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Nick’s Picks | Stadium Fatigue, Bus Fares and Murders Hoping for a Happy Holiday

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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We mark the first day of winter this week. The shortest day of the year in terms of daylight arrives on Thursday. It’s also going to be a short workweek for many Kansas Citians, with the Christmas holiday just ahead.

Meanwhile, your local elected leaders are going to try squeezing in some big votes before the merriment begins.

Here is your weekly handy-dandy guide to what you can expect in Kansas City:

Stadium Tax

A number of our television viewers tell me they are suffering from “stadium fatigue.”

If you’ve not heard of that medical condition, symptoms include feeling nauseous over incessant news speculation about where the Royals may move. Symptoms also include anxiety and indigestion over alarmist coverage that the Chiefs might be headed to Kansas.

With more rumors than facts driving the conversation, Jackson County lawmakers are scheduled to cast a big vote this week.

In an effort to lock in the two teams, lawmakers will be asked today to approve a special election on April 2 to extend the existing tax that funds the stadiums for another 40 years.

The proposal from Jackson County legislative chair DaRon McGee has been blasted by some of his colleagues as a “slap in the face” to taxpayers who still don’t know where the Royals plan to build their new ballpark and when there are no signed commitments from either team to stay past 2031, when their current leases expire.

Jackson County Executive Frank White is also opposed to the plan and is likely to veto the measure if it passes.

It would take six votes on the nine-member legislature to override that veto.

Time is running out on the negotiations to sort out the issue.

The deadline to place a stadium proposal on the April ballot is Jan. 23.

Last Week, Reviewed

Ending Free Bus Service?

Three years ago, Kansas City became the first major city in America to ditch fares and make bus service free to ride.

The move attracted national news attention. But are city leaders now regretting that decision?

This week, the Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) is expected to consider reinstating bus fares, which in the past has brought in as much as 12% of the agency’s total revenue.

The KCATA has been studying the issue for more than a month.

Along with funding issues, there have been concerns that dropping fares has affected the safety and security of the city’s bus fleet. Some long-time riders have complained that the buses have now become “rolling homeless shelters.”

The KCATA’s Board of Commissioners meets on Wednesday.

Grim Milestone

Over the weekend, Kansas City experienced its 177th murder of 2023.

By the end of this week, Kansas City is expected to hit the grimmest of milestones.

We are now on pace for the deadliest year in history, a record set in 2020 when Kansas City reported 179 homicides.

The relentless death toll comes as national news reports claim killings in other major cities are dropping at historic rates.

Despite claims of new partnerships and new approaches to crime, Kansas City leaders have failed to come up with a viable plan to reduce the tragic murder count.

Stuck in Washington

Your local members of Congress have had their holiday plans scrambled.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has postponed the upper chamber’s Christmas recess, which was due to start Friday.

Instead, our Kansas and Missouri senators are still in Washington in a final effort to secure a $111 billion aid deal for Ukraine and Israel. It’s a top priority for President Joe Biden. But many Republican senators are refusing to sign off without substantial security improvements at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hope for Homeowners?

The Missouri State Auditor is scheduled to be in Kansas City today to reveal the “preliminary results” of an investigation into the Jackson County property assessment mess.

The audit began last September after thousands of homeowners complained of eye-popping increases in their home values.

State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick has questioned whether the county assessment process followed state law.

More than 54,000 homeowners appealed their property assessment notices and thousands of others reported “difficulty with the appeal process,” ranging from excessive phone hold times to website errors.

At least three cities — Independence, Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs — have filed lawsuits against the county over the assessment process.

Kansas Plates

Did you vote last week in the big Kansas snap election?

After public disgust over a proposed new Kansas license plate, Gov. Laura Kelly let Kansans decide what rectangular piece of metal they want attached to the back of their vehicles.

All week long, drivers could pick from one of five new plate designs.

If you’ve had sleepless nights wondering what plate won, Kelly says she will reveal the results later today.

Priscilla Presley in KC

Elvis left the building more than 40 years ago. He died back in 1977. But his famous ex-wife Priscilla Presley is still performing.

She’s in Kansas City this week with her touring show, “An Unforgettable Evening with Priscilla Presley.”

Presley, who’s now 78, will share personal stories and rare home movies at Knuckleheads on Friday night.

It’s been a rollercoaster year for Priscilla. 

A movie about her life premiered in October. In January, Lisa-Marie Presley, her only child with Elvis, died at the age of 54.

KC Wheel Debuts

Forget about going to see “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol” in Kansas City. There’s now a new ritual you can add to your holiday calendar.

Riding the KC Wheel.

After lots of delays, the 150-tall downtown attraction is finally running. It’s even open on Christmas Day.

Year in Review

Also open this holiday weekend is “Kansas City Week in Review” on Kansas City PBS.

We have a big show planned this week. It’s our annual year-in-review edition of the program.

We relive the greatest moments and newsmakers of the year – in quiz-show style.

We crown Kansas City’s person of the year and spotlight the year’s most over-reported and under-reported stories. Plus, we look into the crystal ball to see what life has in store for us in 2024.

Join our special guests and me on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS. Alternatively, you can catch our rebroadcast on Sunday at 11 a.m.

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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