote enrollment on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Casie Kolbinsky/KOMU / Flickr--CC

Kansas City’s earnings tax faces a big battle next year, and not just at the ballot box.

The 1 percent tax on people who live or work in Kansas City has to be approved by voters every five years, but not if a mid-Missouri state senator gets his way.

Republican Kurt Schaefer of Columbia has pre-filed legislation to repeal the taxes in Kansas City and St. Louis. In a statement, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James has already vowed to fight “this wrong-minded legislation.”

The earnings tax brought in $228 million last year for the city.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Just 49 percent of third graders in Kansas City are reading proficiently.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that’s a dramatic improvement from just a few years ago, when only a third of them were reading at or above grade level. As research mounts that third grade is a benchmark for future success, literacy has become a rally cry for elected leaders and community groups trying to turn around Kansas City’s public schools.

At Garfield Elementary in the Historic Northeast, AmeriCorps volunteers meet daily with reluctant third grade readers.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James recited a list of wins for the city at a press conference Wednesday.

The legal review committee of the Kansas City Council has accepted City Attorney Bill Geary's opinion and is recommending that the council not honor a recent petition drive that sought to force a public vote on the planned downtown convention hotel.

Geary opined that the state gives the council the power to approve Tax Increment Financing and allowing voters to overrule that would violate the state constitution. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has pledged $10,000 from his office’s budget to the Women's Business Center WE-Lend Microloan program.

“We can always do more to remove barriers from people who don’t need barriers in front of them,” James told about 200 women attending a WE 2.0 women’s empowerment conference Friday.

The loans provide funding, technical assistance and a financial coach to women-led businesses.

Kansas City police are investigating a shooting that took the lives of three people Tuesday night in south Kansas City, one of them an infant. This is the fourth deadly shooting in the city in the past week.

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