Archive for the ‘Mayor Funkhouser’ Category

Jim “Big Money” Rowland – $2 Million Price Tag for KC Pride

Friday, December 31st, 2010

It’s awfully early for Jim Rowland to hit the panic button in his slipping mayoral campaign, but yesterday he panicked and accused Mayor Funkhouser of “hypocrisy” because Funkhouser expressed his happiness that the Chiefs made it to the playoffs. The accusation stems from Funkhouser’s refusal to support an annual $2 million dollar donation the city has made to the stadiums. (The donation was nice when the city had lots of money, but tough times have made the gift-giving unwise and irresponsible.)

Rowland, of course, was the backroom choice to run the Sports Authority, which runs the stadiums.

According to Rowland’s tortured logic, you need to pay $2 million to have pride in anything good that happens in KC. I suppose that he’s accustomed to such a system, since he himself had to pay Freedom, Inc. $50,000 to get them to support him. Everything has a price tag for Jim Rowland, and it’s pretty obvious our city can’t afford his open-checkbook approach to leadership.

Citizens Association – With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

This week, the Citizens Association has managed to evolve from mere irrelevance to counter-productivity, with a demonstration of the same insider petulance that helped Mayor Funkhouser get elected, and threatens to get him reelected. When I decided last week not to work for Mayor Funkhouser’s reelection, I had no idea that the Citizens Association would do its foolish best to help him.

The Citizens Association, like other local political clubs, provides an opportunity for insiders to cluster and develop what passes for conventional wisdom in Kansas City. They hosted a Mayoral debate yesterday evening, but limited participation to 4 candidates they deemed worthy of their attention.

Let’s remember, this is the “influential” group that fueled Jim Glover to a dismal 5th place primary finish last time around with their powerful endorsement. Then they used their electoral might to assist Alvin Brooks in winning second place in the two-person general election.

The Citizens Association has earned absolutely zero for electoral swagger. Zero.

Mere irrelevance is apparently not enough, though. When Kansas City’s corporate insider group refused to let the elected Mayor even participate in their staged debate, they only hurt themselves (and Mike Burke, their favored son) and helped Funkhouser.

Only Kansas City’s dimmest political bulbs could manage to help a sitting Mayor run as an “outsider”. Only the city’s least self-aware group of insiders could think that locking the Mayor out of their tiny little clubhouse would not come back to bite them and their chosen candidate in the ass when somebody just a little bit smarter than them gets a hold of it. Jeff Roe does not need to be the “best political consultant in the entire universe” to make use of this gem.

Mayor Funkhouser may be unpopular, but contemptuous, superior, exclusive insiders who want to control the city are even less popular.

The winner of the Citizens Association debate was Mark Funkhouser.

What Gloria Squitiro Really Said When She Called Jeff Roe the “Best Political Consultant in the Entire Universe”

Friday, November 5th, 2010

In one grammatically-botched sentence in a campaign newsletter, the Funkhouser campaign served notice that it will be fighting hard and nasty for re-election.  Amidst an underwhelming report about gathering signatures for candidate petitions, a bombshell lurked toward the bottom: “Last, he [Funkhouser] seeks input from all types of people, from all walks of life. From the kids who stop him on the street corner, to the elderly he talks with at the grocery store, to the people who belong to differing party affiliations, and, of course, by talking with the best political consultant in the entire universe, Jeff Roe at Axiom Strategies.”

I read the note on Tony’s Kansas City, and I actually had to call around to people close to Funkhouser to find out if Tony had gotten it right. Maybe, I hoped, it was some kind of mistake or fabrication.

It wasn’t.

If Jeff Roe is in, decency is out. Jeff Roe is the guy who helped Sally Miller with her vile attacks on Jason Kander; he’s the guy who accused a kind, gentle woman of working for Penthouse; he’s the guy who spread a false story about a fellow Republican drunkenly causing a friend’s death. Calling Jeff Roe “the best political consultant in the entire universe” is not only false (I’d give him a B-, given his abysmal showing in St. Louis County and in the 44th), it’s akin to handing out poisonous Halloween candy and laughing about it. It demonstrates a sociopathic sense of propriety.

