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

Mayor Sly James Forms City Group to Identify Possible Martin Luther King, Jr., Designations

Today, Mayor Sly James announced a special group of trusted community members who have been asked to make a recommendation for a Martin Luther King, Jr., designation in the city. James will ask the group to engage the broader community to find a solution that truly honors Dr. King and his ideals of equity and respect and aligns with the City’s long-term planning goals and vision for an inclusive community.

“We all want to honor Dr. King. But rather than allow this issue to divide our city, we need to use this as an opportunity to bring our city together and work collaboratively,” James said. “I’ve asked this group to consider all of our options in finding the best way to honor Dr. King’s legacy.”

The group has been asked to consider this issue, engage the broader community, and after doing so, make a recommendation within 45 days.

The advisory group members are:

  • Stanley Archie – Behavioral Consultant
  • Jean Paul Chaurand – President, Board of Parks & Recreation Commissioners
  • Joanne Collins – former Kansas City Councilwoman
  • Wesley Fields – Counsel, 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
  • Rev. Donna Simon – Pastor, St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church
  • Eric Wesson – Editor, The Call
  • Rev. Rodney Williams – President, NAACP; Pastor, Swope Parkway United Christian Church
  • Roger Williams – Principal, Hickman Mills High School

A public schedule of meetings is forthcoming and will be published on the city’s website.

Missouri Mayors United for Progress Convenes in Jefferson City

Group joined the Missouri Department of Transportation to urge state legislature to pass a primary seat and all driver prohibition on texting while driving

Jefferson City, MO – Mayor Sly James convened 50 and additional local government stakeholders from around the state of Missouri for a meeting of the Missouri Mayors United for Progress (MMUP) today, to discuss issues important to their municipalities.

“As mayors, we’re uniquely positioned to see the real impact of state legislation on Missourians,”
Mayor James said. “We formed Missouri Mayors United for Progress to join together and stand up to the dysfunction at the state level and demand more for our residents.”

MMUP is a bipartisan organization formed a year ago to promote policies and legislation that recognizes the importance of cities to the state economy. During the meeting on Wednesday, MMUP elected its first slate of officers: president – Mayor Sly James; vice president – Mayor Karen Best, Branson; treasurer – Mayor Tom Schneider, Florissant; secretary – Julie Smith, Webster Groves. The executive board will also include nonvoting members of the Missouri Municipal League and the St. Louis Metro League.

The group also joined the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) to urge the Missouri legislature to pass a primary seat and all driver prohibition on texting while driving, as part of MODOT’s Buckle Up/Phone Down Campaign. Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin raised the issue today with the support of fellow mayors Sly James, Ken McClure of Springfield, Tom Schneider of Florissant, and Jaylen Butner, a student at Boonville High School who survived a head-on crash because of his seat belt, emphasized strong bipartisan support for action at the state level.

“At least 13 bipartisan bills to combat distracted driving have been introduced this legislative session,” Mayor Tergin said. “And we’re hopeful this is the year to finally get a primary safety belt law on the books in Missouri, as well as enact legislation to stop texting and driving by drivers of all ages.”

Additionally, the group discussed other state legislation regarding low income housing tax credits (LIHTC), the statewide gas tax, infrastructure, and transportation development districts (TDD).

“We need stronger leadership out of Jefferson City to support funding for transportation in this state and we aren’t getting it,” Mayor Tom Schneider said.

The Women’s Foundation presented their efforts to increase female representation on boards and commissions through the Appointments Project, emphasizing the opportunity for partnership between Missouri cities and the Foundation, as demonstrated by their work with the City of Kansas City

Through our city’s partnership with the Women’s Foundation, we created the Appointments Project, which, since 2011, has increased the percentage of women on boards and commissions in Kansas City from 33% to 42%,” Mayor James said. “And, we just celebrated the Project’s 50th appointment.”

Mayors in attendance:

  • Mayor Debra Hickey – Battlefield
  • Mayor Karen Best – Branson
  • Mayor Christopher Thornton – Brentwood
  • Mayor Terry Briggs – Bridgeton
  • Mayor Bob Nation – Chesterfield
  • Mayor Norman McCourt – CIty of Black Jack
  • Mayor Jo Anne Smiley – City of Clarksville
  • Mayor Carrie Tergin – City of Jefferson
  • Mayor Lyndell Brenton – City of Liberty
  • Mayor Terry Epps – City of Pine Lawn
  • Mayor Ken McClure – City of Springfield
  • Mayor James McGee – City of Vinita Park
  • Mayor Barry Glantz – Creve Coeur
  • Mayor John Gwaltney – Edmundson
  • Mayor Thomas P. Schneider – Florissant
  • Mayor Leroy Benton – Fulton
  • Mayor R.D. Mallams – Gladstone
  • Mayor Debbie  Roach – Grant City
  • Mayor Dr. Robert Koerber – Hermann
  • Mayor William “Bill”  Kolas – Higginsville
  • Mayor Eileen Weir – Independence
  • Mayor Bob Lourwood – Ironton
  • Mayor Carrie Tergin – Jefferson City
  • Mayor Sly James – Kansas City
  • Mayor Thomas  Kirchner – Lohman
  • Mayor Pat Kelly – Municipal League Metro STL
  • Mayor John Olivarri – Osage Beach
  • Mayor Holly Stark – Peculiar
  • Mayor John Smedley – Platte Woods
  • Mayor David Slater – Pleasant Valley
  • Mayor T.R. Dudley – Potosi
  • Mayor Kathy Rose – Riverside
  • Mayor Ken McClure – Springfield
  • Mayor Bill Falkner – St. Joseph
  • Mayor Len  Pagano – St. Peters
  • Mayor Sandy Lucy – Washington
  • Mayor Patrick Botbyl – Weatherby Lake
  • Mayor Gerry Welch – Webster Groves

