Kansas City’s War on Voters
The Show-Me Institute has written extensively about efforts by government officials in St. Louis to keep the public from voting on a proposed new stadium. But the war on voters is spreading, and here is Kansas City, the battle is becoming pitched.
In a special and "disastrously run" Tuesday meeting, the TIF Commission voted 6 to 2 to move ahead with a deal that would have taxpayers subsidize a project by a wealthy developer so she could charge high rents to a successful architectural firm in a tony part of town. It would have been a 6 to 5 vote, but three commissioners representing Jackson County and the Kansas City Library walked out in protest. (Actually, it could have been 6 to 5 against, but Mayor James replaced one of the commissioners who didn't toe the line.)
Speaking of the decision to revisit a previous vote, the representative for the school district said,
It is very apparent that this rush to bypass the prior decision of this commission, with no regard for the reasons for the delay, is an effort to stop parents of KCPS students, community groups and the voting public from putting this use of taxpayer dollars on the ballot in April. There seems to be a level of politics at play here that is disheartening.
TIF policy, as frequent readers of this blog know, was designed as a way for municipalities to encourage development in economically declining or blighted areas. In Kansas City, however, "the TIF process is dominated by developers and their attorneys, who dominate campaign contributions to elected officials." In that respect it is another form of reverse Robin Hood, taking from the working class and poor to give to the wealthy.
How long will it last? One can hardly know. The newspaper of record has its own tax break, so one wonders if it can be counted on to report fully on the matter. Petition efforts have been undertaken to require public votes not only on this TIF deal, but also on the convention hotel TIF. City Hall is fighting those efforts, too. (Cindy Circo, the head of the TIF commission, didn't even bother to hear public testimony before the vote.)
If City Hall is working so deliberately to thwart public input and reward their cronies, who will speak up for the people?