Wednesday, September 17, 2008

NASCAR Fans Watching the Trash Truck

Steve Kraske on last week published an article showing that he is finally catching on to the open secret of the Funkhouser administration - he doesn't really care whether the inside crowd likes his leadership style. A quotation from the article confirmed what I wrote about him a month ago (Does Funkhouser Know What He's Doing) and almost 6 months ago (Subtle Brilliance - Funkhouser's Triumph of Leadership). Kraske writes, “'To me, I have no desperate need to be seen as leading,' The Funk told me."

That's the sort of thing that makes insiders' heads explode. He's refusing to play their game, and they scream about how badly he's playing their game. I think the best analogy is NASCAR fans watching the trash truck. They can't understand why any professional driver would drive such an ungainly vehicle and refuse to put fancy decals on it. They can't understand why the driver would let others ride along and accomplish work along the way. They miss the speed and the noise. They know how things are done, and he's doing an absolutely terrible job of satisfying their need to watch a race.

And it really frustrates these cognoscenti to see that Kansas City's homeowners don't share their disdain for Funkhouser. Oddly, they seem to prefer the modest, hard-working, self-effacing Mayor and his focus on citizen satisfaction. Already, several of the insiders are lining up their pit crews and polishing their race cars to defeat Mark in the next "race", confident that they can whup the man who fails to put himself in front and make sharp left turns at full speed when they shout.

Civil service isn't the same as racing, though I'm not sure our current group of insiders will ever catch onto that fact, even when Funkhouser wins the next "race".

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Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

But...isn't a mayor, or a governor, or a president supposed to be a leader? Isn't that like, kinda their job? Isn't that whay they are elected? Isn't that the primary job description? To be a leader?

If he doesn't have any interest in fulfilling his primary role, maybe he'd be happier doing something else. Something that doesn't require leadership skills. A job where he could bring his wife with him to work everyday. Something like, oh, I don't know...driving an ice cream truck or a taxi cab. Something like that.

9/17/2008 8:30 AM  
Anonymous travel said...

Funkhouser will not be reelected.

First, he let the Semler controversy define him for a year and then he let his wife define him for the next. Whether you agree with his positions regarding these two women or not, the fact is during this whole time he never defined himself as the leader of a large city with real issues such as a failing infrastructure, increasing violent crime and a city with a school system so bad as to render the city almost uninhabitable for people with school age children.

People aren't going to care if he was right or not about Semler. People aren't going to care whether the charges against his wife are valid or not. All they are going to care about is what he is doing for them and at this point, it looks like Funkhouser has put his personal problems first and the problems of his constituents last.

In my opinion, he is finished.

9/17/2008 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Whistleblowme said...

Xavier - Good God, you are one of those fools who confuses being seen as leading with actually leading. Typical. Where do you live?

Travel - Check out the citizen satisfaction results, baby. That's where the action happens, not in the whine parties of the CCP. By the way, where do you live?

9/17/2008 9:37 AM  
Blogger sophia said...


I tried to check out the citizen satisfaction results, but the most recent ones I could find were published in April 2007 before Funkhouser was Mayor. Could you please point me to Funkhouser era results?

People walking up to the Mayor and his wife in the grocery store and saying "keep up the good work!" isn't any more valuable of an indicator of citizen satisfaction than what is said at CCP "whine" parties. I haven't noticed any difference in city services since he became Mayor. Dan's always referring to the Mayor quietly succeeding at his agenda, but I haven't seen a list of accomplishments that the Mayor lead on (i.e. wouldn't have happened without him as a mayor).

Me and my friends are just regular "folks." We don't belong to CCP or any other political club. We read, we vote, and sometimes we volunteer, but we're not on any "insider" radar. But because we, uniformly, find the Mayor and his wife to be an embarrassing disappointment we are suddenly people to be ignored. Not real "folks." Why should I bother telling the Mayor what I think when he's made it clear he doesn't care what I think if I disagree with him?

9/17/2008 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Jayhoax said...

"even when Funkhouser wins the next "race"."

Wins the next race?

To use your NASCAR analogy, the way he is going, Funk is going to be lucky if he doesn't get black flagged....

9/17/2008 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In NASCAR you get bonus points for leading. Funk doesn't care to lead.

Even in NASCAR, he that fails to lead loses the race.

9/17/2008 5:29 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Whistleblowme - And you seem to be one of those people who fail to realize that in life, business and ESPECIALLY in politics, like it or not, perception is generally more important than reality.

If people's perception is that you are ineffective and haven't accomplished anything, then you ARE innefective and you HAVEN't accomplished anything.

As an early mentor succinctly explained it to me, "An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance."

It ain't fair, but it's true.

9/17/2008 6:52 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

XO, Travel and Sophia...excellent comments!

XO - I would add to your point that not only is there the perception that Funk is ineffective - Funk is, in reality, actually ineffective.

(oh! wait a minute, there was that checkout clerk and Meiner's that said "good job Funk!" lol)

9/17/2008 7:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

XO - Where do you live? Travel?

