Here are a few things to think about while we wait for the temperature to get back in the 50s. (I’ve got a bad case of golf withdrawal!)
:: It’s hard for me to see how something good is going to come of the Kemper Arena/American Royal situation. Yes, the arena is a singular design and is very eye-catching from a distance, but the closer you get the less appealing the building becomes.
First, it’s in a giant hole; that’s why they call it the Bottoms. As I’ve said before, I never did like going to Kemper Arena. You frequently had to slosh through gravelly areas, and sometimes mud, to get to the arena, and the interior was colorless and unwelcoming.
So, tear it down for all I care. On the other hand, the American Royal bigwigs, like Mariner Kemper and Neal Patterson, are asking for the city to pony up $30 million for a new building at the site, as well as $1 million a year in additional support for 30 years.
The city has countered with $20 million for the new building and $1 million in annual operating subsidy for 20 years.
The American Royal is a big name in our community, and it pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings. But the event itself has been sliding downhill for many years.
While Kemper Arena and the American Royal beckon us down memory lane, Sprint Center and the Power & Light District sound the call of the present and future.
Maybe the city should just demolish Kemper Arena and see if anyone comes up with a plan they think will pay for itself, without city subsidy.
:: What a weird case, that fatal shooting on Wednesday outside a municipal parking lot at 11th and Oak. A man named Jai T. Scott was shot to death after he dropped his wife off at City Hall and then got into an argument with a 24-year-old man who kicked one of Scott’s car tires. Yes, kicked the tire of his car. I have no idea what triggered the disagreement — maybe it was a “disrespect” thing — but if somebody kicks my car tire, I’m going to smile and say, “Sorry, I hope you didn’t scuff your shoe.”
It just doesn’t pay to go to battle with strangers who give you a hard time. Out there on the streets, anger runneth amok.
:: Another ridiculous, but farther-reaching, set of events resulted in the drive-by shooting of Angel Hooper at 106th and Blue Ridge. It all started the morning or afternoon of Oct. 17 when two women met to fight at 72nd and Indiana. Apparently the fight didn’t settle it, then some boyfriends got involved and the next thing you know a completely innocent 6-year-old girl lay dead outside a convenience store. It sounds like the police did an excellent job of putting the puzzle together; now a 19-year-old man and a 21-year-old man are charged with second-degree murder.
(Pop quiz: What do those two events appear to have in common? This…”Don’t even think of fucking with me, mother fucker!”)
:: Yael Abouhalkah of The Star sounded the death knell today for Mayor Sly James’ proposal to cut the maximum property-tax-abatement rate to 50 percent for redevelopment projects. Instead of 100 percent.
Curiously, I couldn’t find a news story about James’ proposal in The Star’s electronic library, which makes me wonder how big a deal he made of it in the first place. I did find an editorial written about it — probably by Abouhalkah — on Oct. 14, but nothing in the news columns.
At any rate, the developers and the development attorneys — who provide lots and lots of campaign funds for City Council candidates, including current council members — stomped on it like it was an irritating cockroach.
Longtime development lawyer Jerry Riffel, a former councilman who started out years ago as a Legal Aid attorney, I’m pretty sure, called the plan a “simplistic approach.”
Downtown Council president Bill Dietrich said the plan “sends a strong negative message” to prospective developers.
So, down the drain does this proposal flow.
It sounds to me like the mayor was never fully committed to it, that he just wagged his finger in the air to see how strong the wind was blowing.
Too bad, because he’s never been in a stronger position to push for a shake-up of the status quo. He’s extremely popular and will be re-elected next year in a landslide. He could have drawn a line in cement on this issue, and the public would have backed him all the way.
I’m guessing that he’s looking farther down the road, thinking about what he might run for after his second term as mayor. “Hmmm,” he must be thinking. “I’ll probably be needing the development crowd in the future.”
I wish he would have stifled that thought and shown some guts.