Friday, April 18, 2008

A $245 million cake to nowhere

What would a major project kick-off be without elaborate speeches, political backslapping and golden shovels? Well, just another project kick-off.

But the Missouri Department of Transportation and KcIcon group decided it needed to up the ante and offer its guests a behemoth of a cake that resembles the bridge that will span the Missouri River in a couple of years.

No word on how many traffic delays were caused in the construction of this cake or what percentage of the project's budget was used on this cake-related endeavor. Our reporter did not even stick around in the freezing rain to find out if it was chocolate or white construction materials under that smooth icing asphalt.

Even in cake form, there were no bike lanes included.

BREAKING NEWS: Councilman Ed Ford fires back on the Mayor's new commitee picks

Councilman Ed Ford is more than a little upset that Mayor Mark Funkhouser bumped him from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Funkhouser today announced that Councilman Russ Johnson would be taking over for Ford and would even take a lead in the city's upcoming campaign for a light rail initiative in November.

Ford, after hearing the news, was not happy.

But what is more odd is the fact that Funkhouser pulled Ford out of the Transportation Committee mere weeks after calling Ford an "asset" and "major force" in getting at 15-year extension for the 3/8-cent sales tax passed by voters.

Ford sent this letter to all residents of Kansas City explaining his displeasure with the mayor:

Dear Kansas Citians,

I am very disappointed in the Mayor’s action today by removing me as Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. I do not accept or believe his stated reason for the change.

Putting things in perspective, it is far more important that Wayne Cauthen continue as City Manager. Last November, this Council successfully challenged the Mayor when he attempted to violate the City Charter and unilaterally remove the City Manager. Today, his punishment was by my removal as Transportation and Infrastructure Chair. Both the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem expressed continued displeasure with me over this issue in the past week.

I wish the Mayor well in his efforts to convince the elected officials of Clay, Jackson, and Platte Counties to place a Missouri-side regional light rail initiative on the November ballot. I trust that Councilman Russ Johnson will continue to pursue a starter line route for a November vote in Kansas City, MO if the Mayor is unsuccessful in his regional effort. I hope that the Mayor’s action today does not set back the efforts of the KCATA, HNTB in its Alternative Analysis FTA process, the Citizen’s Light Rail Committee, and all of the citizens who have expressed their ideas that Kansas City move forward on this issue.

I will continue to be an active member of the City Council and work with my colleagues in moving the City forward. I will serve enthusiastically and diligently on my new committee assignments. I am proud of the accomplishments of my committee and the Council in dealing with tough issues involving the repeal of the Clay Chastain voter-approved Light Rail Plan and the $2 billion plus combined sewer overflow challenge. I am extremely grateful to the voters who approved a 15 year extension to the bus tax by a 65/35% margin.

Councilman Ed Ford