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Nick’s Picks | Super Bowl Sickness and Valentine’s Day

This Week's News Forecast in KC

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

Thousands of Kansas Citians will pull a Ferris Bueller today and call in sick. 

There’s even a name for it. It’s called “Super Sick Monday.” 

With a late night of football and perhaps a few more drinks than normal, 14% of Americans admit to taking a sick day following the Super Bowl. 

There is a solution.

Moving the big game from Sunday to Saturday.

According to a surprising new survey of more than 2,000 NFL fans, half approve of the idea of making it Super Bowl Saturday. 

Are you thumbs up or down on that?

Romance in the Air

What about changing Valentine’s Day so it no longer falls immediately after the Super Bowl?

Yes, today is Valentine’s Day.  

If you already forgot, then let this be your reminder that there’s still time to hit the shops.

Falling on a Monday, the holiday isn’t as helpful as it might have been for many of our small struggling restaurants. Monday is usually the day they close.

My wife and I have celebrated Valentine’s Day at the same local eatery for the past five years.  This year the owners have decided it’s too much hassle to bring in staff when they’re already struggling to find workers.

But even if you don’t have someone special in your life to send sweet treats, cards or flowers to, there’s still a lot of things to “love” about today.

You can “love” the fact that COVID cases are now way down in the metro. 

Medical workers are “loving” the fact that they’re seeing fewer patients.

And after several days of biting cold, you can “love” spring-like temperatures in the 50s today with 65 degree temperatures on the way tomorrow.

Enjoy it while you can.

According to the National Weather Service, another storm is brewing.

Several inches of snow could be on the way, starting Wednesday night and continuing through Thursday morning.

Political Map Drama

Just because we’re marking Valentine’s Day this week it doesn’t mean it’s going to be all hugs and kisses everywhere. 

Sweet treats and love notes are going to be in short supply in Jefferson City, where lawmakers are still clashing over congressional maps. 

Even a rare Saturday session over the weekend didn’t break what has been a month-long stalemate.

Redrawing political maps is a once a decade event for state lawmakers as they respond to shifting population numbers.

But at the heart of the dispute in Missouri is what to do with Kansas City U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s district. 

A subgroup of Republican Missouri senators wants to split the district in two. making it tougher for the Kansas City Democrat to win reelection.

As we start this week, talks are at a standstill.

Kansas is going through the same painful process. 

Last week, Republican lawmakers overturned a veto from Gov. Laura Kelly to dramatically reshape the Kansas political map. Lawrence now moves into the same congressional district as western Kansas and Wyandotte County gets cut in half. Democrats say the GOP drawn map aims to squeeze U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids out of office.

Now get ready for the lawsuits.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who’s now the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, says expect a court challenge in the next few days.

Holder is betting on a favorable verdict from the Kansas Supreme Court, where a majority of the justices were appointed by Democratic governors.


Catching Up


Russian Invasion Imminent

This look at the week ahead is hyper-focused on things happening where we live. 

But I can’t claim to help you prepare for the week ahead without at least mentioning what’s happening in Ukraine.

In what is the biggest East-West flare up since the end of the Cold War, the Biden administration now says a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.

In fact, according to multiple news accounts, the U.S. has picked up intelligence that Wednesday is the target date.

Currently, more than 130,000 Russian troops are positioned near Ukraine’s border.

Ukraine’s president is downplaying the American warnings. He says he has yet to see convincing evidence that an attack is imminent.

Delaying Baseball?

The Kansas City Royals should be heading for the sun this week to begin spring training in Surprise, Arizona. 

But like so much in baseball right now it’s on hold. 

Salvador Perez and the rest of the players may have to unpack their bathing suits and sunscreen as a dispute over salaries, benefits and working conditions leads to the second longest lockout in Major League Baseball history.

The last time there was such a protracted dispute was in 1994, and it led to cancellation of the World Series.

Talks to end the dispute failed over the weekend, prompting concern that not only will spring training have to be pushed back, but possibly the start of the season.

Royals opening day is currently scheduled for March 31 against the newly named Cleveland Guardians.

New Tension at KCI

Look for some pointed words at City Hall this week over a new report that blasts minority hiring on the new Kansas City International terminal project.

The Federal Aviation Administration has found what it describes as “significant compliance issues” when it comes to the hiring of women and minority contractors.

