Hearne: Why ‘Club KC” Probably Won’t Work

RAW_Mayor_Sly_James_ta26263ea4-3d58-4b53-9a76-2b2ec7cc12f00003_20110825113609_320_240The mission; to keep black kids off the Country Club Plaza

Let’s not mince words, a Kansas City Council proposed ordinance for a year round kid curfew is nothing more than a nod to corporate interests on the Plaza to prevent young black kids from gathering there at night and scaring off affluent white customers.

There, I said it.

Arm-in-arm with that comes the proposal to expand the so-called “Club KC” from three to five “community centers” on Friday and Saturday nights starting May 24th and continuing through August 10th.

Based in part by this bit of wisdom uttered by KC Mayor Sly James:

“It’s always been true that kids need a place to hang out.”

Hold it right there…

club_kc_hdrMy 10, 14 and 16 year-old kids don’t need a place to “hang out,” other than at my house, a friend’s, a movie or reasonably brief shopping trip.

And the last thing they want to do is go hang en masse at some park in a shelter so police and city officials can ride herd over them.

Yet for decades this has been the battle cry by merchants and politicians anxious to rid themselves of young black kids who they feel are scaring off customers and costing them money.

They were saying the same thing in my 1993 Harris House column:

“Police, city officials, merchants, urban crime activists and civil rights specialists have met several times this year to plan ways to prevent past problems with fighting. One of their objectives is to find other places for under-age patrons to go.”

BillNigro1Westporter Bill Nigro has been preaching that sermon ever since.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Nigro says. “They got about 7,000 people on eight weekends over the course of last year. That’s (nearly) 1,000 people a night…You’re getting 1,000 people a week off the streets, what’s wrong with that?”

Actually, it’s 875 kids per weekend or 400 and change per night, a relatively tiny slice of Kansas City’s kid population pie. That still leaves tens of thousands of kids to fan out to sexier locals like the Plaza, Power & Light District, Ward Parkway, Martini Corner and yes, even Westport.

And it doesn’t at all address the Plaza’s continuing daytime kid crowd problem.

“Nothing ever erupts during the day,” Nigro says. “And they’re never in large groups of 100 or more on the Plaza during the day. They’re not doing anything bad in broad daylight.”

a cinemark dudesThen why does the Plaza field hordes of security and police to break up the kid crowds and keep em moving?

“Hearne, nobody wants ’em, why do you think everybody’s been chasing them around for decades?”

All of that said, Nigro applauds the city for its efforts and thinks Club KC will grow, possibly enough to pay for itself.

“It’s just like any first year event,” Nigro says. “I think the crowds will continue to grow and they’re off to a great start. Sooner or later they’re going to be able to charge a little money to help pay for it and the city will have some success with it.  And the city needs to think about getting a sharp business person in there to run the program for them.”





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13 Responses to Hearne: Why ‘Club KC” Probably Won’t Work

  1. no shopping bags says:

    The Plaza would welcome them with open arms if they spent money. Notice in these pictures there is not a single person with a purchased item, not even a Coldstone creamery ice cream cone.

    Places like the Cheesecake Factory actually target middle and upper middle class blacks as part of their core demographics.

  2. Orphan of the Road says:

    People think identifying a problem is the same as a solution.

    The Plaza didn’t want kids from Northeast hanging out there in the 60s. JC Nichols never wanted the unwashed masses there. Especially kids.

    We took our pent up emotions down to a place called the squirrel cage down by the Missouri River. Riding motorcycles and whooping it up away from the general public. I don’t know of anyplace like it anymore.

    Kids with no place to go is only part of the problem. The other is irresponsible parents. Whether a poor black family dropping off their kids at the Plaza or the JOffs of JOCO giving the kids a Benjamin and telling them to get lost and don’t bother me.

    Focusing on one and ignoring the other will solve nothing.

    Young and armed and dangerous (kudos Danny Cox).

    • no shopping bags says:

      I think the solution is simple. Enforce the existing laws against assault, battery, loitering and curfew. Forget the free stuff.

  3. smartman says:

    More government cheese. It’s a “black thing” derived from the failed policies of The Great Society. Even the most optimistic sociologists say it will take over two generations to restore 1950’s era “black pride” in self, community, faith, education, stewardship, mentoring and society. In other words it ain’t gonna happen in our world of instant gratification.

    My advice to all caucasians and other non-blacks is to avoid, aka boycott, the Plaza. When the green money from the white people goes away so will the “problem”. One retailer estimates that eighty-five cents of every dollar spent on the Plaza is from whites, Hispanics, Asians, Indians….in other words not blacks.

    it is what it is. The facts are the facts. The bully pulpit of our black president, mayor and police chief have not been properly utilized to address the issues of cultural, moral and social decline in the black community.

    The only difference between today and the 1800’s is that today blacks voluntarily allow themselves to be enslaved by the democrat party and Club KC.

  4. expat says:

    It’s interesting that only black people require extra special babysitting in order to live like normal human beings, and the proposed solution to every black problem is more white handouts.

  5. stop that train says:

    It is telling when you go to the most immigrant-filled communities in KCK like Argentine and you see people who are living low and working hard busting their asses to send their kids to school and improve their lives. You see hand painted fences, flowerpots. People who care about the place they live and are grateful. People who will be middle class in 20 years. These are not people who immigrated with money. I can speak fluent spanish. Most of these laborers are barely literate in Spanish. These are the lowest rungs of Mexican and Central American farmworker classes. You see people overflowing at the free English classes held by the churches. Kids in uniforms heading off to safer, better rated schools.

    Then you see the Eastside and it breaks your heart to see that they obviously don’t care. There is nothing inherently shitty about the Eastside. 75th and prospect shouldn’t be a glorified slum. There is no magic potion that makes Waldo at 75th and wornall hip and 75th and prospect a war zone.

    Both communities have a strong belief in God. I think the Mexican immigrants of KCK are more motivated in general but I see their Catholic Church exploiting them much less than the Black Denominations on the Eastside. The biggest of which is run by the Cleaver clan. Say what you will about the Catholic Church but they have for 150 years been the helpers of the immigrant classes be them Irish, Poles, Italians or Latinos.

  6. chuck says:

    Here is a list of recent black mob violence in America.


    It is astonishing.

  7. Libertarian says:

    Help for the black community must come from within the black community.

    You cant help those that wont help themselves.

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