A’s lose to Royals 5-4 as Trevor Cahill falters in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Trevor Cahill’s only issue in his first seven starts with Oakland was that his teammates weren’t scoring runs for him.

Saturday at Kauffman Stadium, the problem was the Royals scoring runs against him. Cahill gave up a season-high four earned runs in the A’s 5-4 loss, and he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning for the first time this year.

“I fell behind a little bit and then even when I was ahead, trying to put guys away, I was throwing noncompetitive pitches out of the zone,” Cahill said. “I wasn’t really setting up for anything off that. A lot of the sinkers were coming back middle instead of staying true to the corners.”

Oakland fought back to tie it in the eighth, but Jorge Soler provided a solo homer off Yusmeiro Petit on an 0-2 curveball in the bottom of the inning for the winning margin.

Entering the day, Cahill had a 2.25 ERA but a 1-2 record because the A’s had scored only 10 runs while he was on the mound his previous six times out. “I wasn’t aiming really at a corner, it was more a lane, inside-outside, up or down,” he said. “I was just trying to put the ball in a general area instead of right at the glove where I feel like I’ve been in the past.”

The Royals, who absorbed a 16-0 drubbing the night before, jumped ahead immediately. Jon Jay led off with a single in the first, Whit Merrifield doubled him to third and Salvador Perez doubled both runners home.

“After yesterday’s pummeling we gave them, I think they were coming out ready to swing the bats hot today,” catcher Bruce Maxwell said.

The next inning, a call reversed on replay hurt Cahill’s cause: With two outs, Ryan Goins initially was called out on a bunt attempt, but he was deemed safe after a challenge. The next batter, Alcides Escobar, tripled to right, and Jay drove Escobar in with a double.

“I kind of thought he was safe,” Cahill said of the reversed call. “I didn’t shut it down mentally for that inning, I was mostly thinking about what I’d throw the next hitter.”

Cahill left with two outs in the fifth after walking a batter and hitting another. Emilio Pagan took over, and after hitting Perez, he struck out Soler.

Shortstop Marcus Semien, back in the lineup and leading off after returning from paternity leave, doubled with one out in the third and scored on Jed Lowrie’s single to right.

The A’s next rally, in the fourth, was partially curtailed by a baserunning miscue. Dustin Fowler, running from first on a double by Stephen Piscotty, saw third-base coach Matt Williams initially waving him around. Just before Fowler reached third, Williams put up the stop sign, but Fowler was not looking his way and rounded the bag, hesitated and had to keep going home. He was out by several feet. Piscotty then scored on a base hit by Maxwell.

Fowler said when he and Williams discussed the play, both of them tried to take the blame, with Williams saying he put up the stop sign too late and Fowler saying he shouldn’t have taken his eyes off the coach.

“I put my head down too soon,” Fowler said. “Once I got right beside him, he told me to stop and at that point, it was too late for me to stop; I thought I had a better shot to go home. I have to keep my head up a little bit longer and keep an eye on him. It’s something to learn from, but it’s unfortunate that play happened and we lost by one. It definitely hurt a little bit.”

Maxwell, who ended an 0-for-16 streak with his RBI single, homered to center to lead off the seventh, cutting the Royals’ lead to one. “That felt great,” Maxwell said. “I hadn’t hit one that hard in a while that wasn’t right at somebody.”

The A’s tied it in the eighth when Matt Olson singled, went to second on a grounder and scored on Chad Pinder’s one-out pinch-hit single. Pinder went to second on a groundout but was left there when pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy lined out to shortstop in a 12-pitch at-bat; Escobar made a tricky catch, falling down, when his vision was screened by Pinder running past.

A’s left fielder Matt Joyce left the game in the bottom of the fifth after flying out in the top of the inning. The team announced that Joyce had back tightness. Manager Bob Melvin said Joyce will be evaluated Sunday, but with a day off Monday and some left-handed starters coming up, he should have an opportunity to rest.

