Home » 2014 » May

Monthly Archives: May 2014


A Real Eye Opener



“Knowing they (City Council) can move money to build emergency soccer fields, they can move money on an emergency street car study, come up with all the funds in the world to look at rebuilding our airport, it’s frustrating for us” Local 42 President Michael Cambiano

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Fire Department pumper trucks are set to shut down in June and the Firefighters’ Union says the decision will put lives in danger.



“This isn’t about jobs, it’s about public safety,” Local 42 President Michael Cambiano said. “It’s about the citizens of Westport, Plaza and Brookside having an adequate response to an emergency.”

On May 20th we reported on two ordinances introduced by Russ Johnson on May 15 and approved by the City Council on May 22. Is public safety even a priority?

  • #140394 Authorizing an agreement with HDR Engineering, Inc. for approximately $3,748,000.00 for design services for the Kansas City Streetcar System Phase 2 project; and recognizing this ordinance as having an accelerated effective date.
  • #140395 Authorizing a $4,300,000.00 agreement with Burns _ McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. for design services for the Kansas City Streetcar System Phase 2 project; and recognizing this ordinance as having an accelerated effective date.

What other public safety services will be sacrificed and cut for the streetcars? The union urges residents to voice their concerns with their councilperson.

Story Below

KSHB 41 – KCFD to shut down two fire companies

KCTV 5 – KCFD pumper reductions loom as federal grant set to expire

The Pitch – Kansas City, Missouri, City Council spending money on streetcar expansion before voters approve it


Are Streetcars Mostly for Tourists?


Evidence that streetcar ridership is unrelated to service frequency, bus connections, and job proximity. 

Another day, another massive U.S. streetcar project cost overrun. This time it’s Arlington, Virginia’s planned Columbia Pike line, which reports now say will cost as much as $100 million more than the latest county estimate. The news follows word from earlier this year that Atlanta’s streetcar will cost “significantly more” to operate than anticipated, and from last fall that the proposed Los Angeles streetcar could double in cost. This is exactly what streetcar advocates don’t want to hear, because it’s exactly what streetcar opponents have vocally feared.

To be fair, we should expect mega-transportation projects to come in way over budget. Whether as a result of the “planning fallacy” (people like their own ideas too much) or “strategic misrepresentation” (officials lie about the cost), roads and rails routinely cost more to build than initial projections suggest.

Story continued here at The Atlantic CityLab


Flash From The Past – May 18, 2012



310 Voters Could Decide Downtown Streetcar Tax District .

A proposed tax district might be decided by only 5 percent of eligible voters.

The fate of the proposed downtown taxing district that would pay for a large part of a streetcar line might be decided by only 310 voters. The Kansas City Business Journal reports that only 360 of the estimated 5,900 eligible residents have applied for ballots to vote on forming the district. Fifty of those applicants didn’t have proof that they were registered to vote in the area.

The Pitch May 18, 2012



Few Kansas City voters get on board for downtown streetcar vote

With a few days left before the Tuesday deadline, just 5 percent of eligible voters have applied to participate in this summer’s mail-in election about the streetcar proposal for Downtown.  According to the Jackson County Circuit Court Administrator’s Office, 360 people have applied for the ballots, and 50 of those people failed for not including proof of being registered to vote in Jackson County.

Kansas City Business Journal May 18, 2012


Fast Forward to  August 5, 2012 – Downtown Streetcar supporters report a  Landslide streetcar election win” 

  • 69% of downtown voters said yes to the Transportation Development District’s formation
  • Councilman Russ Johnson released a list of proposed Phase 2 expansions.

“Downtowners simply want transit options and are willing to pay for them. The final tally was 319 yes, 141 no. The TDD was officially formed the next day in a ruling by 16th Circuit Court Judge Charles Atwell.” 


This time events, taxpayers, and voters are in the drivers seat.  Not 319 downtown streetcar supporters.

