Restrictions to continue because of coronavirus pandemic

by Murrel Bland

Wyandotte County will continue indefinitely under the restrictions of Phase 3 of the Ad Astra Plan to Reopen Kansas.

That was the message that Mayor David Alvey conveyed to members of the Congressional Forum Thursday, June 18, during a special teleconference via Zoom.

The forum usually meets the third Friday of each month. However, Mayor Alvey, along with several other Unified Government employees, have been furloughed because of budget restraints.

Mayor Alvey will not work Mondays and Fridays for the next five weeks. Lack of sales tax revenue, particularly from the Village West areas, has caused the Unified Government to be about $23 million short for its 2020 budget. Estimates are it will mean an $18 million shortage for 2021.

Gov. Laura Kelly submitted the Ad Astra Plan May 26 to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Under Phase 3 of the plan, Mayor Alvey urged residents to wear masks, maintain a six-foot distance during indoor and outdoor activities, avoid socializing with groups of more than 45 persons and to wash their hands regularly.

Mayor Alvey said the Unified Government will be guided by medical personnel whose actions are data-driven. He said there has been a recent increase in the number of COVID patients in Wyandotte County.

Mayor Alvey said a class of 24 police cadets will not be hired as officers because of the
budget shortfall. He said that is unfortunate as the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department conducted an extensive recruiting effort to attract these police recruits who live here.

Mayor Alvey praised the many groups that he met with, via teleconference, including area clergy, business leaders and public officials.

Mayor Alvey said despite the pandemic, various economic development projects are moving ahead including the Turner Logistics and the American Royal developments.

The Congressional Forum is a committee of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce. About 50 persons were registered for the teleconference.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.

Responses to Supreme Court DACA ruling

Responses in Kansas today to the U.S. Supreme Court’s DACA ruling:

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s statement:

“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court to uphold protections for Dreamers was the right one. Dreamers have contributed much to our communities and to our economy, and ending DACA would have cost our state more than $335.9 million every year.

“There are more than 6,000 DACA recipients in Kansas – they serve in our military work in our hospitals, teach our kids and pay taxes. They were brought here as children, this is their home, they belong here.”

Statement from Kris Kobach, a candidate for U.S. Senate:

“The five justice majority on the Supreme Court made a mockery of the law today. The good news is that all nine justices agree the Trump administration can cancel DACA. The bad news for immigration law enforcement is that it will take a long time to complete the task. As the attorney who first challenged the DACA amnesty in the summer of 2012 representing 10 ICE agents, I can say with certainty that DACA was illegal from its inception. But today the Court says that to cancel an illegal policy, the Trump administration must jump through regulatory hoops. That is true with respect to a normal legally correct regulation, but that is not true when the policy itself violated both federal law and the Administrative Procedure Act.”

ACLU of Kansas statement:

“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA is safe for now, and the ACLU of Kansas joins the millions of people nationwide celebrating this morning’s Supreme Court decision declaring President Trump’s efforts to end the lifeline program as reckless and unreasonable.

“Kansas has more than 6,000 DACA recipients who grew up here and have dedicated their lives to give back to our communities. Many of these DACA recipients are frontline workers supporting us and protecting us through this unforgiving COVID-19 pandemic. This was a fair and just decision.
But this victory is only temporary.

“The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, made it clear that the Trump Administration, through the Department of Homeland Security, has the authority to rescind DACA with solid justification. The problem here was that the way his administration went about trying to end the program was “arbitrary and capricious,” and therefore violated administrative law.

“Like the constant vigilance we have dedicated to guarding civil liberties civil rights at the ACLU of Kansas, protecting the rights of undocumented young people remains an on-going fight.

“We are in solidarity with the undocumented youth and their families. We celebrate the immeasurable contributions DACA recipients bring to our families, our communities, our state, and our country. We are here for the celebration, but more importantly, for the work ahead.”

UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court decision that temporarily allows the more than 700,000 young people in DACA to remain in the country:

“Today the Supreme Court sided with the vast majority of Americans by protecting DACA recipients from President Trump’s inhumane mission to deport as many people as possible. This decision is a victory for DREAMers — and for the entire country. DREAMers are already home, building families, creating communities and helping lift up everyone in America. Today’s decision validates the need for Congress to act and deliver the lasting decision DREAMers and the millions of American families they are members of deserve. And today we celebrate the commitment and fight of young advocates across the country who have fought so hard to make today possible.”

