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.


  1. A thoughtful response from the Councilman but what this really means is that City Hall is going to keep fighting over this airport for the foreseeable future.

  2. Sorry but I don't want a new airport. We don't need a shopping mall at KCI.

  3. Lucas is right about the personal attacks, foul language, and contemptuous disagreements that detract from serving in the public's interests. But, NOT everyone wants a new airport. Plenty of sensible types want renovations providing improvements for some items, and features that ain't broke LEFT INTACT OR JUDICIOUSLY TWEAKED!

    KC has many needs ahead of a Billion dollar flyplace blingy thingy!

  4. Back stabbing bow tie the clown doesn’t know how to handle being told no, well Slick, get used to it!

  5. Oh you'll see me all right as I dump a load of coal in your stocking and bury your Christmas tree with it this year.

  6. The Councilman makes some good points but he doesn't understand that he's speaking to mostly consultants and those who are financially interested in this project. This deal is corrupt and the way it was sold to voters was shameful.

  7. This whole process is exactly what I expected.

  8. I’m just glad they finally called out slie

  9. I wonder how much time he spent drafting this bullshit? Shit sounds good but its a bunch of lies.

  10. I herd Quentin loves crack

  11. So does Jolie, @ 9:11, so does Jolie.

  12. The Councilman raises some good points. The one I focused on is about the city legal counsel not being responsive to specific requests from the various council members. Plus the legal work apparently has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. I guess my question is...why are we not looking for new legal counsel and firing the one(s) we have now?

  13. These attorneys for the city couldn’t get jobs anywhere else, besides, the pay sucks as far as a lawyer is concerned

  14. This reminds me of Nancy Pelosi saying We'll read the healthcare bill to find out what's in it after we vote for it.

  15. "Send in the clowns. Where are the clowns? They're already here."

  16. Councilman Lucas, whether you agree with his positions or not, generally conducts himself as a professionally-mannered elected official. His demeanor stands in stark contrast to that of Mayor James, who always resorts to name-calling and bullying tactics when he doesn't get his way.

    Lucas correctly identifies the source of the problem in this current situation, namely that the majority of Council members are not routinely consulted, nor listened to.

    Mayor James, City Manager Schulte, and Councilperson Justus established a pattern whereby they would attempt to drive the agenda, excluding any Council members who failed to passively acquiesce to their demands. City staff answer to Schulte/James for fear of losing employment.

    The Council majority absolutely made the correct move in not approving a defective MOU which could have left taxpayers in dire straits after the fact.


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