The big news from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's visit to Kansas City this week was his near-promise to back a new downtown arts campus.
"I do think it's important for Kansas City, and I do think it's a good investment for the state of Missouri," Parson said.
It was a startling moment — an unexpected declaration of support for a $100 million project that had been the city's centerpiece proposal in the 2017 legislative session. Gov. Eric Greitens had vetoed it out of hand after a herculean effort to get the measure to his desk. Along the way, Greitens heaped scorn on "dancers and art students."
The veto was a stunning rebuke for city leaders who had taken all the right steps to add a jewel to their downtown.
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Parson's announcement instantly flipped Kansas City's attitude toward all things state government, and it legitimized the fledgling governor's insistence that he wants to work with Mayor Sly James and other city leaders.
Expectations for Parson were on the deep-down-low side in his first visit here as governor. He's not all that well-known. He's an Army veteran and a former Polk County sheriff. He's a Republican with a well-earned reputation as a staunch conservative.
Here he was visiting a Democratic bastion seeking the type of help that conservatives aren't inclined to offer on guns. Medicaid expansion and higher education.
Still, Parson needed all of about 30 minutes to win over a tough room at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Talk about an unexpected development. Parson was on the right path even before his remarks about the downtown conservatory.
The governor started by emphasizing two issues that he said he's talked about all over the state: infrastructure and workforce development.
Parson made it clear that he's throwing the weight of his office behind the 10-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase going before voters this fall. He announced that backing within days of taking the oath of office and in an election year to boot. There's little question, he said, that the state highway system needs help.
The two issues are notable because they draw bipartisan support. By picking them to launch his administration, Parson hopes to herald a new bipartisan era far removed from the partisan bickering that's dogged Missouri for years.
He also pledged to spend a day in Kansas City eyeballing the city's big challenges with crime, schools and housing. But the promise came with a reasonable caveat: He'll come here if Mayor Sly James promises to spend a day in rural Missouri.
Parson told the crowd that it's time to turn the lights back on in Jefferson City. Instead of the secrecy that permeated Greitens' administration, Parson pledged transparency.
"I want to be open to the public. I want to be open to the media," he said.
I couldn't help but think that this was the performance of a professional public servant compared to the amateurish, showboat antics that ultimately proved so pointless during Greitens' months in office.
Parson impressed not with well-chiseled jokes or oozing charisma, but with a straightforward presentation that demonstrated he's willing to reach out. For just his second full week in office, you can't ask for much more than that.