The A’s one nice bit of news Saturday: Closer Blake Treinen was named AL Reliever of the Month after saving all 10 opportunities he had in May.

Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: sslusser@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @susanslusser

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Minnesota United earns 1-1 draw against West’s best, Sporting Kansas City

Minnesota United’s first tie of 2018 came Sunday, and with it coming against Western Conference-leading Kansas City, the result is among the Loons’ best this season.

The Loons conceded another early goal, but Darwin Quintero equalized 11 minutes later and Minnesota’s defense staved off a persistent Sporting K.C. attack to have a 1-1 draw before an announced sellout crowd of 23,117 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Sporting’s start this season put them with three-point lead over the 11 other teams in the West, but the Loons (4-7-1) were able to stem their movement and snap their own two-game losing streak.

United had a collective lull lingering since last Saturday, with a 3-1 loss to San Jose, arguably the club’s worst home defeat in MLS, which looks even worse a week later. The Earthquakes had tied and loss since last Saturday, meaning Minnesota failed to take advantage against a team that’s now 0-6-3 against the rest of the league and 2-0 against them.

But a win over K.C. changes the picture.

Sporting Kansas City had advantages in shots on goal (10-4) and a total shots (24-6), but United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made nine saves to keep the damage minimal.

Things, again, didn’t look good for Minnesota early. Kansas City’s Johnny Russell sent an in-swinging corner kick that was headed into the net by Khiry Shelton, with Loons defender Francisco Calvo being edged off that spot.

United coach Adrian Heath was concerned about the law of averages evening out for Shelton, who hadn’t scored in 837 minutes this season, and they tipped in the eight minute.

The early concession was Minnesota’s sixth goal allowed in the first 15 minutes of games this season. That’s tied for the most allowed in any timeframe this year.

But United earned an equalizer in the 19th minute. Miguel Ibarra’s cross was headed by Darwin Quintero, but K.C. goalkeeper’s Tim Melia stopped the initial shot. Quintero stuck with it and finished the rebound to make it 1-1.

Quintero’s third goal for Minnesota ended Kansas City’s 244-minute shutout streak stretching across four games. That streak nearly ended in the sixth minute when Minnesota had a goal from Christian Ramirez was ruled offsides and an early lead was waved off.

Like on Quintero’s goal, it was set up by a Ibarra cross, and both of those attacks capitalized on United’s gameplan to attack Kansas City in wide areas. The tactic was picked up by Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, who subbed Jimm Medranda out for Seth Sinovic.

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Kan. Gov. Jeff Colyer to sign school funding bill in Olathe to give schools millions more each year

OLATHE, Kan. — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer will be in Olathe Monday to sign a new school funding bill.

The bill, which will be signed into a law at 9 a.m., is expected to give Kansas schools $534 million over the next five years.

Last month, Kansas lawmakers passed a school funding bill but later found a mistake that shorted schools $80 million. Lawmakers fixed that flaw last week.

With the fix, special education programs will receive tens of millions of more dollars while early childhood education programs will get a couple million dollars more per year.

The extra money will also allow school districts to hire more teachers and make other improvements to the classroom to better the educational experience for children. There’s even more money to improve school security.

According to the Kansas State Department of Education, Olathe will get the most money at $10-and-a-half-million more. KCK will get close to $9 million extra, while Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission receive $4.8 and $4.2 million respectively.

The big question, though – is this enough money to satisfy the State Supreme court?

Written arguments in the school finance case are due Monday with oral arguments later this month.

If the court thinks $534 million is not enough, lawmakers will have to come back and give more money to schools.

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Three men convicted in Kansas plot to bomb mosque, apartment building housing Somali refugees

WICHITA, Kan. – A federal jury on Wednesday found three men guilty of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Kansas.

Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen were convicted of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was convicted of a charge of lying to the FBI.

