Maybe it was miscommunication. Maybe it was unrealistic of Jackson County Legislator Bob Spence to think something billed as an "update on the regional rail project" would have some meat to it.
But after Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and two marketing consultants hired to promote mass transit finished their short presentation at Monday's regular meeting of the county legislature, Spence was clearly flummoxed.
"I'm disappointed," the Lee's Summit Republican said, complaining of a lack of details on costs, routes and other particulars of the regional transit system that Sanders has been championing. Sanders, a Democrat, countered that those details will be in an "alternatives analysis," a report that must be completed to qualify for federal funds. That won't be done until this summer, assuming the feds don't send it back for revision.
The update Sanders provided instead was for the "public education" campaign aimed at drumming up support for a regional commuter rail system -- or some other form of mass transit, such as bus rapid transit.
That ad campaign, too, is months away from taking shape, but a Salt Lake City consulting firm is working on it.
R&R Partners was hired by the non-profit Regional Transit Alliance to design a marketing effort similar to ones it's done to sell ballot measures in Salt Lake City, Denver and St. Louis. The RTA is paying the firm $150,000 from privately donated funds.
But Sanders has been raising money from Jackson County cities to pay for a chunk for what ultimately could be a $750,000 marketing effort.
In response to Spence's criticism, Sanders promised to schedule another update featuring folks who are working on the alternatives analysis study.