Summer is almost here, a time for us to kick back and enjoy the leisurely warm months in the Kansas City area.
Not so fast, dear friends!
News and especially opinion don’t grind to a halt because people want to take vacations (desperately) or just want the madness to end (looking at you, Donald Trump).
These musings are offered as a way to catch up on what’s been happening with a few important issues and offer looks ahead, too.
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▪ Everyone seems to love Kansas City’s 2.2-mile streetcar line. But....
It’s great to see the enthusiastic reaction to the $100 million project that’s enlivening downtown. People who use it are tweeting photos of themselves and their friends on the way to lunch, movies, concerts and all kinds of activities in the heart of the city. Ridership has been phenomenal.
However, service disruptions are throwing the streetcar schedule into doubt for brief stretches of time. Part of that isn’t the streetcar’s fault, as in when a car apparently ran a red light straight into the vehicle and shut down the whole line. People need and want to depend on the streetcar to be there for them; that’s supposed to be part of its strength.
Streetcar backers have done a solid job responding to most of the concerns. They want an extension to the Country Club Plaza and perhaps beyond. A successful debut in the rest of 2016 would help make that more likely.
▪ Sam Brownback is still governor of Kansas.
Brrr. Do you feel that chill up your spine?
On both sides of the state line, regular folk are wondering when people of the Sunflower State are going to get their act together and shut down the nonsense that Brownback and way too many legislators are spouting about jobs, schools, taxes and social issues.
In Johnson County and the rest of the state, their first big chances come in the Aug. 2 primaries. Hundreds of people in Overland Park, Olathe, Leawood, Shawnee and other cities are involved in groups that are making much-needed efforts to oust several of the ultra-conservative lawmakers serving in the House and Senate in Topeka.
The biggest push is by moderate Republicans to win as many primaries as possible. Then, if they are victors in November, that could get them the clout to team up with Democrats to stop the destructive Brownback agenda.
Hopes of victory are high. But the toughest fights are still ahead, and this summer will include plenty of outdoor campaigning in neighborhoods in hot conditions.
▪ In Kansas City, Mayor Sly James is learning what it’s like when he can’t control the City Council.
This one is full of people who sometimes ask good questions — and sometimes just want to flex their muscles to show they aren’t pushovers for whatever idea the mayor is promoting.
Deserved upgrades to Kansas City International Airport have been put on hold for who knows how long, partly because of tenacious efforts by council member Teresa Loar.
Needed questions are being asked by Quinton Lucas and Heather Hall on taxpayer incentive policies, with a nervous James hoping this doesn’t explode into something that looks as if it’s aimed at stopping all development. It’s not, by the way.
James still holds the keys when it comes time to deciding whether to drive forward on initiatives that could be good for the city, including a potentially large bond issue for infrastructure improvements.
But on that matter and others, he will have to rally the troops to try to get as many people as possible singing from the same hymnal at City Hall.
Oh, and about that absolutely brutal presidential election: Less said, the better for now.