Mayor Sly James Recognized for Leadership on Paid Family and Medical Leave

Mayor Sly James was recognized last night for his leadership in creating a paid parental leave policy for City employees, making Kansas City among the first cities in the nation to do so. The paid parental leave policy is one component of the Mayor’s Women’s Empowerment initiative, an effort started in 2014 to support women leaders in our city.

“It’s critical for both mothers and fathers to be able to spend that special time after a child’s birth focused on bonding as a family, not worried and stressed about what’s happening at work,” James said. “It’s our responsibility as leaders today to continue the FMLA’s work, providing our employees with the means and support to raise healthy families and strengthen our communities.”

The National Partnership for Women and Families, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that focus on women and families, lauded Mayor James and the City at the organization’s congressional reception celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA was the first major piece of legislation to require employers to allow employees to take leave for their own serious illness, to care for a seriously ill family member, or for the birth or adoption of a child, while allowing them to return to their position or an equivalent position. Additionally, this morning Chief of Staff Joni Wickham will represent Kansas City at a congressional roundtable with the Committee on Education and Workforce on the topic of paid leave.

After attending a screening of The Raising of America documentary hosted by Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO) and realizing that his own staff did not have paid maternity leave, James began working with the City Manager’s Office to develop a paid parental leave policy.

Established in 2016, the City’s paid parental leave policy gives employees up to six weeks of paid leave at 100% wage replacement, which can be used by mothers and fathers for the birth or adoption of a child. During the policy’s first year of implementation, 98 employees had already utilized the policy.

“Having the ability to spend quality time with my newborn daughter in the first eight weeks of her life, and not worrying about if I would have a job or financial loss was a blessing to me and my family,” Alexis Wafer, a City employee, said. “I truly appreciate this initiative being put into place.”

Meanwhile, a number of community partnerships formed to address the issue in workplaces across the city. CCO and the Health Department teamed up to focus on community outreach to promote childhood health and advocating for paid leave. The Women’s Foundation and the Society of Human Resource Management of Greater Kansas City collaborated to bring the When Works Initiative to Kansas City. When Work Works provides best practices for flexible and effective workplaces, and sponsors an award, which scores businesses’ flexible and family-friendly policies against a national sample and provides free benchmarking to businesses.

Mayor James and the City were recognized previously for leadership in paid leave policy by CCO. Additionally, the Women’s Foundation announced in November The “Mayor James He’s for Change Internship” in honor of work to empower women economically and increase the number of women serving on city boards and commissions. Through a partnership with the Women’s Foundation on the Appointments Project, Mayor James’ administration has increased female representation on Kansas City, Missouri’s boards and commissions from 33% in 2014 to 42% in 2017.  


Mayors of Nashville and Kansas City Make Friendly Wager on AFC Wildcard Game

The upcoming playoff clash between the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs  keeps getting more interesting. The two teams meet this weekend for the first time in a playoff game since 1994. Now, the cities’ mayors are raising the stakes. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and Kansas City Mayor Sly James, have struck a friendly wager. With both cities known for their barbecue, the winning city’s mayor will receive a BBQ meal from the loser.

“Nothing goes better with the sweet taste of victory than some delicious BBQ,” Mayor James said. “I’m only sorry that Mayor Barry won’t get to experience it. Go Chiefs!”

Regardless of which NFL team prevails on Saturday afternoon, each NFL team will make a $1,000 donation to a local homelessness charity—a win for both cities.

“With so much on the line each game, the playoffs are the most exciting time of the year for all of us in Chiefs Kingdom,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Mayor James has been a tremendous supporter of ours and we are proud that he’s on our side. What a fun way to show off our Kansas City barbecue as well as rally around those in need.”

If the Chiefs are victorious, Jack Cawthon will send a spread of Nashville fare to Mayor James from Jack’s BBQ. And, if the Titans win, Mayor James will be sending some of Kansas City’s finest to Music City.

