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Friday, May 22, 2015

Push back from business community on KCMO minimum wage is underway

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 10:34 AM

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The South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce dispatched a letter to Kansas City Mayor Sly James earlier this week to complain that its members were concerned about the city's contemplation of a higher minimum wage.

Vickie Wolgast, president of the South Kansas City Chamber, laid out common business-centric consequences to minimum wage increases that she's hearing about from her members:

• Prices on goods and services will go up
• Businesses will reduce their hours and those of their employees
• Layoffs 
• Hiring freezes

She buttressed her argument by citing an unnamed hospitality company in south Kansas City that is apparently holding off on $20 million worth of projects while waiting out the minimum wage debate.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Commerce Tower developer tells an unlikely story about why he didn't receive tax credits from Missouri

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 3:16 PM

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Did a downtown Kansas City developer concoct a ruse in front of a city agency en route to tapping public funds for his project?

That's what we wondered after reading a curious story in the Kansas City Business Journal about the development of the Commerce Tower at 9th and Main. The story, which was posted on May 13, described how Commerce Tower Group Inc. appeared before the Tax Increment Financing Commission of Kansas City to request additional subsidies to give Commerce Tower a makeover. The TIF Commission plays a key role in handing out one of the strongest subsidy tools for developers.

Commerce Tower, 31 stories tall, is one of downtown Kansas City's most prominent buildings. The building went into foreclosure in 2012 after several high-profile tenants moved out, some lured to Johnson County on a flotilla of tax subsidies.

Commerce Tower Group Inc. acquired the building and wants to refashion some of those empty floors into apartments, indoor dog parks, retail and other such things.


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Monday, May 18, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Westport 'rape' graffiti inspires ridiculous news report

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 1:06 PM

Working for yew.
  • Working for yew.
Rape is not funny. It is an atrocious, vicious, evil act. 

Yesterday's Fox 4 News report about rape graffiti, though: hoo boy. It packs several LOLs into a two-minute segment. 

Recently, somebody spray-painted “HERE’S WHERE I WAS RAPED” on the pavement of a Westport alley on 40th Street between Broadway and Central. Very possibly, the person who tagged that pavement really was raped there, which would obviously be a tragedy. The graffiti might also be less personal — a political statement about sexual assault, perhaps. Or maybe the person who spray-painted the ground is just a shithead who wanted to deface a public space. It is very hard to know for sure who is responsible for specific works of graffiti. 

Nevertheless, Fox 4 News sent a reporter out to get the scoop on this rape graffiti. The station subsequently aired a report noting that there's a "growing" graffiti problem in this part of Westport. Then the reporter interviewed some people about graffiti. The results are on the level of the Onion News Network

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Prominent Missouri Republicans have a knack for self-immolating; John Diehl is the latest example [UPDATE: Diehl resigns]

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 10:56 AM

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Jason Hancock, The Kansas City Star's Jefferson City correspondent, had the big story on Wednesday that left Missouri's political establishment quivering.

Hancock revealed that John Diehl, the Missouri House Speaker, had enjoyed a semi-steamy string of text messages with a legislative intern. Rumors of these exchanges circulated around Jefferson City for a while now. Hancock stayed on the story, despite having to play a cat-and-mouse game with Diehl and his staff, which misled and put off the reporter for weeks.

In a beautiful piece of irony, Diehl on May 5 had admonished Kansas City Rep. Jeremy LaFaver for speaking out on the House floor against an impending vote to cut welfare benefits to needy Missourians. "We don't act like barbarians," Diehl is reported to have said to LaFaver.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

LiveKC's urban Backyard party starts Thursday with leisure sports, a food truck and a biergarten

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 4:54 PM

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LiveKC's mission to bring life to Barney Allis Plaza this summer kicks off Thursday night with the first Backyard event. 

At 5 p.m., downtown Kansas City's most underused town square transforms into an urban Backyard with a food truck (Werner’s on Wheels), a biergarten and leisure sports. Downtown Kansas City hasn't always been the most vibrant place after 5 p.m., with the exception of First Fridays. LiveKC's Erik Wullschleger says it's his group's mission to change that. 

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Kansas City Public Schools may be looking for its next superintendent as Stephen Green named sole finalist for Georgia job

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 10:56 AM

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Kansas City Public Schools once again appears to be on the verge of another search for a superintendent.

Stephen Green, the superintendent thought to be the superintendent who would restore stability to the upper echelon of KCPS administration, has been named the sole finalist for the DeKalb County School District near Atlanta, Georgia, according to a report Wednesday morning from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The report notes that the DeKalb district planned a Wednesday evening press conference to formally announce Green as the finalist. Similarly, KCPS is expected to hold a press conference around the same time on Wednesday.

Green is in the middle of a 5-year contract with KCPS. He has been the permanent superintendent for KCPS since 2012. His tenure is one of the more stable terms among KCPS superintendent over the last two decades. If Green takes the new job, he will follow a similar exit of that from John Covington, his predecessor who was hailed as a change agent for the school district before he suddenly left for an education administration position in Michigan.


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Plugging my hair into the Power & Light District’s new salon, Posh KC Blow Dry Bar

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 10:53 AM

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Your hair is probably better than my hair.

For years, I bleached the life out of my locks, giving hollow reply to well-meaning hairstylists who called my natural shade of blond “dirty” or “dishwater” or (worst of all) “mousy.”

Today I’m older and … let’s not say wiser but agree, instead, that I’m more practical. Which means I have given up bottle-based quick fixes and am learning to love what nature gave me. Or at least to live with it. While my split ends grow out, I’m left with fine, frizzy, damaged hair that probably resembles a handful of straw under a 
microscope.

I’m trying to be patient. But every once in a while, I just want my hair to look good.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to attend a preopening event at Posh KC Blow Dry Bar, a new salon in the Power & Light District. If these stylists could make my hair look good, I figured that they can make anyone’s hair look good.

My poor stylist would face an extra degree of difficulty: Two months out from my last trim, my hair had started doing that weird “mullet” thing in the back. (Anyone who has short hair knows what I’m talking about.) The game was definitely on.

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Sam Brownback's stock portfolio is bullish on Kansas vendors and regulated companies

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 7:51 AM

GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Gage Skidmore
When it came time for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to pay for a meal at Topeka barbecue joint Boss Hawg’s earlier this month, his server crossed out the ticket’s tip line and wrote: “Tip the schools.”

Brownback left a little money for Chloe Hough anyway, 10 percent on the $52 tab — markedly below the industry standard for adequate service. You could chalk up the meager gratuity to perceived insolence from Hough, but you can’t say Brownback couldn’t afford to do better by restaurant help. Beyond the $99,636 salary he makes as the governor of Kansas, he holds a considerable stock portfolio — one that has expanded impressively since he took office.

Brownback and other state lawmakers have to file “statement of substantial interest” paperwork with the Kansas secretary of state’s office every year. The SSI form discloses stock holdings and other investments. According to his 2010 filing, Brownback held common stock in 11 companies when he was elected governor that year.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jackson County sending out reassessment notices to property owners today, think they got it right this time

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2015 at 1:57 PM

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Good luck trying to get Jackson County's reassessment team to talk in much detail about how it misfired in determining the value of properties all across the county.

"I can only look forward to 2015," says John Ebert. "I truthfully did not look backward."

Such lines are often spoken by government officials who want to move on from past embarrassments.

But Ebert isn't a Jackson County employee. He runs John Q. Ebert & Associates, a consulting firm from Lansing, Michigan, that Jackson County hired to get its 2015 property reassessment right.


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