Monday, March 19, 2012

Do You Think Kansas City Is Turning Around?

It has been a busy day, and I have not been able to examine Mayor Sly James State of the City speech in detail. I have looked at some of the news coverage and bloggy coverage, and I see a big contrast. In the newspaper, it is all roses and a positive review for Mayor James. In the blogs, it seems as if there is way more skepticism and mistrust. The newspaper is supportive of the downtown train. Most bloggers are not supporters, and feel that it would be a waste of money.

I am not really sure how the majority of Kansas City residents feel about the direction and state of our city. Some things clearly need work, such as our crime rate and homicide rate--I would say the majority of people believe that crime seriously impacts the quality of life in our city. It is hard to assess how people feel about putting more money and stuff into the downtown area, especially transit projects. I think people are fed up with the government spending too much money.

So readers, how do you and your circle of friends feel about this city's direction? Are our leaders making sound decisions or poor ones?


bembycs said...

Can we really look at everything that has happened in both the city and the metro and say that nothing has improved? I personally find that extremely hard to believe, but there are people that hold that position. What I find so amazing about these arguments against this progress is how predictable they are, further from some of what I have read, I have come to the conclusion that these people are just plain some of the biggest complainers on the face of the earth that will never be happy no matter what the city does. For some reason these individuals make an effort to merely be contrarian towards anything the city does, as opposed to actually providing any real solutions to anything. It is, frankly a bad sign when I can guess exactly what these people are going to say on a given issue before I even read what they say…and be right a vast majority of the time. So here is a breakdown of these arguments: they either revolve around crime or taxes, and, for the individuals that I speak of, everything else that is done in the metro can only be analyzed insofar as they effect these two issues. The anti-tax people hate what has been done over the past few years because of the city used TIF to make it happen. The crime people despise these things because they believe that if something does not affect the east side it is not worth our time to discuss it. You would think we were the only city that dealt with crime or high taxes.
Even more perplexing about the naysayers’ positions is the seeming paradoxical logic. For example, Tony’s Kansas City consistently complains about infrastructure in this city, yet he then turns around and complains when the city wants to spend $1 billion to fix it. I also read an article by David Martin at The Pitch (who consistently wrote articles chiding the city for its use of TIF and other tax subsidies on downtown development) praising Indianapolis for being so much “better” than Kansas City, yet what he praises about Indianapolis is the product of the very tax subsidies that he criticizes Kansas City for using. I could go on and on about these examples, but one gets the point.
The idea that anyone would say anything positive about the city seems to inspire an almost irrational amount of anger and resentment in some people as though someone was attacking a closely held religious belief. A recent example of this was when columnist Hampton Stevens (who writes for national publications by the way) wrote a rather glowing piece on Kansas City. The next day a former writer for The Pitch (who lives in New York now) went out of his way to write a scathing rebuttal for an article about a city which he does not even live in anymore. We have a situation where a Kansas City writer living in another city will berate KC for, say, racial inequality, but at the same time refuses to acknowledge the massive racial and income inequality going on in his own backyard: NYC. I am also willing to bet that he is against KC spending any money on conventions, yet he does not criticize New York for wanting to spend BILLIONS on the “world’s largest convention center.”
So, to answer the question of whether Kansas City is moving forward, the answer is an overwhelming YES. Granted there are challenges, and I am not one to gloss over the issues of crime, schools, and getting a workable transit system, but unlike some, my recognition of these challenges does not come at the expense of recognizing how far the city has come.

Super Dave said...

Sorry bembycs I don't see the same picture you paint.

I have advised my family members to start selling our property in KC-MO since all is now worth less than it was worth 5 years ago.

I don't see at the current rate of events and things any turn around soon for Kansas City. Sad thing to say but reality thinking.

Bob G. said...

T.O. (et al):
While I don't have a dog in your fight in KCMO (I'm originally from Philly, but now live in Ft. Wayne, IN), I can and DO appreciate the similarities we ALL share when it comes to a city in some manner of decline.

And while there is always SOME progress made (however small or fleeting...or even COSTLY), it's always upset by the negatives that continue to not only grow in frequency but also the politicians who either can't see (or won't see) such issues.

You can build a NEW STADIUM, but if CRIME rises too, that's a washout.

Change the name of the city, and you pretty much hear the same things.

How did we manage to have our cities PROSPER in times past, and yet today, with "so much more" at our fingertips and at our disposal, we're slipping farther DOWN the ladder, when we SHOULD be damn near the TOP by now?

So many things to point at...and so FEW fingers with which to point.
Now THAT'S a conundrum.

Excellent post and comments on both sides.

Stay safe out there.

bembycs said...

Super Dave, your response tells me nothing about exactly what you find wrong with my argument at all. All you tell me is that you disagree. Please tell me one place in America where property values have increased at all, again I do not see how this is a unique KC issue that you paint it to be. What events do you exactly speak of? The problem, I think (and I have noticed this with others who have disagreed with my position) you do not explain your position at all, you just state it as though it is self evident. So please help me out here, what exactly is so wrong, and how are any of those things any different than problems that other metros face?

Super Dave said...


I have talked and talked and to the point of being tired of talking.

I would explain it to you but you wouldn't understand and I base this on what you have stated here.

But in short the city is failing, when ever you can't fix what you have and start cutting operating budgets right and left but at same time want to build more things as well as give the farm away to developers for their projects that drain more tax money from the operating budgets needed to keep the city running you are in a downward spiral.

bembycs said...

Would you please explain? I ask because I do not see how the situation you describe is any different than what cities all across the country are doing: most big cities in this country have TIF funded projects, most cities have budget problems, and most cities have infrastructure problems. For example, we act like we are the only ones with bad sewers, but yet one finds this article on The Atlantic Cities which seems to suggest that many cities across the country have antiquated sewers as well.
Regardless of the fact that I might disagree with your view of the city, I am actually very interested in what you have to say.