The way I figure it, when you stand on the threshold of a certain milestone birthday, you’ve earned the right to spell out how things should be.
Here’s how I’d change a few things if I could wave my magic wand:
▪ I’d have Kansas City finally toss off the bonds of Tom Pendergast and adopt a strong-mayor government. In the arms race that’s become the norm for major American cities, Kansas City needs all the tools it can muster.
These days, nobody fears our mayor. He or she is merely a 13th council vote. A strong mayor, for instance, might have enabled the city to skirt some of the pitfalls surrounding big projects like the airport.
Oh, I’d raise the number of signatures required to get an issue on the ballot. What we’re doing to ourselves now is nuts.
▪ I’d bring baseball downtown. Don’t groan. I know we thrashed this argument to the ground not long ago. But the reality is, the conversation on where to go next with our twin stadiums is just a few years off.
The current leases expire in 2031. As my colleague, Dave Helling pointed out, our stadiums will be almost six decades old then. That makes them among the country’s oldest.
It makes no economic sense to leave both out there on an island where there’s no adjoining businesses to benefit. Downtown baseball would bolster the Power & Light District, the (hopefully) new downtown convention hotel and the streetcar line.
The time to start lobbying Royals owner David Glass is now.
▪ I’d clean up Jeff City. We scribes wail and gnash our teeth over the lawless nature of Missouri’s state capital to little effect. Voters clearly express their desire for a cleaner, less money-drenched culture when they demand donation limits with nearly 75 percent approval.
Year after year, nothing improves, even when voters elect a governor who pledges to clean it up. It’s exhausting.
Here’s what needs to happen: 1) Enact a tough gift ban. 2) Strengthen the weak-kneed entity known as the Missouri Ethics Commission. Give it real power to keep lawmakers in line. 3) Take redistricting authority from the legislature and give it to panels of retired judges. 4) Adjust term limits to 12 years in each chamber from the current eight.
▪ I’d awaken the metro to the wonders of Kansas City, Kan. It’s a community with enormous challenges, but so much charm. I just bought dinner for six for one of my UMKC classes at El Torito, 1415 Central Ave. The tab: $31.60.
▪ I’d figure out a way to make people like jazz. Many of you wonder why I like it. I can’t figure out why you don’t.
▪ I’d find a way to engage more suburban types like myself in crucial programs like Turn the Page KC. Teach an inner-city kid how to read, and that will better connect us as one community.
▪ I’d have our great historians — David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss — on my radio show at least four times a year each.
▪ I’d pass a bistate tax to fund the arts and our struggling museums.
▪ Of course, I’d take J.C. Nichols’ name off the fountain at the gateway to the Country Club Plaza. What a gesture that would be toward long-overdue racial conciliation in this town.
Oh, I'm turning 30.
Steve Kraske is a columnist and member of The Kansas City Star's Editorial Board.