KC Light Rail

Your source for news and information on Kansas City’s light rail progress

Archive for August, 2007

Who are these guys?

By Mark Forsythe
The Kansas City Post

Councilman Ed Ford remarked to me that some of the applicants for the light rail task force that got rejected are "really mad." "I don't know if that's good or bad" he mused. I for one think it's a good thing. Over 300 applicants says there are people outside the realm of the usual suspects who want to take part in shaping our city. They're passionate. They're engaged. They care.

I consider myself a fairly well-informed guy but even I have never heard of over half the people selected to staff the 34 member light rail task force. Any time someone asks me about the task force, the question usually centers around someone's background, experience, location, etc. I usually have to answer with "I've never heard of them either."

In the absence of information, people will automatically assume the worst. So why not be completely transparent? I would like for the KCATA to put a webpage together with every one of the task force member's names, a link to our application and a brief bio including our age and council district resided in. Let everyone know who we are and let them develop their own informed opinion about whether any one of us deserves to be there. Isn't that a hallmark of democracy?

There's plenty to work on for the next few months. There are many questions that need to be asked and answered. One of the questions shouldn't be "Who are these guys?"


Public input meetings tonight, tomorrow

The ATA will be hosting two meetings to gather public input on future light rail plans in Kansas City.

The public meetings will be facilitated by the KCATA’s Alternatives Analysis team and include hands-on activities designed to give KCATA and HNTB Corp., the KCATA’s lead consultant on the light rail project, valuable insights into the community’s priorities related to light rail.

Meeting locations and times:

South: Monday, August 20th
Mohart Multi-Purpose Center
3200 Wayne
Kansas City, MO 64109

North: Tuesday, August 21st
North Kansas City Community Center
1999 Iron
North Kansas City, MO 64116

The schedule for each evening will include:
5:30 p.m. Doors open
6:00 p.m. Meetings begin with a general presentation
6:40 p.m. Question and answer period about light rail planning to-date
7:00 p.m. Hands-on activities and community input
8:00 p.m. Adjourn


Council postpones vote until next week

The Kansas City City Council today opted to wait another week to decide when to put the repeal petition initiative on the ballot. A yes vote would repeal the "Chastain Plan" and leave nothing in its place, assuming the KCATA doesn't come up with an alternative plan by the time the vote occurs. The council will vote on when the initiative will appear on the ballot during next week's legislative session.

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Light Rail Task Force members selected

According to the rejection letter we received — we're getting used to it — the KCATA and the mayor's office has chosen other Kansas Citians for the Light Rail Task Force. There are several usual suspects (RTA, Urban Society) and lots of others that will likely garner scrutiny, based solely on the Parks Board hubbub from last month. Not sure why someone would be on the KCATA board and on the Light Rail Task Force? Guess we'll never know…

The first scheduled meeting for the task force is Aug. 15 at the MARC office downtown. No word on whether the meetings will be televised. A note to the chosen ones: Google your name before the Star does!


Clinton: More Transit Funding

Via transit blog The Overhead Wire, we learned that Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is also jumping on the transit and infrastructure bandwagon (we noted Bill Richardson's comments in an earlier post). Clinton proposes, amongst other items, to "increase federal funding for public transit by $1.5 billion per year". This aligns with the prevailing wisdom that a Democrat in the White House means a higher likelihood for improved public transportation funding.

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Can we trust Nutter? No.

Steve Kraske asks the right question in an opinion piece on Sunday's Star: "Is Jim Nutter Sr. trying to kill light rail in Kansas City?" Never trust anyone's answer that is qualified with "per se". If past history (here and here) helps predict future actions, then the answer is probably yes, he is trying to kill light rail via bait and switch. Nutter (and James Kemper) personally financed the anti-light-rail group that opposed the city-backed 2001 plan. We're not really sure why the Star's staff has forgotten these facts that are readily available in their archives.

After some thought, it appears obvious that they will use the time between now and a February 2008 vote to build a war chest to scare Kansas Citians with their anti-tax and eminent domain untruths. They'll most likely pay to have anti-transit nut case Wendell Cox come and tell you — and the Star how it would be cheaper to buy every KC transit rider a new car (perhaps an ultra-thrifty Prius) than to build light rail. What such economically-narrow arguments always avoid are the environmental and human benefits of providing mass transit… just ask anyone who lives in St. Louis. In short, we have uncovered a true wolf in sheep's clothing.


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