Archive for the ‘Uncanny Gone Mild Predictions’ Category

I Was Under-Optimistic – KC Voters Did a Super Job

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I can’t recall ever being so happy to be wrong in my predictions and my analysis.

I thought Funkhouser’s name recognition, incumbency and anti-insider reputation gave him a free pass to the general election, and that the Star had screwed up by endorsing both James and Burke in the primary. I was wrong – the KC voters chose the two best candidates, period.

On top of that, Kay-Kohn-Kristl Crawford got trounced by Jim Glover in the first round, while Annie Presley and Anne McGregor simply failed.

No snark, no excuses, no pointing back to better performances – my predictions were wrong, and KC voters showed far better judgment than I ever anticipated.

Kansas City Election Mayoral & 4th District At-Large Predictions

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

What a great primary season it’s been! I’ve been paying attention to local politics for a long time, and I’ve never seen such a great group of candidates on one ballot. Kansas City will be stronger after this election season than it was going in.

That said, here are my predictions on how the mayoral election will shake out. I’m voting for Sly James, and it’s possible that my views are coloring my expectations, but we’ll see about that. Anyhow, I think the results tonight will be Funkhouser 25%, James 22%, Burke 19%, Rowland 15%, Hermann 11%, Klein 5%, Wheeler 3%,

In the general, I think it will be James 62%, Funkhouser 38%.

In the Fourth District at-Large, I am supporting Jim Glover, but I find this one a lot harder to predict. Crawford is easy – he’s going to place first in the primary, by a solid margin. After that, though, it gets a lot tougher. Glover has name recognition going for him, but ran a lackadaisical (at best) campaign. while Presley has money and the Republican/Tea Party bloc solidly behind her. McGregor should have resigned and endorsed Glover, and Pace never got into the race. My prediction is Crawford 41%, Presley 23%, Glover 21%, McGregor 11%, Pace 4%.

In the general, I think it will be Crawford 58%, Presley 42%.

I hate to apply my tag “Uncanny Gone Mild Predictions” to this post, because I don’t have my usual confidence in my guesses. While I remain confident that Funkhouser will escape the primary, I could easily imagine the other survivor being James, Burke or Rowland. In the 4th at-large, I would bet my house that Crawford cruises through the primary, but it’s tough to guess whether there are more people who remember Glover fondly or who respond to Presley’s perky Palin persona.

It’s a wide-open year. Get out and vote – if turnout is at the 18% or so they’re predicting, it’s like casting 5 votes for the price of one!

Sly James, Kansas City’s Next Mayor

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Out of an unusually deep selection of plausible mayoral candidates, one stands out as the person who can work with others to move this entire city forward. More than any other candidate, Sly James will bring maturity, analytical skills, and simple likability to the Mayor’s office. His background in working with others to achieve goals means that he will blend the ability to achieve consensus without sinking into the dangerous and destructive “group-think” that polluted the majority of the City Council and exacerbated the current mayor’s significant flaws.

Those who worked with Sly on the Jackson County Ethics Commission praise his hard work, sober judgment, and ability to work toward consensus. Those who worked with him when he chaired the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association note that he rallied volunteers to achieve goals using nothing more than his charismatic personality, friendly demeanor, and belief in the greater good.

And that is probably what I admire most about Sly James. He is an optimist and a learner. When you talk to Sly James, you cannot help but be impressed with his grasp of the issues, but, even more importantly, you sense that he cares what you think. He probably is the smartest person in the room, but he’s listening to others and engaging them in sincere conversation.

Sly James has run a brilliant campaign. He has rallied support from all over our community, and has locked up the East Side without engaging in the slimy tactic of purchasing Freedom, Inc.’s retail endorsement. He has done the hard work of working the phones to secure donations. He has outworked, outclassed and outsmarted the rest of the field, and he stands in fine position to be one of the two candidates to emerge from the primary on 2/22. After that victory, he will cruise on to a resounding defeat of Funkhouser/Roe in a landslide that will seem more a forward-looking endorsement of a unifying candidate than a divisive rejection of the past.

And that is important. Sly gives us something to look forward to and unify behind. It won’t be black vs. white, north vs. south, county vs. city, development vs. taxpayers. It will be Kansas City moving forward from a past where everyone has looked a little ugly. The past 4 years have been an undignified mess, with horrible, expensive mistakes plaguing the Council and a Mayor who was more obsessed with being right than with being effective.

Sly James offers us a fresh start. I look forward to attending his inauguration with a mixture of joy, inspiration and relief.

Should Anne McGregor Resign from the Primary?

