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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tom Schweich, Missouri auditor and gubernatorial candidate, has died

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 1:58 PM

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Sad news out of Missouri today where its auditor and aspirant for governor, Tom Schweich, has died. He was 54.

Schweich was taken from his home in Clayton to a St. Louis hospital on Thursday morning following what his office described as a "medical situation" for which he was being treated. Several news outlets reported that Schweich was being treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. His office confirmed his death at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Schweich had a wife and two children. Little else is known at this point.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Schweich earlier in the day had asked reporters for an interview; his wife was in another room when she heard the calls and then a gunshot.

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Steve Klika is shaping up as an unlikely swing vote on the newest King Louie plan in Johnson County

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 1:39 PM

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For at least two years, Johnson County's Board of County Commissioners has been divided as evenly as you can split seven votes on what to do with the King Louie building.

Steve Klika for much of that time has been a vocal opponent of renovating the ramshackle bowling alley, at 8788 Metcalf, on the backs of taxpayers, who already overpaid to acquire the Googie-style building.

Now, Klika seems to be warming to the latest idea for King Louie: Pulling programs from the Johnson County Parks & Recreation Department into the building to accompany the Johnson County Museum and an advance voting center.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Port Authority can clear the way for KCMO developers

The Port Authority can clear the way for KCMO developers.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 7:59 AM

Construction is underway at 4800 Main.
  • Construction is underway at 4800 Main.
Back in 2003, the sports architecture firm then known as HOK was in the market for office space. Kansas City, Missouri, was eager to help. The city, as it often does, issued tax breaks to a developer willing to erect a building at Third Street and Wyandotte. The Chelsea Theatre, a run-down porn hub, went away. In its place rose a gleaming new structure.

Besides lowering costs for the developer, the tax breaks, granted by the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, made lease rates more attractive to HOK. The firm took up most of the building.

These days, HOK goes by Populous, and it’s done with 300 Wyandotte. The tax breaks on that building will last until 2029, but Populous is set to leave the River Market after a little more than a decade. It plans to move to the former Kansas City Board of Trade, just south of the Country Club Plaza, filling space left empty when the commodity exchange was acquired by the futures giant CME Group Inc.

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  • The Port Authority can clear the way for KCMO developers.

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Matt Cox, EastLake Church lead pastor, talks making video games, almost meeting Taylor Swift and more

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 6:57 AM

Matt Cox, lead pastor of EastLake Church in Lawrence - BARRETT EMKE
  • Barrett Emke
  • Matt Cox, lead pastor of EastLake Church in Lawrence

Name: Matt Cox

Occupation: Lead pastor, EastLake Church in Lawrence

Hometown: Lansing, Kansas

Current neighborhood: Lawrence

What I do: I lead a fairly new church startup in Lawrence for people who don’t like church. We value community above agreement. We value our differences. We are open and affirming to all people.

What’s your addiction? Chipotle burrito bowls

What’s your game? Right now, it’s Mario Kart 8 for Wii U or Sunset Overdrive for Xbox One.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

K-State Police want to know who hip-checked a KU basketball player last night

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 12:21 PM

Anyone friends with the guy on the left? KSU police want to chat. - KSU POLICE
  • KSU police
  • Anyone friends with the guy on the left? KSU police want to chat.
The Kansas State basketball team whipped cross-state rivals Kansas on Monday night before a nationally televised audience on ESPN, but few seem to be talking about the athletes' play on the court.

Instead, attention Tuesday seemed to mostly turn toward the antics of the Wildcats' faithful at Bramlage Coliseum, who rushed the court to celebrate the victory and treat the feat against an overrated opponent like a national championship.

KSU officials, instead of lauding their team's victory, have issued apologies to KU athletics personnel for the harsh sendoff the fans offered to the Jayhawks. 

Law enforcement is getting involved, too.


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Report: Kansas was the only state last year that had an increase in the percentage of residents without health insurance

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 11:11 AM

When it comes to the percent of residents without health insurance increasing from 2013 to 2014, Kansas stands alone.
  • When it comes to the percent of residents without health insurance increasing from 2013 to 2014, Kansas stands alone.
Kansas, with its resolute opposition to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, earned the distinction as the only state in the United States that saw an increase in the percentage of those without health insurance in 2014 compared with the year before.

A Gallup report out Tuesday shows that 14.4 percent of Kansans lacked health insurance coverage in 2014, up from 12.5 percent in 2013.

The ACA requires health coverage in the same way that most states require drivers to have liability insurance if they want to drive legally. Kansas rejected Medicaid expansion.

