Mayor Sly James Responds to Kansas City Public Schools’ Statement on Pre-K Plan

Mayor Sly James issued the following statement in response to Kansas City Public Schools’ announcement regarding the Pre-K plan:

“I thank Dr. Bedell and his fellow superintendents for their insights throughout the process of building and refining our plan to make sure every four-year-old in Kansas City has access to quality Pre-K education. From its inception, our plan was built to serve all families in Kansas City, including the majority whose four-year-olds are not served by the public school system. I’m proud that our plan will expand access to Pre-K programs for families who work hard every day but for whom the $12,000 per year tuition is still out of reach. We began another series of more formal negotiations four months ago, and in spite of substantive compromises, KCPS has chosen not to support our final plan. While I am disappointed in their decision, I remain steadfast in my commitment to make sure every child has access to educational opportunities that will help them build successful futures for themselves, as well as Kansas City. I’m very proud of the final plan, and I look forward to sharing it with residents over the coming months.”

Mayor Sly James’ Statement in Support of Jason Kander

Mayor Sly James today provided the following statement in response to Jason Kander’s withdrawal from the Kansas City mayoral race:

“I’m proud of Jason for having the courage to share his struggle, and for doing what he needs to do to take care of his health. This could not have been an easy decision, but I know Jason is doing what is right for him and his family, and I’ve never been more proud to call him my friend and colleague. His track record of outstanding service and tireless work ethic have raised the bar for many who aspire to serve in elected office. I applaud his bravery, and will do all I can to help him through his healing process.”

Mary Jane Judy Named New President of the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners

Mayor Sly James announced today that Mary Jane Judy will be the new president of the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners. Judy has served on the Board as a commissioner since 2013 and will become the fourth female president in its 128-year history.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with a dynamic board and incredible staff during my six years as commissioner,” said Judy. “I’m honored to have been asked to serve as president, and I’m thrilled to continue working to ensure our parks, community centers and programming are accessible and enjoyable for everyone in our community.”

“Mary Jane has been essential to the successful work of our Board,” said Terry Rynard, Deputy Director of Kansas City Parks and Recreation and incoming Director beginning January 2019. “Her leadership skills, strong relationships and experience all made her a natural choice for president.”

“I’m pleased to welcome Mary Jane Judy as the new president of the Board of Kansas City Parks and Recreation Commissioners,” said Mayor Sly James. “In addition to nearly six years of service as a Board Commissioner, Mary Jane has also served as chair of the City’s Liquor Control Board of Review, and in leadership for several successful non profits including the Board of Trustees for the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Mary Jane, who is only the fourth woman to lead the Parks Board, brings a wealth of skill, experience and, most importantly, a love for Kansas City to her new role, and I look forward to her leadership for years to come.”

Judy is an accomplished shareholder with Polsinelli specializing in real estate and finance and will assume the role of president immediately. The Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners holds public meetings every other Tuesday at the Parks and Recreation Department Administration building at 4600 E. 63rd St. All meetings start at 2 p.m. and are open to the public.


Mayor Sly James Announces 2018 Cohort for Innovation Partnership Program

Kansas City, MO – Mayor Sly James today announced six partners for the 2018 Innovation Partnership Program. The program, in its fourth year, provides a unique opportunity for startups to develop a use case and allows City Hall to explore, at no cost, how new technologies may improve City services.  

“The Innovation Partnership Program asks the startup community and the City to work together to find sustainable solutions to improve services for our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Sly James. “This is the exact type of collaboration that will ensure Kansas City continues to build on its momentum and become the world class city we know it can be.”

The program committee selected a broad range of companies this year to work with several City departments. The partners include: Geospiza, DogSpot, Homebase, Gridics LLC, Snorkel, and Dynamhex.

The test program runs 13 weeks, from August 1 to October 30. Partners will meet with the Office of Innovation and receive 20 hours of office space in City Hall weekly throughout the program. In October, the partners will present their technology services and discuss their pilot progress in a pitch to Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte, among other attendees from city departments and the City Council.  

“This year’s IPP class will be testing innovative solutions to challenges ranging from crisis response to increasing efficiency in our sewage systems. I wish them good luck, and look forward to their presentations,” said Mayor James.

Partners were selected using several criteria including the ability to support economic development and operations strategies such as improving quality and efficiency of City services and operations, supporting environment quality efforts with the City, engaging neighborhoods, and improving economic vitality and social equity.

