Sly James | KCUR

Sly James

Segment 1: Where do efforts towards improving pre-K access and quality in Kansas City stand?

In early 2019, a big controversy was Mayor Sly James' push for universal pre-K through a sales tax. Kansas City voters didn't go for the plan on the ballot, but a year later, many people still want something to fill in the gap.

Segment 1: A Waldo coffee shop looks back on 10 years.

As One More Cup approaches its announced closing date, one of the owners joins us to talk about what neighborhood hangouts mean to their communities.

  • Stacy Neff, One More Cup

Segment 2: Kansas City prepares for its first-ever Black Restaurant Week.

What's the idea behind Black Restaurant Week, and how does it fit into the big picture of race in restaurant culture, in Kansas City and beyond?

Segment 1: Former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, can be remembered for more than brick-and-mortar accomplishments

With his successor officially sworn in as mayor, Sly James has ended his eight years  at City Hall. His legacy goes beyond a convention hotel, a single-terminal airport and the streetcar. A panel of non-profit representatives spotlighted James' fights for a higher minimum wage, women's equality and literacy in young children. 

Segment 1: Kansas City, Missouri's mayor reflects on his time in office. 

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James leaves office July 31. He discusses his eight-year legacy before he hands over the job to the next mayor.

  • Sly James, mayor, Kansas City, Missouri 

Segment 2, beginning at 37:13: The legacy of a Kansas City theater director, actor, and entertainer.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James doesn’t officially hand over the keys to his office until the end of July, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying a victory lap of sorts Sunday afternoon.

Speaking at an event dubbed “Sly’s Farewell Cookout,” the outgoing mayor told supporters that Kansas City “used to be the city that always wanted to be like Denver or St. Louis, or someplace else.” 

“Those cities now want to be like us,” James said. “Take it to the bank.”

Segment 1: What's behind the statistics for maternal mortality in Missouri?

Missouri ranks 42nd in the United States for maternal outcomes, with a number of pregnancy or childbirth related deaths per capita among the worst in the nation, according to a recent article in the Kansas City Star. Our guests say that's an indicator of poor health in the state overall.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Quinton Lucas takes office as Kansas City mayor on August 1. No matter how politically skilled and well prepared Lucas is, he's likely to discover that the job is harder than he thought.

Before the election, KCUR asked former mayors Charles Wheeler, Emanuel Cleaver, Kay Barnes, Mark Funkhouser and Sly James for their insights and lessons learned. They said their advice would apply no matter who won. (Richard Berkley did not respond to interview requests).

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James made education a top priority when he took office eight years ago.

He succeeded in getting the business and philanthropic community to rally around third grade reading, but he couldn’t convince voters to pass a pre-K sales tax.

Now Kansas City is about to pick a new mayor.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There are only seven members of the Kansas City Police who patrol on horseback, but at the police board meeting on Tuesday, they were the most celebrated cops on the KCPD.

“I patrolled the same neighborhoods for many years," retired mounted officer Aaron Shillcutt told the board. In a patrol car, he said,  people run inside. "You change your uniform a little bit and you start riding a horse and everybody wants to talk to you.”

Alex Smith / KCUR

Judging by the results of Tuesday’s election, in which Kansas City, Missouri, voters rejected a universal pre-K plan by a nearly 2-1 margin, some might think there's little interest in early childhood education.

But Annie Watson doesn't see it that way. She spent hours on the phone talking to voters on behalf of her employer, Turn The Page KC, the child literacy organization that was founded by Mayor Sly James. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Kansas City voters have rejected Mayor Sly James’ plan to pay for universal pre-K for 4-year-olds with a three-eighth-cent sales tax.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Paying for pre-K is a huge burden for families with young children, even for parents with good jobs.

Tiffany Price has one of those. She works with teen moms in the Hickman Mills School District, and she’s a mom herself. She has four boys, and the two youngest aren’t in school yet.

So every week she writes a check for $270 to Ronnie’s Childcare.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James' term is rapidly coming to an end. 

At his final State of the City address Tuesday night, James reflected on his tenure, but spent most of the 40-minute speech campaigning for a sales tax to pay for universal pre-K.

"If we screw it up, we're the ones liable," James said. "You know what's far more regressive than a 3/8-cent sales tax? Poverty and crime. Winding up in jail and not being able to dig your way out because you don't have the skill set or money. It's time for a change."

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

The first pieces of Terminal A came down Monday as officials broke ground on a new, $1.5 billion terminal at Kansas City International airport.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James delivered the first few blows to the old building before a crowd of hundreds.

