Mayor James Responds to the Shooting Outside Central Academy of Excellence

Mayor James issued the following statement in response to Tuesday night’s shooting outside Central Academy of Excellence:

Last night, our community lost another young person to gun violence, again at the hands of a young person who had no trouble acquiring a firearm. I’ve spoken with Dr. Bedell and Chief Smith, and both of them have my unequivocal support. But the reality is exactly what Dr. Bedell said today: We need help, and we cannot solve this problem alone. Until we elect leaders who have the political will to pass common sense laws that allow us to do what needs to be done to gets guns off the streets and keep them out of the hands of those who would do harm, nothing will change.

Joni Wickham Receives 2019 Governor Mel Carnahan Award for Public Service

Joni Wickham, Chief of Staff to Kansas City Mayor Sly James, has been named recipient of the 2019 Governor Mel Carnahan Award for Public Service. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions through public service, both paid and volunteer, in the government, education, nonprofit, or legal sectors.

“Joni is essential to our administration, navigating some of the city’s most complex issues – I couldn’t do what I do without her,” said Mayor Sly James. “In a time where true public service is becoming increasingly rare, Joni stands out as selfless and dedicated public servant, committed to improving the lives of those she serves and elevating the visibility of women in leadership.”

Wickham provides counsel to the Mayor on key decisions and leads a diverse and energetic staff. She has played a central role in shaping many of the Mayor’s most transformative initiatives, such as winning voter approval for the streetcar, $800 million of general obligation bonds for city infrastructure, and a new, single terminal airport.

Wickham has worked diligently to advance policies and initiatives that support women and families, and to increase the number of women in positions of leadership in both private and public sectors. She helped launch Mayor James’ Women’s Empowerment initiative, which partners with area organizations to provide women with the mentoring, training, and opportunities necessary to lead in their communities.

Before joining Mayor James’ office, Wickham served on the staff of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, advocating for working families at the Missouri Federation of Teachers, and moving the mission of the Missouri Department of Transportation forward by building effective public policy coalitions and community partnerships.

Wickham serves on the Women’s Foundation Strategic Planning Committee, the Junior League of Kansas City’s Community Advisory Board, American Public Square Board of Directors, and as a mentor for Turn the Page KC. She was selected to be a part of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Project on Municipal Innovation.

Mayor James Commends KCPS on Highest-Ever Annual Progress Report Score

Mayor Sly James issued the following statement regarding Kansas City Public Schools’ impressive results on Missouri’s Annual Progress Report:

I commend KCPS leadership, teachers and students on earning the district’s highest-ever score on the state’s Annual Progress Report. This is the result of years of hard work and planning, and KCPS deserves recognition for this impressive accomplishment. Dr. Bedell and his team are working hard to educate our children, which is the most important investment we can make in our city’s future.

Read more about KCPS’ good news here.

Mayor James to Host Series of Town Hall Meetings on Pre-K Plan

Kansas City, Missouri – Mayor Sly James will host a series of town hall meetings to talk with residents about the importance of early childhood education in Kansas City. Residents will have the opportunity to learn more about the plan to ensure every child in Kansas City has access to quality pre-k education, and to ask questions about the community-driven plan.

“Children who attend a quality pre-k program are more likely to have positive outcomes in both school and adulthood. Unfortunately, only a fraction of Kansas City’s children have access to these types of programs,” said Mayor Sly James. “Quality pre-K programs result in many benefits for our community, including lower crime rates and a larger skilled workforce. I look forward to talking with residents about how we can make sure every child in Kansas City has access to quality pre-k education that will help them get ready to succeed in school and beyond.”

Mayor James, in partnership with community, business, civic, and education leaders, has developed a plan for universal pre-K that will help to increase the number of high-quality childcare providers, while also supporting high-quality programs that already exist.

The pre-K town halls will be moderated by American Public Square founder Allan Katz (Jan. 22 and Feb. 19) and Truman Medical Center CEO/President Charlie Shields (Feb. 5). Mayor James will present the plan and take questions with the assistance of early childhood education expert Jovanna Rohs of Mid America Regional Council (MARC). MARC is a neutral party and has operated the Metropolitan Council on Early Learning for over 25 years.

There will be media availability with Mayor James immediately following the program. However, time during the town hall will be reserved for questions from residents.

SCHEDULE

Date Time Location
1/22/19 6-7 p.m. Avila University, Whitfield Ctr., 11901 Wornall Rd, KCMO 64145, MAP
2/5/19 6-7 p.m. Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Board Rm., 30 W Pershing Rd #301, KCMO 64108, MAP
2/19/19 6-7 p.m. MCC-Maple Woods, Campus Ctr. , 1299, 2601 NE Barry Rd, KCMO 64156, MAP

Registration is not required for residents to attend the event. However, seating will be limited.

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Mayor Sly James Lauds KC Chamber and Civic Council Endorsement of Pre-K Plan

Mayor Sly James issued the following statement in response to the Boards of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City endorsing the plan to ensure every 4-year-old in Kansas City has access to quality Pre-K education:

I appreciate the KC Chamber and Civic Council for standing up for all children in Kansas City with their strong support of our plan to ensure every 4-year-old has access to quality Pre-K education. Building a bigger, stronger, more skilled and adaptable workforce that will be ready for the future begins with how well we prepare our children today. Now is the time to take this important step forward and invest in our youngest Kansas Citians.

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.

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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: www.ippkc.org.

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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.