The three men were indicted in October 2016 for plotting an attack for the day after the presidential election in the meatpacking town of Garden City, about 220 miles (350 kilometers) west of Wichita.

Prosecutors have said that a fellow militia member, Dan Day, tipped off federal authorities after becoming alarmed by the escalating talk of violence and later agreed to wear a wire as a paid informant. The government’s case featured months of profanity-laced recordings in which militia members discussed plans and referred to the Somalis as "cockroaches."

Wright is captured in one recording saying he hoped an attack on the Somalis would "wake people up" and inspire others to take similar action against Muslims.

The government argued that the men formed a splinter group of the militia Kansas Security Force that came to be known as "the Crusaders." The testimony and recordings indicate the men tried to recruit other members of the Kansas Security Force to join them.

According to prosecutors, Stein was recorded discussing the type of fuel and fertilizer bomb that Timothy McVeigh used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people. Stein was arrested when he delivered 300 pounds (135 kilograms) of fertilizer to undercover FBI agents to make explosives.

Attorneys for the defense said the FBI set up the men with a paid informant and all the talk about violence wasn’t serious. They said the men had a right to free speech and association under the U.S. Constitution.

Prosecutors argued the plot was more than just words, telling jurors that the men also manufactured homemade explosives and tested them.

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Kansas officials find $80M error in school funding measure

In this April 7, 2018 photo, dozens of Kansas teachers rally in favor of an education funding bill outside the State Library on the third floor of the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. State officials have discovered a flaw in the bill after its passage that lowers the spending increase in it by at least $80 million. (John Hanna/Associated Press)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas officials have discovered an error in a public school funding bill lawmakers approved that lowers the size of its spending increase by at least $80 million, potentially complicating the state’s efforts to satisfy a court mandate.

Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer still plans to sign the bill and will work with the GOP-controlled Legislature to fix the flaw, spokesman Kendall Marr said Tuesday. But the fix might come only days before an April 30 deadline for Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office to report to the state Supreme Court on how lawmakers have addressed education funding problems.

The bill approved by lawmakers early Sunday was meant to phase in a $534 million spending increase over five years, and with the flaw, the figure is $454 million or perhaps a little less.

In Kansas, local school districts impose local property taxes to supplement their state dollars. Legislators included a provision setting a minimum for local tax revenues to be raised — all districts already surpass it, anyway — and counting those dollars toward the state’s total aid. Instead of allowing a mere accounting move, though, the technical language inadvertently created a calculation that replaced state dollars with local dollars.

And, with “the train barreling down the track,” few lawmakers, even those heavily involved in the school funding debate, had much time to review the details, said Rep. Melissa Rooker, a moderate Kansas City-area Republican.

“It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating. It’s maddening,” she said. “It’s a giant mess.”

The high court ruled in October that the state’s current education funding of more than $4 billion a year isn’t sufficient under the Kansas Constitution for lawmakers to finance a suitable education for every child.

The Legislature is taking its annual 2½-week spring break and is not scheduled to reconvene until April 26. GOP leaders delayed starting the break so lawmakers could push the school funding plan through both chambers in a single work day.

“If you wait to the last minute, you don’t have time to correct your errors,” said Rep. Brett Parker, a Kansas City-area Democrat and English teacher who voted against the measure, arguing the increase wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the court.

The Kansas debate comes amid tumult in many red states over school funding. An ongoing teacher strike in Oklahoma is part of a movement that also has included action by educators in West Virginia, Kentucky and Arizona.

Dozens of Kansas teachers rallied Saturday evening at the Statehouse for the bill that passed, putting aside misgivings that it wasn’t big enough. Colyer and some legislators have worried that a frustrated state Supreme Court could take the unprecedented step of declaring that the state can’t distribute its education dollars through a flawed funding system — effectively keeping schools closed after June.

The bill sent to Colyer was meant to largely mirror a plan approved by the House earlier. The Senate approved a plan to phase in a $274 million increase over five years.

