News from Mayor Mark Funkhouser

In two actions Thursday, the City Council voted to usurp power – first from the Mayor’s office, then from the citizens of Kansas City.
“It’s not every day the City Council gets to violate both the U.S. Constitution and the City Charter,” the Mayor said.
By an 8-5 vote, the Council voted to seek a court order that would put a measure on the November ballot changing the way City Hall draws voting districts as the city’s population changes. The issue involves the shift of residents to the Northland.
Along geographic lines, the Council voted to ask voters to change the City Charter, and require the city to redraw voting districts only once a decade. Currently, the city is required to redraw voting boundaries before a third general election is held using the same voting districts. Such a redistricting currently is underway.
The Mayor argued that delaying redistricting disenfranchises tens of thousands of voters in the Northland, which has grown substantially since the 2000 census. The Constitution requires that voting districts – Kansas City has six – have populations within 10 percent of each other. Kansas City has two districts that differ by almost 30 percent.
Council members from south of the river, which has seen its population drop, are seeking to delay redistricting.
“I have the responsibility to be the mayor of everyone in the city,” the Mayor told the Council.
The Mayor sees the Council’s action as a stall tactic so that new Council district lines cannot be drawn before the February election.
Prior to that action, though, the Council voted to override the Mayor’s veto of a Council resolution that seeks to make an appointment to the Port Authority of Kansas City. The city attorney’s office stated in no uncertain terms that the City Charter gives only the Mayor the authority to make Port Authority appointments. The Mayor vetoed the resolution because it violated the Charter.
Since 1998, the citizens have repeatedly voted on Charter changes that make the office of the Mayor stronger. The Mayor’s appointments would strengthen the way we do economic development in Kansas City and would have gone a long way toward the creation of jobs.
The Council voted to override the Mayor’s veto anyway.
On Thursday, the Mayor submitted a resolution appointing Benny Lee, a well-known Kansas City entrepreneur and international businessman, and George Blackwood, an attorney and former City Councilman, to the Port Authority Board. The Council voted to send that resolution to committee.
Construction crews should begin work in many Kansas City neighborhoods this fall as the city begins some long-overdue infrastructure improvements.
The City Council on Thursday approved $20.2 million for dozens of projects in five of the six Council districts. The Council unanimously approved the projects, which had been pushed as part of the Mayor’s Schools First initiative.
Projects range from new sidewalks in many neighborhoods, to sewer improvements to a new aquatics center in the Sixth District. The Fifth District didn’t ask for Council funding for any projects.
All in all, it was another busy week for the Mayor that started with a major farewell celebration on Saturday for the former TWA maintenance base.
About 3,000 people attended the celebration hosted by the Transport Workers Union at the Airline History Museum at the Downtown Wheeler Airport.
In addressing the crowd, the Mayor noted that the area had lost important jobs when the overhaul base closed, but had regained some of those jobs when Jet Midwest took over the facility.
But also important, the Mayor said, is TWA’s history in Kansas City. Many retired airline workers attended the celebration.
“I congratulate Local 530, CACU, the Downtown Wheeler Airport and the Airline History Museum for putting this event together and reminding us of the rich airline history in Kansas City,” the Mayor told the crowd.
On Tuesday, the Mayor was master of ceremonies for a press conference called for a celebration of another kind. Local, state, federal and business officials gathered in the Kansas City Southern Railway yard to praise a project designed to help reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality in Kansas City.
Federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped pay for the project.
“This project fits right in with the Kansas City area’s goal for becoming one of the greenest areas in the country,” the Mayor said. “And it fits in with Kansas City’s tradition as a transportation hub, particularly for railroad traffic.”
On Thursday night, the Mayor spoke about a variety of issues during a neighborhood town hall in the Northland sponsored by Harmony Vineyard Church. Residents asked about city services, the Port Authority of Kansas City, the potential recall of the earnings tax and other issues.
The statewide vote on the earnings tax, which is being financed and pushed by St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield, is scheduled for Nov. 2. “It’s designed to just destroy Kansas City,” the Mayor told the crowd. “I’m opposed to it and will fight with every tool I have.”
The Mayor is grateful to Harmony Vineyard Church for hosting the town hall.

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