Digital Inclusion Awareness Day

Join the City of Kansas City, Missouri,  Mayor Sly James, and the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion for Digital Inclusion Awareness Day on July 15.

This free community event will provide citizens with the opportunity to sign-up for low cost-internet, computer classes and affordable computers. Kansas City is the third city in the nation to adopt a digital inclusion plan focused on improving access and improving digital equity.

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3 on 3 Basketball Tournament

Join the KCHoop Club and learn from some Kansas City’s best basketball coaches at the Gregg Klice Community Center located 1600 John Buck O’Neil Way, Kansas City, MO 64108. The 3 on 3 tournament is every Saturday, now until Saturday, August 5th from 6-11pm. Middle school aged youth are encouraged to attend, it’s free and there will be a chance to win cool prizes!

 

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Club KC Salon

Enjoy a manicure at Club KC Salon! This event is free every Saturday starting May 27th through August 5th at Gregg Klice Community Center located 1600 John Buck O’Neil Way, Kansas City, MO 64108 from 6-11PM. IMG_7890

Club KC

We’re back for another fun filled summer of basketball, music, swimming, games and so much more! Middle school kids are invited to join us at Gregg Klice Community Center located 1600 John Buck O’Neil Way, Kansas City, MO 64018 from 6-11PM. A ClubKC card is required to enter, download a Mayor’s Night registration form to get your ClubKC card.

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4 Things to know about the GO Bond package

Friends,

Starting this week, you will hear a lot of discussion about a G.O., or general obligation, bond package that voters will be asked to approve in April.

Conversation is starting now because it’s a significant investment, but one that signals our commitment to a making Kansas City a world-class city for years to come.

When I took office in 2011, the city faced around six billion dollars in ‘deferred maintenance’. That’s billion, with a “B”. Simply put, our infrastructure needs as a city had been kicked down the road for too long.

These are dollars that fix or maintain roads, bridges and sidewalks, along with making curbs ADA compliant. This kind of investment updates city facilities to be more energy efficient, and makes neighborhoods better equipped to handle flooding. We use these funds to maintain the infrastructure our city relies on, and to make sure we’re planning wisely for future generations.

So as the conversation here at City Hall begins this week about what the GO bond package will entail, I want to lay out a few things every Kansas Citian should know about this debate:

  1. We must build accountability and transparency measures into the plan that give our residents confidence they will see a strong return on this $800 million investment and will know where their money is going.
  2. The GO bond package should be strategic. Facts and data should guide our thinking. Not politics or a old ways of thinking that carve up investment with little regard for future planning.
  3. We must take a comprehensive approach to our infrastructure needs. We need roads (that are designed for vehicles, bikes and feet!), bridges, sidewalks, capital improvements to city facilities, and flood control improvements. We cannot ask Kansas Citians to approve a plan that does not adequately address all of those basic infrastructure needs.
  4. Every part of our city has basic infrastructure needs. Kansas Citians have my word that I will not support a GO bond plan that does not improve every single corner of our community.

When I ask my community members for their support on something like this, I do not take it lightly. My days in the Marines taught me a lot about loyalty, hard work and a sense of duty. I’ll carry those lessons with me each day as I make my way across the city this winter and spring to talk with you about this important step we can take, together.

Let’s keep in mind the type of city we want to be in five years, ten years, twenty years and beyond.

Let’s keep our commitment to the next generation of Kansas Citians by maintaining the things that make our city a great place to live, work and raise your family.

Let’s do this, Kansas City.

MSJ

 

Honoring The Legacy of Dr. King: Change in Our Community & Beyond

Each year, we remember and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the conversation primarily focuses on his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech, as it rightly should. That speech, that moment in history, was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Many adults – of a certain age – remember exactly where we were on that historic day; many of us remember exactly where we were the day he was shot and killed.

I could quote passages from the powerful and iconic “I Have a Dream” speech and it would be a perfectly appropriate tribute to his legacy. Many of the words he spoke back then still apply to our lives today. But, if you’d allow me, I’d like to focus on the ideals Dr. King stood for and focus on how his dream for our nation has been realized — and still needs to be realized — today.

Dr. King was a man of great conviction. He was a visionary. He was a change-maker, he believed in speaking out against the status quo and its injustices to create a more perfect Union. His call for equality was crafted from a place of love; not hatred.

He preached for peaceful protest; not acts of violence or revenge – and this is a man that had every reason to be angry and bitter.

