The sprint through the holiday season is on in the Kansas City area, and today offers the best time to give thanks for some of the people and recent developments in this community.
In keeping with being a nattering nabob of negativism in the media on occasion, I’ll throw in a few “no thanks,” too.
▪ Thanks to the Kansas City Royals for winning the World Series. What a tremendous lift for the entire region.
No thanks to boosting ticket prices for next year, though. And I wait in dread to see what parking at Kauffman Stadium will cost. Dear David Glass: Please put all this extra money into keeping a great product on the field and giving fans plenty to cheer about in 2016.
▪ Thanks to Mayor Sly James and the new City Council for getting off to a slightly contentious, but not rocky, start.
James and the previous council accomplished a lot, and his easy re-election appeared to be almost a coronation. But many new members aren’t ready to just follow James wherever he wants to lead. That’s fine up to a point. It’s great to ask detailed questions about how public funds are used, for example. But with the city generally headed in the right direction, there’s no need to become a council of extreme second-guessers. Which brings me to...
▪ Thanks to City Manager Troy Schulte for being a public servant who gives bureaucrats a good name.
Schulte’s contract is in limbo as the new council studies whether it wants to award a new three-year pact by February. My guess: A deal will get done, especially given James’ overwhelming support for him, which matters a lot because of the mayor’s powers under the city charter in appointing managers.
▪ Thanks to Kansas’ Sam Brownback — the nation’s most unpopular governor in a recent survey — for continuing to provide fodder for the public to consume 24/7.
More seriously, no thanks to Brownback for ruining his state’s budget, diverting hundreds of millions of dollars from road upgrades, backing the largest tax increase in the Sunflower State’s history and refusing to take responsibility for the dreadful national publicity he has created for Kansas.
▪ No thanks to city officials, developers, businesses and development lawyers who are keeping the costly economic development border war alive.
It’s great that officials in Missouri and Kansas are working on ways to stop senseless subsidies from being doled out to companies that merely hop the state line, creating no real net new jobs for the area. But this problem should have been solved a long time ago.
▪ Thanks to people who are raising concerns about what’s going on at City Hall.
I sympathize with opponents of tax breaks for a renovated new headquarters for BNIM architects at 1640 Baltimore. It’s in an increasingly thriving area of the Crossroads Arts District. The referendum being pursued would ask people to vote on the deal. While a small $5 million subsidy package isn’t really worth an entire election, if it happens, it will be a litmus test for where Kansas Citians stand on taxpayer support for companies these days.
No thanks to the petition aimed at calling for a public vote on public subsidies for the downtown hotel. Critics had ample time to ask questions and potentially stop this deal in public meetings; they never did it. That led to signed contracts between the city and developer, making the initiative petition legally questionable.
▪ Finally, thanks to readers for pointing out problems that need attention — not just in Kansas City but also in the suburbs. Thanks for filling the email box and for the pointed criticisms on Twitter.
It’s all part of finding the best ways to drive this region forward.