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Nick’s Picks | COVID-19 Fights Shadow Busy September Social Calendar Struggle for Normalcy

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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The attorney general in Kansas and his counterpart in Missouri are both threatening to file lawsuits this week to block President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate. 

Under Biden’s plan, employers with more than 100 workers will have to vaccinate or conduct weekly COVID-19 testing. It could affect some 80 million Americans.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he isn’t ruling out a special legislative session to challenge the directive, which he described as “an assault on individual liberty and free enterprise.”

An official announcement from the governor could come as early as Wednesday. That’s when state lawmakers return to Jefferson City for their annual veto session.

Rae’s Cafe

Rae’s Cafe vs. Jackson County moves to a Kansas City courtroom today.

Rae’s is the Blue Springs restaurant that has been making national news after its owner refused to require masks. To avoid being shut down, the restaurant skirted the county mask mandate by declaring itself a “private club.”

So if you call your customers “members” and charge them $1 to enter, can any restaurant or bar skirt local mask mandates? 

That will be up to Judge Jim Kanatzar to decide in a remote hearing today.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is supporting the cafe. He joined more than a hundred people at a rally outside the restaurant over the weekend. 

Big Recall

While it’s not a local story, it’s one you’ll be hearing a lot about this week.

On Tuesday voters in California will decide whether to recall their governor.

Although polls show a growing majority of Californians oppose ousting Gavin Newsom, Democrats fear low turnout could enable Republicans to pull off an upset.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should replace him.

Forty-six candidates are on that list. Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder is considered the frontrunner.

Bus Driver Shortage

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a bus driver?

Now’s your time. Your local school district is desperate.

The Raytown School District is warning parents this week that it may have to eliminate bus service entirely due to a shortage of drivers. 

Raytown’s woes are being felt around the region. In a recent survey, more than half of student transportation coordinators described the bus driver shortage in their area as “severe” or “desperate.”

In one Delaware school district, they’re offering parents $700 in cash if they drive their own kids to campus.

There’s no evidence that any of our local districts are going that far. But delays and canceled routes are now becoming a major headache for school administrators. 

So, by the way, is serving up school lunch. 

A shortage of food distribution workers and truck drivers is forcing school districts to shake up their menus. In Missouri, some school districts have resorted to ordering from nearby restaurants like Pizza Hut to make sure students are fed.

Future of Work

This week on Kansas City PBS we track “the future of work” in our metro with an economist, a frontline worker and longtime labor and business leaders.

It’s part of our brand new monthly show called “Flatland.” 

Host D. Rashaan Gilmore takes a deep dive into a single local issue raising questions, causing tensions or is curiously unexplored.

You can watch the premier episode, “Flatland: The Future of Work,” this Thursday at 7 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

Kauffman Center Turns 10

Guess what we were doing in Kansas City 10 years ago this week?

We were getting our first look inside the $326 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Yes, it’s been that long.

Sept. 16, 2011 was the grand opening of what The New York Times called a “concrete-and-glass clamshell overlooking downtown.” 

Tenor Plácido Domingo and violinist Itzhak Perlman were in Kansas City to give special opening performances.

And guess who got to be the “Voice of God” announcer at that opening night event? 


One of those announcements: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome His Royal Highness Prince Charles…” 

The first in line to the British throne was friends with Julia Irene Kauffman. He recorded a video message for the event. 

American Royal Barbecue

Although it was canceled last year due to the pandemic, the world’s largest barbecue competition is back.

The American Royal World Series of Barbecue starts on Thursday at the Kansas Speedway. 

In addition to sizzling brisket, ribs, live music and beer, there’s fireworks this year. The event continues through Sunday.

A man reveals his tray of barbecue.
World Series of Barbecue competitors face off at Kansas Speedway. (Contributed | American Royal)

Brookside Art Fair

The Brookside Art Fair starts Friday night.

More than 160 local and nationally known artists will be showing off their wares from painting to jewelry. 

It runs through Sunday.

Prepare to Be Scared

This weekend also marks the official start of scare season in Kansas City. 

The haunted houses open their cobwebbed doors on Friday.

This is also the 30th anniversary of Kansas City’s biggest scare factory, “The Beast.” It opened in the West Bottoms in 1971.

A beast-like creature waves at the camera in front of The Beast Haunted House.
The Beast was voted The Best Haunted House of 2019 by America Haunts | (Courtesy | The Beast)

Emmy Awards

Something else you’ll be hearing a lot about this week is the Emmys.

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards are awarded on Sunday.

And for the first time it will be held outdoors. Concerns over COVID-19 have pushed the ceremony to the Event Deck at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.

Cedric the Entertainer is hosting for the first time.

The show airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

Nick Haines dissects the week’s most impactful local news stories, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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