Mark Funkhouser

the funk recieves a standing eight count by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Mark Funkhouser suffered another defeat at the hands of the City Council on Thursday. Everyone deserves their day in court but Funk was handed a political decision in closed council chambers. The council voted 7-3 (Funkhouser abstained) to settle the discrimination lawsuit with former aid, Ruth Bates, for $550,000--up from the original $30,000 settlement negotiated between attorneys in the case. That settlement was blown up when Funkhouser, who somehow managed to lose most of the political insight that got him elected in the first place, decided to release a press release publicly slamming the plaintiff within hours of the first settlement.

Do the math. $550,000 minus $30,000 equals $520,000. That's the amount that the council was willing to pay to sink any chance the Mayor might have had at a second term. For a guy touted to be 'smart with the money' the Mayor has squandered KC's on more than one occasion. Remember the La Raza incident? That one cost the city several million dollars in lost tourism dollars. Being stubborn can turn a person into an intractable idiot.

Will Funkhouser ever realize that being Mayor should be less about him (or her!) and more about The City? In the operatic theater of KC politics "it ain't over till the fat lady sings" (how very true in this case) but the brightest future for the Mayor will likely be the candlelit confines of his rustic Ozark cabin. Maybe there will enough chinks between the logs to let some illuminating shafts of light leak into his life.

pounded in the low post by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser was the lone dissenting vote in yesterday's budget approval by the city council. Since finances are supposed to be the Mayor's strong suit, his failure to have much of an impact on the budget process is another sad illustration of his inability to lead the council. They pretty much decided after some of his earlier shenanigans to just go ahead and make decisions without him. Should the Mayor move to veto the budget, given that the council is solidly stacked in opposition, the council would quickly override it and this action could only serve to further weaken what little power the Mayor has left.

council pounds budget past mayor.

doth quote the mayor evermore by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Extracting quotes to illustrate your point in public speaking can be fun, meaningful, and illustrative of the larger goal of swaying the public to come around to your point of view. Last week on Channel 2, one of KC's more interesting soap operas, the Mayor, purportedly a man with an auditor's background, chose to use much of his time quoting historical figures rather than proposing his own version of the budget. The Mayor, who new slogan appears to be Smart with the Quote, missed another opportunity to show leadership, instead continuing a long-standing feud between the Mayor, the City Manager, and the Council. One notes that the City Manager, and not the Mayor, graced the cover of one mag this month as KC's Man of the Year. Whether or not that award was truly deserved we'll leave for another day. We also note the Council is composed of 13 members of which the Mayor is but one. Hard to win that battle, so that leaves the Court of Public Opinion. Which, one can only surmise, is the rationale behind the quotes.

Today, as Americans celebrate sound bites about Presidents we thought it good time to offer other quotes that our esteemed Mayor might have used in last week's letter to the council.

"As we approached this budget season I thought of Sir Winston Churchill who said, 'We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.'"
More appropriately, Funkhouser might have offered this Churchillian tidbit, "But whenever I feel this way I always remember that if, instead of making a political speech, I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big."

...or even this, "Eating words has never given me indigestion."
"Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln. He said I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

Funkhouser might also have quoted this bit of honesty from Lincoln, "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

...or taken this jewel of Lincoln wisdom, "Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."
"Albert Einstein said, In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”
What Funkhouser might have quoted from Einstein, "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."

...or better yet? "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

Perhaps you have your own quote that you think might be more appropriate, but we're imagining that if Councilwomen Circo or Marcuson were to start quoting the likes of Dorothy Parker during Legislative sessions the ratings for Channel 2 would really start to climb.
churchill quotes
einstein quotes
lincoln quotes

funkhouser gets funky again by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser delivered his state of the city address on Sunday at All Souls Unitarian Church once again reaffirming his undying devotion for his wife Gloria, his willingness to be smart with the money, and proposing that 'televised' meetings with council members be televised. Ummm...m.o.i thinks we already have weekly televised meetings with the mayor and council; they are known as the legislative session and can be viewed on Channel 2 or your desktop.

This address echoed similar tones from last year's address. His Mayorship suggested that in the past he had let others set the tone of the conversation and that - no longer! he's going to fight back and work to drive the conversation -- which in reality, in our city-manager form of government -- is the job of the mayor. To lead the city.

