TKC BREAKING AND EXCLUSIVE NEWS!!! SLAPFIGHT!!! WAR OF WORDS: KANSAS CITY LIGHT RAIL BATTLE ROYALE BETWIXT DAVE HELLING VS. CLAY CHASTAIN!!!
TKC NOTE: Take a look @ Kansas City Transit Activist Clay Chastain in a war of words with columnist Dave Helling and writing "truth to power" in this EPIC screed . . . To wit:
CLASH OF THE TRANSIT TITANS!!! KANSAS CITY LIGHT RAIL BATTLE BETWIXT DAVE HELLING AND CLAY CHASTAIN!!!
Tell us who won . . . Locals residing within city limits might get a kick out of this one . . . Here's Mr. Chastain's account of this fight with a link to Mr. Helling's work in fairness . . .
CLAY CHASTAIN VS. DAVE HELLING
Dave Helling's Star attack (today) on Clay Chastain is a verifiable and veritable piece of mean, unprofessional, and inaccurate bull crap that tries to draw attention away from the real issues...the people's right to vote on their valid light rail initiative, and a grassroots light rail initiative vs. a government-led streetcar plan...and put the focus on talking about Clay Chastain!
And he couldn't even shoot straight.
I have some questions for you Mr. (know it all) Helling; and the unfair, unbalanced, and afraid newspaper you work for :
* How have I hurt the light rail issue when, unlike the City's failed attempts, I won last time with 75,000 votes in favor of my light rail initiative and... I did so single-handedly without spending any money and going up against the Star and the entire Kansas City establishment?
* How can you claim I have an "obsession with light rail" when there hasn't even been a Chastain-led light rail initiative petition proposal on a Kansas City ballot since 2006 when the City overturned that light rail vote?
* Why did your piece of slander bemoan the fact that the light rail issue has been hurt because "the "discussion became about Chastain," when almost all of your trash piece was about Clay Chastain???
* Why don't you stop writing character assassination pieces and do some real investigative reporting-like asking Mayor James and City Councilman Russ Johnson why they refuse to abide by the law of the City's Charter and place a valid and constitutional light rail initiative before the voters?
And since you and the Kansas City Star did not bother to cover the other side of the story, and my "Let My People Vote" speech last night at Unity Temple, here is that speech I delivered for the people that your paper (obviously) no longer serves:
GRASSROOTS LIGHT RAIL INITIATIVE VS. GOVERNMENT’S STREETCAR PLAN
WE THE PEOPLE VS. WE THE GOVERNMENT
MAYOR SLY JAMES VS. ACTIVIST CLAY CHASTAIN
LET MY PEOPLE VOTE
In Kansas City, unknown to many, we are amidst a great civic struggle to see whether the most pure, most direct form of American democracy…the initiative petition process…can withstand attempts at government domination.
What we the people value the most…our right to self-govern…Kansas City’s government values the least.
· In 2006, 75,000 voters mandated the City build a light rail-based transit system. But the government overturned that election and all those votes.
· In 2011, nearly 5,000 voters signed in behalf of a new light rail initiative mandating a vote. But the government blocked that election and that vote.
· In 2013, citywide voters presumably wanted to vote on the government’s proposed streetcar plan. But the government restricted that vote.
The manipulative controlling actions of Kansas City’s Government in overturning, blocking, and restricting votes does not comport with democracy.
In the light rail initiative case at hand, the City wants to make sure the people have only one transit plan to choose from…namely the government’s plan.
And have insider deals already been made? Consider the fact Councilman Russ Johnson, author of the City’s streetcar plan, just led the Council in approving $10 million for 2 local engineering companies to begin work on the city’s proposed streetcar expansion plan when voters have yet to even approve it!!
So the last thing the City Council wants is a competing transit initiative on the same ballot with their streetcar plan. As one Star reporter told me off the record, “It would screw things up.”