Not that you're not entitled to have opinions on Kansas City's mayor, but it does take you away from being a credible source on what Kansas Citians are saying. I live here, work here, socialize here, and I have polls that back up my perception that a few soreheads on the internet don't really add up to public perception.

XO - Whistleblowme had the best answer - your cheap cynicism doesn't reflect reality. Amy Coffman was perceived to be running equal to Jason Kander (even winning, according to some). Funk truly wasn't elected to cut ribbons and be our biggest, perkiest cheerleader. He didn't run that way, and he certainly isn't serving that way. He was hired to address the problems of the city, and he's doing it. The steel plate ordinance is law, the budget is the first realistic budget in years, and he's working with a coalition of cities to get what we need and deserve from Jeff City. What, you say that someone else claimed credit for those achievements? Someone a lot smarter than your early mentor taught me that it's amazing what you can get accomplished when you stop worrying about who's claiming credit.

Sophia - my wife liked your comment a lot, and she's the smarter one in the household, so cheers to you for that! As for the citizen satisfaction surveys, they're not out yet, but they will be in time for the election, and I'm saying that those are going to be the key to Mark's success. As for who's saying what, it really doesn't matter all that much, does it? The mayor is not elected or reelected by chatter. Your friends are uniformly unhappy? That's unfortunate and an interesting data point. Polls don't support the position that your friends are a representative sample, but polls are only polls. We'll see how they vote in a couple years.

9/17/2008 10:47 PM  
Anonymous travel said...

Since I've been asked twice, I'll answer. I live in Johnson County as most of you know. Believe it or not, we get the same newspaper out here in the sticks as those of you who live in KC. We have a couple of friends in KC as well and we even are familiar with some of KC's attractions. ...end of tongue in cheek ....

If there's a representative citizen survey that shows the people of KC believe the city is going in the right direction under Funkhouser, I have to ask who and where are these people? Are they the same ones who are ducking bullets on a daily basis on the east side or those getting mugged in a parking garage in the Power & Light District? Or are they these people described in a recent edition of Midwest Voices:

"Wet weather backed up sewers and eroded street pavement in Kansas City this week. But the topic preoccupying Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the City Council wasn’t the stressed infrastructure. It was, yet again, the inappropriate role that Funkhouser’s wife plays in his administration."

Granted I may not be a citizen of Kansas City, but it doesn't take a citizen to see the obvious displeasure that has to be present on the streets of Kansas City.

Anyhow, it's just my opinion and I'll leave it at that except to say even as a resident of a different county and state, I believe I do have a stake in the future of Kansas City. I want to be able to enjoy the city, attend events at the Sprint Center, dine at the Hereford House downtown, take my visiting relatives to Steamboat Arabia and the Nelson, etc. I'm sure the residents of Kansas City want no less and need much more.

9/18/2008 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it Funk that filed the stupid Volunteer Ordinance? If so, I agree with you that he really screwed up. My recollection, however, is that it wasn't.

What would I know, though? I'm stuck here in the city, busy mugging people and ducking bullets on a daily basis. (Do Johnson Countians really believe that shit?)

9/18/2008 8:33 AM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Dan - I live in Independence, MO. The county seat of Jackson County which includes Kansas City.

It is also the home of Harry S. Truman, our 34th President. He succeeded FDR, nuked the Japanese twice, ended WWII, integrated the Armed Services and created the CIA.

He did all of this without the need to have Bess sitting at a desk next to him in the Oval Office.

Pretty sure President Truman had a lot more on his plate than Mayor Funkhouser.

You would think the Mayor of Kansas City would be capable of getting through the day and doing his job on his own.

The fact that he can't and is willing to torpedo his own office and publicly go down in flames (see KSHB tonight at 10) is just sad and pathetic.

9/18/2008 8:45 AM  
Blogger sophia said...

Cheers to your wife!

The mayor is not elected or reelected by chatter. Your friends are uniformly unhappy? That's unfortunate and an interesting data point.

Chatter frequently does effect electoral outcomes, but it's not an accurate reflection of public opinion. My mention of my friends was not to suggest that they are a representative sample of the KC public. I mention them because you frequently categorize (and dismiss) dissatisfaction with the mayor as being some "insider elitist pissed about diminished power" thing or a "Tony rulz my world!" thing.

You don't seem to acknowledge that being disappointed in Mayor Funkhouser and finding the Squitiro issues embarrassing is a position that can be held sincerely. (And I assume your contraction of "unhappy with mayor" to "unhappy" was a time-saving device.)

I thought from the beginning that Funkhouser's platform "a city that works" was sad because it seems like the bare minimum that we should expect from the city. Shouldn't everyone be on that same page? If there are people out there who genuinely want our streets and sewers to go unrepaired, why not identify them?

Fairly identify the impediments to progress and hell yes, the people of this city will stand behind you. But instead of doing that, our Mayor has chosen to focus on his wife. His wife as the only fuel for progress. And any opposition to his wife is redefined as opposition to progress. That is so damn unhealthy. Boundaries, Mr. Mayor, Boundaries!

Through his own behavior, Funkhouser has placed his duties as a husband and his duties as a mayor in opposition. And it's been clear for a long time that when push comes to shove he'll act as a husband, not a public servant. I don't write that gleefully, it's borderline tragic. Too bad he didn't get the city manager gig, I'd like to think he would have been much better suited for that role.

