The following is written by my good friend, Bryan Stalder. Bryan lives down in historic Northeast Kansas City where we grew up together and is on a one man mission to try and stop the proposed Kansas City Streetcar that will eventually run through his neighborhood. His testimony of what he saw in the meeting would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sadly indicative of many Americans and their complete lack of critical thought. It also demonstrates the continual problems of corruption and cronyism we see at every level of politics in America. What Bryan doesn’t realize is that him, and other residents of Northeast were submitted to what is called the “Delphi Technique.” This is a method developed by none-other than the radical community organizer, Saul Alinsky. The purpose of the technique is to achieve oneness of opinion of a group. Good for Bryan and his willingness to ask tough questions. I especially love his conclusion, but with one caveat, I don’t believe many of these people that support this nonsense are “otherwise intelligent.” Intelligence is the ability to apply knowledge and skills to a situation, true intelligence is demonstrated in all areas of a person’s life, not just part of it.
I attended the Next Rail KC meeting at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center this evening, and from the looks of the parking lot, I’m confident that no one in that room took public transit to get to the meeting even though the 24 runs within two blocks of the health center. There were at least seventy-five people in attendance from just about every neighborhood in Northeast, and I was probably the only opponent of streetcar in the room. There is plenty of opposition to the streetcar, but most of those people have school aged children or are seniors, so they have a hard time attending these types of events on weeknights. By the way, these are the same people that streetcar supporters drive to the polls when Democrats are relying on Medicaid and public education to get them re-elected.
-He promised us that Independence Avenue was one of the strongest corridors, because many of the other ones being considered had “dead zones” but Independence Avenue is already a strong corridor for businesses.
When I joined in the discussion, my first question was “How will this be funded?” and I was told that there isn’t enough money in Northeast or along The Avenue to build this project, so most of the money would come from federal grants or donations. I pressed further and the representative from HNTB assured me that if any city monies were spent, that a city wide vote would have to occur. I know better, but I was just getting started, so I chose instead to make him re-establish that no city funds would be spent without a city-wide vote, and he did. What does he have to lose? He doesn’t work for city hall, so he can’t be held accountable for that (and probably has no idea, anyway.)
Everyone at the table also admitted that they either don’t ride the bus, or rarely ride the bus, and suggested that it was because of the people that are on the bus. I pointed out that those same people will also be on the streetcar and resented the suggestion that certain people are too good for the bus. Before I could ask if they were “too white for the bus,” there was a general consensus that women aren’t comfortable on the bus, and I left it at that, because I wasn’t really looking to start debating race or calling my friends and neighbors racists.
After I out-debated about ten of my neighbors and a couple of HNTB reps, the tables were supposed to present their ideas to everyone. This was perhaps my favorite part of the evening. One presenter was adamant that the streetcar needed to go all the way to the old ARMCO building, because that was the only viable location for a COSTCO and she didn’t want to see any of the existing businesses on Independence Avenue get demolished. I literally giggled out loud because Councilman Jim “I brought Costco to Mid-Town,” Glover was standing in the room at the time. This is also funny because the stated goal of streetcar is economic development, and this neighbor wanted streetcar to run THE MAXIMUM distance (read: $$$$), but then she wanted to dictate what structures could and couldn’t be removed. And finally, and this is the most obvious question: WHO THE FUCK is going to go to Costco on the streetcar?
Another presenter suggested that big box stores like Target would consider transportation in a particular area when they start expanding into urban settings. This is hilarious to me because again, not only are people NOT going to ride streetcar to Target, but Target is the type of retailer that the “celebrate diversity. eat organic. go green. buy local. ride streetcar.” crowd DOES NOT want in Northeast. I could screenshot you pages and pages of neighborhood Facebook group debates to evidence this.
The presenter from our table said, “If we were getting a $10B blank check from the federal government, I think we’d all agree that streetcar is the last thing we’d spend it on, but the fact is that if we don’t use the money for transit, we don’t get it,” and I consider that a win that I got a supporter to actually admit in so many words, “We all agree streetcar is at the bottom on Northeast’s priorities,”