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Kansas City Week in Review – May 10, 2019

Kansas City Week in Review – May 10, 2019


the streetcar celebrates
its third birthday the Mayor calls it the most successful
streetcar line in America but is it really we take you inside
Kansas city’s newest and largest vending machine it’s a
wrap in Kansas we track what your lawmakers did and didn’t
do for you this year it’s head to head for the first time in
the Kansas city mayors race what did we learn that we
didn’t already know plus why all the anger outrage and
indignation in independence week in review is made possible
through the generous support of Dave and Jamie Cummings Bob and
Marlese Gourley Smithfield foods Haas and Wilkerson
insurance the Courtney S. Turner charitable trust John H.
Mize and bank of America N. A.
co trustees and by viewers like you thank you
welcome everyone it is another action packed edition of the
program hello I’m Nick Haines so many impactful stories in our
metro to tell you about rolling up their sleeves to make sense
of it all from KCTV five news reporter Caroline Sweeney from
forty one action you Steven dial from the news blog city
scene KC which tracks development in the heart of our
city Kevin Collison and from the pages of your Kansas city
star Dave Helling balloons cake confetti the Kansas city
streetcar celebrating its third birthday this week starting
Monday two new street cars arrive in town to keep up with
the demand mayor sly James calls it the most successful
streetcar line in America but is it really Kevin Well
that’s a very subjective term as you well know I mean it’s
it’s certainly done quite well far beyond what the
expectations of its sponsors were early on
and the big point is it’s not only been a success in their
eyes and I think in many people’s eyes for taking people
back and forth downtown making downtown an attractive
environment for both people who live there and people who visit
but it’s also I think shown a genuine connection to spurring
some significant development along its route and also the
promise of its extension seems to be showing some some really
new interest in the main street corridor I was looking at a
number statistics about
streetcar lines based on average weekday
boardings a lot of cities are ahead of Kansas city from New
Orleans to Portland but if you look at average daily boardings
per mile and for a system specifically called streetcar
yes we would be number one so we are number one on something on
that Steven does that make you
happy I’m trying to find objective data the street
car is popular there are cities
like Charlotte and other cities that
have popular streetcar systems I think you can’t say it’s the
best in America until it can access most of your city or at
least more of your city where people live and I think that’s
when you can tout it the the street car has been successful
on its own terms that is it’s two and a half miles it’s free
to ride which is extraordinarily important
cars are well maintained its popular people
ride it is not and was never meant to be really a
significant component of mass transit in the city of Kansas
city and it really won’t be even if they extended it all the
way down to UMKC it will have much more utility at that point
but right now it’s just a fun thing for people to ride as
part of the downtown experience it is not what most people
think of when they think of mass transit in the urban center
I want to get into
that in a moment and the extension of this but first
while some people are still not happy though that the city
invested in this project has been spared many of the
problems that other cities have been going through take a look
at these headlines from around
the country over the past year
Cincinnati bell may take its name off the street car
business courier reports the company is not happy with how
the street car has performed Atlanta’s nearly hundred million
dollar streetcar system continued to struggle to attract
riders throughout the summer the Atlanta streetcar has
struggled to get enough riders ever since the city imposed a
one dollar fare January the first Seattle’s third street
car project was off the rails can the city afford to finish it
consider the numbers this streetcar project has
ballooned from just over one hundred forty three million in
twenty fifteen and were consultants now estimate it
could go above two hundred fifty two million
Caroline we haven’t been experiencing those types of
problems in Kansas city the best we sort of see in terms of
problems is people parking on the rail lines downtown right
yeah that’s going to continue to be an issue as we as Kansas
citians get used to the street car still I mean three years
shows that it has some potential but it’s still a
fairly new mode of transportation here in the city
and always remember when it’s free it’s popular yeah cities
like Atlanta of course I have to mention Atlanta cities that
try to monetize public transportation it’s going to be
less popular and public transportation itself in larger
cities are in the red because you’re never going to be in the
black in my opinion with
public transportation and I think we need a little
context here because we had two major ballot issues for a light
rail system that was going to be a much more comprehensive
transit system in in our city they were both turned down by
voters the streetcar was an effort to try to let let’s get
something at least out there and they came up with what they
call a transportation development district which is
why we can ride it for free in that people who own property or
buy a beer along the corridor that set up with the TDD pay an
extra surcharge and that’s what funds it and that’s what’s
allowed it to be so successful in many ways but it will be a
