Kansas City Missouri (KCMO) | KCUR

Kansas City Missouri (KCMO)

Anaheim, CA – Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Joakim Soria may be the long team representative at the All-Star game in Anaheim. But he's being more recognized by his fellow countrymen in Mexico. KCUR's Greg Echlin has more.

Council Funds Stadiums Over Mayor's Objections

Jul 2, 2010
Video frame courtesy of KCCG-TV.

Kansas City, MO – Preparing for a July fourth week off, Kansas City's City Council turned out a prolific load of legislation Thursday, finalizing a computerized traffic ticket system, new-home security standards, a loan to pay off TIF obligations, art for the KC-Live District, appropriations for street repairs, and an ethics reform project.

And the council went head to head with the mayor, on funding for the Sports Complex.

KC Spending Cuts Pay Off In Strong Fund Balance

Jul 1, 2010

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City, Mo., finance department verified Wednesday that after two years of major spending cuts the city has money in the bank. And the mayor and council members immediately started talking about how much more the city should borrow.

The 34.2 million dollars the city has in its general fund today, day one of its new fiscal year, is about 8 percent of this year's budget. That's the largest balance in a decade, and the city's credit rating is also at its highest in ten years.

Charter Sales Job Begins

Jun 29, 2010
Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Kansas City, MO – The head of the panel redrawing proposed changes in Jackson County, Missouri's charter sees new opportunities to fight discrimination at the courthouse.

Voters will decide worthiness of charter changes when they cast ballots in the August election. Changes range from ending no bid contracts, to eliminating automatic pay hikes for elected officials to limiting the county executive's power over the sheriff. And there is hiring staff to investigate discrimination and ethics breaches.

Council Expects 100:1 Return On All-Star Game

Jun 25, 2010
Photo courtesy of the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City's city council honored the old adage "it takes money to make money" yesterday, voting to pick up the tab for the considerable expenses related to hosting the 2012 All-Star Game.

City Manager Troy Schulte gave the council what might have been a staggering cost estimate if not for his projected return-on-investment. Schulte told the council his staff estimates the city's expenses at $500,000, but expect an economic impact of over $50 million in return.

Door Smash Measure Moves Ahead

Jun 23, 2010

Kansas City, MO – New and certain renovated homes in Kansas City would have to meet more stringent security codes under a measure given first round approval by a city council committee today.

Intruders would find it harder to kick in a door and security lighting would be required in new homes and rehabbed houses where doors and door frames are replaced.

Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – Mayor Mark Funkhouser delivered his State of the City address on Thursday. Many said it was a kickoff event for his campaign for reelection.

The mayor said the the city has made progress under his leadership, tightening the budget, reining in tax incentives and eliminating 90 percent of the metal plates covering uncompleted street repairs.

Council Buys Option On Power And Light Building

Jun 11, 2010

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City will pay a $250,000 deposit to take the Power and Light Building and the block around it off the market while studies continue on creating a new convention hotel on the site. But Mayor Funkhouser still thinks it's a bad idea.

The city will lose the quarter of a million it doesn't build a hotel on the property, and the mayor says the "found money" from the restaurant tax could be better spent on neighborhood infrastructure or marketing existing hotels.

Kansas City, Mo. – A city council committee is recommending that the city council allocate a quarter of a million dollars on an option to buy the block that contains the Power and Light building for a downtown convention hotel.

The planning and zoning committee is sending the full council resolutions to continue studying the possibility of a 1,000 room hotel and to pay New York's Gailord Enterprises $250,000 to take the property off the market for the year or so that study is expected to take.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council wouldn't go along with Mayor Funkhouser's plan for a large bond issue for infrastructure around schools, but it approved its own 90 million bond issue package Thursday.

The bonds the council allocated were approved by the voters in 2004 and 2005, but never actually sold.

Councilman Terry Riley characterized the bond package as a local economic stimulus.