There is some validity in the mayor's assessment of folks crying foul when in fact they are fowl. Plenty of knuckleheads have been quick to bash the mayor without listening first. But the Mayor should be taking the blame, as the leader, and then insuring that the city moves forward on the proper agenda. The problem, has, is, and continues to be that the public and probably more importantly at this point, the City Council, doesn't perceive the Mayor as being conciliatory. And calling the dogs on the carpet in the state-of-the-city addresss doesn't help. In reality, it just reaffirms that he's not that conciliatory and ready to move on to bigger issues, i.e. the business of the city.

Stubbornness can be a virtue, until one becomes intractable, then it's a liability. It's easy to be stubborn when you're racking up political victories, except the last major political victory the Mayor scored was his election. That was 2 years ago. The Mayor complained bitterly that the previous mayor never listened to its constituents and the funny thing about this Mayor, is that he's in danger of becoming his own worse enemy. If the Mayor really wants to get jiggy wid' it, he needs to do more than wear an orange tie.

secret with the money by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser continues to perplex the mind and flex his lack of political savvy. After receiving next year's budget from city manager Wayne Cauthen, the Funk, formerly known as Mr. Transparency-in-Government, decided it was in the best interest of the city to keep the budget a secret from both his constituents and his colleagues on the City Council. One must surmise that the mayor believes that by locking himself in a log cabin in the woods and channeling the ghost of Abe Lincoln during the inauguration of Biggie O, the most perfect solution will rise from the ashes of his failings. Given that Mark was an auditor in a former life, it is quite possible that some very novel solutions will waft up along with the wood smoke and find their way into the very drafty office on the 23rd floor. However, the good mayor continually forgets that no matter the solutions to which he may arise, it takes a vote of the council to pass the budget. And his secrecy in the matter only serves to continue to piss off the council and more importantly the public, at whose discretion, every one serves. Has the recent spate of cold, cloudy weather darkened the mayor's mood and clouded his judgement, and if so, can someone please buy the man a grow-up light? That said, none of it is an excuse for being secret with the money.

by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

When Mark Funkhouser was elected mayor of Kansas City a friend remarked with no apparent bias, "it'll either be great...or a total disaster." The captain is on the verge of going down with the ship.

It was a given that Mark would make rookie mistakes; everyone is allowed some screw-ups before they get it right. But we're now more than 18 months into this term, the mistakes keep piling up, and the relevations become more startling by the day. Many of the Mayor's closest aides and advisors have gone to the lifeboats, telling survival stories with a megaphone. Citizens are on the verge, for a second time, of organizing a recall election, which would do the city no favors.

Let's be honest, it hasn't all been bad to date. Today there is more transparency at city hall than ever before. Now the Mayor can't take credit for all of this, but for some he can. Citizens can find out the details of almost any city business via their computer: committee meetings, legislative sessions, contract documents. It's pretty much all on line. Now it helps to have some familiarity with a computer and how a city operates, but it's pretty easy to get around and find out how the city conducts its business. And the way the Mayor conducts business, public access television is a lot more interesting.

The latest revelations about how the mayor and his wife were doing business at city hall came this week, from Mark's former publicist and campaign advisor, Joe Miller. Miller was formerly an editor for the Pitch, an alternative weekly, and had deep ties to much of the community, especially with a younger demographic that helped Mark successfully carry his reform ticket to victory. Miller made some savvy moves during the election, not the least of which was embracing the internet and the Funk was largely elected on a grassroots swell. His quirky, outsider ways earned him kudos from many in the art world. Since then, many who heartily supported the mayor, have been scratching their heads after an endless series of boneheads maneuvers.

Downtown redevelopment, leveraged heavily by the former Mayor Barnes and its current City Manager Wayne Cauthen, has at its heart the Power and Light District. Racism has been so blatant in the district that the local nickname for the place is the Power and White District, or, if you prefer, the White Power District. Let's see, young urban blacks aren't welcome in downtown, in Crown City, on the Plaza, or in Briar Cliff, Zona Rosa, and the Ward Parkway shopping centers; in short, wherever white folks gather, black folks aren't allowed. That's been the city's legacy for years and it still continues.

