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Nick’s Picks | Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and the News KC Become the Epicenter of Pop Culture

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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Will the world’s biggest pop star and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce finally go public about their relationship this week? Lingering buzz over the appearance of Taylor Swift at Arrowhead Stadium over the weekend is sure to dominate the local news cycle, but there are some other big stories worth watching this week: 

UAW Strike 

The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike is now in its second week and Kansas City is experiencing some of the biggest collateral damage from the labor dispute. 

The General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, is closed this morning, not because workers are out on strike but because they don’t have the parts to make their vehicles.  

The plant, which employs around 2,200 workers, makes the Chevy Malibu and the Cadillac XT4 crossover SUV.  

High on the news watch list this week is what will happen at Ford Motor Co.’s plant in Claycomo? 

So far, there’s no word on whether its 7,000 workers will join the picket lines. The facility, just north of Worlds of Fun, produces the Ford F-150 pick-up and the Ford Transit van. 

Rather than striking all at once, the UAW’s leadership has chosen selective walkouts. The union is continuing to keep its strike plans secret as it negotiates with management. 


Last Week, Reviewed


Pharmacy Walkouts  

Auto workers aren’t the only ones walking off the job this week. So are pharmacists.  

Over the weekend, pharmacy counters were shuttered at 22 local CVS stores after staffers staged a walkout over poor working conditions. 

Several stores, including one in Overland Park, are still listed as temporarily closed. 

Concern over staffing levels is at the heart of the dispute. Pharmacists at the nation’s largest drugstore chain say work requirements leave them unable to safely fill and verify prescriptions, putting patients at risk. 

They claim CVS has cut the number of hours a pharmacist can have an assistant to help fill prescriptions.  

So, now you know why your vaccine appointment was abruptly canceled and why you had to wait so long to get your heart or allergy medications.  

There’s no word on how long the disruption at pharmacy counters will last. 

Countdown to Shutdown 

The federal government’s money tap could be shut off later this week. 

If no budget agreement is reached in Congress by midnight on Saturday, there will be a federal government shutdown. 

What does that mean? 

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would be furloughed, national parks would close and millions of Americans relying on government aid programs could see their checks delayed, including food stamp recipients.  

Essential workers would still be expected to clock in without pay, including aircraft controllers and TSA agents. But there’s a worry that many of those staffers will stop showing up, causing significant travel disruptions. 

The last federal government shutdown was in 2018 and lasted a record 34 days. 

Presidential Debate 

The second Republican presidential debate is this Wednesday night, but it looks like frontrunner Donald Trump will be a no-show again. 

The former president says he will skip the debate stage at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and will instead visit Detroit to rally with members of the UAW. 

He’s scheduled to deliver a prime-time speech to an audience of current and former union workers on Wednesday night. 

President Joe Biden also plans to be in Michigan this week. He’s scheduled to join a UAW picket line on Tuesday. 

Royals Ballpark 

This was the week we were supposed to find out where the Kansas City Royals would build their new ballpark

Now, all bets are off after team owner John Sherman announces he won’t meet his self-imposed deadline of choosing a site location by the end of September. 

In fact, there now is no timeline for that decision, except a brief note that says, “The process is moving thoughtfully and directly, including a regular cadence of focused meetings.”  

As we reach for our dictionaries, to find out what cadence means, Kansas Citians are left in limbo over the biggest unanswered question in Kansas City: Downtown or North Kansas City? 

A view from the east of a possible Royals ballpark in the East Village area of downtown.
A view of a possible Royals ballpark in the East Village area of downtown. (Rendering | Populous)

Free COVID Tests 

The government is handing out free COVID tests again. 

Starting today, you can order up to four free tests. You only need to enter your name and mailing address to get the test kits. They’ll be delivered to you by mail in the next 7-14 days. 

The Biden administration is spending $600 million to restart the program. It comes as COVID cases and hospitalizations are sharply rising in Kansas City and across the country. 

Red Light Cameras 

Remember red light cameras? They may be making a comeback.  

A decade years after Kansas City suspended the program amid court challenges, St. Louis is greenlighting an updated red light camera system they claim will withstand legal scrutiny, thanks to new facial-recognition technology. 

Is it just a matter of time before Kansas City joins them? 

Kansas City was netting more than $2 million a year from its 29 cameras. The city was issuing 11,000 tickets a month.  

The cameras were never taken down. You can still see them along Southwest Trafficway and Bruce Watkins Drive. 

Beyoncé in Town 

Move over Patrick Mahomes, there’s a new star taking the field at Arrowhead Stadium.  

Superstar singer Beyoncé brings her “Renaissance Tour” to Kansas City on Sunday and it’s already creating waves of excitement and fears of massive traffic disruption. 

That’s because she’s taking the stage at Arrowhead on the same day the Royals are playing their last game of the season at Kauffman Stadium.  

If you suffer from parking anxiety, then your patience may be tested to the limits this weekend.  

The last time the Truman Sports Complex hosted two major events on the same day was back in 2010. 

Student Loans 

After a three-year pandemic pause, millions of Americans with student loans are on the hook this week for repaying their college debt. The first bill comes due on Sunday. 

Nearly 44 million Americans have had their college debt frozen since March 2020. 

Both the Trump and Biden administrations granted extensions to student loan repayments, but Congress has since prohibited the White House from extending it another time. 

Retailers are already getting nervous about what it might mean for them. 

Economists estimate the repayments could curb consumer spending by $9 billion a month. 

Other News 

  • The Jewish Community Center is closed today along with other Jewish social service agencies as Kansas City marks Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.  
  • Google turns 25 years old on Wednesday. Can you even remember how you searched for things before “Google it” became our go-to phrase for finding information? 
  • The House Oversight Committee is set to hold its first hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Biden on Thursday. 
  • America’s top golfers head to Rome on Friday to defend the Ryder Cup title against Europe’s best players.  

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes 

If you’re anywhere close to the Kansas Speedway this week, prepare for your nostrils to be assaulted by the aroma of burnt ends and smokey ribs.  

It’s time for the American Royal World Series of Barbecue. More than 500 teams are competing in what is billed as the world’s largest barbecue contest.  

It runs Wednesday through Sunday.  

More Fun 

In addition to Beyonce, Kansas City welcomes Jefferson Starship and Grand Funk Railroad to town.  

The iconic rock bands play at the Uptown Theater on Thursday night. 

Then on Friday, comedian George Lopez grabs the mic at the Uptown as part of his Alllriiiighhttt! tour. 

Looking for something to do outdoors?  

This weekend is the Overland Park Fall Festival

And this is your last chance to see Spider-Man before he heads out of town.  

The Marvel superhero has been slinging webs and climbing walls at Union Station since the start of the summer.  

The “Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing” exhibit officially closes on Sunday. 

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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