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Proposals heard — again — on what to do with Westport High School

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 11:04 AM

Another meeting on Westport High School was held last night. - UMKC
  • UMKC
  • Another meeting on Westport High School was held last night.
In August 2012, my colleague Steve Vockrodt, writing then for the Kansas City Business Journal, covered a meeting held at Redeemer Fellowship regarding what to do with the buildings that once housed Westport High School (315 East 39th Street) and Westport Middle School (300 East 39th Street). Kansas City Public Schools closed both schools in 2010 amid declining enrollment. The crowd assembled that evening at Redeeemer heard proposals from Foutch Brothers and Kansas City Sustainable Development Partners.

Two and a half years on, both schools remain untouched. A remarkably similar meeting was held last night about their future — again at Redeemer, again featuring presentations by Foutch Brothers and KCSDP about the Westport schools. A few dynamics have changed in the interim, which are worth noting.

Originally, the school district wanted to sell the schools as a package deal. After both Foutch and KCSDP expressed interest and submitted proposals, the plan was to deal the schools separately. KCSDP would get the middle school, for which it planned a multiuse center that would combine housing, nonprofit office space and urban farming, among other ideas. Foutch would get the high school, which would be anchored by an Academie Lafayette high school and also include some housing and sports facilities. 

In January 2014, KCSDP formally purchased Westport Middle. Foutch was in the process of purchasing Westport High School — the school district had recommended its sale to the board — in June 2014 when the district suddenly announced that it had partnered with Academie Lafayette for a move into the former Southwest High School building, at 6512 Wornall, in Brookside. 

The announcement blindsided Foutch Brothers and derailed its proposal. The district then essentially pulled its recommendation and opened Westport High back up to an alternative proposal. KCSDP had one. Foutch revised its plans. And here we were last night. 

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Another Petro America defendant off to prison

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 1:45 PM

Owen Hawkins, his own attorney and the man who started Petro America, is still trying to get out of prison.
  • Owen Hawkins, his own attorney and the man who started Petro America, is still trying to get out of prison.
The book is almost closed on the Petro America case, a gleaming local example of how some people will believe just about anything.

A federal judge in Kansas City on Friday sentenced Russell Hopkins to four years and three months in prison, plus more than $600,000 in restitution.

Hopkins was from Alabama, showing how far-flung the Kansas City scam became before federal investigators swooped in.

Petro America was the brainchild of Kansas City, Kansas, man Owen Hawkins, who managed to convince investors that his multibillion-dollar minerals and natural resources company based in Kansas City was worth the investment (a summary of the case is here).

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Finally confirmed: AMC Entertainment can keep up to $21 million in taxes for its move to Leawood

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 1:26 PM

AMC can get up to $21 million of its employees taxes, a deal Kansas made with the company so it would move to this fancy Leawood building.
  • AMC can get up to $21 million of its employees taxes, a deal Kansas made with the company so it would move to this fancy Leawood building.
AMC Entertainment's decision to move to Leawood in 2011 was one of the more stinging company losses for Kansas City, Missouri.

AMC was a prominent downtown employer, and its founder, Stan Durwood, was an early booster for the south loop's redevelopment, which eventually evolved into what is today the Power & Light District.

The company grew tired of its aging building at the northwest corner of 10th Street and Main and put itself on the market as one of the metro's biggest office tenants looking for new space with 450 employees at stake.

As these things go, the announcement sparked a volley of offers from local municipalities and state governments, making all kinds of pledges about the public subsidies they could offer so that one lucky mayor could someday cut a ribbon and say he or she helped "create jobs."

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Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who makes $86,000 a year, believes he's experiencing 'gradual impoverishment' due to his job

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 11:53 AM

This man earns nearly double the median Missouri income. Can you spare a dime?
  • This man earns nearly double the median Missouri income. Can you spare a dime?
Pray for Peter Kinder. 

The lieutenant governor of Missouri, a Republican, has faced some, let's call it, adversity, in the past. But the man is resilient! He remains the second-highest-ranking official in the Show-Me State. It's an important job. Who else is going to troll Obama on Twitter all day? You think just anybody can do that?

And Kinder makes only $86,000 a year. Sure, he has a history of sticking taxpayers with the bill while staying at ritzy hotels. But he can't really do that anymore. How's he supposed to make it rain at Hooter's on the reg on just over 80 G's a year? 

Which is why he is putting in for a raise. The AP reports that Kinder is asking Missouri legislators to include in the budget a $103 per diem for him anytime he's in Jefferson City for work — whether the Legislature is in session or not. Then Kinder told the AP, on the record, that he has been experiencing "gradual impoverishment" as a result of his supposedly puny salary. On the record, he said this!

A few relevant points to consider:

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