Plenty of people are offering their predictions of what will happen in 2015.
Here’s a different idea: Let’s take a look at what won’t happen.
Yes, I know: These also are prognostications. Some are pretty safe. Several will strike readers as a little pessimistic, though I prefer the word realistic.
▪ Kansas City Mayor Sly James will not lose re-election in June.
I’m a broken record on this one, but James’ future deserves plenty of attention because he’s the most important local elected official in this area. He has a positive track record, lots of campaign cash and support in a wide range of places. Meanwhile, not one local business leader or other politician has stepped forward to run for the office.
▪ The Kansas City Royals will not win the 2015 World Series.
They also will not repeat as American League champions. Nor will they finish second in the Central Division as they did in 2014. Instead, more positively, they will at least take the division title. Last season was a magical one, including an unprecedented postseason streak of victories by the Royals. It’s good to see the team getting back some of its long-ago swagger.
▪ Job growth in Kansas will not reach the national average, once again.
That’s despite repeated claims by Gov. Sam Brownback that his large income tax cuts will bring lots of employment to the state. The cuts instead have caused a large drop in revenues, which will lead to reductions in basic services in the next fiscal year starting in July. Unless, that is, Brownback and the Legislature come to their senses and reinstate the income taxes. Here’s another prediction: That won’t happen either, unfortunately.
▪ The future of Kansas City International Airport will not be resolved.
A report is expected by summer about what the airlines want to do, which could include building a single terminal that a lot of Kansas Citians have said they don’t want if it wipes out the convenience of the current design. Given all the headwinds against making progress, expect any recommendations this year to get embroiled in City Council and public debate. That will postpone resolution of the airport’s future until at least 2016.
▪ The Kansas City streetcar line will not carry its first paying passenger in 2015.
OK, that’s a trick prediction, because the streetcar rides are slated to be free. The streetcar is crucial to downtown’s future, but construction will take longer than expected because of unforeseen problems. Even if the line opens in 2016, people are going to be closely watching to see how it performs and — ultimately — whether it makes sense to extend the line southward on Main Street. My bet: It will.
▪ In economic development news, the border war between Kansas- and Missouri-side cities will not end. And the largest tax break ever requested in Overland Park — for the $2.4 billion proposed reuse of the Brookridge Golf and Fitness site — will not be approved.
Acting against the best interests of taxpayers, local officials keep handing out costly tax breaks to companies for simply hopping the state line while not creating extra jobs. They do it for the publicity and for the extra shot of revenue their cities get, while doing nothing to improve the metro area. Regarding Brookridge, Overland Park officials will embrace a scaled-back version of an overly ambitious mixed-use redevelopment.
▪ Sprint Center will not get selected as the new home for a major league basketball or hockey team, yet it will continue to roll along as one of the nation’s more successful arenas.
Some of these prognostications could be dead wrong, of course. More often than not, I’d love to see that happen. Let’s see what 2015 brings and tote up the results next December.