Brief descriptions from the companies about their technological solutions along with the assigned test case departments are included below:

Company: Geospiza, Sarah Tuneberg
City Department: Public Safety
Geospiza is a company that uses data to enable cities to better prepare for and respond to crises through assessment of multiple data streams. These allow communities to identify where more difficult rescue and recovery operations may occur, which allows for better deployment of public safety resources.

It provides emergency managers, city planners, and other key stakeholders with comprehensive insight into community vulnerability. Understanding population vulnerability allows officials to quantify risk, prioritize preparedness and risk-reduction interventions, and conduct effective and efficient response and recovery activities. Engaging in a pilot of Geospiza will enhance Kansas City’s emergency preparedness and reduce costs around data collection and analysis in emergency management.

Company: DogSpot, Chelsea Brownridge
City Department: Office of Innovation
DogSpot is a company with a network of high-tech dog houses in the community, which can be rented by the minute. This allows dog owners to run errands with their pet, without having to tie them up outside. DogSpot houses are temperature-controlled, sanitized, and equipped with a camera so that dog owners can monitor their pet. Placing several DogSpot dog houses in downtown Kansas City could make the city more dog-friendly and increase potential revenue of area businesses.

Company: Homebase, Blake Miller
City Department: Housing Services
Homebase is a Kansas City-based connected building solutions provider delivering connectivity, automation, and community management solutions for property owners and managers of apartment communities. The company that hosts a connected building management platform, which allows residents to experience modern and efficient living, while making property management more seamless. With the use of wifi and connected Smart Home devices, the platform allows users to pay rent, monitor utilities, report maintenance, and more.

Homebase would like to develop a solution for affordable housing that helps bridge the digital divide. This would work with property owners and managers of affordable housing to offer connectivity, a smart home package, smart appliances with greater energy efficiency, and metered utility usage.

Company: Gridics, LLC, Felipe Azenha
City Department: City Planning
Gridics is a real estate technology company that has developed a zoning code software management platform which cities across the country have adopted. It developed a site-specific zoning application that helps cities manage, update and visualize their zoning code in real time. This could help Kansas City write, test, and visualize rezonings more easily, and more effectively answer questions about land use and zoning.

Company: Snorkel, Luke Ismert
City Partner: Water Services/Sewer
Snorkel is a software tool that helps city staff better allocate the city’s fat, oil, and grease management resources and extend the life of its sewers. It allows city officials to identify which restaurants are equipped with grease traps, whether they maintain and pump their traps appropriately, and how poorly managed restaurant grease relate to broader systemic problems within the city’s sewer problems within the city’s sewer maintenance program.

With this data, the city can more efficiently allocate restaurant inspection resources, ensure better compliance with ordinances, and keep more fat, oil, and grease out of the sewers, which saves money on maintenance and repair and extends the life of the city’s sewers.

Company: Dynamhex, Sunny Sanwar
City Partner: General Services
Dynamhex is a data analytics software for municipal energy usage from both an economic cost and an environmental sustainability standpoint. Their technology product visualizes complex energy consumption patterns geographically on a dashboard for government officials. This allows municipal leaders to make data-driven decisions and target areas of energy waste and inefficiencies. The management of organizational level and regional level energy usage is helpful for measuring energy and emission performance and saving money.

For more information regarding the Innovation Partnership Program, visit:


Mayor Sly James, Local Leaders Dedicate Convention Center Grand Ballroom in Honor of Mayor Kay Barnes

Mayor Sly James and local leaders joined today to honor former Mayor Kay Barnes for her eight years of service and transformative work to redevelop the city’s downtown. Officials dedicated the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom in her honor as the Kay Barnes Grand Ballroom and honored her with the statue “Woman Walking Tall,” by renowned artist Tom Corbin.

“Kay Barnes laid the foundation for the revival of a depressed and stagnant downtown,” said Mayor Sly James. “She built coalitions, assembled the land, led the development, and crafted a vision that we are still building on today. When it would have been easier to succumb to political pressure, she showed great leadership and tenacity in doing what she knew was in the best interest of Kansas City.”

During her administration from 1999 to 2007, Barnes’ leadership resulted in the development of anchor projects like the Sprint Center and the Power and Light District. By the end of her time in office, her initiatives had secured over $4.5 billion in public and private investment in downtown Kansas City, laying the groundwork for later development including the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the KC Streetcar.

