THE CALL To Host Candidates’ Forum Saturday

By Eric L. Wesson Sr.
CALL Staff Writer
THE CALL will host a candidates’ forum on Saturday, March 28, at the Bruce Watkins Cultural center located at 3700 Blue Parkway.
The forum will be moderated by KCPT Week In Review host Nick Haynes and CALL reporter Eric L. Wesson Sr.
The forum will begin at 11 a.m., with the Mayoral candidates, Mayor Sly James and challenger Vincent Lee, answering questions from neighborhood associations and concerned citizens that have been sent in to THE CALL.
Challenger Clay Chastain will not appear on the panel due to a scheduling conflict and his being unable to return to Kansas City from his home in Bedford, Virginia.
The Mayoral panel will conclude at noon and the panel will switch over to At-Large candidates which will include:
1st District At-Large candidate Councilman Scott Wagner
2nd District At-Large candidate  Teresa Loar.
3rd District At-Large candidates  Quinton Lucas, Virginia “Dee” Evans, Foristine Beasley, Karmello Coleman, Carol “CJ” Gatlin, Stephan Gordon.
4th District At-Large candidates Councilman Jim Glover and Katheryn Shields.
5th District At-Large candidates Lee Barnes, Dennis Anthony and write-in candidate Dwayne Williams and
6th District At-Large candidate Councilman Scott Taylor.
The In-District candidate panel will begin at 1 p.m.
3rd District In-District candidates will include:
Councilman Jermaine Reed, Jamekia Kendrick, Shaheer Akhtab, Bryan Diak and Rachel Riley.
5th District In-District candidates Alissia Canady, Edward Bell, Bilal Muhamad and Lance Conley; and
6th District In-District candidate, Kevin McManus, Terrence P. Nash and Henry Klein.
THE CALL requested issues from neighborhood associations and we received an overwhelming response.
Many responded to the lack of consistent code enforcement, trash, tires and abandoned homes.

 

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Controversy Surrounds Tourist Fund Restrictions Removing Neighborhoods

By Eric L. Wesson Sr.
CALL Staff Writer

On Wednesday, March 25, the City Council’s Finance, Governance and Ethics committee passed an ordinance out of committee to the full Council that will affect the way neighborhoods receive funding for their annual block parties, crime prevention events and entertainment.
Ordinance 150191 centers around the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund (NTDF) which funds many neighborhood block parties and Night Out Against Crime and the St. Patrick Day parade, among other events.
The NTDF will now come under the City Manager’s office. For quite some time the NTDF has met in neighborhoods via community centers such as Southeast Community center and Brush Creek Community center. Now those meetings will be held at City Hall, which creates parking problems as well as location issues for citizens to present at the NTDF meetings.
Members who sit on NTDF tell THE CALL that the committee had no discussion on the change or input on the change in the structure.
“Some of us could have come down and testified before the Finance Committee and presented a different side to the Council,” a Committee member stated.
They were told in January that when they meet in April there would be a new procedure in which funds will be distributed.
Apparently no one on the committee, who are appointed to represent the neighborhoods because they are appointed by both In-District and At-Large City Councilmembers, knew of the changes that were voted out of committee Wednesday.
Members contend that under the new leadership of NTDF there has not been very much transparency on the committee.
THE CALL obtained a copy of the email in which Denise Dillard called her actions of not informing the committee about what was going on as a, “new girl oopsy”. Some members questioned whether her inactions were done intentionally because of the transparency issues that the committee has had.
Members of the committee contend that leadership never wanted to give grants to the neighborhoods and instead led the charge for the committee to be changed and come under the City Manager’s office and increase the amount of money used to promote the City.
The ordinance will remove virtually all aspects of neighborhoods grants unless the neighborhood event will attract people who are not within the neighborhood as a target.
• Agencies awarded $20,000 or less, don’t have to get the audit done
• Section 2-937 (1) the word “neighborhood” was removed to read “not-for-profit organization”.
• NTDF is now under the City Managers umbrella
At question is how the legislative intent of the State statute which governs the NTDF is clearly being understood.
According to State Rep. Brandon Ellington, the proceeds of the funds, which come primarily from a percentage of a sales tax  from purchases made at restaurants, must be used in a sense that will attract people from outside of the neighborhood to the particular neighborhood hosting the event.

