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Nick’s Picks | The Chiefs, Plus 10 Other Things You Need to Know This Week

Turning it Up to 11

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

A lot of news outlets put out lists of the 10 things you need to know. We do one better. Here are the 11 things you need to know this week.

#1: Super Bowl Bound

Will Kansas Citians have an extra spring in their step this week as the Chiefs head to the Super Bowl for the second straight year?

That game will take place in Tampa on Sunday, Feb. 7. 

Kansas City will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which will be the first NFL team to host the Super Bowl in its home stadium.

You can still attend if you don’t mind spending $11,000 for a seat. That’s the cheapest price I could find this morning. And that’s in the nosebleed section. A seat closer to the action will set you back $75,000.

Unless of course you’re a frontline healthcare worker.  The NFL is inviting 7,500 vaccinated health care workers to see the big game. 

It’s unclear if they’re all from the Florida area or whether medical staffers from Kansas City also snagged any of those free tickets.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates with the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy after the AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans in 2020. (David Stluka | AP)

#2: Impeachment Round 2

Last week, I got an email from a woman who told me that if we were to mention President Donald Trump ever again on Kansas City PBS, we would lose a viewer because she would permanently change channels. 

I think we’ve just lost a viewer. 

The former president will be topping the headlines again this week. At 6 p.m. this evening, the House will send over to the Senate an article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” 

Senators will be sworn in as members of the impeachment court on Tuesday and then House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team will begin drafting their legal briefs. 

The formal stage of the trial is not expected to take place for another two weeks. That will allow the Senate to continue non-impeachment business including hearings on President Joe Biden’s appointees and a new COVID-19 stimulus package that could deposit another $1,400 into your bank account.

Meanwhile, a handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open – but not committed – to conviction. We’ll be watching this week to see if any senator from Kansas or Missouri is part of that group. That’s considered a longshot. Several political commentators claim our bi-state Senators will argue Trump’s actions don’t meet the legal definition of “insurrection.” They will also claim the constitution doesn’t permit the removal of a president after leaving office.

#3: Expanding Vaccinations 

Starting this week, Johnson County will begin vaccinating seniors. While Missouri started vaccinating older residents last week, this is the first time the largest county on the Kansas side of state line has expanded inoculations to those 65 and older. 

The big question is whether there will be enough vaccines to go around. The Shawnee Mission Post reports that Johnson County health officials have been “begging” the state for more vaccines. 

The state of Missouri also has a warning on its official COVID page declaring that vaccines are in short supply and that many vaccination centers “were still awaiting supplies from the federal government.”

Next up in both states is vaccinating teachers. But will the coveted dose come too late for many educators? The Kansas City Star reports that teachers are giving up and quitting the job. According to the Star, in just the Shawnee Mission School District there have been 46 resignations and retirements this school year. There were just 11 the year before.

#4: Monarchs Return

Kansas City has a new sports team this week. For the first time in 60 years the Kansas City Monarchs are back in action.

The ownership group behind the T-Bones minor league baseball team has reached an agreement to rebrand the ball club after the longest running franchise in the Negro Leagues. The Monarchs signed up some of the game’s greatest legends from Satchel Paige to Jackie Robinson.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum owns the Monarch’s name and will get a cut of ticket and merchandise sales. But it’s unclear what percentage they will receive from the agreement.

The T-Bones have struggled over the years and the team was evicted from its stadium in Wyandotte County for unpaid bills in 2019.

Your first chance to see the new Monarchs in action will be in mid-May as the team launches its 2021 season.

#5: State of the State

Pending no new COVID outbreak or security breach, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson will deliver his annual state of the state address this week.

It is scheduled to take place Wednesday afternoon in the Missouri House Chamber. Last week, the chamber was shut down after a COVID outbreak in the Capitol building.

#6: Kansas Abortion Debate

The issue of abortion is dominating the work of lawmakers in Kansas. This week, the Kansas Senate will debate adding an abortion amendment to the state’s constitution. 

The amendment would not ban abortion, but would overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that declared women have a right to the procedure. If the amendment is approved it would likely make it more difficult to challenge abortion restrictions in state courts.

The House overwhelmingly approved the measure last week. If it now passes the Senate, you will ultimately make the final decision. It would appear on the August ballot next year. 

#7: State Birthdays

You’re unlikely to be offered a free piece of cake to celebrate, but the state of Kansas turns 160 years old on Friday. While it’s a big birthday for the Sunflower State, Missouri is hosting a much larger celebration. It’s marking its 200th birthday this year. 

These big state birthdays got me thinking about our flag. 

Did people in other states get upset that they’d have to go out and buy another flag just because Missouri wanted to join the union?

If you were around at this time in 1821, you would have seen only 23 stars on the flag. Another star would have to be embroidered onto the fabric just to accommodate Missouri.

As the nation expanded, the flag would be officially modified 26 times. 

Could 2021 bring about another change to the look of our flag?  Congressional Democrats are pushing hard to approve statehood for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. That would require two new stars on our nation’s emblem. It would be the first change since 1960 when Hawaii became the 50th state.

I’m wondering how a flag change would be received today?

Would it split the country just like masks have done? 

Would some people refuse to fly the new version of the flag, arguing it was just an effort by Democrats to increase their congressional power? 

#8: No More ‘Indians’?

Last year, the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians announced they’re changing their team names. And there continues to be pressure on the Kansas City Chiefs to follow suit. 

This week, the Shawnee Mission School Board is scheduled to make a final decision on whether to remove names and mascots that could be considered derogatory to Native Americans. 

Shawnee Mission North High School is attracting most of the attention. The school’s teams are known as the Indians and their mascot features a Native American man in full headdress. 

The school board is expected to make its decision Monday night. 

#9: Big Indoor Shows Return

Our professional and college sports teams continue to play in front of fans, but this week the first large indoor performance event is scheduled to get underway.

The recently rebranded T-Mobile Center has just received health department clearance to host “Disney on Ice.”

The family show skates into the downtown arena this Thursday.

Masks are required and only 3,600 guests are being admitted into the 18,000 seat arena. 

Guests will also be separated in seating pods that will be at least eight feet from other visitors.

#10: Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is back on the agenda in Kansas City this week. 

The Kansas City Council is expected to cast a final vote on a plan to deny tax incentives to any housing developer who doesn’t set aside 20% of their new units for affordable housing. 

If the idea sounds familiar, it is. The council proposed this before, but it never happened. Several developers claim the plan would be disastrous for the city and would lead to disinvestment, less housing and fewer jobs.

#11: One Year Later

What was dominating our local headlines this time last year?

How about this headline from a year ago this week: 

“Area hospital is investigating KC region’s first potential case of coronavirus.”

According to a statement from Lawrence Memorial Hospital, medical staff received a patient “with respiratory illness symptoms who had recently traveled to the Chinese city of Wuhan.”

Does that feel like 12 months ago? 

I was pouring through some other big headlines from this week last year and found some remarkable quotes.

Let’s start with this one from the Washington Post, dated Jan. 24, 2020:

“It’s possible that this coronavirus may not be highly contagious, and it may not be all that deadly.” 

The paper was quoting Dr. Howard Markel, a well-respected medical school leader at the University of Michigan and a frequent contributor to the PBS Newshour.

And in the Philadelphia Inquirer ob Jan. 29, 2020, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University declares that the real danger to Americans is the common flu. 

“Coronavirus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison,” Dr. William Schaffner claimed. “The risk is trivial.”

Hindsight is always 2020, but at this time in 2020 many medical experts still had no idea where we were headed and misjudged the full impact of this contagion.

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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