His home had been bombed, he was jailed, his neighbors were discriminated and beaten, the lives of his family members and friends were in danger. Yet, each and every day, he responded and LEAD others with love and with a commitment to peacefully making great change. When I reflect on this man’s life, THAT is what continually stands out to me.

What kind of man can respond to such persecution and discrimination with such love and grace?

When we look at the way Dr. King’s dream took shape back then — from segregated bathrooms and restaurants, to the decision of Brown v. Board of Education, and to the passage of the Civil Rights Act — it is clear that we have come a long way. But, we know that we have a long way to go in order to totally fulfill his dream.

In the last several months we’ve been forced to become painfully aware of the poor status of race relations in our country. Communities have been torn in half. Looting and vandalism, tear gas and full riot gear… We’ve all seen the horrific images and we’re all just kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, aren’t we? Where will the next act of violence occur?

To be honest with you, I think some of these events have been happening across the nation because we have stopped trying to get to know one another. We have gotten to a place in this country where often, if we can’t agree on political ideologies, we simply want nothing more to do with each other. In too many instances, we have been more than willing to divide ourselves into camps or tribes and have decided not to associate with those in other tribes. We’ve let diversity of thought and opinion become a source of division in this country, instead of a reason for collaboration.

I know this might show my age a bit, but when I was growing up, we invited our neighbors onto our porches and into our homes. Now we might be hard pressed to actually know the names of half the people on our block. We had conversations, shared laughs, and caught up on all the latest neighborhood gossip. Now we Facebook, Tweet or send snapchats to communicate. I knew everyone’s grandma and grandpa – aunties and uncles – cousins and siblings. Which, in the spirit of full disclosure, caught up with me a time or two as a kid. In fact, on a couple of occasions, by the time I got home from school, my parents had already heard about what kind of trouble I had gotten into that day… before I could even make it home from the bus stop!

I’m sure many of you remember those days. That happened way before cell phones existed.

My point is this: we looked after one another. And we took care of one another. We argued about politics, but it didn’t separate us. There doesn’t seem to be a real emphasis on this anymore.  And that’s a shame.

Over the last year, our nation has been given the rare opportunity to have a real conversation about race. In Kansas City, I think we’ve seized this opportunity and haltingly and slowly, we take steps towards understanding. But, nationally, I’m afraid that we’ve missed the window.

There’s a lack of understanding. Because there’s a lack of real relationship.

I’m not talking about the “I work with a (Asian/Hispanic/African American etc.) guy” type of relationships, but rather the relationships we have with people we truly know, appreciate and respect.

Lots of things contribute to increase friction and conflict between us both here at home and nationally. There’s a huge gap in economic opportunity, and a bigger gap in wages and income. High minority unemployment, low wages, poor educational options – these are things we struggle with HERE, and in most urban centers across the country.

Now, I’m confident that we’re doing what we can to rectify these realities. But, these issues cannot and will not be rectified unless we first admit and acknowledge that they exist. Then and only then can we have open and honest conversations with one another and work together to find solutions.

So, now that I’ve got you all in a somber, reflective mood, let me share some good news with you: Our City is filled with talented and educated people that can help reverse this trend.

You can use your time and circles of influence to help foster more understanding and collaboration in our community. You can forge new relationships and make a concentrated effort to seek out diversity — in your experiences, in your organizations, in your interactions at the grocery store or the bus stop. And we can do these things with the same kind of grace and love that Dr. King showed.

We have that opportunity.

Because only when we begin to understand each other and get to know each other can we move forward together. We have come so far, and I think Dr. King would be proud, but our journey towards equality never ends.

No matter the color of your skin, who you choose to love love, the dollar amount written on your paycheck, or the zip code in which you live — everyone has something to offer towards building a city for the future.

Dr. King truly changed the course of our nation. May we each carry his great lessons of compassion, and love, and understanding with us as we set out to make change in our community and beyond, remembering the way in which he was famously quoted: Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Déjà Blue: An Open Letter to America from Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James

Dear America,

It’s so nice to be here again – our Royals are in the World Series and our City is in the spotlight. I could get used to this.

But one thing I’ve learned along the way is that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. So, allow me a moment to share some thoughts with you again, as I did last October.

I was at an event over the weekend when someone asked me how Kansas City could possibly compare to New York City. It became clear to me that we weren’t talking baseball – he was comparing the two cities.