He told the group that in 2023, when the new terminal is set to open, visitors will be greeted by a new Kansas City — one drastically different from when he entered office eight years ago.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

Say your final goodbye to the first horseshoe-shaped terminal at Kansas City International Airport. More than a year after Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved construction of a single terminal at KCI, a groundbreaking has finally been scheduled.

A “groundbreaking celebration” for the $1.5 billion project is set for March 25, at 2 p.m. at Terminal A.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s tangled school boundaries will make the mayor’s pre-K plan difficult to administer, opponents argued Monday at a news conference in the Northland.

“North Kansas City as a whole has 14 different municipalities, causing huge concern for our board of education and our community that only one of our 14 municipalities would be eligible for resources within the mayor’s plan,” said North Kansas City Superintendent Dan Clemens.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

Mayor Sly James celebrated a milestone Thursday in the journey to a new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

After months of back and forth, the airlines that fly out of KCI — and will ultimately pay for the construction — have coalesced around a $1.5 billion price for the terminal.

“We are at a point now where we have never been before,” James said.

The city has been waiting for the airlines to agree to a price before they can approve a development agreement. Until then, no significant design or construction work can begin.

Segment 1: The debate over free pre-kindergarten. 

At face value, the idea of universal preschool sounds great. And that's exactly what Kansas City Mayor Sly James is trying to accomplish with his proposal calling for a sales tax to fund it. But he's facing quite a bit of opposition, notably from the local school districts. Mayor James joins us to lay out his plan, and then school superintendent Dan Clemens explains his concerns with the proposal.

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

Updated on February 1, 2019: Eleven candidates, including six current city council members, are in the race to replace Kansas City Mayor Sly James when he leaves office in 2019. 

James is term-limited and cannot run when his current term ends this year.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate

Members of the Kansas City council hoped that the New Year would bring good news about the progress of the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

As it turned out, things are very much the same as when they left in December.

The airlines serving the airport still haven’t signed on to the final price of the terminal, nor have they agreed how to split fairly the $20 million annual cost of a shared baggage claim system.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

Kansas City officials got another look on Thursday at what a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport might look like, although the design is still in the early phase. 

Although the two-story fountain featured in the original conceptual design is still absent, the architect from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) assured city councilmembers that they’re working on one, possibly in the retail area.

The first thing that Kansas City residents will see approaching the airport is… the parking garage.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Paging all adjuncts

Some five dozen University of Kansas professors and librarians decided to take up the school on its buyout offer. KU is looking to cut its faculty ranks, particularly instructors who weigh down the school’s payroll most heavily.

Stephen Koranda reports that about a fourth of the faculty eligible for the voluntary early retirement offer took the deal.

Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate

Kansas City’s aviation director assured city officials earlier this month that the airlines that use Kansas City International airport were fine with a higher price tag for a new single terminal.

On Thursday, it was revealed that’s not necessarily the case. 

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

For 62 days this fall, Kansas City was blanketed in the arts. The citywide Open Spaces festival included 200 artists, local and national, who shared paintings, sculptures, photography, music, theatrical performances, choreographed pieces and installations of all sizes.

The first event of its kind in Kansas City, Open Spaces was intended to be a biennial event, putting the city on a larger map, for visitors from all over to see, experience and buy art.

Segment 1: Mayor Sly James is bringing his service to a close, but not before some serious discussions.

Race and equity have been contentious issues in Kansas City for a long time. Mayor Sly James is hosting forums for residents to come together and have constructive discussions.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Most people agree access to pre-K needs to be expanded. Not everyone agrees on how to pay for and oversee it.

Days after Kansas City Mayor Sly James made public the particulars of his plan to fund expanded early childhood education, opposition to the proposal is piping up. Today, we heard educators and community organizers explain why they think the mayor's scheme to get more 4-year-olds into pre-K needs work.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James announced Friday he will temporarily table his plans to fund pre-K education with a 3/8-cent sales tax, a quick reversal of his impassioned push to get the issue on the November ballot.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Mayor Sly James is ready to fight for a 3/8-cent sales tax to improve access to quality preschool in Kansas City.

“Only 35 percent of the kids in this city are engaged in quality pre-K. We have 40 percent of zip codes in deserts where there is no quality pre-K,” James said Monday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James sits behind a microphone. He is wearing headphones.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: If approved, the proposed 3/8-cent sales tax to fund expanded early childhood education in Kansas City will be on the November ballot.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson arrived in Kansas City on Thursday for what he said was a commitment to working with the state's two biggest cities. He was joined by Democrats Kansas City Mayor Sly James and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on a multistop tour of the city.

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