Government & Politics

Clay Chastain sues Kansas City officials and his own attorney over light-rail failures

Clay Chastain outlines reasons for light rail

Clay Chastain held a public forum Monday at the Plaza Library to provide the public and media information about Light Rail Ballot Question #3 on the upcoming Kansas City Nov. 8 ballot.
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Clay Chastain held a public forum Monday at the Plaza Library to provide the public and media information about Light Rail Ballot Question #3 on the upcoming Kansas City Nov. 8 ballot.

Longtime transit activist Clay Chastain is suing Kansas City Mayor Sly James, the former city attorney and his own former attorney for actions relating to light rail initiatives.

Chastain accuses James of malfeasance stemming from Chastain’s 2011 petition initiative for a massive light rail, commuter rail and streetcar plan. The city rejected it because its two proposed  3/8 -cent sales tax increases were not sufficient to pay for the plan. Under court order, the city placed the tax questions on the ballot without saying what the money was for. Voters rejected them in 2014, 71 percent to 29 percent and 70 percent to 30 percent.

Chastain accuses James of leading a majority of the City Council in “deliberately sabotaging” the vote and seeks $1 million in damages. A court conference is scheduled for May 9. A spokesman for the mayor did not return a call Tuesday.

In a separate lawsuit, Chastain accuses former City Attorney Bill Geary of malfeasance and his own former attorney Jeffrey Carey of malpractice relating to Chastain’s 2016 light rail petition initiative. He says Geary approved the language of the petition before it was circulated but then told a City Council committee it could be illegal. Voters rejected the proposed  3/8 -cent tax, 60 percent to 40 percent.

Chastain claims Geary and Carey conspired against him. He seeks $500,000 in damages from Geary and $300,000 from Carey. A court conference is scheduled for April 20. Geary could not be reached Tuesday for comment. Carey rejected the lawsuit’s allegations.

“I accomplished every goal given to me by the committee of petitioners and was able to broker a deal between Clay Chastain and the city of Kansas City on ordinance language,” Carey said.

Chastain, who lives in Virginia, has a new streetcar petition initiative pending before city officials.

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