Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Difference in Rumors - Jeff Roe and Mark Funkhouser, Jan Marcason and Tax Dollars

Yesterday was a funny day for rumors, and provided a great insight into the skewed priorities of Kansas City's political insiders. On the same day, two vastly different rumors hit my email box - one explosively interesting but nonsubstantive, and one explosively substantive but depressingly uninteresting. The former involved our favorite whipping boys, and the other involved large amounts of Kansas City tax dollars being siphoned away from basic services.

The Kansas City Star reported on the nonsubstantive one, of course. It touched off a minor explosion with a story that claims Mark Funkhouser is negotiating with Jeff Roe to bring him into his office in a paid advisory role. Among local dems, it is impossible to describe the furor without bringing Godwin's law into play. If you want to be a proper member of the chattering class, NOW is the time to engage in FULL FREAK-OUT!!! JEFF ROE REPLACING ED WOLF IN THE MAYOR'S OFFICE!!! Panic!!

I received emails and comments from people in full froth yesterday evening. How would I react to this news? Would I be a hypocrite and embrace Jeff Roe, after expressing my disapproval of his tactics many times? Or would I finally break with Mark Funkhouser and join all my friends in the chattering class, who coincidentally stand to make more money if the development dollars start gushing again?

How exciting! A clear choice!

And that is one of the very few areas I will claim to have far better judgment than the average observer of local politics. I prefer to react to facts rather than half-baked rumors. If I see Jeff Roe hired to take a position in the Mayor's office, I will react to that circumstance. Until then, though, I'm going to see what happens.

Meanwhile, I also heard a rumor that Jan Marcason is working on getting a 39th Street Tax Abatement Plan passed from the floor, even though it doesn't meet any of the requirements of the council-approved economic development policy.

As far as rumors go, that ought to be attracting far more attention than Jeff Roe. That would be a HUGE reversal of the city's steps toward effective financial policies. It involves labeling one of my favorite sections of Kansas City as blighted, and surrendering taxes that ought to be supporting our city budget and Kansas City's crushing financial burdens, all to help big time fat cats lock in a super-generous rate of return while ignoring the East Side.

But guess which rumor shows up on the Prime Buzz? Guess which rumor filled my email box last night?

I hope both rumors are false. If Jan Marcason or any other member of the City Council attempts to shovel expensive tax abatements to an undeserving project in a thriving section of town, tongues ought to be wagging, and reporters ought to be reporting.

I promise right here and now that if Jeff Roe replaces Ed Wolf in the Mayor's office, I will express my opinion of the move in terms that even Tony would think are negative.

Now, will the fans of gossip pledge to join me at a similar level of ferocity if Jan Marcason or any other Council Member really does try to steal tax dollars for the Price Development Group? We can't afford to run the spigot anymore, and that's not a rumor.

(Update: As detailed above, Jan Marcason is NOT seeking to give tax abatements to the 39th Street Project.)

Labels: , , ,

11 Comments:

Blogger New Hoboken said...

I am afraid the rumor might be right about 39th street. I stumbled on a PIEA hearing where a developer was arguing that the only way something could be built on the corner of Stateline and 39th was with tax abatement. Oh, come on. Build apartments and retail, make it decent, and you will have a whole hospital and medical school of renters and customers. It is the exact opposite of blight. All opportunity. But it is beginning to seem that no one will build anymore without tax abatement. Gosh.

10/01/2008 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Dan's neighbor said...

Dam what is it going to be like when you have to have to clear your Funkhouser-related posts with Jeff Roe? Or, has that already started.

The Mayor's office has now confirmed that Roe is a consultant to Funkhouser.

You know this is a fucking embarrassment Dan.

10/01/2008 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Orange Revolutionary said...

He's talked with him, sure. He's also talked to Cleaver. He's also talked to lots of people.

Talk, talk, talk - that's not a problem. I don't think Mark's biggest problem is that he has sought advice from too many sources, so I'm not going to whine if he talks to people I don't like. That line of argument belongs to the Republicans, doesn't it?

If he hires Jeff Roe to replace Ed Wolf, that is a HUGE problem. I'll picket City Hall, and, if I know Dan, he'll be at my side.

10/01/2008 9:19 AM  
Blogger sophia said...

And another round of false equivalence. For those of us who don't have chattering class buddies it's easier to distinguish between the two. The Star had a statement from the Mayor's office confirming that he's in discussions with Roe about hiring him in some capacity. For the Marcason bit, I've got... you reporting the contents of your inbox.

So, Mayor talking to Roe isn't a rumor, it's been confirmed by the Mayor's office. Exactly what that will lead to is a matter of speculation that rumors easily come out of. But talking to Roe at all is enough to question the mayor's judgment.

Marcason helping get a tax abatement on 39th street is a rumor. When the Roe story was in rumor state, I ignored it and it would never have occurred to me to reach out to the mayor's office and ask if it was true because I know how sensitive he is about hiring decisions. In the case of Marcason, I just emailed her assistant and asked if the rumors are true. Hopefully she'll email back (athough I wouldn't blame her for being slightly wary, since I used my "Sophia" account) with an answer that I'll gladly share here.

But thank you for the link to the PEIA article, it was quite informative. Because I'm capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time I think I can handle opposing the 39th street tax abatement and concluding that the Mayor is batshit insane at the same time.

10/01/2008 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff Roe and Mark Funkhouser have been "talking" since before the election. Jeff's client is the HBA, the HBA and Mr. Nutter paid for the 'Back to Basics' ads that supported Mark, along with a number of direct mail pieces. All materials Mark was aware of and used to his advantage. This is not a new relationship, it has been ongoing since Becky Nace lost in the primary. The relationship has continued, the advice has been often and this is not a rumor, just fact.

Like Sophia, I'm a little confused about how the two issues are related.

10/01/2008 11:27 AM  
OpenID Eric Rogers said...

I guess have I nothing to add to the despicable Roe bit, as others have already pointed out that it is confirmed.

But the 39th Street bit is crazy. I walk past that spot several times a day, and can say the only blight occurring there is brought on by the owner. That building has had numerous Action Center complaints for weeds, fallen gutters, trash, etc.

Sadly it looks like yet another case of a developer neglecting a property on purpose so that they can come back and claim blight and ask for tax breaks.

10/01/2008 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Star has nothing. Talking to Roe means nothing - hiring him to replace Ed means a lot. Heck, I'd talk to Roe, I'd talk to Glorioso, and I'd talk to anyone else insightful who would care to sit down and chat. That's just smart.

10/01/2008 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean the Star has nothing? The Mayor's Office confirmed to the Star that they are in talks with Roe, not about how to improve the city, but how they can incorporate him into the Administration.

Have they come to you Dan? Why wouldn't they? You and anyone else can do what Jeff Roe does. He hasn't won anything that has had even minimal competition.

10/01/2008 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Dan's Double said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/01/2008 3:49 PM  
Blogger Maria Morton said...

I would like to know more about this 39th St abatement.

10/01/2008 11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the Roe topic is a "test" balloon to see what the public reaction would be. Hopefully they got the message--political suicide.

They are desperate now and have only one recourse in their mind and that is to take the "tough" road and get mean and heavy handed. Anything goes now!!

10/02/2008 3:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home