In the comments to my posting of the Funkhouser budget letter, I’ve been questioned about our Mayor’s recent hiring of Mark Siettmann, a man who formerly worked for Jeff Roe’s company, Axiom Strategies, as well as Jack Cashill’s attempts to portray himself as an influential member of Funkhouser’s inner circle. One of the joys of blogging is that I always get to pick and choose what I write about, and it’s easy to avoid issues I don’t want to talk about. But the questions raised are fair questions with (I think) interesting answers, so here goes.
First off, I don’t think Cashill has any influence on the Mayor outside of his own mind. If Mark let the guy look at some of his speeches and make suggestions that he didn’t accept, well, that’s just an example of Mark’s kindness to a guy who not many people will give the time of day to. Cashill is loudly irrelevant and has been for years, and I admire Mark for treating him gently.
Jeff Roe is a different matter, though. It bothers me that Mark talks to the guy. (The advocate in me wants to point out some of the other Dems who have done the same thing, but that’s advocacy, not logic.) While I understand that it’s smart to get a diverse set of perspectives on issues, I have a problem with a lot of Jeff Roe’s tactics. I’ve conveyed my displeasure at the idea, but I’m not the one who got elected Mayor, so that’s not really my decision.
So, honestly, no, I don’t like the whole consultant deal, but I’m not naive enough to be shocked. There’s a limited pool of high-level talent out there, and most of them are entrenched to the same pro-developer, chattering class crowd that Mark ran against, and defeated. He kind of had to go outside the usual crowd, and he did.
Now, moving forward, here’s where I stand. If Siettmann is shown to have written homophobic material, just get rid of him right away. I was wrong when I argued that Semler’s appointment could be justified, and I learned from it. This case would be even easier – Mark should tell him to clean out his desk the day he gets the proof.
Assuming that doesn’t happen, then I hope the guy does a super job. Remember, his job is to do communications, not policy. Those of us who know Mark know that the public persona of Mark Funkhouser is nothing like the real man. If someone can help the real man appear more clearly to Kansas Citians, that would be a fantastic thing. If someone can help show how foolish the City Council is when it makes outrageous mistakes in defiance of Mark (like when they gave Wayne “Lie on the Resume” Cauthen a fat 3 year contract), that would be a fantastic thing, too. Mark needs to shake up his public image if he is going to accomplish what is best for the city, so good luck, Mr. Seittmann.