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Nick’s Picks: Shutdown Protests, Earth Day and the NFL Draft

Setting the Agenda for the Week to Come

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

It’s a busy week ahead, and it’s not all about the coronavirus outbreak.

Shutdown Protests

You’ve seen protests against stay-at-home orders in other cities. Now they’re coming here.  

A demonstration is set for noon today in Kansas City. A flyer advertising the event urges protesters to “flood the streets of downtown Kansas City and demand that businesses be allowed to open up, people allowed to work, and lives returned to normal.”

It’s not the only demonstration planned. A protest at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City is set for noon on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a group calling itself the Kansas City Area Preparedness Network is hosting what they describe as a “gridlock event” at the Kansas Capitol in Topeka on Thursday at noon. 

Church Clash

Over the weekend, a federal judge blocked Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s order restricting church services during the pandemic. But if you thought that was the end of the matter…think again. On Thursday, that same judge will take up legal arguments in the case that pits public health concerns against religious freedom and free speech rights. 

Meanwhile, several Kansas churches did open on Sunday.  And the pastor of the Heritage Baptist Church in Lawrence says there was one big difference from the week before — more people showed up. 

Confusing Orders

Can you tell me which areas of the Kansas City area are under stay-at-home orders and for how long? It’s about to get confusing. 

While Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas recently extended the city’s stay-at-home order until May 15, Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas decided not to. Their sticking with the May 3 date Gov. Laura Kelly announced. That’s the same day an order in the state of Missouri expires.

But Jackson, Clay and Platte counties are not following that. All three counties have joined with Kansas City in extending their emergency orders until May 15.  

Benefits Anger

Despite efforts in Kansas and Missouri to beef up staff and phone lines to process unemployment benefits, I continue to hear from area residents who are downright frustrated and angry about the process.

Even though there have been website crashes and some people placed on hold for hours, don’t give up. You can still get your money. According to officials in both states, you can still receive retroactive payments for each week you tried to apply.

Click here to claim in Kansas.

Click here to claim in Missouri.

Earth Day

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  With a pandemic keeping most people at home, will the Kansas City area be experiencing one of its most environmentally friendly Earth Days in history?  Is our air quality improving from reduced manufacturing and fewer cars on the road?  

Many of the hopes of local environmental activists are already being realized during this shutdown. More area employers are allowing their employees to work remotely. Kansas City has been shutting down entire streets to vehicles to allow more room for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Kansas City climate activists joined international demonstrations with a student walkout and general assembly in Theis Park on Sept. 20.
Kansas City climate activists joined international demonstrations with a student walkout and general assembly on Sept. 20. (Cody Boston | Flatland)

And even though they had yet to find the money, Kansas City has made all of its buses free to avoid contact between drivers and passengers. 

One of the few areas that is taking a hit are reusable bags and your effort to use your own cup at the coffee shop. After years of anti-plastic activism, the risks from the coronavirus outbreak have put single-use plastics back on top.

Meanwhile, here’s a story that got buried amid COVID-19 coverage. Kansas, for the first time, is generating more of its electricity from wind than from any other source.  According to The American Wind Energy Association, only two states in the nation have reached that milestone. The other is Iowa.

Pot Pause

The COVID-19 outbreak has put a pause on Missouri’s medical marijuana roll out. 

More than 43,000 Missouri patients have been approved to use pot for medical purposes. But state officials now acknowledge it will be months before marijuana dispensaries are allowed to open in the state. A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health, which is administering the program, says it won’t be until August at the earliest. 

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

Meanwhile, a campaign to legalize marijuana in Missouri is officially ending its effort to place the issue on the November ballot. Organizers claim it was too tough to collect signatures with emergency stay-at-home orders in place.

By Any Other Name

Your help is needed. What would you name Johnson County’s largest performing arts space?  Johnson County Community College has announced plans to rename the Carlsen Center on its Overland Park campus. The decision comes more than a decade after accusations of sexual harassment were brought against its former president Charles Carlsen. He abruptly retired. 

Ginger Rogers

Want to live in the home where famed Hollywood actress Ginger Rogers was born? You can. The Independence, Missouri, house built in 1906 officially goes on the market this week.  Two years ago it opened as the Ginger Rogers Museum. But its owners say the coronavirus is preventing them from reopening.

NFL Draft

One of pro football’s most watched events gets underway on Thursday. It’s the NFL draft, and we will soon know which players the Kansas City Chiefs will select. But it will be unlike any other in the event’s history. Instead of experiencing a literal Las Vegas spectacle, the 2020 NFL Draft will be a completely virtual program. 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates with the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans. (David Stluka | AP)

Here’s to 2023, when Kansas City is expected to host this celebration of football without having to confront a global crisis. The 2023 NFL Draft will take place in the iconic area around Union Station and the National World War I Museum.

KCPT is committed to serving you with high-quality information and entertainment through this challenging time. Visit kept.org/coronavirus.

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

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