Government & Politics

At last, Sly James and Greitens meet, talk public safety and April bond proposal

On the 60th day of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration, Kansas City Mayor Sly James finally got his sit-down meeting with the governor.

They met Thursday over the lunch hour up in the mayor’s 29th floor City Hall offices.

James — with plenty on his mind — had been angling for a meeting for more than a month. The mayor raised his frustration in mid-February publicly in front of many of Missouri’s mayors at a conference.

“We had a really great meeting with the mayor,” Greitens said. “It was fantastic to see him and have the opportunity to talk with his team, to talk about what we can do together to bring more jobs and higher pay, better jobs and safer streets to the people of Kansas City and the people of Missouri.”

James wants the Republican governor’s support for the city’s $800 million general obligation bond proposal that will be on the April 4 ballot. Kansas City is also battling with a Republican-controlled state legislature that has been fighting the city’s earnings tax and its attempts to raise its minimum wage, assert gun control and other measures.

Former Gov. Jay Nixon reliably vetoed several past bills that fell against Kansas City’s efforts, but James is now courting a conservative governor in Greitens.

James said he was encouraged.

“I thought it went extremely well,” he said. “We had a very good, open, frank conversation. We found some areas where we might be able to collaborate and cooperate on. We’ve opened the door to communications, and I’m going to take advantage of it, and I hope he does, too.”

On the city’s bond issue hopes, James had to fill the governor in on Kansas City’s effort.

“We told him what we are doing, and he was not totally aware of it,” James said, “so we told him what we were doing. He wondered how it was going to work out in terms of the vote and how it was looking.”

The mayor hopes a stronger partnership will follow.

“We talked about ways we could collaborate on things like public safety,” James said. “We’re going to be talking about that going forward. The rest of it was really kind of a get-to-know-you thing. Who’s doing what, where, and who do we talk to. So we’re going to be sharing information back and forth and hope it will make both sides better.”