From early Monday evening to late Tuesday night, events unfolded that will influence the Kansas City area’s future in many ways.
Take a look at an approximate timeline:
6 p.m. Monday: The Star reports online that American Royal officials sent a letter that threatened a lawsuit against the Foutch Brothers days before the developer abruptly pulled its planned reuse of Kemper Arena.
The letter re-revealed the arrogant approach of Neal Patterson, co-founder and CEO of Cerner Corp.; Mariner Kemper, CEO of UMB Financial Corp., and other big-time business leaders as they try to get tens of millions of tax dollars to help them build a new Royal facility.
Now Kansas Citians will wait to see whether Mayor Sly James and City Council members will show real leadership on a good deal to save or demolish Kemper — and determine how much taxpayer funds the American Royal backers could get their hands on.
Given the diminishing importance of and public interest in the Royal, the politicians need to drive a good bargain that focuses on a different priority. They must ensure that any public investment in the West Bottoms is a good way to attract more private dollars to the historic area, a potential gold mine for long-term redevelopment of Kansas City.
10:10 a.m. Tuesday: Jay Nixon’s staff tweets a photo of the Missouri governor voting — as he sits next to a woman voter whose butt crack is showing.
The soon-deleted tweet set off a storm of social media jokes and was a reminder of just how laughable — and politically impotent — Nixon has become in the state and for Kansas City’s future.
He didn’t help Democrats pick up seats in the state legislature this year; they actually lost more of them. A few months ago, Republicans overrode many of his vetoes from the last session. And, to make things worse, voters Tuesday approved Constitutional Amendment No. 10, aimed at curtailing the power of Nixon and future governors to balance the state budget.
7 p.m: The polls closed in Kansas City, sealing the losses for Question 1 and Question 2. The two sales tax issues, if approved, would have created $1.25 billion for unspecified projects.
The grab-bag proposals were promoted originally by activist Clay Chastain to build public transit. Incredibly, 30 percent of voters on Tuesday endorsed taxes that James and council members had said they didn’t want.
As for the future of mass transit, Kansas City still needs to put an extensive proposal before voters. But it shouldn’t happen until 2016, after the initial streetcar line opens and the 2015 city elections are over.
11:25 p.m.: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback takes the stage, proclaims “What a night,” and proceeds to bask in his victory over Democrat Paul Davis.
But the election was no mandate for Brownback or his policies. He won only 49.7 percent of the vote Tuesday, a worrisome total in a deep-red state in a deep-red year nationally, far below the 63.3 percent he took in his 2010 victory.
Now Kansans will watch to see just how much damage Brownback’s future scheduled tax cuts will inflict on state revenues, how much the budget will have to be sliced, and which programs and services will be affected.
As for Johnson County, the once-progressive batch of voters there actually narrowly favored Republicans Brownback and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in their races.
The results were further proof that U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (also re-elected Tuesday) continues to be right. As he told me almost two years ago, conservatives now truly represent the majority of Johnson County’s residents and business leaders.
What does that mean for this area’s future? We’ll find out more in the next few years.