Four years ago, a completely different campaign team gathered to support a candidate we truly believed in. That team was composed of people I continue to admire and respect. We ran a campaign that was positive and respectful of our opponent, because we viewed Alvin Brooks as a fine person with years of honorable public service.

Those days are gone. And so is that team. I’m not certain, but I believe that until yesterday, I was the only one of that group who still might have voted for Funkhouser.

By calling Jeff Roe the “best political consultant in the entire universe”, the Funkhouser campaign is telling people that it is willing to get as down and as dirty as anyone in our city can imagine. Funkhouser intends to win. Period.

And he might. He’s still the one person most likely to emerge from the primary, and the primary is scheduled for the same time that the Downtown Hotel will be coming to a head, providing a crystal clear indication of who is in the race to serve Kansas Citians and who is in it for the development pigs. If the other candidates support a doomed hotel for dishonest developers, we might be seeing 4 more years of Funkhouser.

Like it or not.

When Cleaver Retires, Who Will Go to Washington?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

It’s been a rough year for Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.  He turned 65, he got spat on and called names, and his efforts to return civility to Congress have been spectacularly unsuccessful in the most polarized Congress since Sumner got caned.  He shows no signs of retiring, but, eventually, he will.

Who will take his place?  A crafty old insider, or a rising star?

Over at KCFreePress.com, I mention Al Riederer, Jolie Justus, Kay Barnes, Mark Funkhouser, Jason Kander, Airick Leonard West and Mike Sanders.  (I was kidding about Funkhouser, though I’m still correct about him having the best chance of winning the 2011 Mayoral election.)

Whom did I miss?

Proven Right Again (Unscientifically)

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Thanks to Tony, I saw a completely unscientific poll run yesterday by KMBC, showing that if the primary election were held today, Mayor Mark Funkhouser would finish first among the candidates who have announced thus far.  While one would be foolish to place any weight whatsoever in an internet poll including unlikely candidates almost a year ahead of an election, it’s worth noting that the results are entirely in line with the analysis I did a couple weeks ago.

Funkhouser’s Chances in 2011

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

There is nobody in Kansas City with a better chance of winning the 2011 Mayor’s race than Mark Funkhouser. Now that Steve “Karnac” Kraske has declared his chance “microbe on a diet” slim, things are looking pretty good for Funkhouser, since Kraske never gets anything right. Go read my analysis at the KC Free Press if you’re interested.

Let’s Talk Politics This Time

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Last year about this time, we discussed whether the City Council should make a $2,000,000 donation to the County, in the form of stadium subsidies. I opposed the decision, the Mayor opposed the decision, but the City Council voted 12-1 to give money away.

Since then, the Chiefs and Royals have had horrific seasons with terrible attendance, the City has not had sufficient money to clear streets, our murder rate remains high, a rapist roams Waldo, city employees have been laid off, remaining city workers have had their wages frozen, and we’ve installed Cathy Jolly’s odious red light cameras to generate revenues. All this, and nobody has had the cleverness to point out that the City Councilmembers who voted for the donation should be held accountable for their shocking priorities.

And now the issue is back again.

(As an aside, why don’t some of the crack reporters for the Star do an article about the FREE Royals and Chiefs tickets handed out to County and City politicians? Who’s sitting in those seats? Are they even being used? I’d be willing to bet there’s a story there – either the politicians are handing them out to donors, or they’re wasting the tickets. And, as another aside, why doesn’t the Star do a story on why, exactly, we even have a Jackson County Sports Authority? How much bureaucracy do we need to pay for simply to keep track of two tenants??)

This year, I’m not even going to bother arguing about the wisdom of stealing $2,000,000 from the city’s coffers. My opinion remains clear, but let’s look at a much smaller issue.

