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Nick’s Picks | Big Decisions Abound in KC This Week

Your look at the week ahead, before it happens…

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

Get ready for an incredibly newsy week here in Kansas City.

While many of us are busy holiday shopping or boozing it up at year-end work parties, some of the most consequential decisions of the year are about to be shoehorned into the next 96 hours.  

Here are five big decisions to keep an eye on:

Police Chief Announcement

After hosting a one and done community forum over the weekend, will the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners now act fast and vote on a new police chief this week? 

The board’s final meeting of the year is this Tuesday.

Historically, few outsiders have been chosen to lead the Kansas City Police Department. That gives Acting Deputy Chief Stacey Graves the edge. She would be the first woman to lead the department. She started as a patrol officer in the KCPD 25 years ago.

There are two other shortlisted candidates for the job. DeShawn Beaufort, a commander with the Philadelphia Police Department, and Scott Ebner, a retired deputy superintendent with the New Jersey State Police.

School Closings

After more than a year of meetings, the Kansas City School Board is scheduled to vote this week on a huge school closing plan. 

Ten schools are on the chopping block, including Central and Northeast high schools. 

District leaders say the move is necessary after years of declining enrollment and to head off an expected $25 million revenue shortfall by 2025.

Parents and alumni at the targeted schools have been mobilizing to fight the change. They have vowed to show up in droves Wednesday evening when the school board is expected to cast its final vote.

Shorter School Week

Parents and students in the Independence School District will be anxiously awaiting an important decision this week.

On Tuesday, the Independence School Board is scheduled to vote on a four-day school week.

District leaders say it isn’t about saving money — but retaining and recruiting teachers at a time of chronic staff shortages.

While students are likely thrilled with the idea, many parents are worried about what they will do for childcare on that fifth day. 

More than 60 school districts in Missouri and 25 in Kansas have already adopted a four-day week, but they are mostly smaller and rural districts.

Independence would be the largest school district in the region to do so.

If the change is approved on Tuesday, the district would move to the shorter week next fall.

New Home for the Royals

It’s been nearly a month now since Royals owner John Sherman announced plans to leave Kauffman Stadium and build an estimated $2 billion ballpark village downtown. 

This week, Sherman is finally ready to reveal more details about the project and to hear what the public has to say about his ambitious plan.

Sherman will take the stage at a “Public Community Meeting” on Tuesday night at the Plexpod Westport Commons, 300 E. 39th St. It will start at 5:30 p.m. and is scheduled for two hours. 

If you’re interested in going, you’re asked to RSVP in advance

A rendering of a potential downtown Royals ballpark.
A rendering of a potential downtown Royals ballpark. (Courtesy | Kansas City Royals)

Future of City Manager

Can Kansas City City Manager Brian Platt survive allegations that he told staff to “lie to the media?”

The claim is made in a new lawsuit from former City Communications Director Chris Hernandez, who says he was removed from his job after reporting the incident. 

The issue could come to a head when the City Council meets on Thursday afternoon.

Remembering Sandy Hook

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. 

On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people, most of them children.

On the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting, the group Grandparents for Gun Safety will gather to remember the victims. The event is this Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road. Along with readings and speakers, it will feature a photo display of each of the first-graders and educators who died that morning.

Also on Wednesday, the Kansas City group Moms Demand Action will remember victims of gun violence with a 5:30 p.m. vigil at the intersection of 43rd Street and State Line Road. 

It comes as Kansas City is closing out the year with the second highest number of homicides in the city’s history.

Marriage Equality Act

This week President Joe Biden will officially sign into law the recently passed Respect for Marriage Act.

A White House ceremony is planned for this Tuesday. The measure provides federal protections for marriages between same-sex and interracial couples.

Democrats had worked quickly to pass this bill after hints that the Supreme Court could roll back its decision legalizing gay marriage just as it struck down abortion rights earlier this year. 

Unwanted Gift

It’s been a long time since we received a joint emergency notice from all of our area’s public health agencies. But one has just landed on our desk.

The region’s public health leaders are ringing the alarm bells again. They’re reporting sharp holiday spikes in flu and COVID and they say those cases are now filling emergency rooms in the metro. 

According to the release, many area hospitals are at capacity, with some even putting beds in the hallways.

In other words, if you have to go to the emergency room in the Kansas City area right now, prepare for a long wait.

Kansas Lawmakers Tour Missouri Pot Farm

A panel of Kansas lawmakers are headed to Missouri this week to experience something that is totally illegal in their own state.

They’re going on a field trip to visit a pot farm. On Wednesday they will tour a Missouri cultivation facility to see how a legal cannabis program works up close.

Now surrounded by states that have legalized marijuana, Kansas is inching towards loosening its laws. 

Another effort will be made to legalize medical marijuana when Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka in January.

Marijuana plants
In 2018, 66% of Missouri voters signed off on putting a medical marijuana program into the state’s Constitution. (Getty Images)

World Cup

Who will win the World Cup?

We’ll finally find out this week. It’s now down to just four countries.

On Tuesday, Argentina plays Croatia in the first semifinal match. Game time is 1 p.m.

Then on Wednesday, defending champions France takes on Morocco in the second semifinal match up. 

The World Cup Final is this Sunday. Kickoff is 9 a.m.

In other World Cup related news, the U.S. State Department is working with Qatari authorities to bring back the body of acclaimed sports writer and soccer analyst Grant Wahl. The 48-year-old collapsed while covering the Argentina-Netherlands match.

Wahl was born in Mission, Kansas, and attended Shawnee Mission East High School.

Chiefs Playoff Tickets

The Chiefs are planning for the postseason.

Single-game tickets for a potential AFC Wild Card home game go on sale to the public today.

With four games remaining in the 2022 regular season, the Chiefs are in the hunt for the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed, which would include a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The Chiefs are on the road this week. They travel to Texas on Sunday for a noon game against Houston.

Chiefs flag waves in Arrowhead Stadium.
The Kansas City Chiefs flag flies at Arrowhead Stadium. (Courtesy | Kansas City Chiefs)

KC Symphony

Christmas finally arrives at the Kansas City Symphony this week. And they’re ready to take you on a “yuletide romp” through some of America’s best loved carols and holiday songs.

For four nights they’re promising an old-fashioned holiday blowout along with a special visit from a longtime resident of the North Pole.

The KC Symphony’s Christmas Festival begins Thursday night at the Kauffman Center. There are performances through Sunday.

Happy Hanukkah! 

The Jewish “Festival of Lights” begins on Sunday evening.

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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