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Nick’s Picks | Government Shutdown, United Government Debate and Streetcar Expansion Shedding Light on the Week Ahead

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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

Happy World Kindness Day today! 

Krispy Kreme is finding a way to spread positivity. They’re giving away a free box of donuts to the first 500 customers at each of its stores today. 

If you end up being the 501st customer in line, don’t get mad at me. To take the sting out of the situation, I’ve kindly compiled some less-fattening ways to start your week.  

Here’s your handy-dandy guide to what you and your family can expect in the next seven days. 

Another Government Shutdown? 

We’re hurtling toward another government shutdown. 

If Congress can’t agree on a new spending bill by midnight on Friday, the federal money tap will be turned off, furloughing more than a million government workers, including 13,000 in Kansas City. 

In addition, Americans could see their government aid checks delayed, passport wait times increased and the shuttering of hundreds of federally run facilities, including the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence. 

The imminent funding deadline joins a to-do list on Capitol Hill that includes emergency aid to Israel and Ukraine, which have no obvious path to passage amid fierce disputes among lawmakers. 

GOP hardliners are insisting on deep spending cuts before agreeing to any budget deal. 

Last Week, Reviewed

March for Israel 

In just the past 10 days, protesters have shut down a lecture on the Israel-Gaza conflict at the Kansas City Public Library downtown, occupied U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s office for not backing a ceasefire, and stripped and defaced an Israeli flag at a Jewish fraternity house at the University of Kansas. 

Now prominent members of Kansas City’s Jewish community are pushing back. Today, dozens of representatives from area synagogues and Jewish agencies are boarding flights for Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Israel. 

It’s being described as the country’s biggest rally in support of the Jewish state in more than 20 years.  

The public demonstration will take place on the National Mall, starting at noon. 

United Government Breakup? 

This week, the public finally gets a chance to weigh in on a provocative new proposal to break up the United Government in Wyandotte County. 

If there wasn’t already enough political division in the news, Unified Government Mayor Tyrone Garner recently declared that it may be time for Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, to divorce. 

It was considered a miracle back in 2007 when voters took the unprecedented step of combining their two governments into one.  

But now Mayor Garner says consolidation has failed to deliver on its promises and warns the joint government is in so much debt, it could be bankrupt by 2026. 

So, what do you think should happen? Is the Unified Government worth saving or is it time to draw up the separation agreement?  

The first of five community feedback sessions takes place this Thursday night at the Bonner Springs City Library. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. 

East-West Streetcar 

It looks like Kansas City has abandoned plans to connect the streetcar line to the sports stadiums. But transit leaders aren’t giving up on expanding the system.  

Late last week, the city released a proposal for a new east-west rail line, that would feature 16 streetcar stops, along a six-mile route from the University of Kansas Hospital to Van Brunt Boulevard. 

Now they want you to weigh in. 

Should the tracks run on 31st Street or Linwood Boulevard?  

Should the streetcar share the same road as other traffic, or have its own designated lane?  

And if you live in the area, would you be willing to raise your taxes to pay for it? 

The proposed route would cost between $560 million and $650 million, according to study documents.  

You can share your thoughts online, until Dec. 1. 

KC Streetcar in the River Market.
The downtown streetcar line receives its local funding from a Transportation Development District. (Kevin Collison | CityScene)

Lake City Ammo Plant Under Scrutiny 

A Kansas City-area ammunition plant is facing tough questions this week after the New York Times tied the facility to at least a dozen mass shootings. 

The Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in eastern Independence has made nearly all the rifle cartridges used by the U.S. military since it pulled out of Vietnam. But as military demand has diminished, a Times investigation finds it’s increasingly supplying ammunition to private buyers. 

According to the New York Times report, 84 Lake City rounds were fired in the Parkland school shooting.  

Ammunition from the Missouri plant was also used in the massacre of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers last year. 

In Other News… 

Biden meets Xi: President Joe Biden travels to San Francisco on Wednesday to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The high-stakes meeting comes amid fractured relations between the two countries over issues from Taiwan to trade. 

Dropping out: The race for president is experiencing a big reshuffle as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) abruptly suspends his campaign. The move surprised most of his own staffers, who say they were blindsided by the move. Expect lots of questions this week about who benefits most from his exit and whether more candidates will follow.  

Best Book: Winners of the National Book Awards will be named Wednesday in a ceremony in New York, hosted by LeVar Burton.  

Hunger Games: The Hunger Games are back. It’s been eight years since the last movie in the film franchise dropped. “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” hits movie theaters on Friday. 

Let There Be Lights 

Thanksgiving may be more than a week away, but many Kansas Citians have already bypassed the holiday to start their Christmas rituals.  

 In my neighborhood, more than a dozen homes have their holiday lights up.  

Do you think that’s too early? 

Tell that to our area mayors.  

On Friday night, the mayors of Wyandotte County and Lee’s Summit are hosting holiday tree-lighting ceremonies.  

And area shopping centers from Ward Parkway to Zona Rosa host their tree lighting events this weekend. 

Speaking of lights, thousands of area families are celebrating the “Festival of Lights.”  

It’s the five-day holiday of Diwali, observed by more than a billion people around the world, including large numbers of south Asian families here in Kansas City.  

It’s one of the biggest holidays in India and is considered as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians. While you may be unfamiliar with the five-day festival, it’s getting more recognition in the United States. New York City recently declared that Diwali would be a public-school holiday, starting next year. 

Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word for “row of lights.” For observers, the holiday marks the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. 

Whole Foods Opening 

You can expect crowds as large as at any Whataburger opening as the new Whole Foods finally opens its doors in Overland Park on Wednesday.  

Previous store openings have seen people waiting in line for up to three hours. 

The health-focused grocer has outgrown its existing space in Johnson County. The new larger store is just a block from its current location at 119th and Metcalf. 

Big Names in KC 

Gladys Knight is in town this week. 

The legendary soul singer is not taking a “Midnight Train to Georgia,” but a corporate jet and a limo to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, where she’s expected to perform on Sunday.  

Aerosmith was also scheduled to be in town this week, but the band has postponed its T-Mobile Center appearance after frontman Steven Tyler suffered a vocal injury.  

Tyler’s fractured larynx is expected to keep the band from resuming its “final farewell tour,” until next year.  

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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