City Aviation Director Pat Klein says complaints and investigations of this nature are not uncommon and the city is voluntarily working with the FAA to make sure commitments are met by the time the airport opens. 

Kline insists the FAA report will not affect the project’s budget or schedule.

The new terminal is scheduled to open on March 3, 2023.

Rendering of new Kansas City International Airport.
Rendering of new Kansas City International Airport. (Courtesy | SOM and Edgemoor Architecture & Real Estate)

Waiting Game in Kansas

Now that Kansas has signed off on more than $1 billion in tax incentives to lure a new mystery company to the state, it’s now wait and see.

Will Kansas find out this week?

Kansas is competing with Oklahoma for an unnamed company that’s promising 4,000 permanent jobs with average annual salaries of $50,000 a year.

There’s plenty of speculation about the name of the firm and where it may be headed, but none of those rumors have been confirmed by any official source.

The Kansas City Star says there are hints that the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in De Soto will be the site of what would be the largest building in Kansas. 

And over the weekend, an Oklahoma newspaper claimed there are signs that Panasonic is the company. While best known for consumer electronics, Panasonic is becoming a leading player in the electric vehicle battery market.

The Kansas governor’s office says it could be weeks before a final decision is announced.

Redistricting Petitions in Missouri

In the last few years, Missouri voters have legalized medical marijuana, expanded the state Medicaid program and greenlighted a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Now Missouri lawmakers want to make it tougher for these kinds of questions to make it to the ballot.

This week, lawmakers in Jefferson City want to require a two-thirds vote of the people to amend the state constitution. They also want to increase the number of signatures required to put amendments on the ballot in the first place.

The Missouri House has already signed off on the changes. It heads to the Missouri Senate this week.

The legislation is being closely watched by supporters of a new proposal that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. A group called, “Legal Missouri 2022” is currently collecting signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.

New KCMO Health Director

Is there a better time than Valentine’s Day to start a new job?

Especially if you’re starting a job that’s not been receiving much love lately.

At a time when hundreds of public health directors are getting fired, quitting, retiring or resigning, Dr. Marvia Jones takes over as Kansas City’s new Health Director today.

She is the first Black woman to serve in the role.

She succeeds Rex Archer, who retired last summer after leading the department for 23 years.

Olympics Update

That was fast. 

The Winter Olympics come to an end this week.

Closing ceremonies are this Sunday. Given the time difference between Kansas City and Beijing, you’re going to have to get up at 6 a.m. to watch the event live or you can watch the highlights starting at 7 p.m. Sunday evening.

On Sunday the Olympic flag will be officially passed to the next host, which happens to be two Italian cities. Milan and Cortina are jointly hosting the 2026 Winter Games, 

Italy, by the way, is where I learned to ski. Growing up in the U.K. there were only artificial ski slopes. If you wanted to experience the real thing you had to go elsewhere. 

So on countless school ski trips we headed to Italy, which was the cheapest place to ski in Europe. The city of Cortina is right on the Austrian border. So we were told by our teachers that we were getting the majesty of Austrian mountains while paying cheaper Italian prices.

New Curling Center 

One of the breakout stars of these Winter Games has been the sport of curling. In fact, according to Google, it’s been one of the most searched terms of these Olympics.

To the uninitiated, curling might seem like an unusual sport, with its weird brooms and constant sweeping of ice, but surprisingly it’s catching on in a big way in Kansas City.

In fact, this week the metro’s first designated curling rink opens.

It’s out in Blue Springs and is the brainchild of the Kansas City Curling Club.

Yes, there is such a thing.

The new facility is big enough to host four games at once. You can learn to curl every night this week starting at 5:30 p.m. 

A pair of curlers sweep in front of the stone.
The Kansas City Curling Club fall league welcomes curlers of any skill level. (Clarence Dennis | Flatland)

Dracula in Town

Beware!

The world’s most famous bloodsucker swoops into town this week.

And you might be surprised to learn that it’s the Kansas City Ballet that’s wreaking all this terror on our metro. 

Kansas City’s foremost dance company is bringing Bram Stoker’s classic horror story “Dracula” to life.

The infamous count will be unleashing his fangs on unsuspecting audience members at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, starting Friday night.

If vampires aren’t your thing, then you could head over to the T-Mobile Center for some serious counterprogramming. 

One of country music’s most successful artists is in town. Eric Church takes the stage as part of his “Gather Again” tour Friday night. 

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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