KCMO councilman clears up light rail confusion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When voters head to the polls in November they’ll find the crumbs of a nearly 20-year battle between persistent light rail advocate Clay Chastain and the city of Kansas City.

The city formally submitted the language for two new proposed tax increases Monday. The proposed taxes: a quarter cent sales tax for capital improvements and a one-eighth cent sales tax for public transportation, according to City Councilmember Edward Ford.

"We would not be putting these two tax issues on the ballot but for being required to by the Missouri State Supreme Court," Ford said.

The two taxes are the result of the effort of light rail crusader Clay Chastain. He sued the city nearly three years ago for not putting his light rail plan on the ballot-- a $1.6 million transportation plan that differs from the city’s street car plan.

The city claimed the plan was unconstitutional and the Missouri Supreme Court agreed. The court also forced the city to put Chastain’s proposed sales tax increases on the ballot. The increases would have partially funded the light rail initiative.

"I think it is confusing to all of us," said Ford, “It is frustrating that you have gentleman [Chastain] that doesn't live in Kansas City. He hasn't lived in Kansas City for years and continues to put his vision of Light Rail and what he thinks is best for Kansas City, ahead of the elected leaders who are working to bring modern public transportation to Kansas City."

Ford said there are several tax issues on the ballot and feels the proposed increases initiated by Chastain will confuse voters.

"The City isn't asking for the money, doesn't have any plans for the money, doesn't want the money," said Ford. 

Chastain's full statement reads:

Today, Kansas City's government filed in court proposed light rail initiative ballot language that not only does not honor the intent of the light rail initiative signed by 5,000 citizens or suggest a specific transportation use for the taxes raised, but also does not even include the words light rail.

Missouri case law says, "Initiatives shall be liberally construed to effectuate their purpose."

Mayor James and the City Council have narrowly construed the light rail initiative in attempt to kill its purpose.

Kansas City's self-serving government has, yet again, acted in bad faith in deserting the public interest in favor of its own.

The City's manipulation of the American Democratic election process in order to protect its own interests (expansion of the City's 2.2 mile streetcar line) is government gone mad with power.

We will not back down to this dictatorial government.

Clay Chastain

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