Colyer and House GOP leaders argue that the annual growth in the state’s tax revenues can cover the higher amount of new spending. Top Senate Republicans strongly disagree and contend the higher amount of spending would force a tax increase within two years.

Negotiations between the House and Senate broke off Friday. House GOP leaders then had their chamber pass a new bill Saturday, with Democrats and moderate Republicans engineering its quick passage in the Senate over GOP leaders’ objections.

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Molly Baumgardner, a conservative eastern Kansas Republican, had argued for resuming negotiations between the two chambers. She said Tuesday lawmakers would have been better served by “more eyes” on the bill in the legislative process.

“It’s better that we found it now than six months or a year from now,” she said.

But Republican Rep. Fred Patton, of Topeka, the chairman of a House committee on school funding, said language for the flawed provision had been circulating for several weeks.

“We’ll do our best to get it fixed,” he said.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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New $36 million FHLBank Topeka building represents commitment to Topeka


Limestone, windows with sweeping views and a glass waterfall are features of the new Federal Home Loan Bank building that greets Interstate 70 drivers at the west edge of Topeka.

The $36 million building was designed to complement its natural surroundings, grabbing colors and form from the Midwestern sky, limestone found in Onaga and, as the landscape fills out, waves of prairie grass.

“We wanted it to fit into the surroundings, so we went with what they called a prairie style with the roof lines,” said Mark Yardley, president and CEO. “The limestone and the look of the outside — to me, it says Kansas.”

On Thursday, a ribbon-cutting celebrated the new home of FHLBank, which previously was located across the road at the Security Benefit building, and the company’s decision to stay in Topeka.

“I want to say thank you, yet again, because they could have gone anywhere else,” said Mayor Michelle De La Isla. “They chose Topeka.”

Yardley said the FHLBank Topeka is one of the few Federal Home Loan Banks, set up by the federal government in 1932 after the Depression to encourage mortgage lending and community investment, to remain in the city where it was originally located. Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership, pointed out that other FHLBs are located in much larger communities, including New York City, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco.

“Our roots run deep here in Topeka,” Yardley said. “We are committed to Topeka. But it’s also evident that Topeka, Shawnee County, is committed to us. As soon as we started talking about looking at alternate locations, they stepped forward and said ‘we really want you to stay.’ It was nice to be appreciated as a corporate citizen, as a valued player for the city of Topeka. It made our decision a lot easier.”

The result of that decision is a 95,000-square-foot building with modern amenities and style, home to FHLBank Topeka’s 240 employees and serving 750 members. The three-story building and basement feature a gym, cafeteria, coffee bars, collaboration spaces that offer meeting space for groups of many sizes, and natural lighting.

• Energy-efficient building includes geothermal and solar panels, with a goal of achieving a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification

• 96 geothermal wells at 12,400 feet deep use about 11,000 gallons of water to heat, cool and support the building

The building’s western Topeka hillside perch was a key design element for its exterior, creating a focus that emphasized not only the location but also the fact that FHLBank works in the Midwest, serving Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado, Yardley said.

“What we really wanted was for the site and building to embody the sense of space,” said architect Greg Schwerdt, of Schwerdt Design. “We believe we accomplished that by blurring the boundaries between nature and architecture, which in turn heightens the awareness of the beauty that surrounds us.”

That same feel was a goal for the building’s interior design, which was coordinated by Julie DeVader, vice president of public relations and communications. She reached out to employees to gather opinions about what they would like to see in the building. That commitment to soliciting varied viewpoints makes the project special, said Sonia Betsworth, senior vice president and chief administration officer.

“We wanted them to believe the building was their home, and it was built with ideas that they also had,” she said.

Most of the ideas fell into the same pattern of thought, primarily because of the natural surroundings, DeVader said.

