Not Gonna Fight It, and I Hope Funk Doesn’t, Either . . .

Like our Mayor, I disagree with portions of the budget passed by a 12-1 margin yesterday. Most of the disagreements are relatively minor, but a few of them (deep cuts to the police, $1.7M donation to the County) might be worth screaming about. And I know how to carry the fight to them, too. Call on Funkhouser to veto their scandalous budget and force them to cast their votes twice in favor of hurting our City. Divide the $1.7 million by the 12 votes in favor and ask whether any one of them is worth the $142,000 they are giving to the County, and maybe even try to tie them into the Jackson County Ethics Blackout. Scream about the “Marcason-Hermann Police Cuts” and set up a weekly report on which crimes get assigned to which Council members.

Yeah, when it comes to being a screaming ass, I could write the book. But I’m not going to play that game, though some say I’m pretty good at it.

Fact is, our Council has put in a lot of effort on this budget. I can sit here on the sidelines and Monday morning quarterback all I like, but they are the ones who had to jump into the mudpit and wrestle the beast. If I really, really, really, think I’m absolutely, clairvoyantly right about how to set up a budget and balance the priorities to lead our city forward, I should have either run for office back when they put their reputations and wallets on the line, or I should have been at every public budget meeting and forum offering them my spectacular wisdom.

Instead, I stayed home.

That doesn’t mean they’re above criticism for foolish decisions (ahem, extending Cauthen) or that I won’t complain when they use hard cases to make bad law (ahem, anti-Volunteer ordinance), but there comes a time when a good citizen knows when to shut up. This is one of them. They managed to unify behind a budget that may be imperfect, but it’s a sober document reflecting hard choices and deep thought. If I thought they were supporting an insane, irresponsible, ill-thought-out budget, I would be screaming, but nobody can seriously claim their budget is not a realistic attempt to wrestle with our problems.

Funkhouser voted against it, and I can respect his vote. Like him, I personally think the police cuts are too deep, and that when it comes to basic services for all, public safety is job one. Politically, the vote might have been wise, too, since he can now point to that vote as having stood up for citizens and police when the council gave money away to the county and stadiums.

But it’s a pretty weak point, and it’s been made now. Vetoing the budget will change absolutely nothing, practically or politically.

It’s time to move on.

The time for fighting about the budget is over. Ultimately, neither Funkhouser, the City Manager nor any of the Council members won or lost the battle, because it’s really about US. As citizens, we have elected representatives that have decided on a budget by a 12-1 margin, and any further fighting about it is game-playing that can only distract our representatives from getting on with the business of overseeing the implementation of that budget.

So, instead of screaming or personal attacks or any other pushback on this budget, I want to thank our City Council. You’ve worked hard on a budget, and come up with a document that united twelve of you. That’s impressive work, and my admiration is sincere. Each of the twelve who voted for the budget worked hard to arrive at something that you think represents Kansas City’s best interests, and my points of disagreement are incapable of overshadowing my appreciation.

Fine work, City Council. I hope our Mayor signs on now that the time for fighting is past.

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