UPDATE: New KCI terminal on hold: ‘This was purely a political move'

Posted at 11:37 AM, Dec 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-15 16:26:27-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  – The Kanas City Council rejected an agreement with Edgemoor to build a new single-terminal at KCI Thursday in a 9-4 vote.

Friday, a day after the vote that shocked some, Mayor Sly James did not hold his tongue in expressing how he felt about the decision.

In a memo sent to council members, James criticized some members of the council for trying to circumvent the standard process by moving the issue to the City Council instead of the Airport Committee.

A resolution sponsored by Councilman Lee Barnes would allow the council to terminate negotiations with Edgemoor. Instead, James is referring that resolution to the Airport Committee. It's scheduled to be introduced at the committee's Dec. 21 meeting.

He also suggested that if the committee had been given more time to negotiate the MOU with Edgemoor, then Thursday's vote could have had a different outcome. 

"This was a political move by a group of council people who set up a process that did not yield the result they wanted. Now this is a back-door way to try and get it,” Mayor James said.

The only council members to vote yes were Mayor Sly James, Jermaine Reed, Jolie Justus and Katheryn Shields.

“This was a political maneuver to get what you want, and I don't play politics with things like this,” Mayor James said.

Those who voted in opposition said they were not comfortable with the terms of the agreement, some saying it did not meet community impact standards with hiring minorities.

Other council members took issue with a specific clause in the Memorandum of Understanding.

"If we terminate, we are on the hook for everything from Sept. 26, 2017, until whatever date that is, and right now it is roughly $30 million that they say they've spent," Councilwoman Heather Hall said.

“The financial details were lacking, we had too many vagaries in what some of the promises were to be delivered,”

Councilman Quinton Lucas said. Councilwoman Justus, who voted in favor, said the negotiations with Edgemoor had been going well in her opinion.

“It was stunning. In my belief, we have been negotiating in good faith all along with Edgemoor. Every single ordinance or direction we have made with this council, Edgemoor has said ‘yes’ to,” she said.

In previous months, there was a massive blitz to get Kansas City residents to vote for a new single-terminal, complete with TV and radio commercials and press conferences.

One woman voiced her frustration about the council vote.

“It's truly disappointing for us to invest our time tonight, and all of the other citizens and people who have been interested in the airport, to spend time sharing what we want with our airport only to have this meeting cut short and shut down before we even had the opportunity to start,” Stacey Johnson-Cosby said.

City leaders now have to decide how to move forward. They could continue to work with Edgemoor, but the council could also move on to the next bidder, AECOM.

“A selection was made and we need to complete this process. There is no dead end at this point. There hasn’t been a ‘we won’t’ or ‘we can’t’ so until we reach that we should continue to negotiate,” Mayor James said.