Thursday, April 10, 2008

How I Would Have Defeated the Bus Tax, or Thank You to Incompetent Rightwing Political Consultants

I supported the 15-year extension of the Bus Tax, and I voted in favor of it. It won handily - I even visited the Election Watch party in support of the issue and had a few of their tasty meatballs.

The people at the party were thanking each other, but they really should have been thanking Jeff Roe, the rightwing political consultant who led the opposition. If he had run a competent campaign, the 3/8 cent sales tax would have gone down in flames.

With the anonymous money thrown at Jeff Roe, I could have delivered a victory for the opponents.

Simply stated, choose a clean message and deliver it. Truly, it is that simple. There were enough real weaknesses in this tax extension that a good message would have spread like a virus to defeat this tax. The choices were out there. While I would have worked through a focus group to choose which one worked best, some of the options would have been:

- "Where'd Our Money Go?" - This catch-phrase would have focused on the lack of clarity surrounding the $22 million in revenue. Truth is, a lot of the money will be going to "planning" and other soft costs that don't really appeal to the average taxpayer. Making the KCATA explain exactly how it will be spending $22 million for 15 years would have put the pro-tax effort in an awkward, defensive position. Bus riders are a small percentage of the voting public, and most voters don't trust that the ATA spends its money wisely. Visually, show a bus covered in dollars pulling away from a frustrated taxpayer.

- "Not so fast!" - This campaign would exploit the fact that this tax extension really is a little premature. We don't have a light rail plan, we don't know how our bus system will work with whatever light rail plan we get, and the current tax doesn't run out until March of next year. Voters could be persuaded that it would be better to work it all out together in November. Visually, show a squad car pulling over a bus.

- "Where does it stop?" - Voters hate being duped. This tax was approved for 5 years back in 2003. Now they want 15 more years. Again, where's the plan for a sustainable transportation program? Visually, show a bus full of taxpayers trying to exit a bus driven by a maniacal driver, who won't stop.

Fortunately, the consultant behind the opposition ran a far weaker campaign. Instead of choosing a message and hammering it home, he tried to slam the plan and TIF financing and Kay Barnes, all while playing cutesy games like naming the organization Kansas Citians Against Tax Abuse (KCATA). Really, just dumb. Why undercut your credibility by looking like a fraud-feasor? Why run against TIF pigs when the connection is so tenuous? Why drag the former Mayor into it?

Whatever the reasons, I'm truly grateful that Jeff Roe got his hands on the money spent by the opposition. If that money had been spent effectively, the tax would not have been extended. Incompetence saved the day.

If I were Sam Graves, I would be getting nervous. Will Roe take down Graves, too?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You crack me up! Nailed it again.

4/10/2008 7:44 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I'm convinced that Roe is mailing it in at this point, and is more interested in padding his bank account than winning for his clients. Aside from the bus tax, consider:

*He cleared out Rep. Graves war chest to defeat a third-tier challenger in 2006, who only spent about $100,000 on her campaign and was never a serious challenger to Graves. Imagine that Graves had $700,000 in the bank after the 2006 election, rather than $0. Does Kay Barnes still file to challenge him? I bet Roe earned a lot of money on those media-buy commissions, though.

*The Sandra Thomas and Becky Nace campaigns: did you see the TV commercials these folks ran? They were just dreadful. I could have done better with a Sony Handicam. Each of these candidates raised (and spent) a lot of money and never made the race competitive. I wonder where that money ended up?

4/10/2008 8:36 AM  
Blogger whistleblower said...


The reasons you present to oppose the tax are valid. Why not bring them up before the election?

This is a good example of the difference between an engineer and a large number of politicians, lawyers, and lobbyist. Lawyers and lobbyist are hired to represent one side; I have no problem accepting their position, nor do I have a problem with them not volunteering support for their opposition.

There was a time when politicians had a fundamental difference in belief; namely more, or less, government control. Now it is more important to win than it is to disclose the truth. Is winning the most important thing?

This isn't a court case. As far as I know, you weren't hired by one side. You're dealing with the taxpayer’s hard-earned money. Why not present the voters with all of the information available, pro and con, and let them make an informed decision?

I couldn't care less about Jeff Roe. If he is ineffective, people will stop hiring him. I do, however, care about the taxpayer. As you stated, "Voters hate being duped". For the reasons you stated in this post, maybe they have been.

4/10/2008 9:12 AM  
Blogger Kanga said...

I know one thing for sure: If I was running for office, I would hire Dan. BTW: Jeff Roe is a loser in every way that counts. He can only win elections with a GOP wind at his back.

4/10/2008 9:45 AM  
Blogger emawkc said...


You have all of these serious questions and yet you still voted in favor of the tax???

With voters like you, it's no wonder KCMO is in a fiscal crisis. Welcome to the world you created.

4/10/2008 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Been Around a While said...

The great thing about Dan as a political consultant is that he works for the price of a cup of coffee. Best bargain in town.

Rumor has it that Steve Glorioso and Jeff Roe are going to put out a hit on the guy - they're like old whores in a college town. How are they going to make money when you can get better stuff for free?

4/10/2008 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Whistleblowme said...

Whistleblower - do you really read gonemild for your complete understanding of local issues? Do you really think that Dan is obligated to present all sides of all the issues he raises? Does your whacky conspiracy site include arguments in favor of the current judicial system?

It's clear that Dan is smart enough to recognize the issues and realize which ones can damage his position. That doesn't mean he's obligated to present those arguments.

The bus tax was a good proposal, but it was not above criticism. I voted for it, though I was quite aware of the criticisms.

4/10/2008 10:27 AM  
Anonymous brent said...

