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City Councilman Jermaine Reed wants a day off from being Jermaine Reed



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And then there was the March 19 State of the City address in which former Missouri House candidate Derron Black rushed the Gem Theater's stage and interrupted Mayor Sly James' speech with a profanity-laced tirade. Later, while being led away in handcuffs, Black ranted about Reed to reporters.

"City Councilman Reed can't even show up to city-appointed meetings," Black said. "He can't even be there to govern his own fucking city."

Actually, Reed has attended more than 90 percent of his committee and council meetings. When discussing the recall effort and criticisms, Reed smiles and waves his hand as if to make his opponents vanish.

"That's how this game works," Reed says. "You have to remain focused on the task at hand."

Jermaine Reed poses for a dozen photos with constituents at Arrowhead Stadium following an April 29 press conference announcing the inaugural Missouri Classic football game between historically black colleges Lincoln University and Grambling State. The councilman relishes the opportunity to be photographed inside one of the few sources of good press in his district.

He strides down a hallway in the stadium's basement to a dining room for lunch. He stops and points to a member of the catering crew. "I remember you," he says. "We met at that party a few months ago." The flattered caterer can't place the councilman's name, though.

Reed grabs a grilled–chicken sandwich, sits at an empty banquet table and reels off his biography to The Pitch as if he were still running for office.

"Born and raised here in Kansas City," he says. "Single mother. Five kids."

Reed's father wasn't around, so his maternal grandfather, Kenneth Reed Sr., became the main male role model in his life.

"I don't know my father, so he [Reed Sr.] was a real father figure in my life," Reed says. "The guy who taught me how to nail a nail in the wall, to change the brakes on the car, to stop talking when I needed to, how to tie my tie — he was that guy."

Reed carefully measures out his vulnerability.

"There are times I remember watching my mom struggle," he says. "If there were lights off in the home or gas off ..." He pauses. "She did all she could to make sure that we had the best."

Reed's mother couldn't always shield her children from the struggles. Two days after Christmas, when Reed was 14, his family lost their home at 2626 Denver Avenue, around the corner from the KCPD's East Patrol.

"We had a really good Christmas," Reed recalls. "We had every gift that we had asked for." He runs through the haul: a Sega Genesis game, a keyboard, clothes and shoes.

Forty-eight hours later, two men knocked on his family's door, asked for his mother and tried to evict them. Reed told them that his mother wasn't home, and they must be at the wrong house. The men left to verify the address. Reed's mother assured him that there was a mistake.

"They ended up coming back an hour after that and said, 'No. We have the right house,' " Reed says. "Hours afterward, all of our stuff was on the curb."

The Reeds split the next six months living at relatives' homes, a shelter and transitional housing through Community LINC, before finally moving into another home.

Reed enrolled in Northeast High School and plugged himself into the Kauffman Foundation Youth Board, Alvin Brooks' Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and his biweekly radio show, Voices From Midtown. He credits Brooks with teaching him city politics. He recalls being 14 years old and witnessing Brooks announce his run for the 6th District at-large council seat during a Voices From Midtown broadcast on KPRT 1590.


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