Guest column: We must do our part to fix systemic inequities

by Dr. Greg Mosier, KCKCC president

During the last several months, people across America and around the world have lived through unthinkable crises. The coronavirus pandemic has affected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people and crippled tens of thousands of businesses and economies around the world. This so-called indiscriminate killer has sickened and taken the lives of countless people across all races, ethnicities, demographics and ages. However, this virus has not been so indiscriminate, as people of color, those with weakened health and the elderly have suffered the greatest loss of life. African American and Hispanic workers have also suffered many of the greatest economic injustices and health insecurities when looking at the sheer number of people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and who have limited access to quality healthcare to receive the care they need.

While the injustices caused by the pandemic are inexcusable, even more inexcusable is that these injustices have existed long before the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has just emphasized what has existed for decades. In many metro, urban and rural communities across the country, African American communities and communities of color have struggled to live in environments with fewer or reduced high-quality employment, education, social and healthcare opportunities. Unfortunately, the systemic barriers and hurdles that have kept communities down still exist today. This was made ever so clear while trying to educate our youth “virtually” during the pandemic in communities that do not have the technological, financial, parental or family resources to provide education to their children the same way as children in our more affluent communities.

As educational institutions, faculty and staff, government and community leaders, and brothers and sisters of the human race, we must do better! It’s imperative we do better! As an educator, I have long held the belief that we must educate the head, hands and hearts of our students in order to improve our society and the world. We must bridge divides and eliminate the multiple inequities that exist in our systems that continue to create the Haves and Have Nots. We must fix structures and processes that continue to tell many of the youth of our country, the future of our country, that they do not deserve the same opportunities to succeed in life that is available to others.

Like many of you, on May 25th, as I watched the tragic killing of George Floyd unfold before my eyes, I was shocked, dumbfounded and outraged. Mr. Floyd’s senseless death is inexcusable. My heart and prayers go out to the Floyd family, and to the many Americans of color who feel a growing sense of fear, anger, and weariness. I publicly condemn these actions and believe those involved should be prosecuted with the full vigor of the law.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. In recent months, we have witnessed other examples of senseless deaths of men and women of color. Following the death of Mr. Floyd, as people across the country, rightfully angry, came together to put on peaceful protests and demonstrations, tragedy continued to strike our country as rioters, thieves, arsonists and killers took to the streets as well. For nearly two weeks, people who were shocked and outraged by the death of Mr. Floyd continued to be traumatized by these others’ actions. As a country, we must find ways to stop and condemn actions of hate, violence and senseless killings no matter who they are perpetrated on and by whom.

To move forward as a community, we must all work together to fight and stop racism, bigotry, bias and discrimination wherever and however it exists. And we must eliminate structures and processes that create hurdles and roadblocks for underserved populations and people of color. Our work may not be easy and uncomfortable conversations lie ahead. But, by granting each other grace and forgiveness we will individually become stronger as one. Without collectively taking these actions we will continue to travel down the same path we are currently on. We must continue to work to treat people with kindness, respect, love and care for one another as we are all related as brothers and sisters in the human race.

Kansas City Kansas Community College is fully committed to support and value an environment where hate and discrimination has no home, and where students and employees are free and encouraged to speak up and have their concerns heard if an issue should arise. To our valued employees, if you are having difficulty managing issues related to these recent events or any matter, please remember the resources available in KCKCC’s Employee Assistance Program. And to our incredible students, who are so dedicated to attaining your educational and career goals, please contact one of KCKCC’s counselors if you struggle with any of the recent events or other items as you spend your time with us.

I am very proud of the great diversity that exists in our Kansas City Kansas Community College family and the great work each of you do every day to make KCKCC the incredible institution it is today. Our students and alum, faculty and staff, and administration and board of trustees represent the great diversity of our community. And as our community changes, we are committed to change with it to reflect, respect and celebrate the diversity that makes us such a great and dynamic institution.

It is my honor and privilege to serve as president of Kansas City Kansas Community College and it is my promise to each of you that this letter is more than a personal or College statement; it is a call to action. KCKCC will work with dedication to continue to grow and expand our commitment to diversity and inclusion no matter our personal differences. Operating from a position of kindness, respect, civility and personal responsibility, we will continue to make our college and community around us an even better place to work and live.