Steve Paul

Steve Paul: One more bucket of words before I go

Thanks to my longtime colleague and fellow departee Barb Shelly for snapping this shot.
Thanks to my longtime colleague and fellow departee Barb Shelly for snapping this shot.

This is no time for the usual rambling lead. I’ll get right to it. After more than 40 years at this venerable institution, this historic brick landmark on Grand Boulevard, I’ll be leaving in a few days. I’m shuffling off to Brookside, where I’ll be writing a book, launching into other projects and otherwise beginning the next chapter.

But I didn’t want to slip out the door without offering a few thoughts about some things I hope will happen in the coming year and beyond.

▪ As much as I had hoped that a major restoration and expansion of existing terminals at KCI airport would prove to be the best solution, I’ve been swayed by the evidence that a brand new terminal makes the most sense.

What makes even more sense: The final plan and design of a new airport — we have yet to see anything beyond a schematic concept — must make Kansas Citians proud and serve the traveling public better than ever.

This is a generational opportunity to burnish the image of Kansas City and the wider region. Let’s not get sidetracked by the negativos and their red herrings. Let’s prove once again that when the city comes together to design and build, it can do so for the ages.

▪ Some of us are more excited than others about the coming of the Kansas City streetcar starter line downtown. Here’s hoping that the launch in May goes off smoothly, that the line proves popular and highly useful and that drivers of cars and trucks, as well as pedestrians, learn to adapt to the new symbiosis brought on by mass transit. (I had a thought on the parking issue a few days ago: Install more and better curbside signage that alerts people parking along the streetcar tracks to “Mind the Line.”)

▪ I’ll continue to watch closely all the good things happening in our arts and literary communities. Believe me, people, the Kansas City Symphony has never sounded as confident and powerful as they have lately. We’ve got a growing contingent of strong, energetic and inventive young jazz players. The art scene remains vibrant even as it evolves daily. Keep your eye out for the Rabbit Hole, an emerging non-profit, as it prepares to enter a new phase of planning and fund-raising toward the creation of a one-of-a-kind celebration of children’s literature and early childhood reading. And the writers we have in this town — inspiring.

▪ Go Royals! Again.

▪ As a lifelong, bleeding-heart liberal from Boston — what, you’re surprised? — my gratitude goes out to Bernie Sanders and what he has brought to the Democratic side of the presidential campaign. For one important thing, he has helped Hillary Clinton become a much better candidate. Unlike the ugliness of the other party’s proceedings, we have heard real conversation about issues that matter to people: jobs, economic opportunity, political power and our hijacked democracy. Democratic voters, even those who have not supported Clinton recently or ever, will soon understand why unifying behind the party’s candidate may be urgently meaningful as the November election draws near.

Last summer, I wrote a column on that milestone 40th work anniversary and reflected on the transformation of the news business, so I don’t feel inclined to repeat those sentiments here.

But I’ll admit to being the luckiest guy in the world (to borrow Lou Gehrig’s cherished line). I know how rare it has become to conduct one’s whole career in the same place for as long as I have. I owe an incalculable debt to The Star, our loyal readers, the staffers and friends who’ve come and gone and those who remain, the various communities I’ve engaged with and written about over the years and the people who entrusted me with their stories, all of whom enriched my life.