Mayor James disputes Citizens for Responsible Government’s ethics complaint



“Like so much of what Citizens for Responsible Government (CFRG) says and does, this attempt to garner attention for their position is misleading, erroneous and just plain wrong. Burns and McDonnell hasn’t even started the work CFRG alleges is electioneering. Furthermore, the only role that Burns and McDonnell will play in this process is to help the city fulfill a federal requirement to incorporate an environmental assessment into the City’s streetcar expansion routes so that the City is eligible to receive federal funding. Such work does not amount to electioneering by any definition. This assessment specifically targets disadvantaged populations, as defined by the federal government in Title VI of the National Environmental Policy Act. The goal of the Act is to provide equal opportunities for those communities to provide feedback on any topic of concern related to the streetcar project. If this assessment is not completed, then the City will have no opportunity to receive federal funding. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity with the streetcar project and that means we must get it right by doing everything we can to receive matching federal dollars. Burns and McDonnell is part of a team that completed the environmental assessment for the downtown streetcar starterline. That environmental assessment was the recipient of the FTA’s 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Environmental Document Preparation and the starterline went on to receive a $20 million TIGER grant, the largest in the country and the only one for streetcar. CFRG’s ethics complaint shows that either they don’t see the value in engaging residents from every socio-economic background in this critical infrastructure project or they know they are fighting a losing battle and have resorted to PR stunts. This is not the first time this group has engaged in such misleading tactics and I doubt it will be the last. Meanwhile, we will continue to work through the process to secure federal funding based on facts and data.”

Contact: Joni Wickham: 816-513-6582 or cell: 816-572-2152