Editorial: Councilman Scott Taylor speaks out on KCI issue

Editorial

Selection Process for KCI Developer has been “Sloppy”

By Scott Taylor , Councilman at Large, 6th District

Scott Taylor.jpeg

Thanks to Selection Committee work for all meetings and time, but it has been an imperfect process from the beginning.  

Not throwing around blame but the process has been quite sloppy.  

While I was not appointed to the selection committee and I am not on the Airport committee, I have been monitoring the process and encouraging other Council members to stay out of the selection committee work.   

I have noted two things in the community that I would like to share.

  1. There has been a shift in public opinion on the need for a new terminal that will take several years to build, even if we started today.  Several that were against this a few years ago are now for it.
  2. During the last few months, I found it very interesting that so many people came up to me that normally do not pay that much attention to City Hall issues and literally said concerning the Airport that it would be nice to have the hometown team.  

I think the two points are related.   

I think that our citizens want the jobs to stay here as opposed to being shipped to the West Coast or East Coast.

As I said earlier the selection process has been sloppy to no one individual’s fault.  

The Business Journal has just reported that the summary sheet put out by the selection committee has had several typos such as:

  • The Hometown Team’s experience on projects of $400 million or larger totals $40 billion, not $12 billion as listed by the city’s outside consultants.
  • The Hometown Team has worked with all major airlines and all airlines serving Kansas City, not two as listed by the city’s outside consultants.
  • The Hometown Team has completed 4,050 aviation projects at 350 airports, not 35 airport projects as listed by the city’s outside consultants.
  • The Hometown Team has worked on nearly 1,800 aviation architectural design projects, not two projects as listed by the city’s outside consultants.
  • The Hometown Team made a commitment to use its capital to start construction on Nov. 8, 2017, not June 2018 as listed by the city’s outside consultants.

 

Burns McDonnel KCA (1).jpg
Ron Coker, Senior Vice President at Burns & McDonnell, is flanked by attorneys at a recent press conference challenging the committee’s decision. The Hometown Team consisted of several south Kansas City businesses in addition to Burns & McDonnell. 

This may have been compiled after the fact, but this is sloppy. The larger issue is the latest information provided by outside bond law firms by the hometown team seems to call into question the validity as to why they were not included in the ranking or taken out of consideration.  While we have heard a rationale for this, I just reviewed these documents last night that were given to us late Tuesday by email.   This is problematic and I think at a minimum we should ask an independent third party law firm to give us their take on this.  Should the hometown team have been excluded as we were told they had to be?  If there is a chance this is not correct, we should remedy it.   Did anybody in the selection committee meetings ask that a third party bond law firm be consulted for an opinion before the hometown team was excluded?

 

This is problematic to me for the basic fact that on every large project in past we have talked about having more local companies work on these projects.  In this case, we have one of our best companies take initiative and get criticized for it.   Unfortunately taking initiative sometimes allows critics who only obstruct to sit back and criticize.   But in this case, not only do we have a South Kansas City business that has created a lot of jobs and invested millions in our community but they have assembled a local team.  Full disclosure, I have worked with them on a variety of projects since I was on the Center School Board include the Live Green, Learn Green initiative for Center and they stepped up when no other local company would to help us raise teacher’s pay at Center, which contributed to the increase in test scores to attract and retain top talent.

While I am an At-Large member of the Council, I am also from South Kansas City and concerned about the impact this will have on local small businesses if we do not take another look at this.   Let me give you a few examples of great South KC small businesses that will be impacted by not letting this proposer at least compete.

 

  1. Trekk Design is a wife and husband team that started their business in South Kansas City just 15 years ago. They have expanded their business without incentives and now employ 100 people.  If you do nothing, you have disqualified them.
  2. Infinite Energy Construction is in Martin City and they are a company we worked to bring to South Kansas City.  Their founder grew up poor in Brazil and worked his way up to create a business that works with the military all over the country and was awarded the 2012 Missouri Small Business person award.   If you do nothing, you have disqualified them.
  3. Alpha Energy was a business that started and intentionally picked a building to restore at 34th and Troost to help improve the neighborhood. They have expanded and are now doing international business in many countries from their base on Troost. They just won the 2017 Small Business Award.  Our Small Business committee held one of our outreach meetings at their building on a Monday night in 2011.

It is these and many other great local small businesses that deserve to be given at least the courtesy of being considered by starting the process over.   I would think since so much information has been made public we could be even more transparent and have each proposer make their pitch to the full Council in this room.

My concern is not just about the process but getting a yes vote to move forward on this if we do not take another look at this and resolve it.  Let’s open this up so there are no lingering questions how we got here.   

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