Honestly, I can't see what was good about the bus tax. Do we need a good city bus system? Certainly. But it certainly seems to me that putting a tax on the ballot, before it was necessary to renew, without putting it in context of an entire transit system KNOWING we are going to vote AGAIN on Light rail in November doesn't make any sense at all. For 15 years no less. I can't honestly understand how anyone who is informed on the issues voted for this one...I'm with emaw, welcome to the world you created.

4/10/2008 11:28 AM  
Blogger whistleblower said...


I should probably just ignore you, as Dan has done with me in the past when I exhibited attacks rather than relevant questions/commentary.

Dan's a big boy. I doubt that he needs you to rush to his defense every time someone questions him.

Unlike you, my motives are honorable. You, on the other hand, are just a vicious attack dog. You make a lot of noise, but don’t really say anything constructive.

“To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Do I think "Dan is obligated to present all sides of all the issues he raises?"

I think the questions that I posed are representative of the fact that my answer is undoubtedly YES. Then again, I have a strange moral compass that encourages me to be truthful, even if it hurts my position. My goal is not to win at all costs.

"Does your whacky conspiracy site include arguments in favor of the current judicial system?"

The answer is YES. I do include statements in opposition. I don't claim any whacky conspiracy, I merely point out a misconception. If you would care to shed your cloak of unaccountable anonymity and present relevant facts in opposition, I would be happy to include them. It is easy for an ignorant person to discount the ideas of another as being a whacky conspiracy, without pointing out why, when they don’t have the ability to point out any flaws in the assessment presented.

As this is Dan’s blog, I don’t think my contentions as to the flawed perceptions of our judiciary should be discussed here. If you care to send your thoughts in opposition in an e-mail, I would welcome them.

4/10/2008 12:07 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

How can you go wrong kicking that jabba-the-hut freak-of-nature in the ribs? Well, it's probably impossible to locate his ribs without an MRI, so a kick to the midsection is good enough for here.

He asks for it and he deserves it. I mean really, who's going to defend Roe except for the people that have or plan to hire him?

However, another point on this matter is that you need more than $75K to turn the bus issue, regardless of your messaging.

Even though the message was worse than incompetent.

Dan you omitted the very possible point that Roe betrayed an important client trust here, he used the anti-Bus TAX money for anti-Kay messaging (totally off point)to further his Graves campaign.

Now that's worse than incompetent, it's pretty clearly unethical in the sesne of a personal one-on-one business relationship, and if I was Roe's client I'd be asking for my money back. TIF and Busing? WTF???

Anyways, I have to guess that some people get past and justify his extremely high negatives not his highly-negative profile but on his basic campaigning skills, rolodex, access to very good lists -- typical blocking & tackling of a (dirtbag) political consultant.

Always remember what most of us see is his "somewhat-bad-stuff". We don't see his "very-best very-bad-stuff", or the clean things that he does. It's those two things we don't often see that gets him the business.

4/10/2008 2:19 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Whistleblower - Of course the points I brought up were valid. But they didn't convince me that the bus tax should not pass. Things could have been better planned, but the fact is that we need to commit to buses no matter what - now there's money to plan the rail/bus system. I don't believe in refusing to support the good because I want the perfect.

Now, if you really expect me to present all perspectives on whatever issues I choose, you will be sorely disappointed. This blog represents my perspectives, and my analysis. Fortunately, mine is almost always the most insightful and accurate analysis, but I don't get paid to write opposition briefs.

Whistleblowme - you're clearly a smart dude, and I appreciate you taking the time to correct lousy analysis while I'm busy earning a paycheck. Your pointing out that I'm not even supposed to be a complete news source was dead-on.

Whistleblower Redux - Don't come around here implying that I'm not truthful, unless you can point to a lie.

Mainstream - Good points.

4/10/2008 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Salino said...

Roe was over worked.

Calvin Williford, who works for Mike Sanders, hired Axiom Strategies (i.e. Jeff Roe) to attack Phil LeVota in a Lee's Summit Municipal Judge race. The Democrat LeVota was challenging an entrenched Republican, the kind that Sanders' likes.

Williford paid for the evil acts carried out by Roe through the accounts of a Sanders' controlled committee called Integrity in Law Enforcement.

How about that Sanders/Williford team -- such Democrats, NOT!

4/10/2008 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kanga is exactly right. Jeff Roe is nowhere near the consultant people make him out to be. Graves needed to find a consultant that republicans could funnel money to who was willing to play their game.

Roe can't win any races that have a remote uphill battle. He's long proven that.

Someone said LeVota lost becuase of Roe? Way wrong. LeVota lost because people are in love with and know very well the asshole known as Judge Tobin. Period.

4/11/2008 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Levota need only look into the mirror to find out who is responsible for his embarassing loss. I live in Lee's Summit, and he ran one of the most low-brow campaigns I have seen in some time. He accused the judge of taking bribes, and I even got a robocall from Levota claiming that the judge "ought to be in jail." This is exhibit A as to why judges should NEVER be elected. As to why Roe would support Tobin? I don;t know, but isn't he a Republican running in a Republcian district? Seems that what R's do.

4/12/2008 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Levota claiming that Tobin was a Repub is BS. Tobin has twice gone before the judicial commission declaring himself as a Dem even though he knew that Blunt would ultimately be doing the picking, and declaring himself as a Dem would probably kill any chance he had. So it was Levota who ran against an incumbent Dem....and did so very poorly might I add.

4/12/2008 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what? tobin is about as democrat as matt blunt's gw bush blow up doll.

he's a greedy cocky prick.

Jeff Roe sucks too.

4/16/2008 6:49 PM  

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