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Nick’s Picks | March Madness Comes to KC First Day of Spring

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

Welcome to the first day of spring and the second week of March Madness, though it may feel like March Sadness for KU and Mizzou fans. Both teams were eliminated from the basketball tournament over the weekend. 

That leaves K-State as the only local school with a shot at lifting the national championship trophy.  

After defeating Kentucky on Sunday, the Wildcats now head to New York’s Madison Square Garden.  

The purple pride takes on Michigan State on Thursday. Game time is 5:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on TBS. 

ICYMI: College hoops’ biggest event winds through Kansas City this week as T-Mobile Center hosts two Sweet 16 games on Friday and an Elite Eight match-up on Sunday. 

Now you’ll know why your favorite downtown bar or restaurant is filled with people in hoodies and caps covered in Longhorns, Hurricanes, Musketeers and Cougars. Those are the mascots for the four teams that will be playing here this week: Texas, Miami, Xavier and Houston.  

Last Week, Reviewed

Black Engineers Convention 

It may not get as much attention as big sporting events in Kansas City, but more than 10,000 Black engineers will converge on downtown this week for one of the biggest conventions of the year. 

Say hi to the delegates of the National Society of Black Engineers. 

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Tyrone Garner will welcome the attendees at the four-day convention starting Wednesday at Bartle Hall. 

Trump Arrest Expected 

It’s not a local story, but its big news anywhere in America when a former president says he’s about to be arrested.  

In a social media post, Donald Trump said he will be arrested on Tuesday as a New York prosecutor eyes charging the ex-president in a case involving alleged “hush money” to an adult film star. 

Trump did not provide any details about how he knew about the pending arrest, but he has urged his followers to protest. 

According to the Associated Press, the Manhattan district attorney has already been meeting with local law enforcement and the Secret Service on the security logistics of Trump’s apprehension. 

Missouri’s new U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt (R) said the move smacks of the actions you’d find in “a banana republic where the authoritarian state punishes its political enemies with criminal prosecutions in search of crimes.”  

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the Republican senator’s remarks, saying Trump’s indictment would make clear, “no one is above the law, not even a former President of the United States.” 

3RD Anniversary of KC’s COVID Lockdown 

Does it seem like it’s been three years? 

This Friday marks the third anniversary of Kansas City’s first COVID-19 “lockdown” order. 

The entire metro would be told to “stay home” except for “essential activities.” The directive would immediately unleash a contentious debate over what the word “essential” means. Were liquor stores and barber shops essential? What about churches?  

In the three years that have passed, lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri have enacted laws making it tougher to shut down businesses, schools and places of worship during health emergencies.  

And more anti-lockdown laws may be on the way. 

In Kansas, state legislators want to restrict the power of the governor to change election rules during a pandemic. And in Missouri, lawmakers have advanced a bill that would ban local governments from halting evictions during a state of emergency. 

Kelly’s Predicament 

Here’s a health warning for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. Beware of focal dystonia of the fingers. That’s the official medical term for what we more commonly call “writer’s cramp.” 

Just days after vetoing a transgender sports ban, Kelly’s pen could be working overtime this week in vetoing a raft of other contentious measures, including what would be the largest school voucher program in Kansas history. 

The bill heading closer to Kelly’s desk would give qualifying families about $5,000 to use toward the cost of private school tuition or homeschooling. 

Supporters say it will provide an important alternative for mainly low-income students in academically underperforming districts. Opponents say it’s an attempt to defund and undermine public schools. 

Making the measure more challenging for Kelly is that Republican lawmakers have bundled the bill with two of the governor’s priorities: more money for special education and a hike in teacher pay. 

While the measure will eat up a lot of debate time in Topeka this week, one big issue has now totally slipped off the legislative to-do list. Legalizing marijuana is now considered dead in Kansas.  

Even legalizing medical pot has been vehemently opposed by state law enforcement groups, including Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.  

Senate Republican leaders say they have no plans to reconsider the bill before the session ends in May. 