9/18/2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Ashamed he voted for Mark said...

Of course it could just be that Funkhouser is a loser.

9/18/2008 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He did all of this without the need to have Bess sitting at a desk next to him in the Oval Office.

Just imagine what Truman could have accomplished if Bess had only been by his side!

9/18/2008 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are they the same ones who are ducking bullets on a daily basis on the east side or those getting mugged in a parking garage in the Power & Light District?

I have lived here for over 10 years and have never had to dodge one bullet.

The only thing I have ever had to dodge was JOCO assholes in the SUVs. Funk may be a mess, but he is our mess.

You want to talk about a county with screwed up politics? Phil Kline takes the case. Joco has the trophy for most f-cked up politicians.

9/18/2008 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Jessica K. said...

In response to Sophia's comment, "I haven't noticed any difference in City services," well, I have. The monthly bulky item pick up that was working well in my Brookside neighborhood now depends on a "call for pick up" service. Can't see how this can be more efficient than everyone on the block knowing their pick up day, and everyone putting things out on that day. Also, the Midtown Community Recycling Center is "temporarily" closed. Now I have to haul glass all the way out to the 3 Trails Recycling Center near the old Bannister Mall. These are little things, true, but they are the kind of things I thought candidate Funkhouser was talking about when he campaigned to "improve basic services."

9/18/2008 10:20 PM  
Blogger Midtown Miscreant said...

Ive lived in KC for 49 years, and I have never in my lifetime witnessed a mayor who is as ill equipped to govern as Funk is. I keep hearing about the great changes and progress the Mayor has made. Perhaps I'm just not hanging in the right social circles. My friends and I dont sit around eating crust free watercress sandwiches, while waxing philosophic over pipe dreams like light rail and impotent coalitions like mayors against guns, or whatever the cause de jour is. We live in midtown or south. We drive over steel plates on roads that are as bad or worse than ever. I can step out my door on any given night and listen to sporadic gunfire. We are at over one hundred homicides thus far this year. We have schools that aren't fit for the children who are forced to attend them. We have a mayor who was just on record saying he didn't care what his constituents think. We have a mayor being sued for sexual harassment and racial discrimination. So explain to me, a simple minded life long resident, where is the great change? And seriously, the blame it on the blogger defense is getting thin. I can honestly say I agree with you 99.9 percent of the time, except in regard to the mayor. He could send Gloria home, and save this city a whole lot of grief, yet he refuses to bend. Even an uneducated simpleton like me, understands giving ground for the greater good.

9/19/2008 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, I'm not an insider by any stretch of the imagination and I think the guy is the worst Mayor we've ever had. I can say that because I voted for him.

He is stupid, he doesn't know how to lead or do anything with regards to leading. He has zero common sense and his staff is clueless. Everyone runs on his wife, and I could for ages, but you know what he is real idiot there.

9/20/2008 2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is it true that Funk is threatening to "financially ruin" each of the city council meetings?

Has he truly sunk that low? Sounds like its time for the council to knock the bully down a peg or two.

9/20/2008 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So is it true that Funk is threatening to "financially ruin" each of the city council meetings?"

It probably is, but knowing Dan he'll somehow find a way to blame this on TKC, just like everything else....

9/20/2008 9:37 AM  
Blogger Dan said...


9/20/2008 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ok Dan, so you say no. But the Stars video (of Ed Ford I think)

Says that Funk is threatening to individually sue the council members.

So who is correct?

9/20/2008 12:37 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I am.

Easy question.

9/20/2008 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Easy question."

Too bad your answer is wrong....

9/20/2008 3:16 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

No, I'm quite correct. Do you have videotape or other evidence of Mark making such a threat, other than Ed Ford, who is far from a credible witness on this matter?

. . .

. . .

No? I didn't think so.

9/20/2008 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Whistleblowme said...

Dan's right - "Funkhouser said litigation is an option because he thinks the ordinance is unconstitutional. But he said he hopes it won’t come to that, and even if a lawsuit is filed, council members would not be sued as private citizens, so their personal finances would not be at risk."

9/20/2008 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have evidence of Funk not making such a threat?

No, I didn't think so.

9/20/2008 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So we have Ed Ford on tape saying Mark threatened to personally sue him.

We have Funk now saying he would not individually sue the council members.

Funk has not denied threatening to individually sue council members.

9/20/2008 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"other than Ed Ford, who is far from a credible witness on this matter?"

Ah, when all else fails, attack the messenger, not the message....

9/20/2008 4:43 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

What makes Ed Ford any more or less credible than Funk?

Funk yanked his chairmanship because Ed was an independent voice, and obvious act of vindictive retribution.

So explain to me again why Funk has any more credibility? Oh, and Ford isn't the one going to court to make sure his wife can work with him 8-5, every day.

You Funk apologists are pathetic, absolutely pathetic. You scream that the volunteer ordinance is unconstitutional, and targeted, yet you don't present any facts whatsoever.



9/21/2008 8:00 PM  

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