Friday, March 27, 2009

Not Gonna Fight It, and I Hope Funk Doesn't, Either . . .

Like our Mayor, I disagree with portions of the budget passed by a 12-1 margin yesterday. Most of the disagreements are relatively minor, but a few of them (deep cuts to the police, $1.7M donation to the County) might be worth screaming about. And I know how to carry the fight to them, too. Call on Funkhouser to veto their scandalous budget and force them to cast their votes twice in favor of hurting our City. Divide the $1.7 million by the 12 votes in favor and ask whether any one of them is worth the $142,000 they are giving to the County, and maybe even try to tie them into the Jackson County Ethics Blackout. Scream about the "Marcason-Hermann Police Cuts" and set up a weekly report on which crimes get assigned to which Council members.

Yeah, when it comes to being a screaming ass, I could write the book. But I'm not going to play that game, though some say I'm pretty good at it.

Fact is, our Council has put in a lot of effort on this budget. I can sit here on the sidelines and Monday morning quarterback all I like, but they are the ones who had to jump into the mudpit and wrestle the beast. If I really, really, really, think I'm absolutely, clairvoyantly right about how to set up a budget and balance the priorities to lead our city forward, I should have either run for office back when they put their reputations and wallets on the line, or I should have been at every public budget meeting and forum offering them my spectacular wisdom.

Instead, I stayed home.

That doesn't mean they're above criticism for foolish decisions (ahem, extending Cauthen) or that I won't complain when they use hard cases to make bad law (ahem, anti-Volunteer ordinance), but there comes a time when a good citizen knows when to shut up. This is one of them. They managed to unify behind a budget that may be imperfect, but it's a sober document reflecting hard choices and deep thought. If I thought they were supporting an insane, irresponsible, ill-thought-out budget, I would be screaming, but nobody can seriously claim their budget is not a realistic attempt to wrestle with our problems.

Funkhouser voted against it, and I can respect his vote. Like him, I personally think the police cuts are too deep, and that when it comes to basic services for all, public safety is job one. Politically, the vote might have been wise, too, since he can now point to that vote as having stood up for citizens and police when the council gave money away to the county and stadiums.

But it's a pretty weak point, and it's been made now. Vetoing the budget will change absolutely nothing, practically or politically.

It's time to move on.

The time for fighting about the budget is over. Ultimately, neither Funkhouser, the City Manager nor any of the Council members won or lost the battle, because it's really about US. As citizens, we have elected representatives that have decided on a budget by a 12-1 margin, and any further fighting about it is game-playing that can only distract our representatives from getting on with the business of overseeing the implementation of that budget.

So, instead of screaming or personal attacks or any other pushback on this budget, I want to thank our City Council. You've worked hard on a budget, and come up with a document that united twelve of you. That's impressive work, and my admiration is sincere. Each of the twelve who voted for the budget worked hard to arrive at something that you think represents Kansas City's best interests, and my points of disagreement are incapable of overshadowing my appreciation.

Fine work, City Council. I hope our Mayor signs on now that the time for fighting is past.

Labels: , , ,

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mike sanders says that he going to get the city council to pass an ordinance requiring the city to commit to paying the $2 million for the next 21 years to the sports authority. sounds like the city council is selling out the citizens of kansas city. we need to stop this giveaway.

3/27/2009 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funkhouser needs to demand the County to commit to operating the municipal jail for the next 21 years so the County won't threaten to close it without notice.
They will do that in the near future to get the voters to approve the Anti-drug tax.

3/27/2009 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a giveaway, its what the city said it was going to do during the freaking campaign for the stadiums. Backing out of a financial commitment after the stadiums have already been built, and violating he lease would be a $500,000,000 fiasco.

3/27/2009 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Kingsfield said...

No, you're wrong, anonymous 2:41. "The city" never made any promises during the campaign - only a couple loose cannons without authority said anything fo the sort. There is no legal obligation for the city to make those payments, and the city is not a party to the leases. If it were, the Clowncil would be breaching the lease by donating $1.7 million instead of $2 million, wouldn't it?

3/27/2009 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth will make sure the City does the right thing.

3/27/2009 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the city council needs to put this on the ballot. this doesn't need to be another backroom deal. if the city council passes an ordinance then people need to be ready to do a referendum petition.