Canceled! Censured! Banned! 

Did Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft get more than he bargained for when he vowed to block state funding to libraries offering “prurient” books to minors? 

Ashcroft’s office received 20,000 public comments on the proposal, including widespread criticism from librarians and free speech advocates who say it is an attack on intellectual freedom. 

This week, Ashcroft defends his position at a public forum at the World War I Museum. 

The Tuesday night event tracks our growing willingness to cancel, censor and ban views we disagree with. From local book bans to efforts to block conservative speakers from college campuses. 

“Canceled! Censored! Banned!” is a collaboration between Kansas City PBS and American Public Square.  

I get to moderate this long-overdue conversation which also features Emerson Sykes, one of the ACLU’s top attorneys, who’s flying in from New York to be with us. 

The event is free. Please register here.  

If you can’t join us Tuesday night, we will be there with our cameras to record the exchange.  

Kansas City PBS will televise the forum on Friday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. 

KCI Art Documentary 

With more than $5 million in paintings and sculptures, the new terminal at KCI has been described as an art gallery with an airport attached.  

This Thursday night on Kansas City PBS we bring you a new documentary that will take you behind the scenes of the largest public art project in Kansas City history. My colleague Brad Austin has spent the last several months going back and forth to the airport to chronicle the art installations and the artists who created them. See for yourself, this Thursday at 7 p.m. on Kansas City PBS. 

Current Events 

The Kansas City Current will make its comeback this week. 

Kansas City’s women’s professional soccer team launches its new season on Saturday with a game on the road against the North Carolina Courage. 

The Current’s first home game is April 1 against the Portland Thorns. 

The team will continue to play at Children’s Mercy Park, at least for the next 12 months. The Current’s new purpose-built stadium is “currently” under construction on the Kansas City riverfront. It’s scheduled to open in March 2024. 

This rendering is of the future home of the Kansas City Current of the National Women's Soccer League.
This rendering is of the future home of the Kansas City Current of the National Women’s Soccer League. (Rendering | Generator Studio)

Hamilton Returns 

Guess who else is returning to Kansas City this week? 

Alexander Hamilton.  

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-award winning musical was one of the hottest tickets in Kansas City when it debuted here in 2019. 

Now it’s back on a two-week run at the Music Hall. 

“Hamilton” tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton through a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway.  

The first performance is this Tuesday night. 

Also worth noting this week, the Alvin Ailey American Dance company returns to Kansas City for the first time in six years.  

The New York-based dance theater performs Saturday afternoon at the Kauffman Center

Bunny Invasion 

A group of bunnies is called a fluffle. Yes, you read that right.  

But what do you call a group of gigantic rabbits that are taller than most humans?  

As I can’t find a definition in the dictionary, let’s just say an “invasion of bunnies” takes over the Country Club Plaza this week. The 7-foot-tall rabbits will start appearing on the Plaza’s streets today.  

There’s nearly a dozen of them in all.  

The iconic statues are part of an Easter tradition that began on the Country Club Plaza in 1931. 

This year, the bunnies will be joined by a larger-than-life assortment of pelicans, turtles and swans.  

You can see them for yourself through April 24. 

Ramadan Begins 

While Christians and Jews prepare for the start of Easter and Passover, Muslim families in Kansas City are getting ready for the holiest time in their religious calendar. 

Ramadan begins at sundown on Wednesday. 

Across the world and here in Kansas City, observant Muslims will start a 30-day fast from sunrise to sunset without food or drink … and that includes water.  

Muslims believe Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s most sacred text, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad more than 1,000 years ago. 

KC Film Festival Returns 

If the Oscars whet your appetite for seeing more movies, get ready for the Kansas City Film Festival this week. 

More than 150 new feature films and documentaries will be screened over four days at the AMC Ward Parkway Theater. 

Most of the screenings also feature a live Q&A with the filmmaker right after the credits roll.  

All-access passes and individual tickets are available at

The festival begins Sunday at noon. 

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the team name of the Miami Hurricanes.

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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