Page 4 of 7
"You've got a district wrought with problems for years and people that have been determined to be the ones to change it," she adds. "So you got this young guy coming up against somebody's 30-, 40-year plan to change it."
In the evenings, the Wendell Phillips neighborhood between Prospect and Brooklyn and 26th and 27th streets is as dark as London during the Blitz. The windows of dozens of homes on the block are boarded up, and signs warn pedestrians to stay away.
The city plans to bulldoze 128 properties it bought or acquired through eminent domain to build the Kansas City Police Department's controversial new East Patrol and crime lab campus. (Demolition began on empty homes in early January.) Sixty-six of those properties had residents displaced.
"They made the ultimate sacrifice for their community," says Reed, who adds that the uprooted residents received a fair deal. Each property was given three appraisals, and the highest one was used as basis for a purchase price, plus a 25 percent premium. If someone owned the house for more than 50 years, another 50 percent was tacked onto the purchase price. The city also covered residents' moving expenses. Homeowners were given three months to leave their properties once the city bought them out.
Reed's advocacy for the $57 million KCPD project — initiated under former Mayor Mark Funkhouser — poisoned him for some of his constituents. The affidavit initiating the recall effort against Reed was filed by seven residents on May 9, 2012. It listed six complaints against Reed, but the primary gripe was Reed's support for the police campus.
Half a mile south of the proposed crime–lab site, Carolyn Alexander is preparing to plant her summer flowers. A retired caregiver, Alexander rents a stonewalled home on East 30th Street in the Santa Fe Place neighborhood. The area, with flowerbeds, newer cars in clean driveways and recycling bins pulled to the curb, averages fewer than one crime report a week.
On her shady front porch, amid flower pots and bags of soil, the 62-year-old explains how she went from Reed supporter to recall petitioner.
"You can't help being young," she says. "But I would like to see him do something besides putting a Band-Aid on problems."
Alexander concedes that there was nothing Reed could have done to stop the crime lab from being built.
"Once all the wheels are set in motion, I understand that he couldn't stop it," she says. "But these people were rushed out."
The recall fell hundreds of signatures short. Alexander, who knew four people displaced by the crime lab, says Reed heard the message from his constituents.
"My problem with Mr. Reed is that we never see him out in the community unless there is a large publicity event," she says.
"It's malarkey," Reed yells in the council chambers on the 26th floor of City Hall during an early May transportation-and-infrastructure committee meeting. "This really gets me going. That's a bunch of bull!"
"If we're going to argue, we're going to adjourn," committee chair Russ Johnson warns as other council members stare at their desks.
Reed directs his anger at Kansas City Public Works Director Sherri McIntyre, who was explaining why traffic lights in the 3rd District had been converted into four-way stops.
Earlier this year, the city turned off 16 traffic lights in the district deemed "unwarranted" by the Public Works department. Red lights were left flashing to indicate four-way stops.
A week earlier, Reed and City Manager Troy Schulte held a community–outreach meeting to discuss the signals. Reed says Schulte agreed with residents to turn three of the signals into four-way stops, and return the other 13 to service. The lights, however, remained four-way stops.