Three city council members boycott meeting, call on Mayor Lucas to remove chairperson

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several members of Kansas City’s Transportation Committee are calling for the removal of chairperson Teresa Loar. They say Loar is unfit to lead after complaints about racism.

The Transportation, Infrastructure, and Operations Committee meeting came to a halt before it started when Loar did not have enough members to continue.

“We have no quorum, I’ve been given word that three of my colleagues have decided not to attend the committee,” Loar announced.

3rd District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, 4th District Councilman Eric Bunch, and 1st District Councilman Kevin O’Neil are asking Mayor Quinton Lucas to remove the 2nd District Councilwoman from her chair position on the committee.

Back in July Loar apologized after a comment to Councilwoman Robinson at a city council meeting. Robinson was arguing in opposition of a resolution about the city’s animal control operations.

“That was a very nice speech someone wrote for you Ms. Robinson,” Loar said in council. “My guess it was labor somewhere.”

Her comment along with a gesture mocking Robinson’s response was perceived as racist by many. Mayor Lucas ordered Loar to publicly apologize and take a diversity training. His office and Loar herself confirm she completed the training.

However, after Loar stepped out of chambers she told FOX4 the committee member’s protest has nothing to do with race.

“I will tell you right now this is not about race. It has never been about race,” Loar said. “This is about corruption and steering contracts for KCI. This is about new council members maybe being duped by outside influencers and trying to get contracts for either people they’re asked to or friends of theirs are being told to. This has nothing to do with me being a racist or being incompetent to be on this committee.”

Her committee members say it’s not only about race, but it’s also about her ability to lead the committee.

“She cannot serve in this leadership capacity,” Robinson said. “You don’t address this with just saying — go to a class. You have to remove that person from leadership, you have to make sure there is not an opportunity for this to happen again. The only way we have that assurance is for her not to be in the position.”

Bunch says the three of them were very clear with the mayor about their concerns transcending Loar’s perceived racism. He says they are unable to have the ability for a strong working collaborative relationship with Councilwoman Loar, and it’s best for the committee if she is removed.

“This is not simply about a racist comment. It’s about her ability to lead,” Bunch said. “In many cases she’s abruptly left meetings. She’s stormed out. She’s made unprofessional gestures and comments to people besides the racist gesture she made towards Councilwoman Robinson. It’s not just about racism, That’s a big part of it, but it’s also calling into question her ethics and principals and how she conducts her business on the city council and on the chair of that committee.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas did not comment directly on the committee members request but said through his spokeswoman that he has talked with Loar about her performance, implicit bias, and how she can do better with the committee.

“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.

Robinson says Loar has not reached out to her personally about the incident, and Loar says she has not as well. Loar says none of the committee members have connected with her individually about their concerns, and she has no plans to resign.

Bunch, O’Neil, and Robinson plan to reassess before next week on if they will convene in committee. The committee was scheduled to discuss plans related to KCI’s contracts, along with various public works and water services projects.

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