Even the most diabolical Russian would have been hard pressed to out-rig the Kansas City streetcar boosters who arranged a winning first round in a series of elections that will determine whether Kansas City extends its streetcar south to 53rd Street and the UMKC campus.
By a count of 2,458 to 1,048, a select portion of those citizens who live from the Missouri River south to 53rd Street and from State Line east to Campbell voted themselves into becoming a Transportation Development District (TDD). To vote, residents had to first apply for a ballot before May 23. Those who received a ballot had to get it notarized and turned into the Jackson County Courthouse by August 1. This process was designed to suppress the votes of all Kansas Citizens residents beyond the district as well as those who live within but who lacked the will or wherewithal to complete the process.
The second round comes in a special election on Tuesday. This is a city-wide election that streetcar boosters neither planned nor wanted. Question 1 in the Tuesday election reads as follows: “Shall the City of Kansas City prohibit any and all City officers, agents and employees from causing the planning for, construction, preparation for construction, preparation of land, or purchase of land if connected to the expansion of the streetcar system or any new fixed rail transit system, without first gaining voter approval, and establish a penalty of up to $1,000 a day for noncompliance?”
Although the TDD, as a separate taxing entity, could proceed with its planning, those plans would go nowhere without input from the City of Kansas City. That input would be restricted if Question 1 passes. The boosters at the Kansas City Region Transit Alliance (KCTRA) concede that it seems “just” to require a citywide vote. That said, they call the resolution a “subversive threat to freedom of speech,” the “speech” in question being that of city employees. The KCTRA, by the way, has adopted a slogan as troubling as its rhetoric, “borderless transit, borderless region.”
Far be it from the Sentinel to advocate one way or another on this issue, but in the spirit of good citizenship, we would certainly encourage all Sentinel readers who live in Kansas City to vote on Tuesday. This time, you do not have get your vote notarized.