Mark isn't a racist, he has done some things to try and promote economic development in impoverished neighborhoods. He campaigned that increasing minority jobs and providing living wages was a solid crime-prevention measure. But he hasn't been able to deliver. The reality is that Kansas City is on track for a record number of murders this year (much of it black-on-black crime), the city is losing jobs by the buckets, and the general public thinks he's a hick (which they equate with racism) because his wife liked to use the word 'mammy' a lot around the office. You can call lots of folks "mammy", except the paid minority staff.

Mayor Funkhouser also promised to listen to the voters and when they said, you've made a mistake, that he would listen, and then make the changes. He hasn't done that. He didn't do in the Francis Semler case which cost the city the National Council of La Raza convention and an opportunity to host not one, but both Presidential candidates, who spoke at the re-located venue, San Diego. We lost big bucks on that one. And a national stage for a week, things the city can ill afford to lose.

Mark has consistently sucked up to council members (in public) after doing things like pulling their committee chairs out from underneath them and then consistently turned around and done things that make a rational person scratch their head and go huh? Example. Instead of going to individual council members and working through a deal on a settlement to mammygate, Mark springs a settlement on the council during a legislative session indicating that he has settled his side of the suit and that the city should accept the plaintiffs settlement notion to the tune of $175,000 (down from $300,000) dollars. The council refuses but not before taking the opportunity to publicly bash the mayor and says they'll study the matter. Then Mark sends out a press release, slamming the plaintiff as a thief and liar, which results in her attorney backing out of the settlement and jacking up the price of the settlement to $800,000.

A City that Works. That was the campaign promise. And the city still works--in places--it's just that Mayor Funkhouser can take little credit for it at this stage of the game. The Mayor's political skills have been embarrassing to watch. Embarrassing. Having lost the public opinion battle within the city, the Mayor and his wife have gone above them, taking the story national. It's a good plan on one level, but ignores the real stakeholders, citizens of Kansas City. The courts may very well throw out the city ordinance that bans his wife from volunteering. So Mark could still win the battle but he's losing the war were it counts. And OK, so Mark loves and supports his wife Gloria. That's great. That's wonderful. Like anyone, Gloria has some fine qualities but being a great wife does not qualify one to be a great a political advisor.

winning the battle, losing the war by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser continues to baffle the pundits, the council, and the public. Last week, he filed a lawsuit against the city asking a Jackson County judge to overturn a portion a recent city ordinance that banned family members from serving as volunteers for city staff. The ban doesn't prevent the family members from occassionally volunteering for city staff, just from volunteering ad infinitum with the city.

The ad infinitum part was the problem with the mayor's wife, Gloria Squitiro, who was seen by many as holding the symbolic key-to-the-city and anyone who wanted through the door, had to first get past her. That the mayor and his wife couldn't see that the public resented this setup is hard to understand given his pre-election statements proclaiming "once elected, if the public calls out my errors, I will listen and respond". How many ways must one say, this isn't what we (the public) voted for when we elected you, before you begin to understand? The public has been screaming over this issue for a year now and the mayor still doesn't get the fact that he LOST this political battle. It's time to move on with the agenda of the city and the people.

In many ways, the mayor is correct. We really don't need laws that are written to address one person, one family. But more importantly the mayor is dead wrong on the political issue, which in this instance happens to be larger than the law. The council and the people (at whose discretion the mayor serves) have overwhelmingly spoken. There is no inherent aspect of being Mayor of Kansas City that allows one to have their spouse as the office gatekeeper. And this is a huge problem for the mayor and the city because publically he's getting beat up one side and down the other and still, still, he refuses to relent. This is a politcal loss being taken by the mayor as a personal one, and if the mayor wants to lead, he needs to get on with the job of leading. Intractability isn't a leadership quality.

Politically, it hard to imagine a politician who's been more adept at shooting himself in the foot. In this latest pot-shot, the mayor has lost most of his toes on his right foot and seems to be wobbling at the helm and in danger of falling over on his head. By filing this suit, the mayor continues to keep this black-eye issue in the news where it only serve to continue to diminish his ability to work with the council, the citizens, and the media. But more importantly, it prevents the mayor from showing true leadership. That really is the mayor's job, not to run the city (the city manager does that) but to lead the city forward.