“The collaborative, bold vision of Mayor Kay Barnes has undoubtedly transformed downtown Kansas City and the Midwest for future generations,” said Brenda Tinnen, general manager and senior vice president of Sprint Center/AEG Kansas City. “Mayor Barnes’ inspired leadership energized the culture of cooperation throughout our community, and the fruits of her labor may be seen across the city skyline from the H&R Block World Headquarters to the River Market through the Crossroads District and especially at Sprint Center, where her diligence set the stage for a renaissance in the heartland.”

Barnes also has the distinction of being Kansas City’s first female mayor. She has supported women’s empowerment throughout her public service and as a founding member of the Central Exchange, which provides personal and professional development opportunities to women in Kansas City.

Her role as a pioneer for women in local politics inspired the choice of the statue dedicated in her honor, “Woman Walking Tall.” The statue by renowned artist Tom Corbin sits outside of the newly-dedicated Kay Barnes Grand Ballroom in the Kansas City Convention Center, which hosts approximately 90 events to over 150,000 attendees each year.

“Honoring Kay Barnes and the work she did for Kansas City is long overdue,” said Herbert Kohn, senior counsel at Bryan Cave and close advisor to Mayor Barnes. “She set downtown on a new course which, in turn, caused the City to leap ahead.  She was, and still is, the epitome of a ‘Woman Walking Tall.’”

The Mayor’s office recognized the donors to the statue and the Kay Barnes Grand Ballroom naming: AEG, The Cordish Companies, Tim Leiweke-The Oak View Group, KCP&L, H&R Block, Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Populous, Ecco Select, Downtown Council,  Irvin & Sue Belzer, W. Perry & Elizabeth Brandt, Wesley Fields, Laurence Frazen, Elaine & Steven Koch, Herb & Nancy Kohn, Gino & Paetra Serra, Stephen Sparks, Robert & Cynthia Thompson, Thomas VanDyke, and Traci & Ken Wittrock.

About Tom Corbin

Tom Corbin is a local artist, who specializes in bronze sculpture and has earned international recognition. Tom’s work appears in 22 showrooms and galleries internationally. Individual collectors include Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Danielle Steel and the late Frank Sinatra. Public installation sites include the United Nations, The Kauffman Foundation, the Firefighter’s Memorial, the Children’s Fountain, University of Oregon and Florida State University. In addition to important public and private collections, his work has found its way onto the sets of some major motion pictures, among them True Lies, A Perfect Murder, It’s Complicated and Transformers.

Statement from Mayor Sly James on the Resignation of Governor Eric Greitens

Kansas City, Mo – Mayor Sly James gave the following statement in response to the resignation of Governor Eric Greitens:

It’s sad and unfortunate that our state has had to witness politics at its worst. Missourians need their leaders to find sustainable solutions to critical issues like education, healthcare, infrastructure and gun violence. I hope that a change in leadership will help our legislature refocus its priorities on the very serious needs across our state.”


Missouri Mayors United for Progress Convenes, Signs Articles of Incorporation

Today, Mayor Sly James convened a meeting of the Missouri Mayors United for Progress (MMUP) to discuss important legislative issues facing municipalities, tactics for increasing citizen engagement and to formalize the organization’s articles of incorporation.

“We have taken another critical step toward building a coalition of leaders that will be able to effectively persuade the state legislature to pass legislation that allows mayors to serve their people, rather than prevent them from governing,” Mayor James said.

MMUP is a bipartisan organization formed to promote policies and legislation that recognizes the importance of cities to the state economy and culture. The group also discussed plans to interview statewide candidates for office and to continue to work on increasing citizen engagement in their respective communities.

Mayors in attendance:

  • Mayor Debra Hickey, Battlefield
  • Mayor Karen Best, Branson
  • Mayor Jo Anne Smiley, Clarksville
  • Mayor John Gwaltney, Edmundson
  • Mayor Greg Stidham, Fayette
  • Mayor Tom Schneider, Florissant
  • Mayor Robert Koerber, Hermann
  • Mayor Bob Lourwood, Ironton
  • Mayor Carrie Tergin, Jefferson City
  • Mayor Sly James, Kansas City
  • Mayor John Burroughs, New Florence
  • Mayor John Olivarri, Osage Beach
  • Mayor Terry Epps, Pine Lawn
  • Mayor John Smedley, Plattewoods
  • Mayor David Slater, Pleasant Valley
  • Mayor Kathy Rose, Riverside
  • Mayor Ken McClure, Springfield
  • Mayor Sally Faith, St. Charles
  • Mayor Len Pagano, St. Peters
  • Mayor Steve Clark, Weatherby Lake

