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Friday, January 23, 2015

You are now free to flash your headlights at other drivers to warn them about police speed traps in Grain Valley

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 3:04 PM

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As a result of a settlement reached today between parties, the police department in Grain Valley, Missouri, will cease issuing tickets to drivers who flash their headlights as a way of communicating with other drivers.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Grain Valley Police Department on behalf of motorist Jerry Jarman, who warned oncoming traffic of an upcoming speed trap by flashing his headlights and was subsequently given a ticket for doing so. Under Grain Valley's existing city code, such an action is illegal — or, at least, it was until today. The city will repeal that portion of its ordinance and pay damages and attorney's fees to Jarman as part of a settlement agreement. 

“We are pleased that Grain Valley agrees that drivers should not be penalized for warning others to drive cautiously,” Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said in a release. “Flashing headlights is a readily understood way of communicating a message and is protected by the First Amendment.”

The ACLU's lawsuit can be found here

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At last, Boulevard Brewing Co. plans to start offering select beer in cans

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 12:58 PM

BOULEVARD BREWING CO.
  • Boulevard Brewing Co.
For those who wanted to enjoy a cold Boulevard beer while floating down the river, sitting poolside or in some other setting where glass bottles won't do, good news is here.

Boulevard announced on Friday that it is finalizing plans to offer four beers in 12-ounce cans.

Boulevard Wheat is sold in those bottle-shaped cans at sports venues like Sporting Park, where glass isn't such a good idea, and in liquor stores around town. Wheat will matriculate to the 12-ounce can, along with the Ginger Lemon Radler, Pop-Up IPA and Heavy Lifting IPA.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mission City Council turns the screws on Mission Gateway developer, tacks on a $12 million assessment on undeveloped property

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 10:17 AM

Debbie Kring, the long-serving Mission councilwoman, has lost patience with the Mission Gateway delays.
  • Debbie Kring, the long-serving Mission councilwoman, has lost patience with the Mission Gateway delays.
Debbie Kring, a Mission councilwoman since 1999, remembers the first time that Mission Gateway developer Tom Valenti came before the council dais nearly a decade ago to propose a grand idea to replace the Mission Center Mall.

"I had such high hopes for him," Kring said on Wednesday night.

And now?

"I'm just totally disappointed right now," Kring said.

Kring heard a bunch of messages from Valenti on her voicemail this week. She didn't return any of them.

Kring's mood seemed to reflect a shift in Mission's attitude toward Valenti, the purveyor of the evermore stalled Mission Gateway project at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive. The Mission City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that slaps a $600,000 annual property assessment on Valenti's Gateway tax bill.

The vote establishes a 20-year time frame for the city to recoup $12 million it spent in 2007 on stormwater improvements to ready the land for Valenti to get to work.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Some local updates regarding tiny houses

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 2:24 PM

Tiny times ahead in KC?
  • Tiny times ahead in KC?
The shrinking of the middle class, increasing concerns about our collective carbon footprint, enthusiasm for minimalist design, a desire for a simpler life, an innate human affinity for "tiny, cute" things: There are many reasons that the tiny-house movement is growing in America. A popular blog, a documentary on Netflix, and now a TV show are raising public awareness about the virtues of living in residences that top out at 500 square feet (and often less). 

It's taking awhile for the movement to come to the Midwest — the more progressive regions of the Pacific Northwest are where tiny houses have been most warmly embraced — but there are indications that momentum is starting to build locally. 

The Kansas City Tiny House Community, a recently formed Facebook page, is now up and running, and contains some locally relevant information for tiny-curious individuals. The organization is also seeking to attain nonprofit status. And Jeremy Luther and Kendall Quack are in the process of fundraising for a tiny house that will double as a professional design studio called Tiny House Creative. (Luther is also the art director for The Pitch. He declined to comment for this story. He hasn't spoken to any Pitch staffers in several months.*)

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U.S. Supreme Court finds that Missouri death row inmate Mark Christeson's appeals were handled poorly, wants his case re-opened

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 10:49 AM

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that attorneys for condemned Missouri prisoner Mark Christeson mishandled his appeals so badly that no execution can take place until lower courts re-examine his case.