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Anne McGregor was the first person in the race for the at-large council seat for the 4th District of Kansas City, and she ought to be the first person out. If she truly cares about Kansas City and its residents, she holds the power to give us a chance at solid and effective representation in that seat rather than unwavering support for the economically powerful. She can do that by resigning and encouraging people to support Jim Glover.

Right now, there are 4 people in the race. Two of them seek to represent privilege, and two of them (Glover and McGregor) seek to stand up for Kansas Citians who don’t own hotels or country club memberships. One of the candidates of privilege WILL be one of the two winners of the primary on 2/22, and, if McGregor does not resign and unify behind Glover, we may well get stuck with only the two candidates of privilege in the general election.

John Crawford is far and away the leading candidate in terms of effective campaigning, staggering bankbook and support of every rip-off artist eying the Kansas City budget like a personal piggy bank. The development departments of every major law firm have hosted events for their rapacious clients to meet him. Herb Kohn is on board. Tim Kristl is on board. It’s a rogue’s gallery of the wrong people flexing their economic muscle through a likable but wholly-owned candidate. John Crawford will absolutely get through the primary with a strong plurality of the electorate.

Annie Presley is a Republican who brings big money to the race and a Rolodex that includes the country club set of KC. She’s linked to the Blunt family, and she blogs for The Independent, “Kansas City’s Journal of Society”. She does not seek to represent us – she’s there to represent the hyper-privileged segment of KC WASP society that resents the influence of Catholics and Jews on societal institutions. Money and well-connected friends, though, mean that she could be the second person to make it through the primary, delivering the 4th District At-Large Seat to one of two candidates of privilege.

So, either McGregor or Glover needs to beat Annie Presley and mount a serious challenge to Crawford in the general. If both remain in the race, they may well split the core of voters that don’t live on tax-incentives or trust funds. We have one (kind of slim) chance at getting a representative of the people in that seat, and Jim Glover stands the best chance of being that candidate. Ann McGregor should resign from the race and throw her support behind Jim Glover in a last-ditch effort to save the seat for the people.

McGregor has been in the race since before Beth Gottstein announced she wouldn’t run, and she has failed to harness any popular support. She has demonstrated an inability to sway voters at least twice in the path. Her work for Obama delivered such underwhelming Missouri support that we bucked the democratic trend in 2008, and her noisy and expensive ($30,000 +!) effort to unseat Funkhouser was a colossal failure, after she repeatedly and stridently assured us that it would be successful.

Glover, on the other hand, has won City Council races in the past, and his fresh entrance into the field has given a jolt of hope to those that want to see that seat remain responsive to the people instead of the insiders. He has name recognition that Anne McGruff-McGiver-McWho can only dream about. What he lacks, though, is excitement, and McGregor could generate a bit of that by publicly embracing his campaign and standing up for the people of Kansas City.

The time to make this move is now. The primary election will be held in less than 2 weeks. Will Anne McGregor join up with Jim Glover and help Kansas City, or will she ride her dwindling campaign into the ditch it is headed for, and help Annie Presley?

KCMayor.com – Wouldn’t it be Ironic?

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the insistently anonymous people behind the secretive KCMayor.com website had ties to the construction company that worked with Bill Session on his multi-million-dollar no-bid dirt-moving contract?

That could explain how cozy pro-spending insiders Mike Burke and Jim Rowland keep winding up on top of their weekly polls, while Mayor Funkhouser hasn’t received a single vote since the Port Authority scandal broke open. Not one.

Hmmm.

It makes one wish that they explained exactly what they mean when they say they want a “great mayor”. Does that mean one that facilitates multi-million dollar contracts to well-connected insiders?

Quick takes on local politics

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Over at KCFreePress, I limited myself to one-paragraph takes on local issues. I also made my predictions on the local races. Am I right about Crystal Williams kicking Henry “Backroom” Rizzo out of the Courthouse? What about Terry Riley showing Arbanas that “at-large” means everyone gets to vote, not just Lee’s Summit? And what will happen in the hot mess of Royster versus Rizzo?

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.

Boulevard Amber & Dubbel

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

I took a quick tour of Boulevard Brewery yesterday with the Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club, and the highlight, of course, was the tasting room. (Not that the tour was anything less than wonderful – they do a superb job of summarizing the brewing process and impressing people with all their cool equipment. They use video effectively in the tour; if you haven’t done one recently, I highly recommend it.)

The two new tastes for me were Boulevard Amber and Boulevard Dubbel. Surprisingly, I’m more excited by the amber.

