A blog dedicated to the researchers who dyed a captured chimp's fur pink, then released it. The other chimps promptly tore it to pieces.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I live in Kansas City.

Developers here have literally owned the government for decades.
Pendergast's power grew during the Great Depression, creating a Ten-Year Plan bond plan aimed at putting unemployed Kansas Citians to work building civic structures that still stand, including City Hall, Municipal Auditorium, and the Jackson County Courthouse. These structures, sporting art deco architecture, were built with concrete supplied by Pendergast's Ready-Mixed Concrete company and other companies that provided kickbacks to Pendergast.


So we tend to have a bit different perspective on things like eminent domain. We know a sizeable percentage of our politicians are crooks, and can't for the life of us understand why anyone in their right mind would want to make it easier for them to rip us off.

See, we've recently been blessed with things like developments in one of KCMO's swankest neighborhoods getting tax breaks intended to reduce urban blight:

Standard TIF deals compensate developers for the increase in property taxes that their improvements trigger. But Kansas City also lets developers feast on sales taxes. Buy a hamburger in this town, and a few pennies get kicked to them.

Kansas City helps developers another way. In most cities, TIF projects are restricted to distressed areas. Here, blight is interpreted liberally -- so liberally that tax money can be used to clear land for a luxury community that has adopted the pretentious one-word slogan "Uncompromised."

The $87 million Kirkwood project covers 10 acres south of 49th Street between Wornall Road and Main Street. The development will create a semiprivate retreat of 107 high-end residences. The centerpiece is a 12-story high-rise in which future inhabitants will have their choice of granite or marble floors in the master bathroom.


Of course, it's not like we have any real blight that needs to be taken care of, no siree.

KCMO's TIF Commission (Tax-Increment Financing, a fancy political term for "steal anything that isn't nailed down") apparently considers itself royalty, demanding the property of common citizens as if it were its birthright:

Mannequins with distant stares have modeled wigs at Gigi's on Grand in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, since 1984. But if the city's Tax Increment Finance Commission has its way, the owners of the shop, Chung Hoe Ku and his wife, Myong Suk Ku, will be forced to pack the heads in boxes and vacate the premises.
The TIF Commission is trying to condemn the Kus' property, forcing them to sell. Condemnation is a powerful redevelopment tool the TIF Commission used to acquire several properties the city needed to begin construction of the entertainment district and the new H&R Block headquarters, major projects in downtown's South Loop.

The wig shop, however, stands just outside the boundaries of the entertainment district. The property is clear of the site where the new arena is going, too. There is, in fact, no project planned for the block where Gigi's Wigs stands.

Just the same, the TIF Commission has demanded the Kus' property -- and is poised to transfer it to one of downtown's largest private developers.


(Note: The Pitch is KC's "entertainment" weekly - the small-time publication found in most places of any size that contains stuff like club listings, etc. They're really our only source of information on these kinds of abuses, since the Kansas City Star - the "real" newspaper - is squarely in the pockets of City Hall and the powers-that-be)

Anyway, most of us figure this decision will only encourage the thieving bastards, since now they won't even have to pretend there's "blight" to steal other people's property.

I'm not sure which part of this I find more disgusting - the bozos who rubberstamped this utter disgrace or the fact that the three justices I most despise were the only dissenters.


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