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Nick’s Picks | Big News and Big Fun in KC This Week Happy Monday

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

After a nearly month-long break, Kansas lawmakers head back to Topeka today for their final wrap-up session.

Topping the agenda will be efforts to overturn Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes of a “parents’ bill of rights” and a ban on transgender athletes competing in girls sports.

They are also expected to take up sports betting and possibly even legalizing medical marijuana.

Lawmakers could also take up the top issue on Kelly’s priority list: eliminating the state sales tax on food. Kansas is one of seven states in the nation that fully taxes groceries.  Kelly claims eliminating the tax would save the average family $500 a year on their food bills.

Boosting Teacher Pay in Missouri

Did you know that teachers in Missouri are paid less than anywhere else in the country?

The starting salary for teachers in the Show-Me State is $25,000. That’s not just the lowest of any state but nearly 20% under the national average.

Now, with the state flush with unspent federal pandemic aid, the Missouri Senate will begin debate this week on a plan to boost teacher pay. 

If approved, new teachers would get a $13,000 a year raise.

That would put Missouri educators on the same pay level as their counterparts in Kansas.

In other statehouse news, the stalemate continues over the drawing of a new Missouri congressional map.

Not to sound like a broken record, but Missouri is the only state in the country that has failed to redraw its congressional boundaries based on new 2020 Census numbers.

Don’t expect any resolution soon.

Over the weekend, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade told reporters she doesn’t believe a congressional map will be passed and on the governor’s desk by the time the session ends next month.

New KCPD Leader

The Kansas City Police Department is now under new management – at least temporarily.

This is the first full week on the job for Joe Mabin, who was sworn in Friday as interim police chief following the departure of Rick Smith.

Mabin leads the department’s investigation unit. 

He says he has no interest in the permanent job. But he could be at the helm for quite some time. The search for a new police chief could take up to a year.

Catching Up

New Jackson County Jail

After years of debate, Jackson County leaders are ready to pick up their shovels and build a new jail.

This week, the county legislature is expected to vote on a construction agreement for a 1,244-bed facility on the site of a mobile home park, just a couple of miles north of the Truman Sports Complex.  

It’s not without controversy. 

More than 100 mobile home residents are being displaced to clear the site. Some of those residents are expected to confront Jackson County officials at their meeting today. They’re upset over the size of their compensation packages and how they were threatened with utility shut-offs and eviction notices if they didn’t move. 

The new jail would replace the much smaller Jackson County Detention Center in downtown Kansas City. Auditors have described the 40-year-old jail as “functionally obsolete” and dangerous to both employees and those being held for trial there.

The new jail has a price tag of nearly $260 million. It is set to open in 2024.

Cyberattack in Wyandotte County

Leaders in Wyandotte County are still trying to get to grips with a damaging cyberattack that shut down several government services last week.

If you live in the county, be prepared for more disruption this week from court hearings to motor vehicle services. 

It’s unclear who penetrated the county’s computer servers, but United Government officials say they are working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

According to the UG website, several departments still can’t access email, so prepare for delayed response times.

Royals on TV

Is this the shape of things to come?

Starting this week, the Kansas City Royals are going to be harder to find on television.

At least five games this season will only be available via a streaming service.

This Friday’s game against the Yankees can only be seen if you are an Apple TV+ subscriber.

Major League Baseball has also signed exclusivity deals with YouTube TV and the new Peacock streaming service. Those deals will affect Royals games against Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto. 

Meanwhile, in another revenue generating move, the Royals will unveil new uniforms this week. 

The league has partnered with Nike on what is being called the biggest change to team uniforms in decades. 

What will they look like? 

The big unveiling is this Saturday at The K as the Royals continue their series against the Yankees.

Kauffman Stadium
The Kansas City Royals unveil new uniforms this Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. (Contributed)

NFL Draft

I’m not sure when this became such a massive deal and a must-see TV sports event, but the NFL Draft begins Thursday from Las Vegas.

It’s also a reminder that the clock is ticking for us here in Kansas City. We will host the NFL Draft in 2023.

The date has already been set. 

The three-day spectacle will take place April 27-29, 2023 in the area around Union Station and Liberty Memorial. The Kansas City Sports Commission claims it will be one of the biggest sporting events this town has ever hosted.

In addition to the draft selections, there is the NFL Draft Experience, which has been likened to an interactive football theme park where fans can test their football skills, enjoy interactive exhibits, participate in autograph sessions with top players and take pictures with the Super Bowl Trophy. 

Big Screen Times

Movie lovers rejoice!

There are lots of big screen experiences this week, as not one, but two film festivals head to town.

The KC FilmFest begins tonight at the AMC Ward Parkway theaters. It’s a four-day movie showcase jam-packed with film shorts, documentaries and features.

Then on Thursday, a horror movie festival gets underway at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City. It’s called the Panic Film Fest and it’s about scaring the life out of moviegoers.

If that’s you, prepare to be spooked and traumatized. Panic Film Fest runs for 10 days.

Rethinking Retirement

It’s not just the likes of NFL quarterback Tom Brady who are now walking back retirement.

This week, one of Kansas City’s best known music bands is making its big comeback, more than two years after announcing they’re retiring.

On Thursday, The Elders launch a new nationwide tour and the first stop is at Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

You may want to book your ticket soon, before they change their minds again.

A second show at Knuckleheads is already sold out.

Out and About

Looking to get out and about in Kansas City this week? 

Here’s some options to consider: 

The Brookside Art Fair is this weekend. The three-day festival fills the streets of Brookside with paintings, ceramic and jewelry. There’s also live music, food and adult beverages to sip on while you browse. It starts Friday evening.

For something completely different, check out Gatsby Days.  On Saturday, downtown Excelsior Springs will be transformed into the Roaring ‘20s with street performers, live demonstrations, music, vintage cars and fashion shows.  

Also on Saturday, Kansas City’s biggest rollercoasters roar back to life as Worlds of Fun opens for the season.

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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