3/27/2009 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody has a clue what in the hell they are talking about here. The City's contribution was PART OF THE BALLOT LANGUAGE when the stadium tax passed. Game, set and match to the County if they wanted to sue. So, HERE'S THE NEWS FLASH and the dirty little secret to all of the political posturing: KANSAS CITY CAN'T BACK OUT!!! If the County were to sue the city for the money, the City would lose!


Once again, backing out of a financial commitment after the stadiums have already been built would be both wrong and financial suicide. It would violate the leases and would leave THE TAXPAYERS ON THE LINE FOR THE COST OVERRUNS, NOT THE TEAMS as the lease now provides. BTW, that bill right now is $75,000,000 that we would then have to pay as County taxpayers as the stadiums are a county asset (This issue was one of the majopr reasons there was an election, the cost overruns were bankrupting the taxpayers).

Last point, the County gives the City about $6,000,000 per year in DISCRETIONARY money to pay for cops and road improvements. The sheer stupidity of the Funkhouser idea is that if Sanders took Funk's lead and simply said "I agree, let's all just keep our money inside our own governments as we all have budget shortfalls," then the City would be a net $4,000,000 LOSER in the deal!

Thus, if you are a Kansas City resident like me, be happy that Funk didn't get his way or we would scrambling for another $4,000,000 in this years budget and the County would be 4 to the good. Plus, we the taxpayers would be getting a big fat bill for $75,000,000 by the end of this year.

The Funk financial plan: "save" $2,000,000 to lose $79,000,000. Yep, seems "smart with the money" to me.

3/28/2009 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the ballot language, and am having no luck googling. Anybody else have it?

3/28/2009 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

kceb.org might have the ballot language in past results.

3/28/2009 10:26 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous 8:50 -

Why is it that the most strident in their view are so often the most mistaken. As Yeats said, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

Now, let's look at your argument on the legality. Did the City put the issue on the ballot? No. Did the City draft or approve the ballot language? No. Was the vote held only in Kansas City? No. Were Kansas City voters asked to approve a $2 million annual subsidy? Same answer. Did Kansas City sign the lease? No. Is Kansas City a party to the lease? No. Does the lease even purport to bind Kansas City to $2,000,000 subsidies? No.

Sorry, anonymous, you are simply wrong. Legally, the City is free to cut the subsidy to nothing. In fact, if you were correct, the City's reduction of its subsidy to $1.7 million would be just as much of a breach as total elimination, right?

And your $75 million comes from absolutely nowhere. That is not our obligation in any way shape or form. Nice scare tactic, but it's absolutely baseless.

Finally, as for the money spent by the County on the City - that is the County's job. That is money that is owed to the City for specific services that the City provides in exchange for the money. It's not a donation, like the donation to the stadiums.

3/28/2009 10:39 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Here's the language and it includes nothing binding Kansas City.

3/28/2009 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my mind the more pressing issue is not whether the city is "legally obligated" to pay the money -- it's the fact that, once again, the mayor has demonstrated he has absolutely no political acumen. This turned into such a fiasco because he simply decided to announce that the city would not pay these funds, without giving anyone at the county the courtesy of a heads up -- much less sitting down and trying to work out a solution to the dilemma.

Being an effective leader involves, among other things, the ability and willingness to communicate and develop relationships. This mayor has repeatedly demonstrated that he lacks the capacity for either -- and we are all the worse off for it.

3/28/2009 10:57 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I see the policy and politics behind the issue, and I happily admit that there are policy reasons to support a $1.7M or even a $2M donation to the County.

I'm not certain I agree that it would have accomplished anything to try to "cooperate" with anyone on this - the county was going to scream bloody murder no matter what, and the politics of the situation required the city council to do what Mike Sanders ordered them to do.

Has it occurred to anyone that this council has absolutely no interest in working with the Mayor, and that, at this point, it just might be best to give them enough rope to hang themselves with things like police cuts and stadium give-aways?

3/28/2009 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The battle between reason and emotion is waged in the political arena.

When public funding is the prize, neither combatant holds the ultimate weapon.

Only when the combatants realize they must live as one, will they find peace.

