Does Eric Greitens hate KC? UMKC’s downtown arts campus is a litmus test

The proposed UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts

The proposed UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts

Eric Greitens surged to being elected governor in 2016 thanks to rural Missouri voters. But urban Kansas City and St. Louis residents really rejected him.

Democrat Chris Koster crushed Greitens 77 to 20 percent in areas covered by the Kansas City Election Board, which includes results from downtown to the southwest corridor plus the East Side. Greitens and Koster pretty much tied north of the river.

In St. Louis, Koster overwhelmed Greitens 80 to 16 percent.

That helps explain why it’s no surprise that Greitens has bought into the anti-urban votes so often cast in the Missouri General Assembly. The rural-dominated legislature in recent months has shot down attempts by the two cities to put in place higher minimum wages and wants to kill an effort in St. Louis to ban discrimination regarding abortion as well as pregnancies.

And Greitens has had a few disputes already with Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

Which brings us to the University of Missouri — Kansas City’s Downtown Campus for the Arts.

Greitens has an easy decision to make: Get behind $48 million in state bonds to match private funds needed to build this wonderful project. The governor should sign the bill and show he loves Kansas City — not hates it.

The House earlier this year by a 117-39 vote approved a bill to issue the bonds; the Senate vote was 28-4.

Alas, in typical closed-mouth Greitens fashion, he’s not saying if he will approve the legislation. The Kansas City Star recently reported that Greitens spokesman Parker Briden said in an email: “We’re reviewing every line of the budget to ensure that no tax dollars go to waste.”

What a crock. This from the same governor who already has called two special sessions, which will ultimately cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Impressive numbers of business, political, education and foundation leaders in Kansas City are united behind the arts campus idea, for compelling reasons.

The project would help continue the crucial  revival of downtown. It would provide top-notch space for UMKC’s program, improving its ability to attract more and better students.

And the state of Missouri could get all of this on a 50-50 split with the private sector.

If Greitens vetoes the bill, the House and Senate would have the opportunity to override that unwise decision. The original votes on the bonds were easily more than would be needed to accomplish such an override.

However, Kansas City boosters fear that Greitens would then put on his best Navy SEAL face and threaten Republican lawmakers. He’s already done that a lot in his five short months in office.

Politically, he might succeed.

But he would be pissing off a lot of people in Kansas City.