“I remember Kansas City barbecue well from growing up outside the city,” Mayor Barry said. “It gets a lot of national attention, which is well-deserved. And I look forward to eating some after the Titans beat the Chiefs on Saturday.”

The Titans and Chiefs will go head-to-head on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 3:35 p.m. CST at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The winner of this round will go to on to play either the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.

Statement from Mayor James on KCI Resolution

“Last month, Kansas Citians stepped up to invest in the future of our City by voting for a new KCI terminal. And today, I’m proud that the City Council took the next step toward ensuring that we build a terminal that works for Kansas City by passing a resolution that will continue good faith negotiations with Edgemoor. We still have a long way to go in this process, but if I’ve learned anything from my time as Mayor of this great city, it’s that when we work together, we can achieve the seemingly unachievable. I’m proud that we’ve ended 2017 on such a high note and look forward to 2018, when we’ll continue our work to build a terminal as world-class as our city.”


Memo to Council

By way of this memo, I’m officially notifying Council and the Clerk that I am referring Resolution 171017 to the Airport Committee. I understand several of you wish to circumvent our standard committee process and consider this legislation in a Committee of the Whole. I completely disagree with that approach and, furthermore, believe that if the MOU had been held in the Airport Committee and given more time to address concerns and modify the agreement, then we might have avoided yesterday’s shocking turn of events, which now puts the project in a precarious position and calls into question Council’s commitment to the will of the voters.

For six-and-a-half years, I’ve worked to move this city forward by using facts and data, relying on thoughtful deliberation when confronted with complex problems and, of course, prioritizing the best interests of this city above personal political agendas. The behavior I have seen over the past week with regard to the MOU is not reflective of the collaborative spirit and results-oriented style I’ve focused on since taking office. We are better than this, and our residents deserve much more.

Yesterday’s action halted a negotiation midstream and tossed it out the window with little warning. That says to Kansas Citians that their will is less important than political agendas. And it sends a message to those who want to do business with Kansas City that we cannot be relied upon as a transparent partner.

Finally, our city will face severe consequences that will extend beyond the new terminal and beyond this political cycle, if we don’t move forward with professionalism and respect. Actions matter to voters. Actions matter to businesses. Actions matter for continued momentum.

Let’s get this back on track next week beginning with the Airport Committee meeting on Thursday.

Mayor James Announces Appointments to Communications Team

Mayor Sly James announced today the appointment of Laura Swinford as Communications Director. Swinford served as Communications Director for We Are Missouri, the campaign to repeal so-called “Right to Work,” and worked previously as Executive Director of Progress Missouri and served previously as Communications Director for Secretary of State Jason Kander. She has extensive experience in media relations, communications strategy and politics. Her first day in the Mayor’s Office will be January 8th.

In addition, Mayor James also announced Jessica Ann as Special Assistant for Communications. Ann most recently worked for Kansas City Public Television and 90.9 The Bridge, after earning her B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She assumed her duties in the Mayor’s Office on November 6th.

“These two talented women will both be great assets to our team,” said Mayor Sly James. “I’m looking forward to working with them to continue telling Kansas City’s story and moving our city forward.”

“Laura and Jessica are dedicated professionals and I’m thrilled to work with them for our remaining time in office,” said Joni Wickham, Chief of Staff to Mayor James. “I’m extremely proud of the hard work our staff put in everyday and I know our new communications team will only add to the results we’ve seen so far in Mayor James’ administration.”

A complete listing of the Mayor’s staff can be found here:

Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Hosts Thousands


“The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund is a staple tradition in Kansas City that highlights the generosity of our city and our willingness to help the neediest among us,” Mayor Sly James said today.

James and Reid teamed up at the Annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Crown Center, 2401 Grand Blvd.

The 100-foot tall Mayor’s Christmas Tree is a Douglas Fir from the private forests of Cascade Timber Consulting in Oregon. It is festooned with 6,000 white lights to complement 35,000 additional lights in the surrounding area, along with 1,200 red, gold and silver ornaments.

The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund supports thousands of low-income seniors, disabled individuals and children across Kansas City with gift cards and Christmas gifts that are distributed at community center holiday parties hosted by the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department.

Donations to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund are accepted at In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the limited edition holiday t-shirt, in collaboration with Charlie Hustle Shop, benefit the fund. The holiday t-shirt is available for $40.00 on the Charlie Hustle Shop website.

The Mayor’s Christmas Tree is a tradition begun in the 19th century by Mayor George Shelley. Mayor Thomas Crittenton established the first official Kansas City Christmas tree in 1908. The Mayor’s Christmas Tree has been erected at Crown Center since 1973.

The lighting event on Friday also included performances from the cast of Musical Theater Heritage, “A Spectacular Christmas Show.” Master of Ceremonies is Teresa from The Rocket & Teresa Show on Mix 93.