I guess it’s good news that Kansas City is one of four finalists for the Republican National Convention in 2016.
Even if we don’t win, it puts our name up there with Denver, Cleveland and Dallas, the other finalists.
But one thing that I saw in Friday’s KC Star story about us being a finalist stopped me cold and planted significant seeds of doubt about how good of a deal the convention would be for Kansas City.
Consider these two paragraphs that reporter Dave Helling wrote:
But it would also mean an increased police presence and disruptions for residents.
Kansas City officials have already started talking about the need for a downtown security perimeter for the convention, which could close access to about 70 downtown blocks. Some parts of the downtown loop would likely be closed, including the highway under Bartle Hall…
In an April 5, kansascity.com article, Helling expanded on the subject of a security perimeter:
Kansas City officials have already started talking about downtown’s security perimeter, which would probably be heavily fenced and guarded during the days leading up to the convention and during the week-long gathering.
One early guess: More than 70 downtown blocks would have to be closed, from Charlotte Street to Washington Street, from Ninth Street to Truman Road.
Some parts of the downtown interstate loop might also be closed to traffic for a week or more. Parking would be a nightmare — or nonexistent.
Downtown workers may want to start planning their 2016 vacations if Kansas City is awarded the convention.
“It’s going to have an impact on Kansas City in terms of getting into and out of downtown,” said City Manager Troy Schulte. “I think the city can handle it. But, yeah, it’s going to be inconvenient.”
In fact, Schulte said, the city is already talking about moving City Hall’s functions elsewhere during the convention because the building would probably fall inside the secured area. The Jackson County Courthouse would be difficult to reach as well.
…My reaction? Why don’t we all just get on Greyhounds and go to Columbia, St. Louis and Springfield for a week?
Close off to regular traffic that part of the city between Charlotte, which is east of the government buildings, and Washington, which is west of Broadway? And close off I-670 under Bartle Hall?
Sounds like we’d effectively be converting downtown into a private preserve for convention delegates, the media and connected others.
I well recall the 1976 Republican National Convention, and nothing like that took place; delegates and residents shared the streets, highways and sidewalks. Sure, times are different, but what’s being discussed is beyond the pale.
We already have the “one percenters” in our society, and we do not need two tiers of urban occupiers — the delegates who would have carte blanche and the rest of us who would be restricted to the periphery, like the crowds behind the ropes at professional golf tournaments.
Looks to me like the price to be paid in inconvenience could easily be as high as the two main benefits: Kansas City being featured on the national stage and an influx of outside spending.
On an unrelated matter, the best letter to the editor that I have seen about Kansas City International Airport appeared last Friday, May 25.
The writer was Dallas Garr of Emporia.
My relationship with Kansas City International Airport is different from most of the readers who have shared their thoughts on the opinion page.
I do not live in the immediate area, so I will have no voice in deciding the future of the airport.
I travel strictly for pleasure not business. Being a leisure traveler may give me a slightly rosier view of the airline industry as a whole compared with someone for whom it is simply another day at work.
I have seen the inside of airports throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. After visiting these modern, efficient facilities and then returning home to KCI, I have only one request:
Please build a new airport in Kansas City.
The main argument I hear to keep the airport as is involves the fact that it is a short walk from your car to the gate. I would argue that a short walk to nothing is worse than a longer walk to something.
KCI gives a lasting first impression to many visitors to your city. It its present state, that impression is not a good one.
— “A short walk to nothing.”
I read on tonyskansascity (on a post of a few days ago) that longtime KC Star police reporter Christine Vendel is leaving The Star early next month and moving to Harrisburg, PA, where her husband, a police officer, has taken a job. The couple has children.
That will be a loss for Kansas City and also for the newspaper business. Vendel has given The Star and its readers outstanding coverage of crime and cops matters for 21 years, and she had the trust of the Kansas City, MO, Police Department, which is important if a reporter is going to get the inside story behind crimes.
The problem for Vendel — and the newspaper business — is that Harrisburg, where she has taken some sort of job, is a city of about 50,000, and the journalistic opportunities cannot be very bright. Small-townish itself, Harrisburg is between Pittsburg and Philadelphia, both of which are unheralded newspaper cities. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette has never been an upper-tier newspaper, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, while it has seen greatness, has fallen hard the last 10 years. Later this month, it will be the subject of a court-ordered auction between its two warring owners.
But thanks to Vendel for many great stories and reliable and interesting crime reporting over the years. And good luck to her and her family in PA.