Urban Agriculture Ordinance Clears Committee

Jun 3, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – After months of discussion and weeks of committee hearings, Kansas City's Planning and Zoning finally sent the full city council an urban agriculture ordinance Wednesday.

The committee added a number of restrictions including a prohibition on row crops in front yards, restriction of sales to fresh produce and requiring community gardens to get approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

Councilwomen Stand By Marcason

May 28, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Five Kansas City Councilwomen took the floor Thursday to take Mayor Mark Funkhouser to task for stripping away all of their colleague Jan Marcason's committee positions.

The women added their comments to scheduled debate on a shoo-in ordinance taking the next step toward a computer based traffic ticket and municipal court case management system.

Finance committee chair Deb Hermann briefly endorsed the ordinance, then turned the discussion to lavish praise for Marcason's ability, hard work and excellent performance.

Homicide Probe In KC Country Club District

May 27, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City police waited for a search warrant today before examining the interior of a house in the upscale Country Club District where the homeowner was found dead this morning. Police identify him as 49 year old Michael J. Tutera. Investigators did not say by what means he was killed, except to say it is a homicide.

Police asked anyone with information to call the Crimestoppers' Hotline at 816-474-TIPS. A police spokesman said detectives were following up on what were termed, "good leads."

Funkhouser Ends Marcason Committee Duties

May 27, 2010
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser shook up city council committees again Wednesday with the unexpected removal of councilwoman Jan Marcason from all her committee assignments.

Until this week, Jan Marcason has served on two of the most powerful city council committees: Finance and Audit and Transportation and Infrastructure.

The mayor's memo to the council and the media gave no rationale for stripping Marcason of all her committee duties, but she says she did get a terse explanation in a voicemail message.

Council Endorses Sanders' Commuter Rail Plan

May 21, 2010
Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City, Missouri city council made it formal Thursday: They endorse the idea of a regional rapid rail transit system proposed by Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.

There was no mention of Clay Chastain's latest petition drive for a competing Kansas City only light rail plan as the council endorsed Sanders' tri-county transit system proposal. Sanders says his can be done less expensively by routing commuter rail trains along existing unused or under-used right-of-way.

Urban Agriculture Debate Continues In KC

May 14, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City's city council still hasn't finalized a ordinance on community gardens and urban agriculture, but it did complete public hearings on the subject yesterday.

A number of center-city groups and businesses that help low income neighborhoods are emerging as supporting the ordinance to encourage better nutrition and economic opportunities in the inner city.

Kansas City, Mo. – The first phase of Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser's "Schools First" program was sidelined in a council committee meeting yesterday. A number of citizens testified for the infrastructure improvement plan, and the mayor put in his pitch, including that the only expense next year would be $2 million in debt service.

"When you're spending $3 to $5 million a year and need to be spending many multiples of that, when you have a $1.6 billion backlog, which is what they tell us we have in sidewalks, you have to start somewhere," says Funkhouser.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri will create a city department in charge of overseeing city construction projects after all.

The ordinance to create a city Capital Improvements Management Department failed last week on a tie vote with 12 council members present. Councilman John Sharp brought it up for reconsideration yesterday with the tie-breaking vote present.

Supporters, including the mayor and city manager said it will speed up backlogged city construction projects.

Video freeze frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city has tentatively agreed to support Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders' transit plan.

Sanders and TranSystems consultant Jim Terry told the council Thursday that by using existing and abandoned rail routes, the tri-county Missouri side of the metro area can have a 134-mile rail-based transit system for about a billion dollars - 8 million a mile.

The system could be expanded to include Johnson and Wyandotte Counties, and would be based on a Union Station hub.

KC, St. Louis Push To Avoid Traffic Cam Ban

May 5, 2010
Video frame courtesy of KMBC TV-9.

Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser talked with reporters Wednesday about Kansas City's efforts to save its red light cameras from being banned by an amendment to the transportation bill sponsored by State Senator Jim Lembke.

