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Nick’s Picks | Searches Continue for a KC Police Chief and Schools Superintendent

The Week Ahead, Before It Happens

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

You may not know it from the headlines, but Kansas City is about to end the year with the second highest number of homicides in its history.

With city leaders still grasping for solutions, Mayor Quinton Lucas has invited the nation’s top gun law enforcer to town. 

Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will meet this week with the Kansas City Police Department about data sharing efforts to reduce violent crime. 

According to the mayor’s office, he’ll also meet with social service providers and discuss how new federal resources can be expanded to help make Kansas City safer.

On Tuesday, Dettelbach will participate in a roundtable discussion on gun violence at the Rose Brooks Domestic Violence Center.

Police Chief Search

This week, you get a chance to meet Kansas City’s next police chief.

The Board of Police Commissioners is holding a public forum on Saturday with the shortlisted finalists for the job. 

As yet, we don’t know who has applied, because the board hasn’t released any of their names.

The police department has been led by Joe Mabin on an interim basis since the retirement of Rick Smith in April. Mabin says he’s not interested in becoming the permanent chief. 

If you’d like to see who is being considered and even ask them a question, head on over to the Mohart Center, 3200 Wayne Ave. The forum is this Saturday at 10 a.m. 

police line do not cross tape
A police line do not cross tape. (File photo)

Superintendent Search

Kansas City Public Schools wants to get your input this week on what you want in a new school superintendent. 

It’s been six months since Mark Bedell abruptly resigned to take a superintendent’s job in Maryland.

Since then the district has been under interim leadership.

Two town halls are planned this week to get public input on the search. 

One is at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Manual Career Tech Center, 1215 E. Truman Road.

A second public session is planned for Tuesday evening at the Mattie Rhodes Center-Northeast Office, 148 N. Topping Ave. It starts at 5 p.m.

The district is picking a new leader at the same time it’s considering shuttering 10 schools.

Eight elementary and two high schools are currently being considered for closure, amid declining enrollment. 

A final decision on those closings could come next week at the school board’s last meeting of the year.

World Cup

Will you still watch the World Cup now that the United States has been eliminated from the tournament?

Will there still be watch parties in the Power & Light District now that there’s no home team to cheer on?

There are two more weeks of matches left to play in Qatar but you won’t see any of those games on the big outdoor screen in the KC Live! Block.  World Cup watch parties have disappeared from the entertainment district’s events calendar.

It was good while it lasted. 

Cutaways of thousands of cheering fans crammed inside Kansas City’s Power & Light District was a staple in network broadcasts of the games.

And we were also one of the most reliable television audiences.

Kansas City was the top television market in the country for the U.S. game against England.

A large crowd at Power and Light watched USA vs. England.
A KC Live! crowd takes in USA vs. England in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup (Courtesy | Power & Light District)

Purple Pride

Will they cancel classes today in Manhattan?

That may be a bit of a stretch, but there’s lots of celebrating to be done on the K-State campus this week after the Wildcats were crowned Big 12 Champions over the weekend.

K-State’s next stop is the Superdome in New Orleans. They’ll take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve. 

It’s the first time in history that the teams have faced each other on the football field.

Border Showdown

It’s a sellout. 

University of Missouri officials say no tickets remain for this week’s border showdown with the University of Kansas. 

It’s Missouri’s first home men’s basketball game against Kansas since 2012.

You can still watch it on TV. The game will be televised on ESPN. Tipoff is on Saturday at 4:15 p.m.

Georgia Runoff

The last major contest of the midterm election will be decided on Tuesday.

That’s when Georgia voters will deliver their verdict in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

If Warnock wins, he’ll give the Democrats 51 seats in the Senate and more breathing room when trying to pass important bills. 

Supreme Court Cases

Today, the Supreme Court will hear a case about a Colorado web designer who refused to provide services to a same-sex couple on religious grounds. 

Then on Wednesday, the court will hear a pivotal case concerning the power of state lawmakers to draw congressional boundaries. At issue is whether the Constitution gives state courts the authority to challenge redistricting maps.

News of Note…

Will you be missing your New York Times this week? 

More than 1,000 members of the New York Times union are threatening a walkout on Thursday.

And Trevor Noah will end his seven-year run as host of “The Daily Show” on Thursday. 