How do the politics of this debate work this year? Will Funkhouser’s suggestion that we end the exemption do him political harm or political good? Will it harm him by showing him (again) as out of step with the Council and willing to risk our sports franchises? Or will it help him by showing him (again) as out of step with the Council and being the only one who prefers to spend $2,000,000 on things like police protection, snow removal, and city workers rather than weak athletes?

I’m curious about what people think. A good friend emailed me when the news came out and said that this closes off Funkhouser’s path to reelection – “Voters won’t tolerate our Mayor screwing Chiefs and Royals, regardless of the budget shortfalls.” He may be right, or he may be wrong, and the decision could be a step on the path toward reelection. (I know a lot of you disagree with a lot of Funkhouser’s decisions, and believe that reelection is utterly impossible. That’s fine – but, if you can, try to analyze the politics of this one decision. I’d love to know what you think.)

(Update: A commenter claimed that city officials get tickets, but county officials don’t. The commenter is mistaken. Under the lease agreements, County officials get a suite and prime parking. See page 16, section 7.4. It’s offensive to think that the City Council would steal money from city priorities so that county officials can watch games from a suite.)

Funkhouser Controls Weather

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

At first, I thought that the claim published on a local blog that Mayor Funkhouser’s street received extra attention during the recent snowpocalypse was simply more of the same uninformed, thoughtless, baseless criticism that has been voiced by malcontents and power-deprived real estate attorneys throughout his administration.

Boy, was I mistaken. Using the powerful research tools available on the web, I conducted a thorough investigation of the topic. Sure enough, this is what I found:


This is a genuine Google earth photograph of the Mayor’s street which I downloaded this very morning, after shoveling 6 inches of powder out of my own driveway. The work of the city crews in cleaning not only the street, but the sidewalks, lawns and trees is impressive.

Even more upsetting, here is a snapshot showing the impact of the snowfall on the limos of the lawyers running against him:

Harris Wilder Campaigning for Funkhouser?

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

The first campaign promise of the 2011 mayoral election has been issued, and it comes from somebody not even running. According to Tony’s Kansas City, Harris Wilder has promised to leave Kansas City if Mayor Mark Funkhouser wins reelection in 2011.

Close observers will note that this is not the first time that Mr. Wilder has offered crucial support to the Mayor. When this summer’s recall effort failed by a few hundred votes to force an election, it was none other than Harris Wilder who delivered essential complacency to the effort, assuring people that the effort was going to be a ringing success.

Demonstrating his wry and subtle sense of humor, Wilder asserted that a vote for Funkhouser would show that “the voters of Kansas City admit that they don’t care about the budget“. As treasurer of the recall effort, he somehow generated $33,000 of debt while bringing in only $1,175 in contributions. While Kay Barnes and the developer-funded prior city council managed to spend the our city into a fiscal crisis with larger numbers, Wilder wins hands-down when it comes to percentages.

(All joking aside, Mr. Wilder deserves sincere appreciation for both his passion for his causes – however much I may occasionally think them ill-chosen – and for his willingness to freely speak his mind. I wish him and all who read this a fulfilling 2010.)

Audacious or Modest? Hopes for Funkhouser’s Education Summit

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

I’m supporting Mayor Funkhouser’s Education Summit, but I feel I ought to explain myself. Really, after dozens of blue-ribbon panels, grass-roots movements, concerned citizen gatherings, neighborhood committees, business roundtables, and academic colloquia, what possible good can yet another gathering of people talking accomplish? What new thoughts, what new programs, what new ideas?

Haven’t we talked things to death, while flaws in our education system continue to breed crime, dampen economic development, and divide our community? Didn’t the KCMSD just hire a new Superintendent to come in and make his own changes? At first blush, it is an insulting and arrogant waste of time for a bunch of well-meaning people to meet in a room somewhere, wring their hands and produce a vision of what “we” (meaning “they”, of course) ought to be doing.

At first blush, perhaps, but the state of education in Kansas City ought to provoke more than one blush. We all ought to be blushing.

