'Arena-itis' and other reflections
about the August 3rd ballot
by Bruce Rodgers
your point of view, going to the polls on Aug. 3 is either a futile
gesture where money wins out no matter what or part of that great
democratic process demonstrating the peoples will at work. Like
most ordinary voters, my feelings fall somewhere in between
an effort akin to panning for gold, i.e. trying to find some nugget
(candidate or question) worth going to the polls for regardless of
the hype and money.
Apparently, KC Mayor Kay Barnes feels the same way. She is taking
a pass on attending the Democratic convention, even though she is
a delegate, to stay here to keep pushing for passage of Question
No. 1, the downtown arena proposal. I guess making sure the LA-based
conglomerate Anschutz Entertainment Group gets its arena and car rental
agencies get taxed more is more important than getting on the bandwagon
to defeat President Bush. But hey, we all have our priorities. Since
the Republican convention is after Aug. 3, maybe Barnes could attend
that. Got to keep your political skills sharp.
Admittedly, I would find it hard not to vote for the arena. God knows
downtown KC needs it. Trouble is, like most everything this town pushes,
the proposal gives a big fat corporation a very good deal, with plenty
of wiggle room if things sour, and gives the wealthy a showpiece to
brag about while little economic benefit trickles down to ordinary
Joe and Sally. Throw in the pure bull on getting a NHL or NBA team
and the fan support it will supposedly draw, and the economic development
that will supposedly happen around the arena, and its dé ja
vu all over again when it comes to remembering all those rosy projections
for Science City and Union Station. Lets not forgot that nobody
has a viable plan for Kemper Arena if the new arena gets built.
Like always, taxpayers will carry the load if this passes. In a July
22 Star article conveniently placed on the Metropolitan
page when other arena news have been front page items
(now does that tell you where the paper is at?) economist Robert
Baade noted that the arena financing package has taxpayers providing
57% of the projected $250 million cost, a higher figure when compared
to other cities that struck arena deals.
Proponents of the arena countered that the 57% figure
is justified because Kansas City is a small market without a NHL or
NBA tenant. That statement raises the question of how big of the sweetheart
deal is some NHL or NBA team going to want because they know we have
a new arena that we need to fill?
Wouldnt it have made more sense to have a team interested in
KC before building a new arena? Or do we think monster truck shows
and tractor pulls will carry us over until a team shows up?
Not spoken about much publicly is how passage of the arena tax will
ease the nervousness the Cordish development company is having concerning
the success of its proposed Kansas City Live district. If the arena
question doesnt pass, look for a scaling back of that development.
The Live district is like the arena in its near comic delivery of
what the development will bring the city. In a July 1 article in the
Star, the list of tenants News-time cafe
(whatever that is) to Pan-Asian quick-service restaurant
to Outdoor multi-tap garden brew pub to Upscale
female day spa an salon appear to be Yellow Pages
categories masquerading as sure things. Do these guys from Baltimore
think we just got off the bus?
Another thing not contemplated is if AEG gets its arena and Cordish
has is Live district, a good chunk of downtown will be under the control
of two large corporations. Think about it. Not only will the streetscape
look like every other downtown in the country, independent restaurant,
gallery and retail shop owners might as well forget it. The corporate
chains will be wooed and to stay in the game independents will have
to pay out the nose.
As usual, no one tells the public all the implications of such corporate
deals. Its a public disservice and shows how lazy the news media
is in this town.
Now on to a few other ballot items:
Constitutional Amendment No. 2 in Missouri is the ban
gay marriages amendment. Passage will entrench bigotry and discrimination
in the Missouri Constitution. Gay and lesbian couples have a right
to marry. The threat to marriage as an institution is what it has
always been: poverty and divorce.
It is shameful that this amendment is even being considered. Vote
The Missouri Democratic primary race everyone is tuned to is between
sitting Gov. Bob Holden and state auditor and challenger Claire
Holden is stubborn, generally right on important issues
and honest. McCaskill is smart, ambitious and carries with her a butt-load
of favors to pay back. If she gets elected, its cronyville in
state government and the pursuit of special interest money to continue
her political ladder climbing.
A few Democratic candidates I know personally or know people who are
working for them that deserve support include Carol Jean Mays
running in the 11th state Senate district, Rep. John Patrick Burnett
seeking reelection in the 40th state House district and incumbent
Rep. Vicki Walker in the 50th District. These are good people.
Over on the Kansas side in the Republican primary, U.S. Sen. Sam
Brownback is facing challenger Arch Naramore from Lawrence.
I like this guy over Brownback. Why? Hes not afraid to list
his membership in the ACLU in his online bio and was once an organic
subsistence farmer. Now thats a tough way to make a living!
Of course, U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore in the 3rd Congressional
district will face the winner of a lively Republican primary between
Kris Kobach, Patricia Lightner and Adam Taft.
The likely winner is Taft, who will turn right in facing Moore during
the general election campaign.
Moore, who is the best politician in Kansas, will prevail
because...hes the best politician in Kansas. The guy knows how
to cast votes for political survival without completely turning off
liberal Democrats or making moderate Republican angry enough to abandon
Perhaps the most interesting race in Johnson County is the sheriffs
race between incumbent Lynn Currie Myers and Frank
Denning. Five Johnson County mayors have publicly come out against
Myers, which shows the number of toes Myers has stepped on during
his tenure. He has bullied his way onto other law enforcement agencys
turf, mainly the various city police departments, and frightened some
people with his loud proclamations for family values,
as if effective law enforcement isnt that.
Myers is one of those spooky kinds of conservatives.
Go vote people, like your life depends upon it.
Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at