more robust system voters last did approve extending the
state down to the plaza and on to UMKC what happened to
that and when would we expect construction to begin on that
Dave well the construction start is some time away it
depends on federal funding which it does not have at this
point the the attempt to get federal funding for this
project will continue although of all mass transit
programs are under increasing scrutiny based on
the shortfall frankly of transportation revenue for
highways and other things so it’s still problematic it might
happen it’s very expensive streetcars you know it’s a
hundred million dollars a mile to build this extension that’s
a lot of money and you know I think Kansas
citians will judge the benefit of spending that money
if and when it happens but it hasn’t happened yet well
actually you know it’s it’s the price tag to extended from
downtown several miles to UMKC about three fifty they’ve got
half the money already lined up because the voters in the TDD
district approved the local taxing they’re seeking a
hundred and fifty million from Washington they still need to
do engineering studies the earliest it could be rolling is
twenty twenty four from what I understand
it’s a wrap Kansas lawmakers have wrapped up their
legislative session though you get to decide how much meat
there was in that sandwhich they wrapped up the normally ninety
day session in close to eighty days did they quit early because
they achieved so much Caroline well they got the big stuff
done they’ve passed a budget which you know is always
something that we’re looking for out of our lawmakers and
for the first time in awhile the school funding issue was
wrapped up earlier in the year it depends on what the Kansas
Supreme Court says but this may be maybe one of the years we
don’t see our Kansas lawmakers coming back for a special crunch
session over the summer lawmakers love to send out these
weekly updates on their work two big achievements their
championing one the giving of ninety million dollars as
Caroline talks about to schools the courts looking over that as
we speak the second they approved cut price health plans
that make Medical insurance far more affordable to Kansans
by stripping those plans of coverage for pre existing
conditions and maternity care there could be two more they say
if the governor is willing to sign them into law one would
lower the sales tax on food the second would lower taxes on
corporations were there any other big accomplishment Steven
dial I think and it sounds like the
governor will sign it H. B.
twenty two forty four is a bill that would that passed the
house and Senate it will allow parents to go to Colorado bring
back legally low THC oil to help children and people
suffering from seizures and a lot of other things it passed the
house and Senate with the bi partisan support it seems like
governor Kelly will sign that but that could also open the
door for a bigger conversation of medical marijuana in Kansas
well a lot of coverage has been focused on the hot button
issues that died Medicaid expansion sports betting
medical marijuana how does Laura Kelly come out of her
first session did she score a passing grade or did she fail
Dave Helling she didn’t fail and more than a passing grade
I’d give her a B plus B solid B we’ll see if he signs this
tax cut bill which we’ve recommended she veto because
half of the money about a hundred and twenty million
dollars over three years would go to corporate tax cuts we
don’t think that’s necessary it’s likely she’ll veto that
bill she got school finance she got close on Medicaid expansion
best you could hope for when a Democrat is in the governor’s
mansion and Republicans have firm control of the legislature
solid B Kevin from a big picture point of view at least
the state of Kansas has moved out of the crisis zone it was
in under the previous regime and is dealing with some of its
issues in a much more moderate responsible way which I think
overall whatever your party affiliation is people are
breathing a sigh of relief that were no longer an experiment
for national positions Kevin and Dave kinda of wrapped up
what I was gonna say about how Laura Kelly’s first session has
gone but as we have to remember this is her first session in
her first term so the windfall that I think Democrats were
expecting to happen right after the election I think that a
reality started to set in and the actualities of legislating
in a state where you’ve got divided leadership really came
out to play can I just say very quickly
the way legislatures working is you work your way up through
seniority to leadership positions and that means the
people leading the Kansas legislature now we’re elected
back in the nineteen you know what nineties two thousand two
thousand tent they’ve worked their way up to the leadership
position and they’re their political philosophy is very
much a brownbackian thing the new rank and file the ones that
are newest the legislature tend to be a bit more moderate most
of them anyway and that’s why you saw the clash between the
leadership and the rank and file Republicans on things like
Medicaid expansion in the budget this year this week
voters got to see Jolie Justus
and Quinton Lucas go head to head in the
first mayoral debate that took place over at the studios of
KCTV five they met again later in the week for a forum hosted
by the hispanic chamber Telemundo Univision
and the KC Hispanic news what did we learn that we didn’t
know before Steven dial well Jolie Justus is wants a
department of transportation that was the I think the most
significant thing I know we’re going to talk about polling
soon but this whole race especially since it got dwendled
down to the final two Quinton Lucas has been the
candidate that has been saying different things talking about
