Raymond Forstater is an organizer with Sunrise Movement KC. The Kansas City Defender is not affiliated with Sunrise Movement in any way, and these are expressly and solely the thoughts/endorsements of their own organization. If you would like to learn more or contact their organization, please find their website at https://sunrisemvmtkc.carrd.co.
Tuesday, June 20th, Kansas Citians have the opportunity to elect the most progressive council in city history if we elect Jenay Manley, Michael Kelley and Johnathan Duncan along with existing allied incumbents. The stakes are high–– not only for Black, brown, and poor/working-class movements fighting for change, but also for elites & corporate executives that have a lot to lose should the status quo be upended. The elites with the most power in our city, historically, are threatened by candidates backed by these people-powered movements. This becomes clear when we look at where thousands of dollars in campaign donations are flooding in from and to whom.
Meet the three P’s: Police, Polluters and Profiteers. If you dig into where some of the most money is being thrown around this election, you can probably attribute the motivation to one (or more) of those three P’s.
Being a government agency, KCPD can’t contribute directly to an election campaign. Arguably, it’s worse than that.
Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) – the local chapter of the National Fraternal Order of Police – are most known for being responsible for getting killer cops off without justice and ensuring they remain a part of KCPD. One of the ways they make that possible politically is by donating thousands of dollars to elect “pro-police” candidates that will continue to push for more money for cops and more freedom to inflict harm on the community.
Whether it be protecting the reputation of killers like Blayne Newton and Erik DeValkenaere or ensuring KCPD budget keeps going up and up, KC FOP is fighting against any candidate that may challenge our rotten system of policing and the power it gives cops to violently defend racial capitalism.
Lindsay French (Jenay Manley’s opponent) took two maximum donations from KC FOP during this election cycle totalling $5,950. Darrell Curls, Michael Kelley’s opponent took one maximum donation from KC FOP totalling $2,975.
Due to the limits set on how much money can be donated per reporting cycle during the election, Political Action Committees will donate to a different PAC that will then forward that donation on to a given candidate. For example: on 5/15/2023 KC FOP donated $1,800 to a PAC called “A Better Kansas City.” Then, on 6/6/23, A Better Kansas City donated $1,800 to Darrell Curls’s campaign.
It is these levels of donations that ultimately make it impossible to track the $34,875 in donations KC FOP made this election cycle. What we do know is that every penny of that was made in defense of the system of policing and against the interests of the people of Kansas City.
The effects of the climate crisis no longer represent just a future to fear, but a fact of our present. But the way we got here was not inevitable. Fossil fuel executives and other polluters have continuously sacrificed Black, brown, poor and working class communities in order to fill the pockets of company shareholders.
Young leaders from Sunrise Movement KC worked to ensure part of the city’s climate plan included making Evergy executives close the Hawthorn Coal Plant by 2025. This fossil fuel burning facility is located in the historic Northeast, close to elementary schools and large poor/working class as well as immigrant communities. Now, Evergy’s latest plans show that company executives don’t intend to close the coal plant until 2055. A full 30 years after the city council demanded.
Ensuring that climate change-deniers make it onto city council shows once again that Evergy will always fight for the interest of their investors over the health, safety and future of our communities. In the last month leading up to the election, Evergy donated $4,675 across the campaigns of French, Tarwater and Curls.
Other than Evergy, the other polluter that has been the biggest deterrent to climate justice in Kansas City is the other for-profit utility monopoly, Spire. The treasurer of Spire PAC, Scott Weitzel, personally showed up to Gregg/Klice Community Center last year to explain to leaders of Sunrise Movement KC, as well as a room full of other angry community members, why Spire “needed” to raise rates for the second time in a year despite reports showing them bragging about increased profits for shareholders
Leaders in our movement understand that you can’t put a price on a livable future. However, Lindsay French, Darrell Curls and Dan Tarwater are prepared to sell our futures out to Spire and Evergy for a combined $11,525.
Many of the large donations in any political race are an attempt to protect the profits of a person or business. You read in the last section the ways in which Evergy and Spire are doing this while polluting our air. Special interest groups face a real threat from a candidate like Jenay Manley, whose campaign materials loudly display the slogan “People Over Profit.” This is why we see profiteers spend ridiculous amounts of money to try to stop her from getting on city council. There are many examples to show this going through the donations to Jenay’s opponent. It is most clearly displayed by Richard Chaves, Jr. and his Northland Strong PAC.
Parking lot millionaire, Richard Chaves Jr., is shamelessly buying city council seats for his business interests. He isn’t just personally donating thousands of dollars to validate his bigoted anti-Black, anti-immigrant and transphobic beliefs as displayed on his personal facebook page (see below), Chaves is also redirecting tens of thousands of dollars in donations from developers and other special interests through the PAC he chairs, Northland Strong.
Richard Chaves and Northland Strong PAC really show us the three P’s working in unison. Northland Strong’s contributors not only include rich KC developers, but also two groups we are already familiar with: KC FOP and Spire. Both groups have donated thousands of dollars to Northland Strong, who has then passed that money on to French, Curls, Tarwater and other similarly corrupt candidates. In fact, KC Fraternal Order of Police donated $10,000 to Northland Strong in just this last week leading up to election day June 20.
Richard Chaves, Jr. believes that his money and elite friends give him power. What he doesn’t understand is that the future of power in Kansas City belongs to the people.
Something extra: Freedom Inc. has been a mainstay of Black politics in Kansas City for over 60 years. Freedom Inc.’s endorsements align much more with the endorsements of Northland Strong and KC FOP than movement organizations such as KC Tenants Power. Even endorsing Lindsay French against Jenay Manley (Manley is running to be the first Black city council member to represent the Northland). This comes as little surprise when we look under the hood. Despite proclaiming themselves as representing the interests of the Black community in Kansas City, Freedom Inc. has taken a significant portion of its funding this election from KC FOP and Northland Strong.
Black, brown, poor and working class organizers are fighting every day to secure the future Kansas Citians deserve. We are stronger together. Groups like Sunrise Movement KC are bringing a cross-class multi-racial group of young people together to fight for good jobs and a livable future. This fight doesn’t start or end with an election, but we do have the opportunity June 20th to drastically change the status quo of our city that has gotten us police abuse, dirty air, unaffordable housing, unreliable public transit and more issues that feed on the harms of racial capitalism. Young people can shift the balance of power in our city for generations to come. We do that by electing Jenay Manley, Michael Kelley and Johnathan Duncan to city council.