When Kansas City officials hold elections asking for higher taxes, they tell voters how the money would be used. That makes sense because City Hall wants these issues to succeed at the polls.
But what happens when the city hopes voters reject a proposal?
That scenario is playing out now, as officials attempt to obfuscate Clay Chastain’s initiative petition to fund a light-rail and mass transit system. It’s disappointing to see the city take this tact after it essentially lost in court and was told to put the plan on the ballot in November.
City officials don’t want to say “light rail” in the ballot language, or give voters much information about the potential use of two requested sales taxes. They rationalize that the state Supreme Court didn’t specifically order them to do so.
However, the city ought to handle an initiative petition signed by thousands of Kansas Citians with the same courtesy it would treat one of its own issues. That means writing clear and fair ballot language.
Then, Mayor Sly James and other City Council members who oppose the plan can campaign aggressively against the sales taxes this fall. You can bet that when elected officials are trying to kill the initiative they will use the words “light rail” to make sure everyone knows what they are talking about.
So put the words in the ballot language.