An answer to all the questions, big and small, about Kansas City.

There's no such thing as a stupid question about KC, right? 

An answer to all the questions, big and small, about Kansas City.

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Street signs with typos? Really?

Kansas City spokesman Dennis Gagne says staff cuts and human error mean that we're seeing more glitches than before on signage. (The city doesn't keep figures on bad signs, but we're sure there are more of them.) "There's one person working in a sign shop," he explains. "We've trimmed to the point where there's not a second set of eyes on them. When you see one, it's huge to you. Every day you drive by it, it registers."

True! But Gagne says help may be on the way. "Call 3-1-1 [to report incorrect signs]," he says. "It's my understanding that money was shifted to this."

click to enlarge Why, Dick?
  • Why, Dick?

Why does former Mayor Richard Berkley still dye his hair black?

It's possible that not even Berkley knows the answer to this question, but he can probably apply a box of Just for Men without even reading the directions.

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The Royals? The Kings? What's with all the sovereign-named sports teams?

The reason for our blueblood team names is due not to nobility but to steer. The Royals are named for the American Royal rodeo and stock show. The city's erstwhile NBA squad, the Kings, originally was called the Rochester Royals, and then the Cincinnati Royals, before moving to town, and that was the result of a naming contest. The team rechristened itself the Kings in order to avoid confusion with the baseball club.

How much does the city spend each year to operate its fountains?

It's no secret that Kansas City loves its fountains. The city flag even pays homage to water blasting through the air. The city manages 48 of an estimated 200 fountains, ranging from huge, ornate jobs to discreet, out-of-the-way gurglers. According to the Parks and Recreation Department, the city budgets $167,000 a year to maintain them.

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Why are some bars open until 1:30 a.m., while others close at 3?

We asked Gagne about this, too, and he says the standard closing time for bars has been, and remains, 1:30 a.m. He reminds us, though, that state officials 20 years ago feared that the relatively early lights-out was keeping conventions away from Missouri. So, with that in mind, Kansas City relaxed its laws to allow bars that might reasonably expect convention business to stay open till 3. Those late-serving bars had to be within 1.5 miles of a hotel with at least 40 guest rooms and had to report annual sales of $100,000. Gagne says those basic guidelines remain in place.

What's the latest on the goofy liquor laws in Kansas City, Kansas?

The state has a history of draconian blue laws. According to one old story, when airlines began slinging in-flight drinks, they wouldn't serve while in Kansas airspace. But if you're a fan of guzzling booze or you make your living selling it, the current Kansas Legislature is working for you. Earlier this year, the state legalized happy hours (following more than 25 years of only moderately pleasant hours). A bill that passed last session also allows microbreweries and microdistilleries to give out product samples. At the retail level, the rules are still pretty strict: Liquor stores must close before 11 p.m. (8 p.m. Sunday), and grocery stores and convenience stores can sell only 3.2 beer. There was some movement to update those laws in the last legislative session, though, and the issue is almost certain to come up again when the new session starts in January.

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