Friends of KCI get thwarted by city charter, but the single-terminal opposition group will try again

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This is what Friends of KCI wish to stop.
  • flykci.com
  • This is what Friends of KCI wish to stop.

Friends of Kansas City International Airport came out of nowhere last weekend with an attempt to block the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council's move toward a new, single-terminal airport at KCI. Their gambit to try and organize a public vote to overturn an April 11 resolution to proceed with early stages of studying the single-terminal idea via petition initiative went nowhere fast as soon as the weekend vanished.

Friends of KCI sent in 164 signatures to the city clerk's office on Sunday as an early step to try and put the measure on a citywide ballot, only to learn Monday that such votes can only nix ordinances, not nonbinding resolutions like the one the City Council passed on April 11. John Murphy, spokesman for Friends of KCI, seems undaunted.

His group will just wait until the council actually passes an ordinance that speaks to moving ahead with a new airport to try their maneuver again.

"When they do [pass an ordinance], we'll do the same thing [challenge it]," Murphy tells The Pitch. "All I want to have is our day at the ballot box. ... I want everyone in the city to say yea or nay on this."

Voters already probably will have their say at the ballot box at some point on the single-terminal proposal.

Kansas City officials are considering issuing as much as $1.5 billion in debt by way of revenue bonds if they go ahead with the single-terminal idea, with bonds repaid by way of airport revenues through concession and parking sales and the like. Such an issuance would require public approval.

Murphy says Friends of KCI started out as something of an ad hoc group of Brookside residents who gather and pick among themselves at the decisions local officials make. Projects like building Sprint Center so soon after renovating Kemper Arena and the downtown streetcar idea have been bothersome to Murphy's group.

"We're always getting together and griping about the bad decisions they make down there," Murphy says.
But the single-terminal idea raised the ire of his group of 12 or so cohorts, prompting themselves to brand the moniker Friends of KCI and try and make a public push against it.

"What I want to stress is it's not just the airport. It's a whole host of bad decisions," Murphy says. "Think about all the time and effort they spend on dumb things in Kansas City."

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