Case in point. Light rail. This was an issue the mayor decided to lead on, and it went down to overwhelming defeat. Why? In Part, because people don't think the mayor responds to their needs, so why should they listen to him? It is hard to lead when you continue to alienate. Yes, the ordinance was, in part, politically motivated, but understanding when you've lost the battle and moving forward is where agile politicians shine battle. The mayor continues to be awkward and awkwardness is not helping the city in a tough time.

Remember the slogan? A CITY THAT WORKS. A good slogan, but the problem here, is that this isn't working. Get over it. Move on up. And get back to work.

the cost of losing La Raza by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

If Mayor Funkhouser had done a better job vetting Francis Semler for the Parks Board and if the Mayor had realized the error of his judgement sooner and DONE A BETTER JOB COMPROMISING, then Kansas City would be hosting the La Raza convention this week and both presidential candidates would be in town giving speeches. Instead they're in LA.

mark funkhousers 2008 state of the city address by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

The Full Text of the State of the City Address delivered by Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser – April 24, 2008

Thank you all for coming today.

Over the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a great many people that I would have never gotten to know if I hadn’t become mayor. People like Stretch and Bill Drummond from the Crossroads. Bill Haw and John O'Brien from the West Bottoms. Lali Garcia from the Westside. Marie Young of the Black Chamber. Anita Dixon. Pat Clark. Jay Stock. Jane Rinehart. KB Winterowd… The list goes on and on.

Recently I had a conversation with Ollie Gates. He told me how when he was younger, the neighborhoods on the East side were as vibrant and alive as any in the city. There were grocery stores, dime stores, restaurants—you name it. The sidewalks were full of people. Today, we see a hint of that time that Mr. Gates spoke of—in the fake storefronts at 18th and Vine built for Robert Altman’s movie, Kansas City. In that film, the bustling K.C. of the early 20th century seemed so real and exciting that city leaders kept the movie sets and built around them. A year after the movie came out, the Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation was formed, and the city opened the Jazz and Negro leagues museums.

Today, the Jazz District is an indispensable part of Kansas City. We visit the museums often, catch shows at the Gem Theater, dance at the Rhythm and Ribs festival, and wile away the wee hours at the Mutual Musicians Fund. And we’re eager for more. We peer through the windows of the empty storefronts along 18th Street and dream about the day when they’re filled with shops and restaurants once again. Unfortunately – we can’t help but see the vacant lots behind the old movie sets. We can’t help but notice that there’s still work to be done. All across the city, we find similar signs of success, promise – and unfinished work. In Kansas City we have attractions fine enough to draw envy from any city on earth. In addition to the Jazz and Negro League museums, we have the Country Club Plaza. The Sprint Center. The Nelson. KCI. Our parks and boulevards. Our Fountains. Gate’s, Bryant’s, and Manny’s. And on and on… And there’s more to come…

Downtown is experiencing a tremendous rebirth, with more restaurants, theaters and even a grocery store. Out south, we’ll have a soccer stadium. In the Northland, the possibility of a worldclass airplane manufacturer. And on the Eastside, Ollie Gates’ plan for the Black Heritage District.

Yet the people who live here – those of us who travel to and from work on this city’s streets – proud as we are of everything that makes Kansas City great – and all that will make it greater still…We see. We see the vacant lots between the museums. We see the reality amid the renaissance. We see the reality that many of the streets and sidewalks leading to our new attractions are – quite simply – broken. They’re broken because we have not paid to get them fixed. They’ve been so broken for so long that it’ll cost billions to fix them.

We see the reality of our neglected sewer system. Bringing this system into the 21st century will cost more than $3 billion. We see the reality of our debt. We pay $120 million per year—roughly the cost of 3,000 miles of resurfaced streets or the salary of 2,000 city employees—just to service the debt. And the unpleasant reality is that, despite our hard work this year, our budget remains structurally imbalanced. Our expenditures will grow at 4 percent while our revenues grow at just 2 percent.