Also present:

  • Dan Ross, Missouri Municipal League
  • Richard Sheets, Missouri Municipal League
  • Shanon Hawk, Armstrong Teasdale
  • Bill Gamble, KC Lobbyist
  • Sam Panettiere, KC Lobbyist
  • Pat Kelly, Municipal League of Metro St. Louis
  • Joni Wickham, Kansas City Chief of Staff
  • Alderwoman Rhoda Gwaltney, Edmundson
  • Alderman Garrett Elliott, Lohman
  • Julie Smith, Recording Secretary


MLK Advisory Group to Hold Public Hearings

Kansas City, Missouri – The MLK Advisory Group will hold public hearings to provide community members an opportunity to share their ideas for how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Kansas City, Missouri.

See the full schedule of public hearings below:

Community members unable to attend a public hearing are invited to share their feedback online on the Advisory Group’s KC Momentum page or Facebook page.

The most up-to-date information, including the Advisory Group’s meeting schedule can be found on the City’s MLK Advisory Group page.

MLK Advisory Group to Convene Friday

The MLK Advisory Group will convene for its first meeting Friday, April 20 at 4 p.m. at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. Prior to soliciting public testimony at upcoming public hearings, the group plans to review the legality of different types of designations, including but not limited to street and other renamings, with the assistance of the city’s legal department and consider possible options for the designation, including The Paseo Boulevard proposal. The meeting is open to the public to observe.

On April 6, Mayor Sly James established the group to make a recommendation for a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., designation in the city. James has asked the group to seek input from the broader community and offer a recommendation within 45 days of the group’s formation.

Community members are invited to share their feedback at a public hearing (schedule is forthcoming), on the KC Momentum page, and through the Advisory Group’s Facebook page.

The most up-to-date information can be found on the City’s MLK Advisory Group page.

Rev. Donna Simon – Pastor, St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church
Roger Williams – Principal, Hickman Mills High School

Stan Archie – Behavioral Consultant
Jean Paul Chaurand – President, Board of Parks & Recreation Commissioners
Joanne Collins – Former Kansas City Councilwoman
Wesley Fields – Board Chairman, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Rev. Bob Hill – Minister Emeritus, Community Christian Church; Urban Ranger Corps
Bob Kendrick – President, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Rev. Modest Miles – Pastor, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church
Eric Wesson – Editor, The Call
Rev. Rodney Williams – President, NAACP; Pastor, Swope Parkway United Christian Church

Mayor Sly James, local leaders voice opposition to Missouri Legislature’s Proposed Sales Tax Cap

Today, Mayor Sly James and area leaders gathered to oppose legislation, including House Bill 2168, that would restrict the City’s ability to collect voter-approved sales taxes. Sales taxes account for 25% of the city’s budget and funds critical city services and infrastructure, including public safety, parks, public transportation, and capital improvements. Additionally, legislators in Jefferson City have not enumerated steps to apply the cap to localities, especially in accounting for overlapping taxing jurisdictions with multiple, voter-approved sales taxes in effect.

Last Tuesday, 79% of voters overwhelmingly renewed Kansas City’s capital improvements sales tax. Funding from this sales tax is needed to help pay for a new Buck O’Neil Bridge, since lawmakers in Jefferson City have yet to coalesce around a sustainable solution for the state’s infrastructure crisis.

“Legislation that caps our sales taxes doesn’t solve any problems and it flies in the faces of the voters who have approved them,” Mayor Sly James said. “Kansas City’s momentum is undeniable, and our community wants to keep it going. Once again, I’m not asking the State Legislature for anything other than to simply leave us alone.”  

A list of stakeholders joining Mayor James today is below:

  • Chief Gary Reese – Kansas City Fire Department
  • Dept. Chief of the Patrol Bureau Sharon Laningham – Kansas City Police Department
  • Dept. Chief Karl Oakman – Kansas City Police Department
  • Jim Kissick – Heavy Constructors Association of Kansas City
  • Clay Calvin – International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3808
  • Pat “Duke” Dujakovich – Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO
  • Joe Hudson – ‎St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters’ Regional Council
  • Patrick Geschwind – VisitKC
  • Anthony Inzenga – International Association of Fire Fighters Local 42
  • Robbie Makinen – Kansas City Area Transportation Authority
  • Mark McHenry – Kansas City Parks & Recreation Department
  • Joe Reardon – Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
  • Mayor David Slater – City of Pleasant Valley
  • Representatives from the Building Trades