I love New York. The lights, the energy, the history, the allure – New York City is an icon. But that doesn’t mean that Kansas City is second class and that we don’t belong in New York’s company. Remember last year when I said our World Series berth meant that we had pulled our chair up to the table of great cities and that we would work hard to stay here? Both our baseball team and our city has kept that promise.

Our Boys in Blue are as humble, hard-working, and committed to winning as ever.  I mean, did you see Lorenzo Cain run from first to home in 10.5 seconds against the Blue Jays?!

And since I wrote to you last year, our City has sustained the momentum we found during the World Series.

  • We were one of only five cities to win a $30 million Choice Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
  • We joined only four other cities to be named as a IEEE Core Smart City,
  • Our KC NoVA collaboration has been hailed as a model for fighting violent crime in urban areas, and
  • We were named a top-five emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (the only city in the United States).

Frank Sinatra and Billy Joel both sang about New York. The Beatles sang about Kansas City and right now, the world is singing with them about Kansas City’s achievements.

New York City has earned the title of the city that doesn’t sleep. But Kansas City is quickly solidifying itself as the city that doesn’t quit – much like our Royals. This isn’t a fluke (just ask Hosmer). Kansas City, both the team and the community, are a force to be reckoned with.

You stay on top by taking the long-view and strategically planning ahead. To that end, building a world-class city isn’t completely unlike building a championship baseball team. When my friend, Dayton Moore, presented me with an idea of building an Urban Youth Baseball Academy right here in Kansas City, it frankly sounded too good to be true.

But it isn’t. Together, the Royals and the City are investing in the 18th and Vine neighborhood, Parade Park specifically, in order to use baseball as a vehicle to make an impact on the lives of our urban youth. The Urban Youth Baseball Academy will connect young people with Royals coaches and former players to develop their baseball mechanics and to prepare them for careers in areas like sports medicine, broadcasting, and statistics. The real goal of the Academy, however, is to develop championship people.

The Kansas City Urban Youth Baseball Academy might generate the next Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, or Frank White. Or it might help produce the next Mayor. The point is, with a little help from the City and the Royals, a new generation of young people will be able to write their own ticket.

You can be apart of this, too. Imagine how far our collective impact could go if every person who reads this donates something – $1, $10, $100 – to the construction of the Urban Youth Baseball Academy. Every bit helps. If you are so inclined, you can mail a check to the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation at 1055 Broadway Boulevard, Suite 130, Kansas City, MO 64105.

By taking the long-view, the Royals, and the City of Kansas City, are in this to win it. The trophy in this case, however, will be the hundreds of urban kids with new options and opportunities in their lives.

It is most definitely nice to be here again and playing against New York’s Mets. Welcome to our city.

And to Mayor De Blasio….. Don’t forget about our bet!

 

 

Déjà Blue: An Open Letter to America from Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James

Dear America,

It’s so nice to be here again – our Royals are in the World Series and our City is in the spotlight. I could get used to this.

But one thing I’ve learned along the way is that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. So, allow me a moment to share some thoughts with you again, as I did last October.

I was at an event over the weekend when someone asked me how Kansas City could possibly compare to New York City. It became clear to me that we weren’t talking baseball – he was comparing the two cities.

I love New York. The lights, the energy, the history, the allure – New York City is an icon. But that doesn’t mean that Kansas City is second class and that we don’t belong in New York’s company. Remember last year when I said our World Series berth meant that we had pulled our chair up to the table of great cities and that we would work hard to stay here? Both our baseball team and our city has kept that promise.

Our Boys in Blue are as humble, hard-working, and committed to winning as ever.  I mean, did you see Lorenzo Cain run from first to home in 10.5 seconds against the Blue Jays?!

And since I wrote to you last year, our City has sustained the momentum we found during the World Series.

  • We were one of only five cities to win a $30 million Choice Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
  • We joined only four other cities to be named as a IEEE Core Smart City,
  • Our KC NoVA collaboration has been hailed as a model for fighting violent crime in urban areas, and
  • We were named a top-five emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (the only city in the United States).

Frank Sinatra and Billy Joel both sang about New York. The Beatles sang about Kansas City and right now, the world is singing with them about Kansas City’s achievements.

New York City has earned the title of the city that doesn’t sleep. But Kansas City is quickly solidifying itself as the city that doesn’t quit – much like our Royals. This isn’t a fluke (just ask Hosmer). Kansas City, both the team and the community, are a force to be reckoned with.

