KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - A chunk of city council businesses are on hold Wednesday after several members of a Kansas City, Missouri, committee decided to boycott Wednesday’s meeting.
“Three of my colleagues have decided not to attend the committee,” Councilwoman Teresa Loar said.
Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Chair Teresa Loar was forced to end the committee meeting without addressing any business because three council members refused to show up.
Council members say they were trying to prove a point. They want Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas to remove Teresa Loar as Chair of The Transportation Committee they serve on.
For Council Members Eric Bunch, Melissa Robinson, and Kevin O’Neill, it started with a hand delivered letter to Mayor Lucas asking him to remove Councilwoman Loar back in August.
The letter asks the mayor to remove Councilwoman Loar as chair saying in part, “we have no confidence in her ability to facilitate and lead fair objective and inclusive processes.”
“This is unacceptable to have someone in a leadership position as chair of a committee who makes poor remarks, racist remarks towards a colleague, displays unethical behavior at times and frequently leaves meetings when things don’t go her way,” Councilman Eric Bunch said.
The group says the mayor made a verbal commitment to remove Councilwoman Loar but hasn’t yet. The council members who signed the letter say Councilwoman Loar should be ousted because of, “unprofessional, racist and unethical behavior.”
The calls for her to resign started after a tense exchange with a fellow council member. Councilwoman Loar implied that her colleague Melissa Robinson had not written a statement she read about a contract with KC Pet Project.
“That was a very nice speech someone wrote for you Mrs. Robinson. My guess is there’s labor somewhere,” Councilwoman Loar said from July 31st.
When Robinson pushed back, Loar characterized her as an angry black woman. After that, the mayor ordered Councilwoman Loar to complete implicit bias training.
“This is not about race, it never has been about race, this is about corruption and steering contracts at KCI, this is about new council members maybe being duped by outside influences,” Councilwoman Loar said.
Councilman Bunch says the implicit bias training isn’t enough.
“We were very clear with the mayor. We met with him six weeks ago that this isn’t just about the racist remarks, this is also about her leadership ability, we just wanted to be clear that we’re not accepting his inaction anymore and we’re trying to make a statement that this is unacceptable,” Councilman Bunch said.
The mayor has the power to make changes to any council committees. His communications director sent a brief statement saying the only verbal commitment the mayor has made on this was promising to look into changing the structure of the committee. He is still looking into that.
“As I noted earlier and as Mayor Lucas has shared with his colleagues, including Councilwoman Loar, the mayor will continue to evaluate committee assignments. Mayor Lucas has met twice with those who are aggrieved at which time he informed them he would evaluate their request, with Councilwoman Loar herself, with other members of the City Council, former Mayor Cleaver, and folks in the public—as he will continue to do because that is his job.”
Councilwoman Loar says she will respect whatever the mayor decides.
“If the Mayor asks me to I would consider it but I’m not going to resign on my own I’ve been doing this for years and I’m pretty damn good at it,” Councilwoman Loar said.
The committee is supposed to meet again next week. If enough members show up the committee will pick up the things they did not discuss Tuesday. KCTV5 News asked how long the group plans to boycott and councilman bunch declined to comment.