expunging you know minor Medical I mean
minor marijuana convictions on the city level Jolie Justus
hasn’t been saying different things that set her apart in my
opinion I think this was her attempt to try to start saying
Hey I can have ideas and things to move us forward Caroline as
that first debate took place at your station what did you see
there that you didn’t expect to see or was there nothing new
that we saw from these first encounters between these head
to head well I think what we’re going to start seeing now
especially because were just a little more than a month away
from the election is what Steven was talking about this
one of them or both of them are gonna start separating
themselves from the pack it’s like okay we are the final two
let us introduce ourselves if we kind of got drowned out
during the preliminaries you know this or the primaries this
is who we are and this is what we stand for but that big
announcement by Jolie about that department of
transportation I think is resonating more I did speak
with someone from the Quinton Lucas campaign yesterday and
they said that the first debate on KCTV five is already having
an impact they are seen people come out and say because we
heard you solely you you know and there Jolie and Quinton
voices were drowned out by other people I think you’re
gonna start seeing that ripple effect of of more interest the
next debate by the way the
Kansas City Star is helping host when is that
taking place Dave we have a debate the first
district debate Saturday noon Winnetonka high school and
then next Tuesday the third district debate at the Bob
moheart center on Linwood that six seven thirty at night those
will be good exchanges community based we expect a
couple of hundred of people at each to ask questions
everyone’s invited let me say just quick two things about the
channel 5 debate and the Telemundo debate I thought it
was interesting at the end of the channel five debate that
Quinton Lucas tried to make the airport a bit of an issue
that I think a lot of people assumed that had gone away but
Jolie Justus is very tied to that process and I think he may
try to exploit that going forward and then at the
telemundo debate there was
discussion of the lack of Latino
representation on the city council I’ve written about this
the council the new council have no Latino we know that now
because the field is set that will mean a generation of
Kansas city politicians will have passed without any Latino
representation that’s a problem and that will affect
redistricting after twenty twenty and that may be an issue
in the mayor’s race as well just couple of weeks after a report
reveales a glut of hotel rooms downtown there what public
hearings this week for a new hotel project that it’s backers
claim would be so luxurious it would be like nothing else
in the city this can be one of the most catalytic developments
in our city that is devoloper Whitney Kerr who’s behind the
thirteen story hotel planned
near the the Kauffman center for the
performing arts which they say will attract a brand new
audience the Mercedes audience and they want nineteen million
dollars in tax increment financing to make it a reality
while no decision has yet been made why is this project even
getting a hearing when we’re
told by our elected leaders that
Kansas city needs to reign in incentives and there’s already
studies saying there’s an over supply of hotel rooms Kevin
well as the old expression goes timing is everything and I
think the developers here have probably walked into probably
one of the worst times to propose a cultural luxury hotel
however anybody can apply for tax incentives I mean it’s not
like there’s a public policy issue that says we will not
even listen to a development proposal come in the whole
thing is how do we evaluate it how do we weigh against
public policy issues and what do we think is it worthwhile
forgoing these future revenues
for whatever period of time to help
make something like this happen but I gotta tell you again yes
the there’s been recent reports the new head of visit KC has
said we pretty much have hit a saturation point with all the
projects coming online the major argument the proponents
of this have is that if we have a five star ultra luxury
hotel we’ll bring in a whole new layer of tourism
it’s tough to say because it’s right across the street from
what most people think is a pretty luxurious convention
hotel that Lowe’s is developing while we’re fixated on the
mayors race there is going to be a measure on the ballot in
June that would actually limit tax incentives to fifty percent
of the property taxes diverted or abated in those projects
this would not meet that criteria is that correct oh no
but not by no means would it
meet this and if we want to talk
about that ballot initiative right now we can I you know if
we wanna hold that off to later in the conversation but you
know most people in the development industry and I
think folks who don’t have a dog in the in the hunt agree
that that kind of a cap on property tax incentives would
be devastating to development not only in downtown which
seems to be the whipping boy for this affordable housing
issue but if you really want to develop affordable housing those
are the kinds of tools that developers need to make these
projects work and that’s been used heavily on Troost Avenue
which is actually building apartments that at least some
percentage are affordable I thought it was so out of control
we needed to put these caps in place Dave well that
argument will take place before question one goes to voters in
June this project on the hotel downtown comes at the worst
possible time for people who oppose that ballot measure in
part because the optics of providing incentives for in
essence hotels for millionaires are not good in the current
