Saturday, December 16, 2017
TKC MUST READ!!!! COUNCILMAN QUINTON LUCAS SHARES HIS #BETTERKCI NEW AIRPORT MOU FACT CHECK!!!
A treatise on new airport developments from Councilman Lucas. In this thoughtful examination of the issue, one of the leaders of the Council offers readers a look behind the scenes and a glimpse of how the process will take shape in the future. Take a look:
Councilman Quinton Lucas: Okay. Okay. Can we stop with the broadsides? Here's the deal. Everyone wants a new airport. People have different views how to get there. That doesn't make them bad . . .
By now, most in KC have heard the Council yesterday voted down the draft MOU presented to us by our legal counsel. As I somewhat expected, this led almost immediately to gross mischaracterizations of the implications, the allegedly illegal or derelict intentions of the 9 out of 12 of councilpersons with concerns, and now missives among colleagues who are calling both for collaboration but also launching unhelpful personal attacks against the (majority of) colleagues they wish to work with.
That's one approach. I'll take another and that will start with facts that conform to the truth; not PR statements issued today, and hopefully avoid the invective that plays great for TV and newspapers, but doesn't help anyone get anywhere.
1. Didn't Council create this selection/procurement process?
No. The selection process is the law of the city, in our city code. It spells out that the selection committee would be 4/6 city administrative staff and allowed for 2 councilmembers to participate--the co-sponsors of the MOU ordinance. To the extent this City Council did anything, we passed ordinances to remind the city it should be open and transparent---the opposite of backroom dealing. That's it. The selection committee picked our developer, Edgemoor, and for the past several months the city's lawyers, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars have been actively negotiating the MOU for presentation to Council. Negotiations didn't just start a week ago.
2. The MOU has some problems.
Part of the public surprise is that many didn't realize we either had to enter into an MOU or others thought we already had entered into it and were backing out of the deal. I wish we had let that be known. City Council was informed on numerous occasions during the procurement process that our questions like--What is the financing arrangement? Is it private financing? How can we get good community benefits?--could be asked when the MOU came to Council. That's what we've done several times over. Just cue the hearing tape! Unfortunately, the MOU still has vague/no terms on the financing plan, has a reimbursement agreement that obligates millions in payments to the developer for some questionable costs, and has a limit on community benefits that still has no clear basis in law or reason.
3. No one told Edgemoor or the public about concerns.
Hogwash. Here's the thing. Many of us and our lawyers have met with Edgemoor on numerous occasions. For months! I've been fortunate enough to do so. At those meetings we've explained some of the very items that are the source of discord now. Many of us also have spoken to our legal counsel repeatedly. At a number of those junctures, we've explained things like, "We'd like to see more terms about financing. We disagree with the reimbursement agreement structure, which exceeds that used in other cities (see Denver Intl Airport). The community benefit structure makes little sense, particularly when compared to other proposals." We expressed that before we received the MOU two weeks ago. We have expressed that since we received the MOU two weeks ago. And, we continue to express it far and wide this week. Finally, we have expressed our concerns at public meetings! Sorry, I talk all the time. I asked probably thirty minutes of questions at the last airport committee meeting and at the end of my time said, "Things I'd like to see in an improved MOU," and then listed them. Councilman Dan Fowler did the same. Nothing changed over the next week, although I hear time is of the essence. Those are public meetings that anyone, including Edgemoor, can see and I could have sworn in which representatives were in attendance. I'll speak for myself but I've directed our counsel at public hearings to specific page numbers, mentioned concerns, and it's largely to no avail. Again, that's fine, but explains how we get to where we are.
4. Everyone on Council is "just lying" or there's nothing but "political backroom dealing."
This is untrue and just sad. First, I fought with a number of my colleagues to keep the meeting open just this Thursday. I have done that since I got on this Council. I personally think all closed, secret, meetings that involve employment issues should be abolished. Many of my colleagues agree. Second, the sad part makes me ask, why the personal attacks? I get attacked a lot personally on Twitter or here, and that makes sense somewhat. You don't really see those people. But if you have to work with someone what good does it do to call them a liar in the press, to distort their intentions--which you'd never asked anyway. I write a lot here, but I try not to undermine the character of someone else. There's no need for that and all it goes on to do is distorts the debate from real issues to personal back and forths, profanity-laced debates (which exist too often at City Hall), and undermines our ability to work together. Disagreement does not equal dysfunction, but a gross inability to deal with those from different perspectives does.
Maybe we can sit back, breathe and remember a few things:
-There will be a new airport built.
-Everyone wants the airport to be built and completed as soon as possible.
-Everyone wants the airport to be built by a qualified, well compensated, diverse, local workforce to the extent possible.
-Everyone on the Council and the Mayor are people that have made important sacrifices to take part in public service, a choice which we all should respect.
-Everyone comes from a unique perspective
-All motives are not suspect. People may just disagree.
I hope this gets us somewhere and I hope we've seen the last of the back and forth broadsides about why something is happening. I also would suggest if we want to keep things moving that Council meet as a whole at the earliest opportunity to get this resolved before Christmas. We'll see if there still is a Santa Claus.