“There are far better, more economical solutions.  The minimum taxpayers should demand is that the promised economic benefits materialize from the first two miles of streetcars. If it becomes a success, which I doubt, then an extension could be considered.”  (April 7, 2014 Special To The Star by G.Mcliney- Streetcar is taking Kansas City on a Costly Ride)

“Citizens would like to explore alternatives before committing themselves, and future generations, to a half-billion dollar mistake.”


Till next time, have a good weekend, and thanks for visiting  SMART KC. Supporters of Modern Affordable Regional Transit.


Judge Approves TDD Vote


The ruling, barring an appeal, appears to clear the way for an election August 5.

The financing plan, which will impose sales taxes on some of Kansas City’s poorest areas, has drawn criticism. 

KC’s streetcar expansion now faces huge challenge: winning votes –  Kansas City Star

Judge rules KC proposal for new streetcar district is legal – Kansas City Star

Voters will get tax plan on streetcar’s second phase – Kansas City Business Journal




City Council voted today to authorize funding for Phase II KC Streetcar engineering and environmental, 10-1. EdFord2ndDist voted no. Legislation #140371 Introduction Date: 5/8/2014

Reference – – May 12, 2014 KCBJ
KC considers issuing debt for streetcar expansion studies.


Developments Of Interest

Kansas City considers issuing debt for streetcar expansion studies.

Kansas City is considering issuing special obligation bonds to help pay for the planning of the streetcar system’s proposed second phase. On May 7, an ordinance was introduced seeking the Kansas City Council’s approval to issue no more than $10 million in special obligation bonds that would be used to pay for preliminary engineering and design studies needed to plan the streetcar system’s proposed second phase.

Story here at The Kansas City Business Journal


Harsh Portland audit airs streetcar risks

A harsh audit of Portland, Ore.’s streetcar system – considered the gold standard of streetcars – may not do any favors for those pushing to expand Cincinnati’s streetcar.

KC’s streetcar operation and maintenance is modeled on that of the Portland Streetcar system. A recent city of Portland audit called the operations structure of that city’s popular, 13-year-old streetcar system “confusing and convoluted.”

Mayor John Cranley is using the Portland audit to validate his stance that streetcar operations are fraught with problems – and that all talk about expanding Cincinnati’s route from Downtown to Uptown should cease.

Story here at by Jason Williams


Has the Mayor Sold Out Education For the Streetcar?

On April 29, 2014 Mayor Sly James spoke at a symposium on the streetcar hosted by the UMKC Law School. The mayor had some interesting comments regarding the students in the Kansas City public school system. I have included the video so you will know I am not making this up.

He stated “as a result of less than world class education for decades in the City we do not have the internal inventory of young whiz kids…so that we have to import”. So instead of fixing the school system he is going with the adage “If we build the streetcar they will come.”

The mayor’s comments imply that he is turning his back on the current and future students in the Kansas City school system while “importing” new talent. Apparently he feels that the students in the private schools are not making the grade either. Aside from the fact that his comments are insulting and condescending, they also display a serious gap in leadership.

He went on to say that 23 or 24 year old MIT grads with a PhD are not interested in whether Kansas City is a good place to raise a family because “they ain’t raising a family”. He is ignoring the fact that those 24 year old PhD’s will soon be 30-somethings who are having kids. Do you think they will stay in Kansas City with a defunct school system? Of course not! They will move to Lee’s Summit, or the Northland, or Johnson County just like families have been doing in Kansas City for years.

SmartKC has said from the very beginning of this debate that Kansas City needs improved schools more than we need a streetcar. The City seems to think it is easier and cheaper to “import” new talent.

SmartKC believes the City’s responsibilities are to the students that live here now. Instead of spending almost $500 million on the streetcar to attract “new talent”, spend some time, energy and money to fix our schools. After all that is one of the duties of our elected officials.

And if there is any doubt that the kids in our public schools are capable of becoming “whiz-kids” check out the story on Fox 4 News of the consistent success of Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sumner Academy named top Kansas school by Washington Post

They seem to have a much greater belief in our local youth than Mayor James.



First Day of May – Things Are Beginning

ANNOUNCEMENT: TDD Board meets 3pm May 5, City Hall (10th Floor). This meeting is open to the public to attend and observe.