5 Reasons to Vote for Sly James – Reason #4: Sly James Unifies People

I’ve known Sly James for years, and he is one of those people that virtually everybody likes. He’s a good guy, and he relates to people with a gentle sense of humor, a thoughtful kindness, and by finding common ground.

A great example of this skill is in the success he found in presiding over the local bar association. The truth is, lawyers don’t get along. Insurance defense lawyers think that plaintiff’s lawyers are all liars and cheats. Plaintiff’s lawyers think that insurance defense lawyers are unethical hacks. Corporate counsel believe that they are better in every specialty than the specialists, and the specialists think that corporate counsel are lazy prima donnas. Big firm lawyers think that solo and small firm attorneys are losers who couldn’t make the grade, and solo and small firm lawyers think that big firm lawyers are pompous, pampered price-gougers. And everyone knows that bond attorneys are over-priced proofreaders.

Now, how would you like to take on the task of unifying the seething mass of dislike and distrust that is a bar association?

Sly James took on that challenge, and did a great job of serving as president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. In fact, he did such a great job that he came out of the job even more popular among the lawyers than he was going in. He then ran for the Missouri Bar Board of Governors, and crushed a field of other candidates, including a couple of incumbents (myself included). In his race, he got big endorsements from several influential lawyers who did not share his practice setting or his specialty.

Sly James got lawyers, one of the most combative groups on earth, to follow his leadership.

It makes sense, if you think about it. Sly is a plaintiff’s lawyer, which means that, in most cases, he doesn’t get paid unless 12 average citizens on the jury agree that his side ought to win. By some strange coincidence, when he is elected mayor, he will be able to achieve his agenda by convincing 12 below-average citizens on the council that his side ought to win. Sly is uniquely qualified to lead Kansas City.

8 Responses to “5 Reasons to Vote for Sly James – Reason #4: Sly James Unifies People”

  1. Skeptical says:

    Really? Sly is a good plaintiff’s lawyer, so that means he will be a good mayor? Should I be looking at the cover of the yellow pages for other uniquely qualified leaders?

  2. gonemild says:

    Skeptical – I’m not sure you will find good plaintiff’s lawyers on the cover of the Yellow Pages.

    And, of course, I never said what you’re twisting my words to say. Sly James is a good lawyer, and through his history of leadership and advocacy, he has demonstrated that he has the skills and qualities that would make him an excellent Mayor. That doesn’t mean that all plaintiff’s attorneys have such skills. Such an argument would be almost as absurd as saying that all development attorneys have saddled the city with multi-million dollar, unfunded obligations, just like Mike Burke has.

  3. Skeptical says:

    Do development attorneys saddle the city with unfunded obligations or do their clients? Are criminal defense lawyers uniquely unqualified to lead because they have saddled the city with crime?

  4. gonemild says:

    Skeptical – Your analogy is a bit flawed, because criminal defense attorneys do not assist their clients in the commission of their crimes, while development attorneys most certainly do assist their clients in diverting tax dollars away from schools, roads and police and into the developer’s (and their own) pockets.

    And, besides, you’re still trying to extend Sly James’ unique skills and qualifications to entire groups of people. I’m making no such arguments. I’m sure there are some development attorneys who would make fine mayors. In fact, I even think that Mike Burke would be an acceptable mayor. He just wouldn’t be nearly as effective or inspirational as Sly James will be.

  5. doc says:

    Economic activity generates money for schools, roads, and police in the long-run. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most school funding comes from the state and county property taxes, not the city’s general fund.

    Inspiration will hardly fix some of the problems this city has, it isn’t what is luring companies to relocate to Kansas. Knowing what to do when everyone gets in the room is what will define effectiveness.

    Unifying a professional organization that advocates for a single profession is a commendable internal accomplishment for that group, but the Bar’s advocacy is barely felt by the community at large. Burke has experience unifying sides for public improvements, Berkley Park, and the All-America City Awards. All included combative attorneys and have left a positive, visible mark on KC.

  6. gonemild says:

    Doc, I’ll go ahead and correct you since you are wrong.

    While you’re correct that the city’s general fund does not go to schools, KC’s TIFs capture the revenue that would otherwise go to schools and libraries. “Payments in Lieu of Taxes” for 20+ years do not really help schools except in the most theoretical way – and they damage them tremendously when they are used to merely relocate jobs within the city.

    And, really, you want to act like getting a placque that says we are an “All-American City” means anything? Independence won the same thing. And Berkley Park is not exactly a raving success at this point, either. He says he’s been working on it for 30 years, but he’s never delivered on all the promises that have been made along the way. Remember those? As counsel for the Port Authority, how many millions of dollars did he make off of Berkley Park and other projects?

    But he did certainly help create Prospect North!

  7. doc says:

    While the subject property will not be paying property tax, the goal is to have surrounding properties’ values go up increasing the tax base of the entire area. Plus, you get the added revenue from sales and earnings taxes generated with the new businesses and employees.

    I’m not talking about the award itself, although it did require a strong city advocate to earn the recognition. I’m talking about the fact that the awards are now presented in Kansas City annually. A small gain, but positive in light of the conventions we’ve lost over the years.

  8. gonemild says:

    Nope. The sales and earnings taxes are diverted to PILOTs. And, again, if it’s merely a shift from one location to another (a la Wal-Mart), it’s a big net loss.

    As for the award ceremony, yeah, let’s just agree it’s a small gain. A very small gain. A gain it wouldn’t even occur to most people to even mention. Or even remember. But he lists it prominently on his resume.

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