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Nick’s Picks | School Reopenings, Political Conventions and KC Budget Cuts

Busy News Week Ahead in Kansas City

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

While most of the biggest school districts in our metro won’t be heading back until after Labor Day, in-person classes begin this week for thousands of schoolchildren in Kansas and Missouri. They are predominantly in more rural parts of both states.

But it marks our region’s first big test of our ability to safely educate our kids during the middle of a pandemic. After a five-month break will they be ready to go?

Another test is underway on our college campuses. Students at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg start classes this week. UMKC, KU, MU and K-State begin their fall semesters next Monday. But those college towns are already filling up with students. And so are the dorms. At Mizzou, administrators say residence halls are operating at 92% capacity.

More Restrictions?

Get used to wearing a mask for a lot longer. At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, Kansas City’s coronavirus restrictions were set to expire. Now Mayor Quinton Lucas has extended them not just into this week, or for the rest of the month, but through January 16, 2021.

Some bar and restaurant owners expressed relief that the mayor didn’t impose new restrictions on businesses, but the mayor’s office says those are still being considered.

Over the weekend, the mayor spent a night checking out bars and restaurants to see how they were following the rules. Lucas said most businesses appeared to be complying with public health guidance, but there was one establishment that he claimed was “following absolutely no protections in the slightest.” The mayor didn’t name that business.

Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention gets underway in a mostly virtual format this week. We’ve been checking through the schedule and there are no primetime speaking roles for any Kansas or Missouri political figures.

But your Kansas City PBS station will provide you a great window to see the action. We’re showing three hours of primetime coverage every night, starting at 7 p.m. The convention runs through Thursday. We’ll
keep that same schedule going next week as the Republican National Convention begins.

Crime Session Continues

It’s sometimes easy to lose track of news developments. Did you know that the special session designed to fix violent crime is still going on in Missouri? It was called by Gov. Mike Parson last month.

Lawmakers are heading back to work this week to try and make progress on a violent crime fix. So far not one new measure has passed both chambers of the legislature.

Bogging down progress is a controversial provision Parson asked lawmakers to consider. It will allow the state attorney general to intervene in the prosecution of murder cases in St. Louis. It was blasted by some lawmakers as a targeted assault on the city’s Democratic prosecutor.

Davids And Cleaver Called Back

It’s also back to work this week for your local members of Congress. The House has cut short its summer recess to tackle what has become America’s latest political faultline, the U.S. Postal Service.

The Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote on legislation to block the Post Office from making any operational changes that would make it harder to process what is expected to be a surge in mail-in ballots this fall.

Longer Waits for Repairs

This winter, you will have to wait longer for snow removal and pothole repairs in Kansas City, Missouri.

Starting this week new budget cuts go into effect that shave millions of dollars from city maintenance projects. The city is already warning that parks and boulevards will be mowed less frequently, tree trimming will be reduced and city crews won’t be available for emergency sidewalk repairs.

The more than $23 million cut was considered necessary after a sharp decline in tax revenues due to the pandemic.

This week, the City Council will also consider cutting back its curbside recycling service and a plan to furlough city workers.

New City Manager

Who should be Kansas City’s next city manager? The Kansas City Council has narrowed the candidates and will announce the finalists at a news conference on Tuesday. The job has been filled by an acting manager since Troy Schulte resigned in December.

19th Amendment

This Tuesday also marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. (It should be noted that women of color would wait a lot longer before they were given that opportunity.)

A new Kansas City organization has been formed to honor that milestone. It’s called 100 Years of the Vote. The group aims to create awareness about the power behind the female vote. You can learn more at: https://www.100yearsofthevote.org/

AMC Returns

Most of the area’s AMC movie theaters reopen this Thursday.

The Leawood-based theater chain is trying to win back customers by charging just 15 cents a ticket. That’s a nod to the cost of seeing a movie when the company launched back. This is AMC’s 100th anniversary.

Remember, you’re not seeing any new shows when those theaters reopen. The theater will be featuring older titles like “Grease” and “Back to the Future.” There are no new movie releases scheduled until August
28.

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

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