Friday, February 20, 2009


Yael Abouhalkah had a funny observation in his blog post about the proposal to stop siphoning money away from taxpayers to support the Costco TIF Plan.
Jan Marcason, a sharp and well-intentioned City Council member, also questioned what happened last week.

Marcason lives in the Southmoreland neighborhood in the 4th District and supports its housing repair program.
While everyone has heard the term "Not In My Back Yard", this presents an unusual case of "Please In My Back Yard". The elegant Southmoreland neighborhood has enjoyed access to free money, and nobody can really blame them for enjoying the opportunity.

But if you spend a little time driving around the old Northeast, or the East side, it's hard to understand why tax dollars should be funding housing repair in such a posh area. The Southmoreland website is a cheery, welcoming place, offering "Up to $10,000 or more matching grants to fix up your house."

Meanwhile, other neighborhoods can't get their weeds cut or their illegal tire dumps cleared.

Southmoreland is fortunate to be on the PIMBY side of the financial seesaw, while others struggle for basic services. Southmoreland doesn't want to share, and they have a brave and articulate councilmember to stand up and fight for the privileges they have enjoyed for over a decade.

Is it a fair fight?

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Anonymous Mr. Axiom Strategies said...

Thank you Dan for your insightful reporting on this issue. We thought the PIMBY theme was very good when we passed it along to our client Mr. Blackwood. We are glad it ended up in your wonderful blog.

Those of use who love to read (and write) The Source think you are doing a bang up job on the part of our client, Mark Funkhouser.

We are particularly happy with the fact that you have held up for ridicule Councilwoman Jan Marcason, who none of us in the Grand Old Axiom Strategies Family can stomach.

Jan as you know was selected by the national Democratic Party to play a key role at their Whore-Mongering Convention in Denver last year. So we do not have any respect for her. It is good to see that you have joined ourside "Luke."

And since we are now consulting for Mayor Funkhouser (through means that we are not able to fully explain here) and since Jan Marcason has been a thorn in the mayor's side when he has tried take action on his strong family values, we will be dragging her name through the (misleading) mud every chance we get -- and we appreciate your help.

It is very good to know that you are on our side Dan. We think you can be of great help to our efforts on an ongoing basis and you can be sure you will continue to receive guidence from us through the established channels.

Thank you brother.

2/20/2009 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Kingsfield said...

Good, thought-provoking post, Dan.

The attack from Mr. AS is pretty funny, too. You call Jan Marcason "brave and articulate", and you get accused of holding her up to ridicule and of helping to drag her through the mud.

I suppose to those who attack people anonymously, bravery might be a term of ridicule.

2/20/2009 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a horrible attack you launched on poor helpless Jan Marcason! You accused her of doing a good job of representing her district!

Fetch the smelling salts!

2/20/2009 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Greg Corwin said...


I think you may be missing a little information on this situation. I was president of the Southmoreland Neighborhood Association for the past two years and currently serve on the board.

I apologize for the long post, but I want to be clear that Southmoreland is not posh or elegant; tax dollars have never been spent on posh home repairs; our neighborhood has never enjoyed free money; and to say that “Southmoreland doesn’t want to share” could not be further from the truth.

What you said about Jan Marcason was wrong, and hopefully when you have a bit more information you will understand the situation more accurately. Jan has been a strong voice for urban neighborhood redevelopment, and I am proud of her efforts in the fourth district in helping distressed neighborhoods.

Here are a few clarifications:

First, the subject TIF here is the 43rd & Main TIF associated with the original H&R Block headquarters and Office Depot. The Costco (Midtown) TIF is north at Linwood & Main. The 43rd & Main TIF is among the top three performing TIFs in the city per the most recent TIF audit. This is a TIF that is accomplishing it’s goals financially. As far as having an impact on the removal of blight and neighborhood redevelopment, we’re making progress. More on that later.

Second, I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, and to describe our neighborhood as “elegant” and “posh” is simply not true. We are a diverse neighborhood, with an extreme amount of socio-economic and ethnic diversity.

All of the TIF programs are targeted in the area of our neighborhood from 43rd Street north to 39th street, and Main east to Gillham.

This area is dominated by rental houses with units numbering above what is allowed by zoning, vacant properties, low income properties, elderly homeowners, urban pioneers and Rockhill Manor, a very well managed, large mental health outpatient facility.

Southmoreland lost 30% of it’s population between 1980 and 2000. We have more than twice the rental rate of the city (75%+). We are dominated by out-of-town and in-town slumlords and vacant properties. We have chronic property and violent crime.

