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Nick’s Picks | Auschwitz Exhibit, Police Budget and Medicaid Expansion Top the Agenda

Prepping for Juneteenth and Father's Day

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

The biggest traveling exhibition in Union Station history opens this week. The “Auschwitz: Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.” exhibit features more than 700 artifacts chronicling life inside the Nazi’s most notorious concentration camp. It is now recorded as the largest documented mass murder site in human history.

The international exhibit is only traveling to two places in the United States. Kansas City is the only stop outside of New York.

The Union Station exhibit opens today and runs through the end of January.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Kansas City PBS has been capturing the stories of local Holocaust survivors and their families. “All These Delicate Sorrows” premieres Thursday at 7 p.m. on Kansas CIty PBS.

Medicaid Expansion Goes to Court

The dispute over Medicaid expansion funding in Missouri finally heads to court this week. 

Several uninsured Missourians are suing the state for canceling a voter-approved plan to expand Medicaid health coverage to residents earning up to $18,000 a year. 

A Cole County judge will hold the first hearing on the case this Friday in Jefferson City. 

Ending Emergency Order in Kansas

As COVID-19 cases wane, governors across the country are now weighing whether they should end all emergency orders.

On Tuesday, a pandemic emergency order in Kansas is set to expire. Gov. Laura Kelly wants to renew the order through the end of August. But a Republican controlled legislative panel that makes decisions when lawmakers are not in session is expected to overrule her.

Leading Republican lawmakers say the state’s emergency statutes have been abused by Kelly. They argue the rules were written to respond to short-term disasters like tornadoes and floods, not a long running health situation like COVID-19. 

Emergency declarations have allowed governors to restrict public gatherings and businesses, mandate masks, sidestep normal purchasing rules and deploy National Guard troops to help administer vaccines. 

Police Funding Fight

Kansas City’s police funding dispute will be back in the headlines this week.

This Tuesday is the deadline for Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas to respond to a Jackson County judge who has ruled that not one dime can be removed from the police department’s budget until the matter is settled.

Last month, the City Council voted to withhold $42 million from the Kansas City Police Department budget. 

The move was criticized as an effort to “defund” the police. The mayor argues it’s about holding the department accountable. Lucas says he wants to better direct funding to programs and tactics that have a better chance of reducing the city’s soaring homicide rate.

Ceasefire on Crime?

You hear about ceasefire agreements between rival factions in war torn countries. But what about here? 

A group of Kansas City ministers and anti-crime groups are calling for a 21-day ceasefire for homicides, starting this week.

The move comes after a particularly violent day in Kansas City when three people were shot dead in separate incidents in a one-hour time span. 

But just because you beg people to stop, will they? 

Within hours of the group’s ceasefire announcement, a woman was found murdered in her home just a few blocks from the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Missouri Ends Federal Unemployment Checks 

Starting this week, thousands of Missourians will lose a big part of their unemployment benefits. 

Last month, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared he was ending federal unemployment payments, saying it was time for the state to get back to work.  Those checks end this week.

The federal government has been providing an extra $300 a week on top of Missouri’s unemployment benefit.

Parson contends that has encouraged the unemployed to stop looking for jobs. The governor said there are more than 221,000 job openings across the state and businesses can’t find enough workers to fill them.

Tiny Homes

Is Kansas City’s plan to build hundreds of “tiny homes” for the unhoused now in doubt?

Last week, the City Council hit the pause button on a $2.7 million proposal to construct a “tiny homes village” that would provide beds and services for up to 200 people experiencing homelessness.

The village would have communal bathrooms, showers, laundry and hot food. It would also provide medical and mental health services, as well as life and work skill training.

But the plan was pulled at the request of Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, who claims too many questions remain unanswered. She claims the city is still fuzzy on the details and there’s no agreement on where the “tiny homes” will be built.

The council is expected to revisit the issue this week.

Juneteenth

A lot of area companies and local governments are giving their workers a paid day off this Friday to observe Juneteenth. 

City Hall in Kansas City will be closed. So will government offices in Jackson County. 

Juneteenth is a lesser known holiday that’s now getting renewed attention in the United States.  It marks the end of slavery following President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

More accurately, Juneteenth (short for “June 19th”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed.

Celebrating Dads

There are several other holidays and milestones to pay attention to this week.

Today, you’ll see a lot more “Stars and Stripes” flying from people’s homes and businesses. It’s National Flag Day. You don’t get the day off work. But you are expected to fly the flag, at least according to President Woodrow Wilson, who made it a national holiday back in 1916. 

This Sunday, you are expected to buy something very large and expensive for your dad. Are you paying attention, Haines children? Sunday is Father’s Day. Don’t worry, I’m giving you plenty of advance notice so you have time to hit the shops.

Sunday also marks the official start of summer. It’s the summer solstice, also sometimes referred to as the “longest day of the year.” It’s the day with the most hours of daylight, so enjoy!

Nick Haines dissects the week’s most impactful local news stories, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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