You stay on top by taking the long-view and strategically planning ahead. To that end, building a world-class city isn’t completely unlike building a championship baseball team. When my friend, Dayton Moore, presented me with an idea of building an Urban Youth Baseball Academy right here in Kansas City, it frankly sounded too good to be true.

But it isn’t. Together, the Royals and the City are investing in the 18th and Vine neighborhood, Parade Park specifically, in order to use baseball as a vehicle to make an impact on the lives of our urban youth. The Urban Youth Baseball Academy will connect young people with Royals coaches and former players to develop their baseball mechanics and to prepare them for careers in areas like sports medicine, broadcasting, and statistics. The real goal of the Academy, however, is to develop championship people.

The Kansas City Urban Youth Baseball Academy might generate the next Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, or Frank White. Or it might help produce the next Mayor. The point is, with a little help from the City and the Royals, a new generation of young people will be able to write their own ticket.

You can be apart of this, too. Imagine how far our collective impact could go if every person who reads this donates something – $1, $10, $100 – to the construction of the Urban Youth Baseball Academy. Every bit helps. If you are so inclined, you can mail a check to the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation at 1055 Broadway Boulevard, Suite 130, Kansas City, MO 64105.

By taking the long-view, the Royals, and the City of Kansas City, are in this to win it. The trophy in this case, however, will be the hundreds of urban kids with new options and opportunities in their lives.

It is most definitely nice to be here again and playing against New York’s Mets. Welcome to our city.

And to Mayor De Blasio….. Don’t forget about our bet!

 

The City’s Budget Takes More Steps in the Right Direction

As any homeowner or business owner knows, the hardest part is the money. Whether a factory worker with a family, a single-mom struggling to make ends meet, a corporate executive with hundreds of employees or an entrepreneur with a great idea, we’ve all got to struggle with making the dollars work.

Kansas City is no different, except that like any large organization, we’re lucky to have a dedicated professional staff working for citizens to make it right.  The City Manager and I released the City’s proposed 2015-2016 budget today, and it can be found at the budget portal right HERE and click on the “Open Budget” tab at the top of the page.

Before I get too far into the details of it, I want to thank everyone for the hard work they’ve been doing for many months to put the budget together under the leadership of City Manager Troy Schulte, Finance Director Randy Landes, Budget Officer Scott Huizenga and Councilmember Jan Marcason, chair of the Finance, Governance and Audit Committee. They and their staff and committee members have done an awesome job.

This budget reflects the very prudent and responsible Citywide Business Plan approved by the City Council last year. That plan balances a desire and a need to achieve five specific goals identified by the City Council — Public Safety, Transportation/Infrastructure, Neighborhoods/Health Communities, Planning/Zoning/Economic Development and Finance/Governance — with the fiscal resources of the community. Two public citizen work sessions and four focus groups were held specifically to explore and define Kansas City’s priorities. We listened hard to many voices, and we heard what you had to say.

This budget is all about making our city the best it can be, but in a manner that doesn’t break the pocketbooks of taxpayers. We get there with facts and data — two tools that are vital to responsible decisionmaking.

The 2015-2016 budget reflects some very tough decisions, starting with some personal sacrifices by the more than 4,600 city employees and who work for our citizens every day. We have discussed for two years the need to reduce our personnel costs. Therefore, this year, all city employees’ salaries, including our fire and police department personnel, will be frozen so we can stabilize the budget. We regretfully propose to eliminate 85 positions across the city in the coming year, including about 25 positions that are currently filled.
There is much, much more being done to stabilize our financial house. Two examples: For the second year in a row, we are fully funding pensions and pension benefits for all four of our pension plans. Also, in the coming fiscal year, we’re starting a process to maintain city trucks and other vehicles on a rolling basis. We’re doing more than “catching up” on deferred fleet maintenance. The City is starting an eight-year maintenance cycle so we don’t have to play catch up again in the future.

It’s important to remember that the reason this budget exists is to serve our residents. To that end, I’m confident that programs like KC NoVA, Turn the Page KC and Mayor’s Nights will continue to be efficient, results-driven ways to invest in the people who call our City home.

I look forward to reviewing the budget with the Council over the next six weeks. Most importantly, I invite you to let us know what you think. Find out how HERE. For more information about the budget HERE.

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