And if our citizens are happy with the new Sprint Center, the reality is that they’re unhappy with lots of other stuff. In the annual citizen satisfaction survey, they ranked us below the metropolitan average in almost every single category. And there were—care to guess?—44 such measures. In several areas, we were dead last. I keep hearing that perception is reality. But I’m here to tell you: reality is reality.

And it’s time for us to align our reality with our imagination – not just at 18th and Vine – but throughout the city. This year, your new Mayor and Council have taken giant steps toward making this happen.

First, we agreed as a Council to reign in our debt. Debt was out of control because the city didn’t have a debt policy. Now we have a good one. A second step was to bring discipline to our use of economic development tools. For years, we did not have a policy to guide our use of incentives. Now we have a good one. A third and critical step was to bring our spending under control. The highlight of my first year was when the City Council and I came together to adopt a budget that was---- refreshingly . . . sane! This was politics at its best.

These are major accomplishments! If we were to do nothing else for the next three years, our first term together will have been a success. We made three major steps that our predecessors were unwilling or unable to make. And while all of my colleagues on the council deserve credit and thanks, there is one council member whose leadership was instrumental in all three of these achievements. Deb Hermann. – From the bottom of my heart – I want to thank Deb not only for the budget, but for helping to make this rookie’s first year in office a productive one.

Of course, challenges remain. Today I’m going to outline ten of them. This council is the most informed, engaged and energetic the city has seen in decades. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be talking with my fellow council members to find a champion for each of these challenges: The first of these challenges is the need to fund basic infrastructure maintenance. We need to resurface the streets. We need to fix curbs and sidewalks. We need to keep our bridges safe and in good repair. According to our citizens these are the most important services the city provides.

And yet – year after year – citizens tell us they’re not satisfied with the way these services are being provided. They tell us in surveys, and they tell us to our faces at town hall meetings. From a business perspective – this is not a good thing. Our citizens are our customers – and we’re competing for them with other cities and towns across the region. If we fail to provide the services they want most, they’ll live somewhere else.

Second, we need to bring our sewer system up to modern standards. Our system has over 6 billion gallons of overflow each year. This is bad for the environment—not only for our neighbors down stream, but also for our own neighborhoods. And we’re under the gun from the federal government to fix it.

It’s a simple fact that we have to face these challenges and overcome them. But it won’t be easy. We have to find the money. So then the third challenge—to build regional partnerships to fund regional amenities. We need to do this not just because of fairness, but to be smart with the money. And that means being efficient and effective. Kansas City, Missouri has always been the region’s flagship and will remain so. We give the region its identity. The suburbs depend on us.

During the budget debate, the zoo’s supporters flooded us with e-mails urging full financial support for the zoo. Most of those supporters live outside the city limits. But if the region wants a world-class zoo, a world-class arena and a worldclass war museum, then the region has to help provide them. One city simply can’t afford to do it alone. That’s an effectiveness issue.

And if Kansas City alone tries to fully fund these amenities, we have to cut elsewhere—namely basic services. When we do that, people move away – encouraging even more sprawl. That’s an efficiency issue. It impacts the overall efficiency of the metro area, which shows, for example, in the rising costs of transportation. So this isn’t a complaint about Kansas City taking one for the team. This is a challenge to us all to take pragmatic steps to maintain the quality of life the entire metro area has come to depend on.

A fourth challenge is to bring our retirement systems and health care benefits in line with standard business practices. Most workers across the country handle their retirements through 401K programs. Our pension fund is about as modern as our sewer system.

We can also save money by consolidating our health insurance packages. Right now we have different insurance plans for different sectors of government. We can get a better deal if we buy for the entire work force. To the citizen, these changes seem like no-brainers. But at City Hall, no change goes un-resisted. Still, I know that this council has the political will to get these changes made.

A fifth challenge is to make it easier to do business in Kansas City. Last summer, several council members and I met with a group of frustrated restaurant owners. They showed us a thin file of documents needed to open a restaurant in Kansas. Then they hoisted a fat folder stuffed with forms – including a $10,000 lawyer bill – and said that’s what they needed to open an identical business in Kansas City.

We can’t keep doing business this way. If it’s easier and cheaper to open shop across the state line—shop owners will go across the state line. A sixth challenge is to make it easier to move around Kansas City. If conventional wisdom is to be believed, we’re not yet ready for a regional light rail system. But that same conventional wisdom had it that Clay Chastain’s plan would get voted down.