3/28/2009 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when you say the county gives the city money that is a bunch b.s. the combat tax is collected from kansas city taxpayers and rebated back to kansas city. this is another reason to vote no on the combat tax. i would bet that half the combat tax is collected in kansas city. does kansas city get half of the combat tax?

3/28/2009 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The county collects many types of taxes. Most of the funds are allocated by specific organizations (i.e. schools). This money is “controlled” by the Combat Commission.
The county executive appoints all members of the Combat Commission, but only the Legislature can appropriate the funds. This may explain why Tindall and Tarwater appear to be arrogant and capricious in the governance of those funds.
There is no rebate, only out-of-control spending. Just as the drug culture has deeply ingrained itself in society these funds have penetrated deeply into county government operations.

3/28/2009 5:32 PM  
Blogger Ward said...

"Politically, the vote might have been wise, too"

I'll disagree here.

No matter how Funk tries to spin his vote, it's nothing more than an "everyone against me" vote that he cast.

3/28/2009 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Hudson said...

Dan your own testimony is a testament to the asshole that you really are.

You maintain - with a straight face - that since one person, Funk, can't get along with 12 other people - it must be a problem the other 12 people have.

Those 12 popularly elected people are all wrong, and only one person, Funk, is the one trying to build the bridges, he is the only one acting in the right.

Do you think that anybody believes that bullshit?

Fortunately, Funk is DOA in politics, and it really doesn't matter what he says or does.

But keep on fighting for Funk, you're really impressing people!

:o)

3/28/2009 7:21 PM  
Blogger Hyperblogal said...

I think everything was better when we could smoke.

3/28/2009 8:32 PM  
Blogger Ward said...

"Do you think that anybody believes that bullshit?"

Dan does.

And probably Gloria.

3/28/2009 10:51 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Hudson -

I would be interested to know where you saw me claiming that Funk tried to build bridges with this budget, that the 12 are all wrong, or that Funk's claimed failure to "get along" with the 12 is the fault of the 12. Since those are the three main pillars for your conclusion that I am an asshole, I'd love to see you demonstrate that they have some basis in truth.

Ward - you might be right about the political wisdom of the single vote - at this point, it remains to be seen. That's why I used the word "might". I agree it certainly shows that his voice is isolated, but if popular sentiment turns against the priorities reflected in the budget (if the Chiefs continue to suck, and we have a fresh wave of murders, for example), being the "lone voice in the wilderness" who voted against it may not be so awful. Of course, if the police department manages to find efficiencies and other sources of funds to dampen the impact of the police cuts, then not so much. Right now, I lean the way it seems you lean - it probably would have been wiser to join in the majority and have a unanimous budget that he could legitimately claim reflects many of his own priorities. But political wisdom can only really be judged in hindsight more distant than the following week.

3/29/2009 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what I think is going on.

http://www.kansascity.com/637/story/1111998.html

And the informant, sits on the County Legislature.

3/29/2009 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Hudson said...

Dan, you said above:

"Has it occurred to anyone that this council has absolutely no interest in working with the Mayor,"

I think there is a very large interest on the part of the council to work with the mayor. Funkhouser is making it difficult for the council, over two+ years, through his own actions and choices in the ways he goes about doing things.

It is specifically his action that are alienating the other 12 members of the council.

To say the "Has it occurred to anyone that this council has absolutely no interest in working with the Mayor," ignores 95% of the story - which is Funkhouser's bad an inappropriate behavior.

3/29/2009 3:40 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Hudson -

Before I answer your question, why don't you tackle mine: "I would be interested to know where you saw me claiming that Funk tried to build bridges with this budget, that the 12 are all wrong, or that Funk's claimed failure to "get along" with the 12 is the fault of the 12. Since those are the three main pillars for your conclusion that I am an asshole, I'd love to see you demonstrate that they have some basis in truth."

3/29/2009 10:01 PM  
Anonymous me, myself and I said...

Hello People. Who the heck do you think the County is and who is the City in this shadow boxing exhibition? The majority are you and I on both sides of the fight. So, if the county (me) starts withholding needed funds from the city (me too) I'm going to be very angry with myself and might seek a divorce from the inner struggle. That means you elected leaders.

3/30/2009 2:51 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home