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

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.