Kansas City, Mo. – March 30, 2019 – Michael T. White, shareholder with Rouse Frets White Goss Gentile Rhodes, was recently chosen as a member of the newest class of Ingram’s 50 Missourians You Should Know.
A feature that started in 2011, 50 Missourians You Should Know honors highly accomplished citizens of Missouri, those business leaders and professionals who “possess character and integrity” and who “provide the Show-Me state a unique flavor.”
Mike’s dynamic story as a notable attorney, past County Executive of Jackson County, talented jazz musician and former music club owner earned him a spot on this distinguished list.
Mike’s story was featured in Ingram’s March issue.
Mike was born in Brookfield, Missouri, a town of 6,000 people, located on 36 Highway and sandwiched between Linneus, the birthplace of General John J. Pershing/Blackjack Pershing, and Marceline, the birthplace of Walt Disney. As a young child he moved with his mother to Mission, Kansas, where she ran a beauty salon after World War II. Mike attended Hickory Grove grade school (no longer there) and Shawnee Mission High School. He attended one year of law school in Michigan and then returned to Missouri to complete studies at UMKC School of Law. To help pay the bills, he worked as a mechanic with Plainfield Cab Company and then as a cab driver. He also worked his way through school by playing the saxophone in various nightclubs “and honky-tonks.” Mike performed in a band six nights a week, always ready the next day for 8 a.m. classes.
He began his law career with a small firm, Sheridan Sanders, but soon caught the local politics bug. He ran for the legislature of Jackson County, Missouri in 1972, winning the closest election in the history of the state: 14,070 to 14,071. Two years later, Mike was elected the first County Executive in the history of the county (previously Jackson County was governed by a three-judge county court, with Harry S. Truman as the presiding judge of this non-judicial body). Mike then decided to move on from politics and joined Jim Polsinelli as the eighth lawyer in the Kansas City Polsinelli firm. It was there that he developed his expertise on local government and began writing two seminal works: Missouri Land Use Law and Missouri Economic Development Law, which are published by the UMKC School of Law. Together with Miller Nichols, Mike drafted Missouri’s Tax Increment Financing Statute and as the first General Counsel for the Kansas City Missouri Tax Increment Financing Commission, Mike successfully defended the statute before the Missouri Supreme Court. Billions if not trillions of dollars of economic development and thousands of jobs can directly be linked back to Mike’s successful efforts with TIF.
When the Polsinelli firm reached around 150 lawyers, Mike and five other attorneys left to start White Goss. In 2018, White Goss merged with Rouse Frets, creating Rouse Frets White Goss Gentile Rhodes, P.C. – the third law firm to bear the White name.
Mike is well known in the halls of government and a recognized civic leader in Kansas City. His recent awards include recognition as the Baron of the Boardroom by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association and the Best of the Bar honor bestowed by the Kansas City Business Journal.
During his legal career, Mike has continued to perform music, making four jazz albums (recording two with acclaimed jazz pianist Jay McShann and touring with big-band leader Ralph Marterie), and at one point owning The Levee, a well-known Kansas City music establishment. To this day, Mike still performs at The Levee and other honky-tonks in Kansas City.