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Nick’s Picks | Nichols Name Dropping Across Kansas City

Protest Responses and Pot Lead This Week's News

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

Should Kansas City erase the name J.C. Nichols from one of its most iconic fountains? What about removing his name from one of the Country Club Plaza’s main thoroughfares?  

This week marks your last chance to weigh in on the issue. The Kansas City Parks Board is holding a final virtual town hall meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. You can get the details at www.kcparks.org. 

Nichols was a pioneering developer who also used racial covenants that blocked people of color from living in his housing developments. 

At the first town hall, the vast majority of speakers were in favor of removing Nichols name from the public square. If there was opposition to that idea, few felt comfortable expressing it.  

Parks Board member Chris Goode has proposed renaming the J.C. Nichols Fountain the Dream Fountain and changing the name of the J.C. Nichols Parkway to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. 

It’s unclear how much support he has for that idea.

One of Kansas City’s largest civil rights organizations says the half-mile long J.C. Nichols Parkway is too “minuscule” a street to bear the King name. The Southern Baptist Leadership Council still favors renaming The Paseo after King. In addition, at least one park board member favors putting the King name on Linwood Boulevard. 

UMKC Considers Dropping Nichols Name

In the meantime, the University of Missouri-Kansas City has announced a task force to consider a possible renaming of the university’s main library building. The Miller Nichols Library is actually named after the developer’s son. University officials say it’s part of a campus-wide diversity and inclusion effort.

It’s worth noting one of the most prominent buildings at Johnson County Community College is also being renamed. Officials there have announced a task force to explore the renaming of the Carlsen Center. The decision comes more than a decade after accusations of sexual harassment were brought against its former president, Chuck Carlsen. 

Police in Schools

It’s hard to keep up with the latest developments involving the pandemic and the protest movement, but one trend we’re closely watching this week involves our school districts. 

Will Kansas City area school districts eliminate police resource officers from their buildings?

The Denver and Minneapolis school boards have voted to end contracts with local police departments. Other cities, including Portland, Oregon, are considering joining them. 

Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is urging local districts to cut contracts with police departments and use the money to hire more social workers and counselors.

Luz María Henríquez, executive director of ACLU of Missouri, claims in a letter sent to nine area administrators that there is “no evidence that increased police presence in schools improves school safety.”

A national organization representing school resource officers disputes that. 

Pot Possession

Should you be arrested for possessing marijuana? Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says no. He’s introduced a new ordinance that could be voted on this week at City Hall that will strip pot possession from city codes. 

Lucas says blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession despite roughly equal usage rates as whites.

Cannabis growing facilities
Cannabis growing facilities at Ever-Bloom Farm in Carpinteria, California, on September 14, 2019. (Rod Rolle/Sipa USA | AP Images)

Medical Marijuana

More than 18 months after Missouri voters legalized medical marijuana, why is it that people with chronic health complaints still have no place they can go to buy legal pot in the state? 

Officials in Missouri now say sales of medical marijuana won’t begin until late August at the very earliest. The pandemic has repeatedly delayed the state’s implementation of the voter approved marijuana law. And there have been lawsuits filed over how the state awarded dispensary licenses.

Now there’s a new scandal. The Missouri Department of Health has just revealed that more than 600 patients had their pot prescription paperwork signed by someone who was impersonating a doctor. An investigation is underway.

Trains Cut

If you’ve been thinking of taking a train trip in the near future, beware. Buried in the coverage of COVID-19 and the protest movement is the news that there is very little rail service left. 

We should learn more this week about plans by Amtrak to discontinue daily train service through Kansas City. Effective Oct. 1, the company says the Southwest Chief that takes passengers from Los Angeles through Kansas City to Chicago will only run three times a week. 

The state of Missouri has already cut funding to the Missouri River Runner train that takes Kansas Citians to St. Louis. That service has been cut from two trains a day to just one.

Worlds of Fun

The roller coasters are coming back to life at Kansas City’s largest amusement park. Worlds of Fun reopens today to season ticket holders. 

If you decide to go, please know you have to register online first. And when you get to the park, you will have to submit to a temperature check.  Plus, face masks are mandatory for all visitors. Will it be hard to ride the Patriot or the Timberwolf in a face mask? 

By the way, Oceans of Fun is still closed. No date has been provided on when the water park will reopen. 

Nick Haines tracks the week’s local news Friday 7:30 p.m. on KCPT’s primetime public affairs program, “Kansas City Week in Review.”

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