January 18, 2017
Last week Councilman Quinton Lucas dropped a bomb on his fellow council colleagues in the form of a committee substitute for the Mayor Sly James-driven $800 million General Obligation bond package.
The Lucas package trims by $50 million the allotment for streets and sidewalks, does nothing to address the Department of Justice study that mandates the city’s ADA compliance issues and completely kicks the Kansas City Museum to the curb in terms of GO Bond monies going toward current and ongoing renovations. Additionally disturbing to this critically thinking news-dog is 4th District At Large Councilwoman Katheryn Shields not lifting a finger to support the Museum after Lucas’s surprise committee substitute. Given her campaign promises to advance historic preservation and as a friend to the Museum and the Historic Northeast community, this little stab in the back is a bit of a surprise to the dog. What isn’t surprising, though, is this political chicanery. We knew this behemoth of a bond proposal would have some carve-outs, we just didn’t expect the Kansas City Museum to be persona non grata given this is a project that is prepared to break ground later this spring and already has substantial private funding pledged for its ongoing renovation and restoration as a regional history icon.
These kind of public-private funding partnerships are exactly the kind city government promotes, but yet Lucas and Shields seem bent on excluding the museum from receiving any kind of assistance through the bond package. Additionally, the Kansas City Museum has over the last six years engaged community partners throughout the planning process, holding scores of public meetings and planning sessions in order to chart a positive course for the museum’s ongoing restoration and programming beyond the construction process.
Question: Why does Councilman Lucas want to punish the museum? Valid question given Councilman Lucas’s $28 million ask for the 18th and Vine district despite the fact that there’s no cohesive plan for that cash and less than $100,000 in private funds verbally “pledged” to only one building in the district. We won’t even mention the over $100 million that’s been dumped there over the last 20 plus years for dubious projects and scant oversight.
Here’s the deal: the Council’s Finance & Governance and Transportation & Infrastructure joint committee will hear more public testimony on this issue this Thursday morning at 9:30 on the 26th floor of City Hall. The dog would encourage anyone who thinks excluding the Kansas City Museum from the $800-million bond package is a bad idea to show up and testify in favor of advancing the original bond proposal that includes the Museum as part of the package’s funding. Carving the museum out at this strategic juncture would severely hinder the museum’s ability to not only continue the renovation and restoration process but moreover, it would severely curtail its ability to fulfill its ongoing mission to collect, archive and display the entire region’s rich and valuable history. The dog suggests if you can’t be there to testify, email committee vice-chair Scott Wagner your thoughts on the matter. His email address is Scott.Wagner@kcmo.org.