Steve Kraske | Handing out honors for 2011

Steve Kraske
Steve Kraske

The envelope, please:

Kansas City ‘Person of the Year’:

You made this one easy, Julia Irene Kauffman. A $400 million gift to the city in the form of a gleaming performing arts center will do it every time. What an amazing legacy.

2012 prediction

: Sweeping reform of Kansas City Schools?

Not gonna’ happen

. Two problems: (1) The Kansas City statehouse delegation is divided. While most lawmakers appear to favor giving Mayor Sly James the keys to the district, state Sen. Victor Callahan, an Independence Democrat, does not. Callahan has the juice to take the Senate with him.

Problem 2: State Sen. Jane Cunningham. The Chesterfield Republican vows to halt anything Kansas City seeks in the way of reform unless she can enact a series of conservative principles: vouchers, open enrollment and abolition of teacher tenure.

The biggest loser of 2011:

Dr. John Covington, former Kansas City Public Schools superintendent. He left us in a lurch after getting unprecedented support.

Biggest winner:

You and you and you, too. With the Kauffman Center, Bloch Building, refurbished stadiums and soccer complex all coming on line in the midst of an enduring recession, Kansas City is lookin’ good these days. Enjoy.

News story Kansas City would most like to forget:

Criminal charges against Bishop Robert Finn. But if you surveyed Kansas City, you’d get the names of four Chiefs — Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki, Matt Cassell and Eric Berry — whose season-ending injuries helped derail a promising season.

Mo-Kan ‘Politicians of the Year’:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, for his handling of the Joplin disaster. And Rep. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, whose adroit leadership of the House Budget Committee produced something astonishing — bi-partisan support in the most treacherous of budget years. Loved the sign on his door: “Am I here to ask the chairman for more money than last year? If yeshave you lost your mind?”

Also, Sly James and Mike Burke, the two final candidates for mayor, who demonstrated for all to see that above-board, classy campaigns still exist.

Stuck in the mud honor:

Pols on both sides of the state line who continue to believe the metro isn’t undermined by the rolling hills of State Line Road.

A new zoo tax levied only on the Missouri side? Ridiculous.

Most over-reported story of 2011:

In March, it was “Google is coming! Google is coming!” By December: “What are we going to do with it?”

The most under-reported story of 2011:

The Brownback revolution. Few Kansans grasp just how ambitious Gov. Sam Brownback’s Year Two agenda is: taxes, school funding, Medicaid, redistricting. Not just a big bite of the apple, but almost the

whole thing. Person with the most difficult job in Kansas City this year:

Any Republican trying to pick a presidential candidate.

He’s up. He’s down. She’s up. She’s donearrrghhhh!

(Hat tip to KCPT’s Nick Haines for many categories).