“When you see it, and you see all the nature, it’s hard to not include that in the design,” she said. “What we wanted people to feel when they came in is comfortable and warm. We call it prairie modern. We wanted to bring the outdoors in, what you see with all the glass. Really, the art is our beautiful views.”

Yardley’s third-floor office offers spectacular sunsets, he said.

Betsworth’s favorite part of the building is a feeling that has come with it.

“I’ve been at the bank for 35 years. Something that makes me the happiest is I think there’s a difference in our business partner culture,” she said. “The bank is more visible to the community than what it’s ever been before. I can see there’s a real sense of ownership and pride in not only what they do today, but in where we reside.”

The new FHLBank Topeka building incorporated the company and employees’ commitment to sustainability, and it is expected to receive a Gold LEED certification, the top standard for the green building rating system. It is heated and cooled by technologies that include geothermal and solar panels.

“It is 40 percent more efficient than the standard office building in our area,” said DeVader.

That translates to big numbers. Over the course of one year, a standard building would use 1.65 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and the new FHLBank building is expected to use 1 million kWh. The result, she said, is about $60,000 a year in savings.

The company worked primarily with local talent on the building, including Schwerdt Design as architect and McPherson Contractors as general contractor.

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The data tell the real downtown housing story | The Kansas City Star

Maintaining existing affordable housing stock and increasing that inventory are critical to the sustainability and continued growth of greater downtown Kansas City. We’ve come a long way from the blight of the late 1990s, but we have much work still to do.

In greater downtown Kansas City today — 31st Street north to the Missouri River, and State Line east to Woodland — residential housing density is among the lightest of any of our peer cities, and many new opportunities remain.

To place downtown on the path to a long-term, balanced mix of housing inventory will require an updated revitalization strategy. Kansas City has accomplished most of the plan that was published in 2000 by Sasaki Associates. The Downtown Council agrees that it is time to update this plan.

The cost of housing is on Kansas City’s mind because on March 22, the City Council is expected to consider two measures concerning affordable units in future apartment projects from The Cordish Companies. To be successful, strategies need to be based on accurate information. So, here is what the data say, according to federal figures:

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▪ Department of Housing and Urban Development and census guidelines define affordable rent as up to 30 percent of household gross income. HUD’s Jackson County individual median income ranges from $41,900 to $52,375.

▪ At the end of 2016, there were 14,189 total rental housing units in greater downtown, and growth continues. According to census data, 6,055 or 42.6 percent of those housing units are considered affordable, according to HUD criteria.

▪ Market-rate rents are increasing as new value is created, growing the tax base.

These data paint a picture of a downtown with a healthy mix of affordable and market-rate housing.

With its residents paying a median 41 percent of their income for housing and transportation, versus 48 percent in the whole city, downtown rates as the most affordable neighborhood in our region, and among the most affordable in the nation. Downtown is also our most diverse neighborhood, with 53 percent of its population a cross section of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and those of mixed ancestry — almost twice as diverse as any other part of our region.

And currently, 41 percent of the 26,000 residents in greater downtown are millennials — the largest percentage in any neighborhood in the metropolitan area. As you move away from the city center, the percentage drops to 26 percent for Kansas City, and 22 percent for the greater region. Younger generations are our future and we must be competitive to retain them.

In 2000, only those in the vanguard of urban living were willing to pay below-market rents for an apartment in an amenity-poor environment. That is not the case today with arts, culture, entertainment, retail, streetcars and employment opportunities.

Today, the greatest threat to affordable housing begins with the state of Missouri’s ill-conceived refusal to allocate funds for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, or LIHTC, which are essential to the development of new affordable inventory.

Right now, a 400-unit LIHTC, rent-restricted, affordable housing project planned for the Central Business District is unable to advance without those credits. We should be sounding the alarm. An effective strategy would be to unite as a community to educate legislators on why affordable housing and these tax credits are so important.