Funkhouser School Office Plan Back To Committee

Apr 30, 2010
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser saw his plans for an office of school support sent back to committee yesterday.

The underlying theme of most objections seemed to be unwillingness to let a vote for a study of creating the office be taken as a vote for the office as conceived by the mayor and the his proposed "schools first" program. Council member Cindy Circo went so far as to suggest that the main purpose of the office was to enhance the Funkhouser's reelection chances.

Council Chooses New Judge, Considers Night Court

Apr 23, 2010
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city council chose attorney Anne LaBella as a new municipal judge Thursday and decided to look into different hours for the municipal court.

LaBella has represented clients in municipal court for 18 years, and is also known for her volunteer work with women in shelters, veterans and the homeless.

The council also discussed having at least one division of the municipal court operate as a night court.

First Small Step For "Schools First" Plan

Apr 22, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser got a start on his "schools first" initiative Wednesday.

The city council finance and audit committee approved a resolution to designate a School Support and Public Engagement person at City Hall.

That person would be responsible for coordinating with all schools and school districts in the city - for example, to coordinate information on snow removal and school closings and to get the word out on recreational activities the city already offers for young people.

Council Committee Contemplates Plaza Melee

Apr 15, 2010
Photo courtesy of Country Club Plaza Association.

Kansas City, Mo. – A clearer picture of Saturday night's "flash mob" conflicts on the Plaza emerged in a city council committee meeting Wednesday. But it was also a meeting with conflicts of its own.

Most of the 900 or so young people police dispersed from the upscale shopping area were 16 or under. Many arrived by bus. Only a few, mostly among the older youths, were involved in fights.

Funkhouser Anti-E-Tax Repeal

Apr 5, 2010
photo by dan verbeck

Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser will fight efforts to repeal the Kansas City earnings' tax. The mayor has been mum on the issue until now.

Hizzoner concedes he has been slow and deliberative deciding his stance, as signature collectors have been gathering support for an earnings tax referendum, statewide. Today he brought members of organized labor and other petition opponents to his office.

Council Nixes New Department, Reinstates Another

Mar 12, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri will not get a new city department to manage construction projects. The city council voted that down 7 to 6 yesterday. But the city Human Relations Department was re-empowered in a last-minute move.

The Human Relations Department has always been a department according to the city charter. But former city manager Wayne Cauthen gave it division status within his office. That means HRD didn't have its own separate budget, and some council members also said it "degraded the status" of HRD.

Council Told Convention Efforts Need Boost

Mar 5, 2010
Photo courtesy of the City of Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri's city council continued hearing from departments on next year's budget yesterday. They discussed items including public health, public works and the city's convention and tourism efforts.

Oscar McGaskey, who is in charge of the city's convention facilities told the council that in addition to declining major convention business, the city continues to be saddled with a large deficit for Kemper Arena, projected to lose $1.6 million next year.

Snow Storms Drain City Rainy Day Fund

Jan 27, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Public Works Director Stan Harris told the council Finance and Audit Committee Wednesday that the full year's 2.5 million snow removal budget was no match for the series of storms that ushered in 2010.

Harris said as of January 3, at the end of that storm, his department had expended a total of roughly 2.8 million dollars, about 300,000 dollars over the budget for the full year.

Council Approves Overhaul Base Lease

Jan 22, 2010
Photo courtesy of KMBC TV-9 News.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city council wasted no time in approving a lease on the overhaul base at KCI. The proposed deal with Jet Midwest was first announced last week, and today the contract is ready for the inking.

What can you say when you come up with a deal to fill most of a space due to soon become vacant for about $700,000 a year... with the possibility of up to 600 good-paying jobs within three or so years?

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Two new public art projects in downtown Kansas City sound a bit like the names of emo rock bands: Pedestrian Strands and Celestial Flyways. But they're both a sign of the changing times in the downtown loop and a shifting approach to public space.