Christeson was headed at one point for an October 29, 2014, appointment with Missouri's executioner (a date that was set by the Missouri Supreme Court, even though he had appeals pending in federal court) for his role in the 1998 murder of a woman and her two children in a rural community about 10 miles north of Rolla, Missouri.

But grave concerns have been raised by his new attorneys, as well as former judges, about the fact that his original appeals attorneys filed a routine death-row appeal long after the deadline had passed.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Mission City Council to decide Wednesday whether to hit Mission Gateway developer with $600,000 annual assessment

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 3:43 PM

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Once upon a time, Tom Valenti made a deal with Mission officials: If the city made $12 million worth of stormwater improvements on the old Mission Mall site, the Mission Gateway developer would repay the city's investment with a portion of the public incentives the plan would receive.

Moreover, the city would get the first $6 million up front in tax-increment financing and community-improvement-district funding, with the rest coming over the next few years.

Like a lot of agreements Valenti makes, this one fizzled out. The 26 acres upon which the Mission Mall once stood have remained vacant ever since Valenti bought the land almost 10 years ago. The city held up its end of the deal: Mission issued bonds to fund the stormwater project at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive. Valenti has done plenty of talking about what he hopes to accomplish, but has delivered nothing — certainly not anything that can start to drum up revenue to repay the city for its investment.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

After giving away the (revenue) farm, Sam Brownback tries to spackle together a budget

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 10:51 AM

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Gov. Sam Brownback boasted during his gubernatorial campaign last year about how much money he was pouring into K-12 education. It was a technically accurate but realistically dubious claim (he counted pension funding, which doesn't reach classrooms) but one he made nonetheless.

With a second term safely in hand, Brownback is now treating K-12 education funding like the annoying stepchild he never wanted but is now stuck having to look after.

Brownback, during a speech to the Kansas Legislature Thursday night, blamed K-12 education on the state's well-documented budget problems.

"A majority of the projected shortfall we face is due to increases in K-12 spending since fiscal year 2014," Brownback said. "I want to repeat that. A majority of the projected shortfall we face is due to increases in K-12 spending."

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Pro Wrestling event Saturday night will raise money for Bo Macan, a little boy with a rare genetic condition

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 9:14 AM

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"Super" Bo Macan is a fighter, and Saturday night there will be a pro wrestling show at the Impact Fellowship Church (12011 West 127th Street, Overland Park) to raise money for the 5-year-old Roeland Park boy who has a genetic condition so rare that it was named after him.

Among Bo Macan's extensive list of health issues in "Bo's Syndrome" are type I diabetes; growth hormone deficiency; thyroid problems; seizures; chronic lung disease; Immunoglobulin A; and permanent granulomas on his lungs, liver and in his bone marrow. Bo's body struggles to fight off infections, and he spends upward of 100 days a year — including birthdays — in a hospital.

Derek McQuinn, a local personal trainer at Team Fitness and former professional wrestler, started organizing the show after reading a Facebook post by Bo's mother, Carolyn.

"I thought it'd be a cool thing for him," McQuinn tells The Pitch. "The night would be about him, and maybe it'll take away some stress for at least a few hours."

McQuinn, also known as "Dangerous" Derek, attended middle and high school with Carolyn at Shawnee Mission North. When he heard about Bo's condition, he wanted to help. So he called in some favors and put together the wrestling show, which will feature six matches.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Three candidates file to fill the long-vacant 1st District at-large seat on Unified Government's commission

Posted By on Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 2:32 PM

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Unified Government of Wyandotte County's Commission had two years to fill a vacancy in its 1st District at-large seat but couldn't. So the voters will do that job this spring.

The 1st District at-large seat has remained vacant since Mark Holland, the last UG commissioner to hold that office, was elected mayor in 2013. Since then, the UG commission cast several deadlocked votes to pick either Nathan Barnes or Don Budd to fill that open position.

UG carried on with its business, saying that its charter didn't require the commission to pick a successor.

Barnes, a longtime commissioner whose political career in KCK predates the unification of KCK and Wyandotte County governments, will run for the at-large seat. Barnes' selection to replace Holland in 2013 was complicated by reports that he owed back taxes at the time.

Barnes was most recently in the news when he announced his support last September for Gov. Sam Brownback, one of a tiny klatch of Kansas Democrats who supported the Republican's re-election.

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