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Sabrina Staires/sabrinastaires.com

James Martin, an independent consultant and curator, writer and educator, has been hired by the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to serve as its public art administrator. The position has been vacant since April 2018. 

Martin's appointment fills a crucial need, coming just as questions and tensions mount over the most expensive public art project in the city's history: a new $1.5 billion single terminal project at Kansas City International Airport budgets $5.6 million for art as part of the city's longstanding One Percent for Art program.

More than a handful of public art projects are also in the pipeline.

"Kansas City has had such a long commitment to public art," Martin told KCUR. "You know, we've had a great run, and I'm just thrilled to be able to continue that tradition and contribute my part."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Troy Schulte, one of the most influential city managers in recent Kansas City history, knows he may be remembered for helping oversee downtown’s revival, the streetcar, the convention hotel and a new airport terminal.

Segment 1: Schulte talks of the progress and set-backs Kansas City faced during his term as city manager.

Troy Schulte's 10-year term as manager of Kansas City, Missouri, will in a few months come to a close. He said one of the hardest things about his job was finding a balance in handling pressing crises and working toward long-term goals. Schulte talked about things he's proud of, like the new airport terminal design, which is set to acheive net-zero carbon emissions. He also spoke of critical issues, like the overcrowding in city jails.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Missouri law severely limits Kansas City’s gun-control powers. But three rookie city council members say there’s still a lot the city can do to combat its violent crime crisis.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3

Port KC is one of Kansas City’s most powerful economic development agencies, often handing out lucrative tax breaks, but some critics say it has too much clout and reforms are needed to give elected leaders more oversight.

Segment 1: 3rd District councilman lays out his plans if he wins the June 18 election.

A native son of Kansas City's urban core, Quinton Lucas responded to disparaging remarks made by his opponent Jolie Justus and then explained his approach to campaign issues including homelessness, affordable housing and policing in Kansas City.

Segment 1: Mayoral candidate Jolie Justus shares her plans for Kansas City if elected.

Crime is one of the top concerns Jolie Justus hears when speaking with voters. The mayoral candidate explains why criminal justice reform is in her plans to address the city's crime rate. Justus also discussed her approach to using economic development incentives. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

After years of complaints from customers, rising costs and declining service from contractors, the Kansas City Council voted to ditch the contractors and have city crews do weekly trash pick-ups throughout the city.

City council initially met the plan with skepticism, questioning how much money it would save the city, but they eventually passed the measure unanimously.

Michael Shaw, the city's Solid Waste Division director says he, too, is confident in the cost-savings estimates.

Segment 1: New data analysis of Kansas City's public school environment.

A new analysis shows public and charter schools in Kansas City are more segregated, more expensive to operate, and more complicated than they were 20 years ago. We talked with two officials behind the report about these issues and others, and discussed possible solutions. 

Sonia Schlesinger

On a humid May afternoon, Joseph “Joey Cuts” Thomas watches as his two young daughters bounce around his 18th and Vine barbershop, carrying baggies of cereal and hiding in the unused chairs. At one point a man walks in wearing a bright yellow Kansas City transit vest. He takes off the vest and makes himself comfortable, talking and laughing with the other customers over the sounds of razors and hairspray.

A stack of yard signs in the corner read, “Joey Cuts for Third District.”

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Protesters withstood single-digit temperatures on the steps of City Hall Monday to share horror stories about landlords kicking their families out after a serious illness or being left with no safe, permanent housing options after an eviction. KC Tenants, a new group advocating for tenants' rights, intends to make housing a central issue in the upcoming mayoral election.

“Housing needs to be the next mayor’s airport,” said activist Tiana Caldwell to cheers of approval.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A city council committee unanimously passed a measure to rename Paseo Boulevard after Martin Luther King, Jr.

At Wednesday's meeting of the planning, zoning and economic development committee, most of the eight people who spoke supported the name change.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri, city leaders on Thursday celebrated what they called major improvements to the urban core: $8 million spent over two years on a program to sell abandoned or dangerous houses for $1 each.

The program, designed to not just clean up neighborhoods but to cut down on crime, showcased one of its first graduates.

Laurie Schwab bought a home on East 29th Terrace in 2016 during the Kansas City, Missouri, Land Bank's $1 sale and has poured $21,000 into it so she can operate it as a transitional living stop for homeless people.