Amber ales are a tricky style. They are usually medium in color, medium in strength, medium in mouthfeel, medium in hoppiness and medium in malt. That many mediums usually make a boring beer. On the other hand, they tend to be a popular beer, because they’re approachable and balanced. Some brewers unfairly consider them a “sell-out beer” – a beer designed to appeal to the masses.

Boulevard Amber
will be wildly popular, and will appeal to a broad swath of industrial beer drinkers, but it’s not a “sell-out beer”. It has that certain spark that makes it a great beer instead of just an easy-drinking one. I predict that it will earn a place in the selection of year-round brews that Boulevard produces.

Boulevard’s version of an amber ale is surprisingly malty and rich. The hops are light in this one; it tasted to me almost like a slightly sweeter Oktoberfest. Whatever variety of ale yeast they used was well-chosen; it allowed for a great malty taste without a cloyingly sweet finish, and it was perfectly clean, to the point I would have believed it was a lager yeast. The hops used are just enough to provide a mildly bittering contrast to the malt sweetness, but they play only a supporting role. If I had to recreate this beer using widely available commercial beers, I would start by blending 3 parts of a classic Oktoberfest with 1 part of O’Dell’s 90 Shilling.

As for the Boulevard Dubbel, I’m not quite as enthusiastic. Where the Boulevard Amber added malty life to a style that is often bland, Boulevard Dubbel took my favorite beer style and smoothed off the interesting parts. It’s not a bad beer by any means, but I don’t think this version of dubbel has any real greatness in it.

A great dubbel is a decadent beer. It is rich in belgian malts and enhanced by belgian yeast. Hops are an after-thought, and the abbeys where these brews originated often aged their hops such that the hop flavor was virtually eliminated while the hop bitterness persisted to balance the malt. A great dubbel has tastes of raisins and dark dried cherries. Go buy a Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale, a New Belgium Abbey Belgian Style Ale, or a Chimay red. That’s what we’re talking about.

Belgian Dubbel didn’t hit those heights in my sampling glass yesterday. To be fair, I only had a couple ounces to taste, and the great ones only really achieve their full greatness as you enjoy an entire bottle. It’s a complex beer, and sometimes it takes more than a few sips to get that complexity.

To be even more fair, the sample poured was way too cold to allow a dubbel to really show its full range of flavors. Some of the decadence I look for in a dubbel might have been hidden in the chill.

Even with those excuses, though, I think the Boulevard Dubbel may need some tweaking. I was picking up a bit of bitterness or harshness. I don’t think it was hops, though it’s possible I was catching a too-heavy hand with the bittering hops. I wonder if the problem could be in the water; Kansas City water is pretty hard, and some of those ions can enhance a beer’s bitterness without additional hoppiness. (If you want to taste this impact for yourself, taste Bass Ale – where minerally water enhances the hops – compared to Anchor Steam – where the hop bitterness is not enhanced by minerals. They’re different styles, of course, but focus on the bitterness.)

Boulevard Amber is a great beer that I hope the brewers will be releasing soon to an adoring public. Boulevard Dubbel is made in a great stule, and I hope the brewers will be refining the recipe to a point that it will belong with the great Dubbels of the world, and earn a place in the pantheon of Boulevard products.

(For more Boulevard news, go read about the collaboration between Boulevard and the brewer from Orval. Bull E. Vard of the KC Beer Blog managed to get a free bottle from the brewery, and does a great write-up of a beer I am excited to taste.)

Fred Arbanas – "I’ve told many, many people that this is my last term."

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

It seems my post yesterday about Mr. Arbanas caused a bit of a stir. According to the KC Star, they asked him about my suggestion that he plans to not run for reelection, and he “responsed” (sic), “That’s a bunch of bunk.” The Star elaborated that Mr. “Golf Course” Arbanas says, “he has made clear to numerous eastern Jackson County organizations that he intends to run for re-election.”

I wonder if they’re the same people he told back in 2004 that he was then in his last term (fast forward to the 4:50 mark). At that time, he stated, on the record and in a meeting, that “I’ve told many, many people that this is my last term.”

Apparently, when nobody filed against him, he decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth and stayed in his seat.

This time around, though, he’s going to be almost exactly the same age as John McCain when he’s running for office. He hasn’t run in a contested race since Salt n Pepa and ‘N Sync broke up. But the only way he gets to handpick his successor is if he convinces potential opponents through a gullible press that he still has the fire in the belly.

Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. He hasn’t cast a dissenting vote in the past quarter (probably the past few years, but my patience for downloading and reading minutes of legislative meetings has limits). I couldn’t even find an instance where he was alert and engaged enough to second a motion.

I’m sticking with my prediction.