It’s clear to me that if we present voters with a light rail system that gets them where they want to go—from downtown to the suburbs and the stadiums and the airport—they’ll vote for it in a heartbeat. Especially in a November election. A presidential election. When tens of thousands of people flood the polls to vote for progress and change.

A seventh challenge, and a critical one, is improving our educational system. On a recent trip, I met a man who told me he used to live in Kansas City, Missouri. But, he said, like so many young families, they chose to move to Kansas when his kids reached school age. Then he told me that he and his wife earn a combined income of four hundred thousand dollars a year.

We can’t afford to keep losing families this way. But – as long as we remain divided and at odds about education in the urban core – families will continue to look elsewhere for better options. I believe we should start with a bottoms-up educational summit. We need to build a political consensus about what we want from our schools. And that consensus must cross racial lines.

An eighth challenge is to build a new agenda for dealing with the leadership in Jefferson City and Washington D.C. Part of the reason why we had such a hard time with the budget this year is because we - as a city – have to shoulder much of the burden of services that should be provided by the state and federal governments. We need to change the focus of our efforts in Jefferson City and Washington.

In recent years, the city has focused its legislative agenda on development incentives like TIF. We need to focus instead on larger issues that better reflect our values. We need to fight for more money for health care, for alternatives in crime prevention, and for education and social services. And we need allies. An urban alliance.

The moment is right. It’s an election year. Politicians will listen to us— especially if we speak in unison with our counterparts in Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, St. Joe, Columbia, Springfield, and – yes – even in St. Louis.

As a ninth challenge, we need to continue using incentives to encourage our economy to grow. Not just downtown or on the Plaza or north of the river. But in the forgotten parts of our city. In my inaugural address, I said that the first TIF that crossed my desk had darned well better be for the Eastside. What I didn’t understand then is that the tools we have—like TIF—don’t work well there. They’re geared toward big projects in wealthier areas.

So we need to create "New Tools" for economic development. New tools that will help revitalize the economically distressed areas. Tools that will work for us as we turn our attention to neglected neighborhoods. Tools that will help us make 27th and Prospect – once again – as nice as 63rd and Brookside. In this effort, I intend for us to take a national lead, – to make Kansas City a model for other cities to look to for solutions to the problem of disinvestment in the urban core.

To create these new tools, I’m convening a symposium on May 5 where we’ll generate ideas for economic development in the urban core. I’ve invited several dozen community, business and political leaders to participate. From there, I’ll work with the council and city staff to transform these ideas into policies and plans. Then – we’re going to make them work. In a sense, what we’ll be doing is turning the old façades at 18th and Vine into reality. We’ll be making the vibrant neighborhoods that Ollie Gates remembers come alive again!

All of these challenges culminate in a tenth challenge—the most critical one we face. We need to repopulate the urban core. Since the 1980s, we’ve gained 50,000 new residents north of the river and lost almost as many south. As a result, our tax base has all but flat-lined. Worse, our economy has weakened. In 1970, Kansas City, Missouri’s market share of the metro economy was 40 percent. Now it’s less than 20 percent.

If you go to 44th and Cyprus—in the heart of our city—you’ll feel as if you’re in a rural area. All around you’ll see open fields of grass, with nothing but crumbling concrete steps coming up from the street to remind you of the houses that once filled the neighborhood. To reverse this trend, Kansas City will need great strength. Fortunately - that’s something we have in abundance. We have strength of location. That’s why a great city rose in this spot. It’s where the Missouri meets the Kaw and turns northward—a perfect station for western expansion. It’s where the railroads later converged, and then the highways, and the international Airport. It’s where our ability to adapt and grow has forged a new crossroads for the global economy. We also have strength of character and personality. For whatever else the great cities of the world might have—not one of them has the Spirit of Kansas City. This Spirit is the one-of-a-kind quality that opened the eyes of Dan and Debra Engravalle.

Not too long ago, the couple – who come from the New York area – scored some free plane tickets. Dan said to Debra, “I’m hungry for barbeque. Let’s go to Kansas City.” After being here just a few days, Debra said—“I’d like to live here.”