Simply stated, the hope I have for the Summit is that it could get our community to agree on a few ideals related to education, and foster a dialog across the dividing lines we have built up.

Is that hope too modest? Is it simply a waste of time that our community might gather, at considerable expense, and agree on some ridiculously obvious sentiment like “K-8 education in Kansas City should provide the tools for additional learning” or “High Schools in Kansas City should be free of crime and violence”? (I’m just tossing those out there – I have no idea what a Summit might come up with.)

Or is it too audacious? Can one event really break down the “us vs. them, I’ve got mine” attitude that seems to permeate our “system” of education here? Each of us raising children comes up with our own solution to the problem of how to get the education we feel is best for our circumstances, and doing so requires decisions and actions we might not otherwise undertake.

And then, we are forced to defend our choices. We become an interest group. Support Charter Schools. Support Catholic Schools. Support Home-Schooling. Move to the suburbs. Raid the savings for Pembroke or St. Paul’s. Support Afro-centric schools in the District. Insist on bi-lingual education for children of immigrants. We all love our children, so we decide what is best for them under our circumstances, and we make the best of it.

It’s like we’re all forced to find our ways through an incredibly complex obstacle course, where we have to make trade-offs based upon our own values and circumstances. We all find our own individual paths through the thicket of options, like a corn maze.

What if we, together, lowered the walls of the maze? What if we could acknowledge that the people who send their kids to Charter schools share values with the people whose children attend private schools, and that those of us whose children went to KCMSD schools are not guilty of intellectual child abuse? What if we focused on some commonalities instead of distinctions? What if we walked away from a day together and understood each other better, and even respected the interests and perspectives of “those people”?

Is that even possible? And, if it is possible, what meaningful good could come from it?

By my support of the Summit, I’m saying that I believe it is possible. I think (I know) that the vast majority of people in each camp are good, sincere people wanting what is best for children. And I believe in my core that good builds upon good, just as bad brings more bad.

How does that translate into meaningful good? I have no idea, other than to reduce hostility between the camps (which, in itself, would be an achievement). But maybe someday homeschoolers gete invited to participate in Lincoln’s Science Fair. Or a suburban district supports a bond issue for the KCMSD. Or district kids are welcomed to one of Pembroke’s dramatic productions of a play they are studying.

I don’t know exactly what good could come from increased ownership and caring about the education being received by others in our community, but I feel certain that some good would come from it – perhaps the beginnings of something transformative.

Ironically, I recently participated in an email exchange with a group of people concerned about education, and one of the participants asserted as a fact that charter schools perform significantly better than traditional public schools. I pointed out that the data are conflicting on that point, and he, in turn, directed me to a summary of about a hundred studies on the issue, with conflicting results that shockingly corresponded to who was paying for the study. The undeniable truth is that Charter school advocates will cherry-pick whatever data will generate more support for Charter schools, and traditional school districts will find data that shows the Charter schools are resource-robbing underachievers.

That right there is the problem. Seeing such bought and paid for spinning leads to cynicism, and a lack of trust. My inherent lack of trust is the currency I use to purchase my absolution from caring or getting involved. If the problem is hopeless, and the data are all unreliable, then I am justified in my refusal to work toward solutions or change.

I believe that a forum can break down that inherent lack of trust. Yes, we will definitely have intellectually dishonest partisans who will try to skew things to support their predetermined positions. But I share the faith that the VAST majority of parents and citizens are like me – we may have our biases and our cynicism, but we fundamentally want what is best for the children in our community. If we come together and have a frank and honest dialog, we may or may not agree on everything, but we can begin to destroy that inherent lack of trust that absolves us from thinking that the “other side” is working in good faith, and absolves us from working toward solutions.

Experts have had their say. We’ve had those seminars, colloquia, roundtables and committees. I think Funkhouser’s Summit can do something different than what we’ve done in the past. I might be wrong, but I think it’s worth a try.