The Buzz

Group begins running anti-earnings tax radio ads

An anti-earnings tax radio ad by Better Government for Missouri criticizes Mayor Sly James, saying he uses “scare tactics to keep your attention away from the facts” about the tax, which is up for renewal.
An anti-earnings tax radio ad by Better Government for Missouri criticizes Mayor Sly James, saying he uses “scare tactics to keep your attention away from the facts” about the tax, which is up for renewal. jsleezer@kcstar.com

No group that formally opposes renewal of Kansas City’s 1 percent earnings tax has formed.

At least that’s what proponents of renewal say.

But in recent days, a radio spot opposing renewal has begun running on Kansas City radio stations that market themselves primarily to African-Americans.

The ad accuses Kansas City Mayor Sly James of using “scare tactics to keep your attention away from the facts.” The ad’s announcer says those tactics include threats of higher property taxes, people losing their jobs and a lack of police officers to patrol the streets if the e-tax is rejected at the April 5 renewal election.

What James never mentions, the announcer says, is the millions of dollars the city gives away to “wealthy real estate developers.” The tax hurts the working poor, the announcer says. Other cities don’t have one.

The announcer then asks listeners to call James’ office at City Hall “and tell him that this earnings tax is not fair.”

The group, Better Government for Missouri, is spending just more than $20,000 to run the spot between last Tuesday and next Thursday on three Kansas City radio stations.

Better Government for Missouri was formed in 2012 and lists a Kansas City address, according to Missouri secretary of state records. Its president is John C. Cozad of Platte City. Cozad, better known as Woody, is a Jefferson City lobbyist and former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.

Steve Glorioso, who is working for Progress KC, the group pushing renewal, said two other women listed as officers for Better Government for Missouri are tied to Rex Sinquefield, the wealthy Missourian who backs conservative causes.

“I find it odd that this group, by way of this ad, is calling Mayor James a liar,” Glorioso said.

Renewal backers point out that the e-tax makes up 40 percent of the city’s general fund.

“It’s ironic to witness conservative Republicans with a newfound concern for working-class African-Americans,” Glorioso said.

Steve Kraske: 816-234-4312, @stevekraske

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