And they moved! Now they’re settled in the Northland. And they’ve brought their business with them. Best of all, they’re urging friends and family to move to Kansas City too.

I’ve asked Engravalles to come here today. Dan, Debra, could you please stand so your fellow Kansas Citians can meet you? The Engravalles love how there’s so much to do here. They love how they can enjoy the amenities of big city life and still see deer and wild turkey from their patio. They love that they can see and do it all without the East-Coast hassle. And what they love the most is the friendliness of the people. Folks – Let me tell you – Boomtowns have been built on less.

Looking across this room, I see the political strength we’ll need to take this city over the top, to help 50,000 more people see what the Engravalles’ see: a community of choice. We’re going to pull this off!

We’ll do it with the big things like light rail. And, more importantly - we’ll do it by paying attention to the small things: Basic services – Infrastructure – Better business practices. And development incentives for neighborhoods that need them most.

My friends, we are a strong city. And we are about to emerge as a city that dreams. A city that plans. And, above all, a city that works------for everyone.

Thank you.

draw a line through it by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Memories this week of the sanitation workers strike 40 years ago in Memphis has me thinking of how the struggling economy has been affecting the lives of folks. El Presidento Bush, the lamest duck, has been quacking in the wind for the last 7 years while Americans finish the only economic expansion in the history of the United States where real wages did not increase. To be followed by a deepening recession.

Quack on Mr. President. Quack onto your red carpet like a Peabody Hotel duck and into the elevator and take it to top floor were you are safe and sound from the likes of having to deal with the problems that Americans really fear. They fear unemployment. They fear inflation. They fear our loss of standing in the world. They fear the fall of the dollar. bin Laden. Just another nutball with a grudge. He doesn't live around the corner where the deepening recession lies.

Kansas City recently passed a budget for the 2009 fiscal year. They had to slash approximately 55 million dollars from the original budget offered to the council by the city manager because the city simply isn't taking in enough money to meet our needs.

How do cut you cut 55 million dollars from a budget? You draw a line through it. It seems simple, and it is. You draw a line through it. Just like at home when the money gets tight. Movies? Draw a line through them. Dinner date? Draw a line through it. New wardrobe? Line. New computer? Line. Depending upon the size of the cuts needed, and the fiscal difficulties you might be having, you just draw a line through it.

If things are real bad you have to draw a line through your mortgage payment. Hopefully, you've drawn lines through other things, of less importance than your housing, before you get to the mortgage payment. But what else could you, if forced to, draw a line through? Education? Recessions are the best time to be in school; as the job markets are usually dampened. Food? Let's hope not.

So what did the city draw a line through?

Overtime. Typically, in any budget that the first thing to go as salaries often constitute the largest component of any budget. And they should. If it's not about the people, then it's about something other than the people. What do you want to stand for?

The city also drew a line through the eternal flame on the top of Liberty Memorial. The flame is actually a light cast through a steam vent which results in the flickering nature seen at night. The flame was turned off the very next day after the city passed its budget. Turning off the flame was symbolic, as was the flame.

The Mayor's professed priorities for the budget were 4 things: streets, codes, cops and kids. If the Mayor has learned anything in 10 months, it's how to use a sound bite. That said, there were some budget items related to the aforementioned items that didn't get funded. Some kids summer programs didn't get funded. Some police officer positions didn't get filled. Streets? Well, if there's less money in the budget for street I don't see how they are going to improve.
This process could work the same way with our billion dollar monthly military budget for Iraq. Want it to go away? Draw a line through it.

Need a pen?

obama endorsed by grizzlies and cobras by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Senator Barack Obama was endorsed today by members of the Butler Community College National Championship Football team "the Grizzlies" at a rally in El Dorado, Kansas. Senator Obama spent part of Kansas Day, which celebrates the birth of Kansas statehood, in the birthplace of his grandfather.Kansas Governor Kathleen Seblius gave her support for Senator Obama at the rally with calls for bipartison unity. This stood in stark contrast to one chilly Grizzly, who, after waiting outside for an hour-and-half in single digit temps and blustery winds, told his pal, "dude! I just want a picture for my facebook page!"

