Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Last Spring, Mayor Sly James held a press event to determine the best way for the city to pay homage to the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That rather contentious presser led the formation of another of the Mayor’s blue ribbon committees to determine just exactly how our fair city should honor the slain civil rights leader in a proper and fitting way. The Dog penned a piece on April 11th of this year that was critical of the process and the sudden need to throw The Paseo’s 110-year history under the bus.

In June, that committee released three naming options for the city to pursue to honor Dr. King. At the top of that list was naming a terminal at the new airport after Dr. King. At the bottom of the list, you guessed it, attaching Dr. King’s name to the iconic Paseo. That was until a few weeks back when Councilman & Mayoral candidate Quinton Lucas broke bread with some prominent Pastors from the Black community who apparently didn’t think the terminal naming idea was enough, commissioning Lucas to carry their water and introduce, out of the clear blue sky, an ordinance to rename the Paseo after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here’s a history lesson straight from the Dog about the Paseo. It was the brainchild of the city’s first Parks Board commissioner A. R. Meyer, who, in the early 1900’s, worked with prominent Landscape Architect George Kessler on the layout, design and positioning of a series of parks and sunken gardens along its length. It is named for the prominent boulevard that bisects Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma.

Strangely absent from this conversation is the city’s Latino community. Where are groups like the LaRaza Political Club or the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce? The Hispanic Economic Development Committee, The Mattie Rhodes Center, and the Guadalupe Center haven’t entered the fray either. These heavy hitters have weighed in on issues with far fewer political implications and made their voices heard, often enacting change in the process. One would certainly think that if roughly 110 years of rich cultural heritage was stripped from the city’s history books as Councilman Lucas’ ridiculous ordinance would do, there would be rioting in the streets. The only thing we’re hearing from these groups, sadly, is crickets. Is Councilman Lucas that much of a political juggernaut that he is not to be tussled with?

Lucas’ ordinance was tabled initially last month to allow for more community comment on the matter. A community forum was tentatively scheduled by this news outlet but Lucas strategically didn’t respond until after one available date was passed and the next available date was less than 24 hours away. As for public comment, one recent poll showed an overwhelming 95% of respondents vehemently against the renaming of The Paseo. We’ll just stop right there because that same 95% was all for honoring Dr. King but in a more fitting manor or rather, picking a different right of way, say for example, 63rd Street, the MLK Advisory Committee’s second choice, or another prominent east-west street that bisects the city’s urban core.

The matter was heard in last Thursday’s council legislative session and the resulting “I wanna feel good about myself” circus, and we use the term loosely, was nothing less than a sad sham, at some points difficult to watch as substitute after substitute was thrown up, every one worse than the initial proposal. Operative verb phrase: thrown-up. For once, this dog agrees with Councilman Jermaine Reed, who angrily chided his council colleagues for allowing such ridiculous alternatives to even be considered in order to cozy up to the city’s coveted Black vote.

The Dog agrees. Stop. Just stop. Leave The Paseo and its over 110 year heritage of honoring a great Latin American boulevard alone. One idea that has surfaced on social media is re-naming the 18th & Vine area after Dr. King, an idea this Dog could really get behind. The 63rd Street idea also has merit given the diversity of Kansas City communities that thoroughfare connects. Note to Councilman Lucas: the dog has but one question. Why is it you’re hellbent on proceeding with a pet project that literally 95% of the polled people oppose?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

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