LIHTC obligations on existing inventory will be expiring over the next several years. Property owners will be reviewing their options on what the next iteration will be: continuing as affordable, converting to market rate, or another use. Many will determine that the upward trajectory in rent doesn’t justify the investment required to make their properties competitive.

Understanding the importance of affordable, workforce housing, the Downtown Council remains committed to work with the city and community to develop a a comprehensive plan promoting affordability. We are steadfast in our dedication to attracting new jobs and residents, and growing the tax base within a diverse, affordable and walkable urban community.

Bill Dietrich is president and CEO of the Downtown Council of Kansas City.

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Topeka hit-and-run crash leaves pedestrian in serious condition

A hit-and-run driver left the scene after he struck and injured an adult male pedestrian about 5:30 p.m. Friday in central Topeka, police said.

Officers weren’t immediately releasing the name or age of the victim, who was taken to a Topeka hospital.

Police hadn’t determined the identity of the hit-and-run driver.

Lt. Aaron Jones said the motorist struck the pedestrian on S.W. Fillmore, just south of its intersection with S.W. Douthitt. Douthitt is located just south of S.W. 14th Street and north of S.W. 15th.

Police used yellow crime scene tape to block off that intersection and the area to its south.

The hit-and-run driver was described as a middle-aged black man who wore gold-rimmed glasses and drove a green Mercury Marquis, Jones said.

He asked that anyone with information that could help police investigate the crash call Crime Stoppers at (785) 234-0007.

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Harley-Davidson still to close Kansas City plant despite Missouri delegation plea

Eight all-new Softail® models were released by Harley-Davidson to celebrate its 115th Anniversary. The new bikes feature a stiffer and significantly lighter frame for the new dual-counterbalanced Milwaukee-Eight® 107 and 114 engines. Wochit

(Photo: Harley-Davidson Motor Company)

MILWAUKEE — Harley-Davidson Inc. said it is standing by its plans to close a motorcycle assembly plant in Kansas City, ending about 800 jobs there, despite a plea by Missouri congressional leaders who reminded Harley of the millions of dollars in incentives the state has provided the company over the last two decades.

In a letter sent Friday to Harley CEO Matt Levatich, Missouri Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill and Reps. Sam Graves and Emanuel Cleaver II noted that Kansas City beat out 30 other cities across the country when Harley was looking to build an assembly plant in 1996.

“It came with a considerable incentive package from the city, Platte County, and the state of Missouri,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers said in the letter.

“Over that time, the company has become an important part of the community, and has grown to be one of the largest manufacturers in the Kansas City region,” the letter said.

More: Harley recalls nearly 175K bikes in U.S. because brakes can fail

State and local leaders offered a $6.4 million incentive package to lure Harley to Kansas City initially and those subsidies grew by tens of millions of dollars over time, according to a January story in the Kansas City Star.

Harley spokesman Michael Pflughoeft said Friday the company had not yet seen the letter. But he said the decision to close the plant was based on market conditions.

“Ultimately, this initiative is about reducing excess (plant) capacity. Our Kansas City workforce has done a tremendous job producing quality motorcycles and serving our customers. And we have always appreciated the support of our Kansas City community,” Pflughoeft said in an email to the Journal Sentinel.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing our unions or local or congressional members could have done to relieve the pressure of excess capacity we have in the U.S. today. If there was, we would have reached out to discuss options."

Last month, Harley announced it was shutting down the Kansas City plant, which has built some of its most popular motorcycles including the Softail line of bikes.

The world’s largest maker of heavyweight motorcycles has struggled to reverse a four-year sales slide, with growth overseas helping to offset a decline in the U.S. bike market somewhat.

Harley says it’s moving the Kansas City work to the company’s plant in York, Pa., and that will create about 400 jobs in York.

"This is more than just the shutdown of the Kansas City plant. We will be investing to expand our operations in York," Levatich said earlier.

The move doesn’t affect Harley’s manufacturing plant in Menomonee Falls, which builds motorcycle engines.

