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Nick’s Picks | A Dozen Stories to Watch This Week in KC

Busy News Week Ahead

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Here’s your look at the week before it happens. From politics to pop culture, from the Symphony to sports. Here are 12 stories to keep an eye on this week.

 Super Bowl Sunday

Are you picking the Cincinnati Bengals or the Los Angeles Rams?

The Super Bowl is this Sunday and with the Chiefs out of contention, who will you be rooting for? Or have you totally lost interest?

Sunday’s big game starts at 5:30 p.m. at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. That’s the new home of both the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams. The stadium is so new that fans may still be able to smell the fresh paint. At 16 months old it is the youngest and the most technologically advanced stadium in the NFL.

And who’s going to be the Super Bowl’s halftime performer? 

Apparently, there’s not going to be one single star this year. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will all perform. They’ve been told to divide up their time somehow. Only 12 minutes have been set aside for the performance.

Bienemy to the Big Easy?

Now that the Chiefs season has come to an abrupt end, could the team be losing two of its top coaches in the same week?

The New York Giants have just hired Chiefs quarterback coach Mike Kafka. Now there’s news that Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy could be heading to New Orleans.

Over the weekend, Bieniemy interviewed for the Saints head coaching job. 

If he is successful, Bieniemy would join Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin as the only black head coaches in the NFL.

A new discrimination lawsuit filed against the league references Bieniemy’s inability to receive a head coaching opportunity as corroborating evidence.

In the past three years, he’s been interviewed and passed over for 14 head coaching positions.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged the league has fallen “unacceptably” short of its diversity hiring goals.

Oscar Nominees

If you still care about such things, the Oscar nominations are out this week.

The film academy will release its shortlisted picks for best picture, best actor and best actress on Tuesday.

The actual Oscar telecast will take place March 27.

Guns in Court

Guns will be in the spotlight this week, as the Missouri Supreme Court takes up a new state law that blocks police from enforcing federal firearms laws.

Called the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” it also prohibits local law enforcement agencies from giving “material aid and support” to federal agents trying to enforce federal gun statutes.

Missouri police departments that violate the law are subject to $50,000 fines.

The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today from attorneys representing the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County that have challenged the measure.

They contend the six-month old law is hampering criminal investigations.

Chip Crisis

The chip crisis isn’t over.

The truck side of Ford’s Motor Co.’s Kansas City Assembly Plant will be down this week because of the microchip shortage. As will one shift on the Transit van production line.

Ford’s Chicago and Michigan assembly plants will also be down this week. 

Independence Mayor

Voters in Independence, Missouri, will be heading to the polls this week to decide who should be their next leader.

Five candidates are challenging Independence Mayor Eileen Weir in Tuesday’s primary election

Weir has led Missouri’s fifth largest city for the past eight years, but her challengers say the city is desperately in need of change.

Colleen Huff, Kenneth Love, Holmes Osborne, Rory Rowland and Brice Stewart have all cited reducing crime as a major priority. Other campaign issues include the future of the city-owned electric utility, an FBI investigation into city contracts and homelessness and blight in local neighborhoods.

The two highest vote getters in Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary will face off in the April 5 general election.

The ‘Mystery’ in Kansas

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray is doomed to repeat the same day over and over again.

That’s how it feels right now covering the statehouses in Kansas and Missouri.

For the third week in a row, Kansas lawmakers will be trying to push over the finish line the largest tax incentive in Kansas history to lure a “mystery” company to the Sunflower State.

In return for up to $1 billion in state subsidies, Kansas economic development officials say Kansas could become the home of a new advanced manufacturing company, providing 4,000 permanent jobs with an average wage of $50,000.

The Kansas Senate has already signed off on the deal, but the Kansas House still remains wary, particularly as secrecy surrounds where the business would be located.

While it’s just speculation, some are hinting that the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in western Johnson County is the preferred site for what would be the largest building in Kansas history.

But it’s not a done deal yet. Kansas is competing with one other state for this mystery company. Gov. Laura Kelly’s office will only say that its rival is not Missouri. Appearing on the latest edition of “Week in Review,” the Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling says there’s a strong indication that Oklahoma is the second location being considered. 


Catching Up


Redistricting Revisited

It was baseball great Yogi Berra who quipped, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

It’s certainly déjà vu all over again when it comes to redistricting.

This week the Conservative Caucus in the Missouri legislature will make another attempt to redraw the state’s congressional maps, making it tougher for Kansas City;s U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver to be reelected.  

And in Kansas, state lawmakers will try to override Gov. Laura Kelly, who just vetoed new congressional maps in the Sunflower State. 

Kelly had objected to moving Lawrence into the same district as western Kansas and slicing in half Wyandotte County, which would likely squeeze out the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, Sharice Davids.

With the ACLU and several other groups threatening lawsuits, it looks like the issue will ultimately be settled in court.

School Choice, or Windfall for Private Schools?

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. 

Kansas lawmakers will make another push this week to let parents use their child’s public education dollars to enroll in private schools. 

Such measures have been derided in the past as “voucher” programs. Advocates of this bill have caught on to the negative language and are calling this latest measure “student empowerment accounts.”

Supporters of the proposal say giving parents more choice will spur public schools to improve academic performance.

Opponents say it’s tantamount to defunding the public school system.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is Free This Month

If you haven’t visited Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, there may never be a better time to go than right now.

Throughout this month of February admission is free.

In honor of Black History Month, the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities say they will cover the cost of every admission through the end of the month.

‘Surfin’ in KC

Last week Elton John was in town. Now it’s the Beach Boys’ turn. 

You can hear their “Good Vibrations” as they surf into the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Wednesday night.

TV’s popular “Dancing With the Stars” brings its live tour to Kansas City this week.

Television’s best known dance show foxtrots and tangos across the stage at the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland this Tuesday evening.

Luke Skywalker, Jabba the Hutt and Darth Vader make a crash landing on Thursday as the Kansas City Symphony presents “Star Wars’ The Return of the Jedi in Concert.” 

Over four nights, the Symphony performs John Williams’ iconic score live as the complete film is shown on a giant screen at Helzberg Hall. 

Nick Haines, tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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