Without even a formal campaign to check the City of Kansas City’s relentless effort to extend its dubious streetcar system south to UMKC, Kansas City voters narrowly approved a question on the August 8 ballot that potentially deals a death blow to expansion plans.
The final tally, still unofficial, shows KC voters approving the measure to check expansion by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin–by number, 17,344 to 16,492. The vote essentially prohibits the municipal government of Kansas City–or its employees–from involvement in streetcar expansion planning or implementation without citywide approval. The citywide vote on Tuesday follows by a few days the Byzantine, boldly rigged vote that resulted in the approval of a Transportation Development District, the first planned step in the expansion of the line.
The Northland saved the city once again. Its voters provided enough of a margin to overcome the deficit south of the river. “I think it tells the city that you need to listen to the electorate,” Kansas City lawyer Sherry DeJanes told the Kansas City Star. “Before you spend millions of dollars, you need to ask us if it’s something that we want.” DeJanes helped lead the resistance movement.
In another bit of good news, if less surprising, voters rejected Question 2 by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin. If passed, this measure would have increased the sales tax to pay for an ambitious public transit plan conceived by long time streetcar booster, Clay Chastain.
“That hurts,” Chastain told the Star. “It signals to me the end of my era of activism in trying to provide the people with a more green, prosperous and transit-oriented Kansas City.”
Unsurprisingly, voters approved by a wide margin a measure that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Kansas City by 2022 if the city gets legal approval to override a state prohibition of the same. There was no organized opposition, and voters went to the polls unaware that recent studies in Philadelphia and Seattle show a coerced wage hike of this scale to be counterproductive.