Early on Missouri Progressives realized abuses of power by elected government officials, could be checked and directly challenged by empowering the people with the right to the initiative. So we the people voted to reserve unto ourselves (outlined in Kansas City’s Charter) that most beautiful mechanism of Democracy…the initiative petition…to intervene, go around the government, and take our case directly to the voters.
The initiative therefore, is a legislative tool by which the powerless can challenge the powerful.
As you might expect, the government (and wealthy patrons that often control it) welcomes initiatives from the people like the Old Growth Forest welcomes a chain saw.
Thus, Mayor James and Johnson (designated cheerleaders for the City’s streetcar plan) have led the City Council on a 3-year legal crusade to crush a vote on the competing light rail initiative.
J & J have not only summoned the City’s legal staff to hold the initiative hostage in the courts, but also hired at least one big time outside private law firm (at additional taxpayer expense) to abet them in this injustice against the people.
The government’s legal position (and proffered opinion) is that the initiative does not provide enough funding to build the transit system proposed, and is thus misleading to voters. The City says they should not have to put a deceiving initiative on the ballot that makes false promises and might confuse voters.
I sympathize with the government, and this is a lovely, noble, and altruistic philosophy they have put forth in behalf of the poor hapless defenseless voters.
· But where does it say in the Charter the government’s opinion matters?
· Where does it say in the Charter the government can block a vote on a valid constitutional initiative ordinance for any reason?
· Where does it say in the City’s Charter that the government can be the judge and jury of an initiative ordinance?
Allowing the government to decide the fate of an initiative defeats its inherent purpose.
Section 703 of the City’s Charter reads in part, “the council shall thereupon submit the proposed ordinance to the electors.”
Section 711 of the City’s Charter reads in part, “upon such reconsideration by the council, such ordinances, or such part thereof, be not repealed, shall be submitted to the electors at the next available municipal or state election held.”
So to translate, the City Charter mandates the City Council place valid initiative ordinances on the ballot. No questions asked!
But of course, the City Council’s bogus reason for obstructing a vote is pretext. The real reason is because Mayor James, Russ Johnson, and the entire City Council are afraid voters will favor the light rail initiative over their streetcar plan.
Mayor James said in the Star last week that the city’s streetcar plan is under- funded and will not raise enough revenue to build the proposed streetcar system thus requiring significant federal assistance. But wait, isn’t that the exact same reason the City is refusing to let the people vote on the light rail initiative?
The hypocrisy will be in full bloom this Thursday when the City’s attorneys will be in court arguing that voters should not be able to decide the light rail initiative even though city attorneys were in another court several weeks ago arguing that voters should be able to decide the City’s streetcar plan!
The old double standard is at work. It’s ok for the government’s plan to go before the voters, but not okay for a lowly initiative signed by 5,000 Kansas City voters.
Some advise me that we have won. I should just let it go since Kansas City is on its way to modernizing its transit system around streetcars…which after all, is a lesser form of light rail.
The Bible says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” Or paraphrasing… What does it profit Kansas City to gain streetcars, but lose its democratic soul?
The politics in Kansas City are all wrong and have been so for decades. When a government overturns, blocks, and restricts votes it is a lunge backward into civilization’s dark past.
Kansas City’s government has abused the legal system, abused the democratic initiative process, and abused the people’s right to determine Kansas City’s future.
The net effect of this government abuse is to further diminish the people’s trust in government, further diminish voter participation, and further diminish a stronghold of freedom enshrined in our nation’s democratic soul...the right of the people to self-govern.
This government abuse must stop because the ideal of “We the People” is what makes America strong, makes America endure, makes America shine, and makes America America.
· Mayor James…I voted for you for mayor. I know you love Kansas City as I do.
But Mayor James…
· Kansas City cannot prosper until we get the politics right.
· We the people are just as free to get it wrong as we are free to get it right.
· Mayor James…We the People need a government that will serve as our great facilitator, not our great dictator!
Mayor James…Let my people vote!!!!