 

 

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VisitKC Executive Working Hard In Selling City’s Brightest Spots

Ronnie Burt

By Tracy Allen
CALL Staff Writer

Eight months in and hundreds of conversations with locals, even Ronnie Burt believes in Kansas City and its potential to draw a new found love for those to the Midwestern city.
There may be those who think Kansas City has less to offer when it comes to being progressive among other cities of like size. Not Burt. It’s the reason why he left New Jersey, and instead, accepted the responsibility of presenting an exciting, vibrant metropolitan area of 2.4 million people by Burt becoming the CEO of VisitKC, formerly known as the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau. The former vice president of sales and services for Destination D.C., Burt has history in Kansas City. Still, in eight months he has seen plenty enough to know that the area is rich in far more than its jazz and barbecue.
In a conversation with THE CALL recently, Burt talked about the rising enthusiasm the Kansas City area has presented, not only to its residents but also, what could continue to make it a city that sees just as much potential as similar size communities around the country.
THE CALL: You knew a little about Kansas City before you even came here. What is it like being in the Midwest and what it is like selling Kansas City not only to Kansas City but to the outside?
Ronnie Burt: I’ve had the opportunity to live all around the country. I don’t know if you can call Indianapolis Midwest but coming from the East Coast, I guess you can say it is Midwestern city.
I was familiar with the Midwest hospitality and I’ve lived here when I was in fourth grade (he once lived at the 5200 block of The Paseo). I come back and visit in the summers. Have family in the area. At that time, had a uncle who was living in Grandview and another uncle who lived up the corner at Lydia. Many of the summers I played football up there, in the grass, up near the Rockhurst campus and many times getting run up out of there (smile).
For me, the most thing you’ll noticed in the Midwest is that people are genuinely nice. I grew up in New Jersey, on the East Coast, and people are genuinely nice. Being here in the Midwest and being here in Kansas City for the eight months, navigating the city I’ve discovered people just don’t know about Kansas City. And that is what we’re trying to do with our marketing message is change how we go out and position the city because it has a lot of cosmopolitan amenities but people have perceptions of Kansas City. And they don’t see it that say.
Yes, we are rich in history. Yes, we are rich in jazz. Yes, we’re rich in barbecue. But I think there is a lot of other things. The cultural activities. The museums. The independent restaurants. The entertainment beyond jazz. For me, those type of things that is rewarding to see.”
The messaging I like to say is finding your experience in Kansas City because people like different things. There is something here for everybody.
THE CALL: You’ve lived here so you knew what Kansas City was all about. Growing up in New Jersey did you ever sense that one day you would come back to Kansas City as a place to work, a place to represent to people outside.
Burt: I did not. If you would have asked me two years ago that I would be the president and CEO of VisitKC, it wasn’t something on my radar. To me the attractive side is I’ve lived in different places, New Jersey, Baltimore, Atlanta, (Washington) D.C., Indianapolis. Every job I’ve had I didn’t apply for. It was a job that I was recruited. . . When I came to visit to (K.C.) in that recruitment, it was the things that I saw happening that made me excited about Kansas City. The investment that is being made in downtown. I was seeing the dollars that were invested in the community that is what I’m selling.
THE CALL: You’ve mentioned about jazz, you mention barbecue. And obviously we know the history about black baseball. Did you feel Kansas City stuck in that mode focusing on those three and not bring out the other aspects of the metro area.
Burt: I never liked to look at the past and say they were “stuck”. It was the messaging that was working  for Kansas City. Me coming in with a different perspective, and living in the cities, it was about going about selling the city differently. An analogy would be everybody thinks everybody wants to go to Washington. Well, that isn’t true. And the perception people have about Washington is what they see on CNN. And the fact they cover the Capitol and the White House. But there is a vibrant community outside the Capitol and the White House. There are neighborhoods and communities. That is the way I look at Kansas City. We have a lot more to offer than just the barbecuing messaging, the jazz messaging.
If you look at the cultural experiences, the rich entertainment side of things. Obviously things in the 18th and Vine community, Alvin Ailey. But there are museums whether it be the World War I museum, the Kemper Museum, great shopping at Plaza and Crown center, and kid’s museum. There are a variety of things to do.
. . . When I look at the region, I don’t get stuck on “sides”. This side or that side. Missouri or Kansas. I just navigate the city and see that this is as a metropolitan area that has many things around it. . . This is a region and there are a wealth of things to do in a region. So we have to do a better job with that and our messaging is shifting all the amenities people have.

 

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