environment and and so it may make it more likely rather than
less likely that that might be approved and it will make it an
issue in the mayor’s race not just development but this
particular project going forward yeah I I think I I’m a
little bit confused I mean like Kevin said that anyone can
apply for these incentives and obviously developers can come
in and say Hey I have this idea but I feel like we already have
these Mercedes audience hotels the crossroads hotel the
revamped Savoy the Muehlebach
the I wrote one down the president like
I feel like we already have these hotels and my question is
OK so we have these hotels we have and a ramping up of
conventions coming into town but what is this Mercedes
audience supposed to do once they
get here yes the opera is gorgeous
and the symphony is stunning but like what else is supposed
to happen to keep the Mercedes audience here that’s really my
question Kevin you have the
answere to that Those are great
market questions and I mean that’s
but what was interesting at the TIF commission meeting which as
you pointed out they they ran it over time and they
couldn’t make a decision they
just ran out of time but you know a
lot of people seem to think that the development agencies
just rubber stamp all this stuff but I can tell you this
that during the testimony the EDC staff which is the economic
development corporation of
Kansas city gave this thing a very low
ranking the percentage of incentives
they are seeking per the value
of the project at forty percent is
twice as much as what people usually seek I got a good
feeling that this thing may be in trouble with the TIF
commission and it still will go to the council but with a
negative recommendation that which then requires a super
majority approval from the council which as David has
pointed out could be a pretty
tough vote for anybody to make now
while tax breaks for developers is an issue that can cause
citizen outrage take a look at the scenes from independence
this week where the outrage meter is heading off the charts
what on earth is happening that’s causing so much angst
indignation and and infuriated Mayor
that’s going to be an issue deciding between food on the
table or paying your light and water bill nobody wants these
things speaking of heading to the ballot in independence
citizens are collecting signatures to place a new
pressing issue on the city ballot and they even want to
recall their Mayor they’re
infuriated about something that tens of
thousands of us all around the Metro have been using for
years I’m talking about smart meters electric companies love
them because they don’t have to send someone over to your house
to read your meter it does it electronically they say it also
allows them to better control energy usage to avoid blackouts
why is this so considered so evil in independence Steven I
yield my time to doctor Helling well the independence electric
utility has been a controversial issue in
independence for decades because it is so narrow in
terms of the customer base and so costs get passed on to
people for projects like this and I don’t simply don’t want
to pay the cost they might have some of the
highest yes utilitiy bills in
the entire metro smart meters have been
used in Kansas city they were a big part of the green impact
zone you remember that project in central Kansas city as a tool
to help people manage their use but the people of independents
are quite upset about it and Nick there are underlying
pressure points in independence politics that lead to the
citizens being angry at almost all the time in that community
correct me if I’m wrond dave
isn’t it a city owned utility yes which
makes it really different from all the rest of the folks in
the metro very similar to BPU accept BPU was kind of an independent
thing in Kansas City Kansas this
is a city owned electric generating
company and it’s a political issue yeah yeah there’s been
tons of speculation over the last several months the Kris
Kobach would be joining the trump administration in a
senior job helping the president combat illegal
immigration while the focus has been on the former Kansas
secretary of state it’s a man from Missouri this week that’s
just been picked to lead the nation’s immigration
enforcement efforts president Trump naming former Platte
County sheriff’s deputy in UMKC graduate Mark Morgan to become
the new head of ICE the country’s immigration and
customs enforcement agency who is Mark Morgan and why is it
that for all his powerful local connections his name is largely
unknown by people here what I mean some people know his
name Are you gonna yield your
time to Steven Dial trust me I never yeild time on this show
as I think regular viewers
realize but in this case I think he was
picked because he said some nice things about the president
and above all so has Kris Kobach yes Kobach a much more
difficult the nominee to get through the confirmation
process of just going to be very hard for Republicans to
carry his name to the Senate this seems to be less
controversial and again he has been supportive of the
president and that seems to be the most important thing for
the White House now the issue of immigration became a
headline this week in the Missouri legislature to many
people’s surprise lawmakers approved ending a ban on
providing in state tuition to the so called dreamers but jsut
as those stories were being written they backtrack and
reinstate the band what was happening there why did they
even consider getting rid of the ban in the first place I
thought this was going to be and I was about to pitch a
story on this and then I heard they backtracked because I
think I mean a lot of people there’s been growing talks of
people saying that these dreamers did not choose to come