We have one off-duty patrol officer work in our neighborhood just 16 hours a week, which is, quite frankly, breaking our bank right now. Over the last year, just our off duty program resulted in:

- 143 city arrests
- 29 felony arrests
- 7 narcotics arrests

Recently an art student was shot 6 times; a car jacker was shot by his victim; I interrupted a robbery in progress at my home last summer and with the help of a few neighbors and the KCPD tracked down the perpetrator down over a 20 block chase; there were over 40 car breakins over a two month period on just one city block; and we have chronic prostitution activity in the vacant Hale houses in the north part of the neighborhood.

One of our board members, exasperated with the chronic prostitution activity going on in cars in vacant properties across the street, blocked one “customer” in a driveway, forcing the John to jump the driveway and backyard of the vacant property and race away down the hill through the middle of Gillham Park.

Oh, and a woman was shot dead in her front yard two houses down from me. And another person living in that same house was mugged on the same block, his arm being broken in the process.

This is just the stuff I can think of contemporaneously. I’m telling you this not because I want your or anyone else’s sympathy, Southmoreland is not alone in dealing with crime and blight – I just want you to understand that Southmoreland isn’t exactly “posh” or “elegant”.

Third, home repair is not being performed on posh, elegant neighborhood properties.

Our issues, like a lot of other neighborhoods, are complex. However, one thing is clear – many of our problems are because the property owners don’t live in the neighborhood. If you want to improve our neighborhood the single best thing you can do is increase single-family home owner occupancy. Improve the housing stock and increase any type of owner occupancy, and you make the single biggest contribution to the revival of our neighborhood.

The 43rd and Main TIF SMART housing program has been operating in our neighborhood for several years. It’s a matching grant program, based upon income, that matches homeowner’s contributions against a income-based sliding scale.

The housing program is targeted at lower income home owners.

If you stay in the house for 5 years, the matching grant is forgiven. The home improvement eligible are brick & mortar type of stuff designed to bring houses up to code. These monies are not used for kitchen remodeling. They are used to repair falling down and unsafe front porches, rotted sofits, etc

Many TIFs have similar housing programs - for good reasons I won’t go into here for the sake of brevity.

$600,000 has been spent on basic home repair in the program to date, leveraging an additional $400,000+ of residents money. For every dollar invested by this program an additional 70 cents is leveraged in private investment.

The appraised value of the properties in this program have increased by $400,000.

This certainly benefits the taxing jurisdictions over the long term. This is a significant benefit to our city and the taxing jurisdictions, and a mixed blessing to our fixed-income home owners.

Fourth, it absolutely wrong to say the Southmoreland neighborhood does not want to share. The original intent of the TIF was to remove blight in the Southmoreland neighborhood. This is exactly what the neighborhood programs of the TIF are doing.

The neighborhood has supported programs that comprise just a portion of the total monies in the TIF. The 43rd & Main Advisory Board has been extremely prudent, cautious and responsible administering programs that support the original intent of the TIF. To say anything otherwise is wrong.

The Southmoreland Neighborhood has the same issues as any other distressed neighborhood in this city, and we are proud that we have always actively supported and joined other distressed neighborhood in solidarity to obtain better city services, fair treatment and development opportunities.

In everything we have done or advocated on TIF neighborhood programs involves leveraging very limited tax dollars, so that a $1 of investment has an impact far larger than just a $1. We do not want free money, we want the ability to effectively use limited resources to help save our distressed neighborhood.

Hopefully this information sheds a little more light on this issue. If you would like to talk about this further, please give me a ring.


2/20/2009 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Norman's Mom said...

It is the home repair budget that is the real issue here Dan.

This is a money grab in tough times that will mean that homes in need of repair, that are budgeted for repair and if this plan goes forward unamended are not going to be repaired.

Just say NO to the neighorhood improvement, revitalization and economic stimulus that follows such spending.

That sounds like Herbert Hoover to me Dan.

Of course,your monster Funkhouser does not believe in public healthcare for the indigent, so why would he care about home repair programs?

I guess that is why Jeff Roe and Funkhouser get along so famously. Neither one of them give a damn about anyone else as long as they have a comfortable place to call home. As a member of the Funkhouser Kitchen Cabinet does Jeff twitter you talking points?

In addition, Funkhouser "pals around" with sociopath name Cashill who believes that Herbert Hoover had it right. Let the strong profit. Let the weak die. Thin the herd. Swell bunch of people you associate with Dan.

I am not sure why you have decided to become a mouthpiece for that twisted philosophy, but it sounds like that is just what you have decided. Sure you use Newt Gingrich-like right-wing populist language to frame up your your elitist ideas, but the ideas harm the neighborhoods just the same.

You should be ashamed of yourself Dan.

As far as your treatment of Jan Marcason I would call it was at best passive aggressive. You say something nice about her and then you associate her with an issue that you deride from a highly uninformed perspective.

But that is a typical Orange Revolution way of doing things. look at the world in the most symplistic and bianary perspective. Funk is good. TIF is bad. The world can be so simple if you just turn off your brain and take a big swig of the Orange Kool Aid.

