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The first measure would bar the city from owning or being financially tied to nuclear-weapon facilities. The initiative would require the city to "divest itself as soon as reasonably feasible of current municipal bonds which finance or subsidize" nuclear-weapon facilities. The second and less controversial measure would require the city to develop a contingency plan for the plant site if the plant ceases producing parts for weapons. The Peace Planters want the plant to work on environmentally friendly manufacturing.
The city clerk certified both measures January 3, but there's no guarantee that the initiatives will make it onto the ballot.
Rachel MacNair, the Peace Planters' petition coordinator, says the peace group is devoted to preventing a single bomb part from being built at the plant.
"We're hoping that they never contaminate the new location by starting to make new nuclear-weapons parts," she says.
If the Peace Planters succeed, Kansas City will be out of the bomb-making business for the first time since the Cold War.
MacNair anticipates a nasty political battle if the measures are placed on the ballot.
"They [plant proponents] will trounce us on advertising because they can take out of their pocket change 10 times what we will be able to do," she says. "But we will trounce them on person-to-person contact."
MacNair and the Peace Planters are confident of public support after successful ballot drives in back-to-back years.
John Sharp, councilman for the 6th District, where the plant is being constructed, has publicly expressed doubt that the first measure will make it to a vote.
The Pitch requested comments from every City Council member, including Sharp, about why the plant is good for Kansas City. Only 1st District Councilman Dick Davis responded.
"This decision is one I support," Davis wrote in an e-mail. "I also feel that if the decision results in good jobs for Kansas Citians, I fully support keeping them in Kansas City."
In a statement to The Pitch, Congressman Cleaver reiterated his support for the plant. "We all hope the weapons built at the campus will never be used. I have not abandoned my peacenik persona, but I do not think the United States should be vulnerable militarily," he wrote. "Unjust war is incompatible with the teachings and examples in my faith tradition, and I have opposed the wars and conflicts in recent history. However, until the day the United States military believes there is no longer a need for these parts, the professionals here in Kansas City are proud to help keep our nation safe."
The City Council has until March 1 to approve or reject the measures for the August 7 ballot.
MacNair and the Peace Planters have gone on the offensive, launching a new website (foolish-investment.com) and putting up billboards. At Truman Road South and Main and at Broadway and 39th Street, images of mushroom clouds hang over motorists.
MacNair says if the City Council bans these measures, the Peace Planters will be ready to engage the city in a lengthy legal battle.
"We will litigate it," she says. "We have raised the money to be able to fund the litigation."
Despite the Peace Planters' optimism, Ford is resigned that nuclear-weapon production will remain part of the Kansas City economy. Ford isn't raising a white flag just yet, but with the leases signed and construction on schedule, the machinery can't be stopped, he says.
"Even if they both get on [the ballot] and pass, I don't think it will impact this," he says. "It's a done deal."