here they grew up here Missouri is all they know so if they get
ready to go to college why can’t they you know be afforded
the opportunity of paying in state tuition
I’m I don’t really know why why the sudden switch on and one
part of the legislature signed well there’s that argument but
a Missouri is also looking at very low
application rates and admission rates to their flagship
university we’ve been seen um dwindling rates at the
university of Missouri so if this could be anything that
would help right that shipp or support the university
going forward I think it would be something the legislature
would have continued to consider well there’s there’s
also kind of this notion that undocumented aliens when
they’re working aren’t paying taxes well many of them do have
taxes deducted they just can’t really get any of the services
so there’s really some money being put in by this population
to help support the state of Missouri but yet they’re still
being denied this and I guess on the big picture and this is
something that you know people who are aware of how our region
is competing in the world you know we this sent another signal
to the greater country and to the world you know we have kind
of a narrow attitude about these kinds of things and so bright
talented young people will leave I don’t have been belabor this
point the General Electric which was looking to do a
billion dollar expansion in all the their plant in Wentzville
near St Louis what mention the fact
that they support dreamers and that was considered one of the
components of why lawmakers wanted to reverse the ban but
they got so many protests from people then that they got
scared and and then voted back again but it was the house side
the Senate side had agreed to this and then the house members
aroused apparently by outside interest groups who are anti
immigration and anti immigrant put pressure on house members
and they bounced back to the Senate and said no we want
these these protection from alright do you want your
accustomed I’m sure to using a vending machine to purchase
soda pop and perhaps to get a candy bar would you use one to
buy a car this week the metros largest vending machine opens
and when you put your money in your slot you will don’t get a
snack you get a set of wheels it’s called come Carvana and you
might have noticed the seven story high car vending machine
as it was being built along I thirty five heading towards
downtown just north of southwest Boulevard does it
really work that way you put money in slot and you get a new
car well I I think it’s one of the more amazing funny
marketing things out there a what what would you find out
when you see the fine print of but what they do is you
basically have already bought the car it’s just a way for
them to deliver to you that’s fun that’s interactive that you
do get this commemorative coin and you can watch the thing
come down on whatever but you wouldn’t have driven the car and
sothat’s a bit of a risk isn’t it it is a little bit of a risk um
Abby James reporter channel five spent a lot of time on
this yesterday morning you know you do get the interaction part
of it but you also get seven days to drive around check it
out and then you can bring it back and it’s kind of what
we’re seeing no questions asked in return it up to seven days I
understand you know I haven’t seen the the fine print I
haven’t won yet I like my car well Dave Helling is not
interested because
they’re only used cars anyone Dave Helling
is a newspaper reporter I report for the newspaper I am
not in the market for a new car but it’s very similar to what
CarMax has been doing for years but they’ve got this fun way to
actually get the car delivered to you now for some people this
week the biggest story was cleaning up the flooded
basements after relentlessly wet week for others it was the
frenzy with trying to snag tickets to Hamilton what some
say may be the hottest show in modern Kansas city history I
was tickled though my letter in
the Kansas City Star from Suzanne
who is emphatic in saying this is not news getting tickets to see
Hamilton is not a major news story most of my your readers
of the Star myself included couldn’t care less Suzanne
thank you so what is it about the show that it’s the dwarfing
all of the attention from all of the other major
attractions and events leading place in a later first of all
it is news people are interested in it it is a award
winning popular musical coming to Kansas city and it’s not
dwarfing other news it isn’t that we’re not covering other
things of that you know in the star and I know you you guys
probably had wonderful Katie
Berg did a marvelous story just
people somebody came from Saint Louis because they couldn’t get
in on out there it’s just a fun story and as Dave points out I
mean this is been a global phenomena for three years and
now I can finally so we would like to have fun sometimes
yeah we can have fun And that is
our Week in Reivew ladies and
gentlement our thanks to this
week’s news reviewer is from
KCTV five Caroline Sweeney and Kevin
Collison of City Scene KC from forty one action news Steven
Dial and Dave Helling of your Kansas Cty Star I’m Nick
Haines from all of us here at KCP T.
thanks for spending part of your weekend with this us

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1 thought on “Kansas City Week in Review – May 10, 2019

  1. One thing the panel failed to address is the amount of homelessness that ride this FREE streetcar during the cold months and hot summer days. I ride this sometimes during the week and it's as if the city sometimes use these trains for heating and cooling stations for them. This will continue until we start charging(even if 25 cents), instead of leaving it to the tax payers on the line.

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