2/20/2009 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kingsfield I like you better when you post as Dan. And Greg Corwin you should stick to posting as Mainstream.

2/20/2009 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Thank you for the details Mr. Corwin. I lived in Southmoreland years ago and thought Dan's description of the neighborhood was bizarre.

As for the sock puppet accusations, I don't think Dan uses one. He strikes me as the kind of guy who can wait until he gets home to post and he's pretty good at ignoring comments anyway. And Greg Corwin doesn't sound like mainstream.

2/20/2009 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One can get in a lot of trouble trying to figure out who is who on here.

2/20/2009 2:08 PM  
Blogger I Travel for JOOLS said...

Perhaps the East side should engage Mr. Corwin to assist them cause he sure as hell makes a compelling case for Southmoreland!

2/20/2009 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Beth will convince Jan to see things your way.

2/21/2009 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Lost in the blog. said...

Everyone seems to miss a significant point in this discussion. 70% of the money siphoned out of any of the TIF's will go to the Kansas City School District, the poster child for poor management and spending practices. If money alone could solve the school district then I would be all for sending it to them. It's proven not to. As a Southmoreland resident I would at least rather see the TIF funds here go to other neighborhoods in the city before they're mismanged out of existence by the county and the schools. At least this program has been working.

2/21/2009 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Dan just go served.

2/21/2009 10:30 AM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Alas, Dan has proven time and time again when discussing all things Funkhouser, he is in a world of his own. And when one points out the inconsistency or inaccuracy of what he writes, most of the time he doesn't respond.

Spin and duck, doge and ignore... those are the rules of the alternate reality in which he is most comfortable.

But it's his blog so he is certainly right to proclaim that he can respond as he sees sit. So of us go after him from time to time... love hurts, I guess :)

2/21/2009 11:05 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ahh, the anonymice crack me up when they conjecture about my failure to comment on the schedule they deem appropriate. Believe it or not, the people who pay me scads of money to write on this blog occasionally give me a day off.

In the meantime, by the way, I've had a brief conversation with Greg Corwin to thank him for all the information and background, and I look forward to having a more thorough conversation in the near future. He did correct me on one point - the area getting the money is NOT particularly posh or elegant. I continue to contend that it looks like Mission Hills compared to some of the areas on the East Side and Northeast that could use a similar injection of funds, but he certainly did a fine job of articulating the need of an area that does not appear to be in particularly bad straits. I look forward to learning more from him.

Regarding commenters, I'm not Kingsfield, and Mainstream is not Greg Corwin. And the world is not controlled by people in black helicopters.

Some of the comments, though, have raised some really good and interesting points. The most meaty, in my opinion, is the one that points out that the program has had some success, whereas, had the money gone through normal channels, it may have accomplished less. While I don't necessarily agree (and I doubt that Jan would argue that the KCMSD should be starved for funds), it interests me on a deeper policy level. Do programs like this one offer a model to other areas of the city? Even if helping Southmoreland ought not to be the City's highest priority, does doing so serve as kind of a laboratory for good ideas? Even if I'm right and the money is needed more in the Northeast than it is at 43rd and Main, does it necessarily follow that the greater good is not served by spending it on Southmoreland?

Interesting commentary, and thank you for the thought put into some of the comments.

2/22/2009 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Dan is on to something having taken the time to speak to Greg Corwin about the continuing needs in the Southmoreland neighborhood. You are also right in giving some thought to how best to improve needy neighborhoods by targeting TIF dollars in a way that really does make a difference. You have to build incrementally, and by doing so you create a solid community foundation upon which to build. Remember, by increasing the community's tax base you will ensure increased revenues for schools and other government services over the long haul. By the way, there are a number of other neighborhoods in Kansas City that are using TIF dollars to accomplish the very same things as Southmoreland. In the coming days and weeks, these neighborhood leaders will be coming forward to add to Greg's commentary. Everyone needs to listen carefully to what they have to say. You will be quite impressed with just how important TIF dollars have been to their neighborhood rebuilding efforts.

2/22/2009 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Knows the Inner Circle said...

There is no way that Greg Corwin is "Mainstream."

Greg was a close ally of Mark in days of the Doublewide and has done significant work for our mayor since then. Mark and Gloria would love to have Greg working in the administration and not just as a contract consultant. Greg is a good man but he needs to show more backbone when publicly accepting the friendship and patronage of Mark and his family.

Dan it is good of you to address the libelous comments left on your blog. Thank You.

2/23/2009 9:05 AM  
Blogger les said...

And the world is not controlled by people in black helicopters.

Oh yeah; and what else would I expect you to say? Nice to see a TIF discussion get beyond "rich developers are sucking the lifeblood from my city!!11"

2/23/2009 10:09 AM  

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