There’s been no word on who will replace Noah. Comedy Central merely promises that the show will be “reinvented” sometime in 2023. 

Meanwhile, Noah has lined up his first major post-hosting gig. He’s announced a 28-city tour, starting next month.

KC Election Season

Sign-ups begin Tuesday for candidates wanting to run in the 2023 Kansas City mayoral and City Council elections. 

Because of term limits, half of the current council will be out of a job and a crop of new faces will take over City Hall. 

Mayor Quinton Lucas is also asking voters for another four-year term.

So far, only maverick transit activist Clay Chastain has announced he’s running against Lucas. 

Will a more significant name throw their hat in the ring this week? 

The city primary election is April 4.

KCI Desperate for Workers

Could chronic staffing shortages compromise the smooth opening of the new look KCI airport?

It’s already becoming an issue.

Over the weekend, a number of irate passengers told The Kansas City Star they waited as long as 80 minutes for a Blue Bus to take them from the Southwest Airlines baggage claim to the airport’s economy parking lot.

The Kansas City Aviation Department has acknowledged that half of the airport’s 60 bus driver positions are unfilled. 

To address the shortage, the airport is holding a hiring fair this week.

It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the KCI Expo Center at 11730 North Ambassador Drive in Kansas City, North. 

The department is looking to fill a wide range of jobs ranging from bus operators to mechanics, security personnel and customer service representatives.

Aviation Director Patrick Klein says the location of the airport in the far northwest part of the city makes it more challenging to find workers. You also have to live in Kansas City, Missouri. Being a resident of the city is a job requirement. 

Overland Park Arena 

After eight years of debate and planning, Overland Park finally breaks ground this week on the metro’s newest sports arena.

The 3,500-seat facility is going up at 159th Street and U.S. 69 in the Bluhawk development.

Costing $125 million, the multi-sport complex will feature an ice rink and a turf pitch the size of a football field. Plus, scores of basketball, volleyball and pickleball courts.

The public is invited to the groundbreaking, scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday. That’s when the name of the new complex will also be announced.

It’s expected to open in the fall of 2024.

Streetcar to Riverfront

While some Kansas Citians are salivating over a proposal to extend the streetcar to the sports stadiums, its next stop is the riverfront.

With construction well underway on a new line to the Country Club Plaza, transit leaders say they’re ready to begin work on expanding the streetcar’s rail tracks to the Berkley Riverfront Park and the site of the new KC Current soccer stadium.

Right now, the streetcar ends at the City Market.

This week, there’s an open house to reveal the design and construction plans for the half-mile long route.

You can see what they’re doing and get your questions answered from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Port KC Headquarters Community Room at 110 Berkley Plaza.

Kansas City was awarded $14.2 million in federal funds to jumpstart the project back in 2020.

The Kansas City streetcar
Transit advocates cite the streetcar as one method of recruiting young people to Kansas City. (Brad Austin | Flatland)

Disney World Raises Prices

I know quite a few people here in Kansas City who love to celebrate the holidays at Walt Disney World. 

It’s never been a cheap travel option, but if you’re planning a trip to “the happiest place on earth” be prepared to pay a whole lot more.

Starting on Thursday, admission to the Magic Kingdom goes up 12%. It’s the second time Disney has raised ticket prices in the last 10 months.

A one-day, single park ticket will now set you back $189.

By way of comparison, when the Magic Kingdom first opened in 1971, the cost to enter the theme park was $3.50 for adults, and $1 for children.  In 2022 dollars, that would equate to $25.75 and $7.35, when adjusted for inflation.

The Nutcracker’ Returns

One of Kansas City’s favorite holiday traditions returns this week. 

“The Nutcracker” is back. And so is the Kansas City Ballet.

Our city’s premier dance company has been on the road performing “The Nutcracker” in front of East Coast audiences at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. 

Now the holiday classic is ready to leap onto our hometown stage for a three-week run. 

You can see Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the city’s best ballet dancers, starting this Wednesday night at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Dancers on stage performing "The Nutcracker."
Kansas City Ballet dancers performing “The Nutcracker.” (Photo: Contributed | Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

And the Fairy Princess returns to her throne this week at the Kansas City Museum.

Special gifts, treats and pictures with the bedazzled young princess are available, beginning Thursday at the museum that recently reopened after a $22 million facelift.

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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