Plans to close the Kansas City plant came as a surprise to Missouri’s congressional delegation, whose members said they learned about it through news accounts.

“We understand that the domestic and global sales environments are key drivers in business decisions like this. But we also believe Harley-Davidson’s Kansas City assembly plant and its workers produce a top-quality product that can compete with any other facility in the United States or around the world. We urge you to reconsider the decision to close the plant,” their letter said.

Harley’s Kansas City workforce includes employees who landed their jobs when the plant opened about 20 years ago.

Tim Primeaux, who has worked at the plant for 17 years, said it’s a lifelong goal for some people to build Harley-Davidson motorcycles, often called “Hogs.”

“I came from a small town where I actually slaughtered hogs (real ones). And in my job interview with Harley, I told them I wanted to build hogs. I had that American dream, to work for the great American company,” Primeaux said.

“There was a lot of pride when I left that slaughter plant and came to Kansas City," he added.

Union officials are also applying pressure on Harley to keep the Kansas City plant open.

"I’m sick of seeing our jobs disappear or turn into part-time work. … I am employing every resource necessary to assist Kansas City and our membership," said Robert Martinez Jr., president of the Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents workers at the Kansas City plant.

Follow Rick Barrett on Twitter: @rbarrettJS

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Three Light luxury apartments are headed downtown. Where’s the affordable housing? | The Kansas City Star

This week, the Kansas City Council will consider public subsidies for Three Light, a 300-unit high-rise apartment building planned for downtown. The city will borrow $17.5 million for the project, mostly to pay for a parking garage.

Kansas City provided similar subsidies for One Light, a 307-unit building downtown, and Two Light, a 295-unit structure at Truman Road and Grand Boulevard.

Two Light opens this spring. It’s already fully leased. A 1,000 square-foot unit will cost about $2,200 a month on average.

Last month, Kansas City Councilwoman Katheryn Shields asked if any of the Lights — One, Two, or Three — contain so-called “affordable” units, with rents low enough for poorer Kansas Citians to afford.

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The answer was no.

That’s a concern. City subsidies for the three high-rise structures — mandated by agreements signed years ago — will soon exceed $50 million. Yet many Kansas Citians can’t even dream of actually living in one.

Cordish, which owns the buildings, says they have designed them to be affordable for renters of moderate incomes, about $48,000 a year. They also argue — as does the city — that the apartments are an overall benefit for the community, providing enough cash to pay for the parking garages over time.

Perhaps. But it’s increasingly clear that City Hall must spend time this year to better match its incentive structure with the need for quality affordable housing in every part of the community.

The need is unmistakable. According to a recent KSHB report, more than 13,000 Kansas Citians are waiting for affordable housing. Some families are waiting for months, even years, for access to homes with rents they can pay.

The squeeze will only get worse. On Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens bragged to a Riverside audience about his efforts to eliminate tax credits for low-income housing in the state.

Greitens said the credits are inefficient, and some critics agree. To date, however, there is no credible plan for replacing the credits, or for providing incentives for developers to build low-cost housing.

Local governments will need to step in. And that means more than leaning on Washington for additional funds.

Instead, Kansas City must review its policies to make sure affordable housing is a top priority. One council member said Friday that review could include more “carrots” — incentives for developers who include low-cost units — and “sticks,” which would punish builders who leave affordable units out.

It’s crucial that the discussion include the need for affordable units and homes across Kansas City, not just in certain areas. That includes downtown.

To its credit, Cordish said Friday it is amenable to having that discussion. That may not change the plans at Three Light — the city’s agreement with Cordish requires some subsidies — but it serves notice that future construction help will need to meet higher standards for bolstering the entire community.

This year and next will be a critical opportunity to develop a comprehensive housing and neighborhood strategy in Kansas City. The City Council must address the need for better homes and neighborhoods, whether they come in small single-family homes or big skyscrapers downtown.

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