The fullback's maneuvering skills paid off, because later he was seen in the front row shaking Obama's hand. He then quickly turned his back on the candidate, whipped out his cell phone, and got the prized picture. No doubt he'll soon be scheduling a meetup with coeds to discuss some serious issues. The Obama campaign was also courting female voters in Kansas and Missouri as Governor Sebelius and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill were on hand at today's rallies to lend support to the candidate, provide photo ops, and garner local coverage of Obama. Incumbent juniors(McCaskill) and term-limited (Sebelius) Democrats are beginning to hedge their bets about the eventual nominee; early support can bring the spoils of victory.

Just a few hours later at a rally in Kansas City, members of the Marching Cobras Drum and Dancing Corps gave the Senator and the assembled thousand(s) of supporters, a rousing stomp and a joyous welcome. The Cobras may have lost a step over the years, but they can still bring the funk when needed. All the noise couldn't bring out Kansas City Mayor Funkhouser whose invitation to the event was likely withdrawn after being served today with an official challenge calling for his recall. We did note that Alvin Brooks, Funkhouser's foe in last year's election, had a center-stage spot on the podium, directly behind Obaman, McCaskill, and Sebelius.

[correction and apology: The KC Star ran a photo in today's paper that clearly showed the Mayor front and center at the event. Our vantage point, from the cheap seats, while offering a view of some of the backstage manueverings, didn't allow us to see everyone who came and went].

live blog:mayor funkhouser's state of the city address by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

another first for warrior ant press. live blogging of mayor mark funkhouser's state of the city address from all souls unitarian church in kansas city, mo. we are using a olpc (one laptop per child) computer (more on that later) which has a tiny keyboard and we have sticky fingers, so caps are off and misspellings may be frequent. get used to it, just as you may have to get used to the mayor's parsed approach. or least what we thought would be a parsed approach when he was elected. also, our editor is off today, so your hearing it straight from one of the worker ants, live and unedited.

Well, not exactly.

We'd hoped to bring you a live blog from Mayor Mark Funkhouser's State of the City address but technical problems prevented that from happening. We were there, live-blogging the Mayor's speech, but the tool, and our use of it, didn't quite perform to the expectations needed to pull it off.

This was our first attempt at mobile blogging, a miserable failure by any stretch of the imagination. Good thing we didn't send out a press release! We did learn some things, we just need to learn more things before we can confidently do it. And we will. This is the tool that we hope to take to the Democratic National Convention and use for mobile blogging. We've got months to work out the kinks before that happens. A good thing.

So the the speech. One of the problems that we had today, besides with the wireless signal, was retrieving our blog notes after we made them. If and when, we recover them, we'll share them with you, because there were a number of telling quotes from the Mayor today, but as it is, we're going on our memory, which isn't perfect so bear with me. Some corrections may be forthcoming.

In short, the Mayor gave the kind of speech that got him elected in the first place. First, he told the brutal truth about the city, then he offered some suggestions about how to fix the problems, both from the Mayor's perspective as well as the city's.

There are 4 major problems facing the city.

I. The city has been, and continues to be on an unsustainable path of operation and growth. Why?
a) The city spends more money than it has and doesn't fix the problems that need fixing. We build many grand things, i.e. stadiums, frequently at the expense of putting off until tomorrow, things that should be done today. This raises the cost of doing them. The city has 6 billion dollars worth of needed infrastructure improvements. It has an additional 2-3 billion dollars worth of sewer repairs needed. The costs of neglect are reaching uncontrolled proportions. The debt load right now alone is huge (40 million a year), and service on the debt has to be paid before streets, bridges, sidewalks, and roads can be fixed. Unless we check spending, this will get worse.

The budget for FY09 was initially projected to be 45 million dollars short. Because it has to be balanced, the money has to come from somewhere and the pattern has been to put off today, what you won't do tomorrow. "Folks, that has to stop."

b) This year the city took in $9 million less than expected and spent $9 million more. Again, that pattern has to stop.

c) The city isn't growing, the tax base is shrinking, and the needs are escalating. We need 20,000 more people downtown to make it a viable venture. The city is hung-out-to dry in the Power and Light deal. Typically, the margin of revenue-to-debt on a project should be 1.3, no less than 1.2 for those who aren't risk adverse. The revenue to debt ratio for the power and Light district is 1.02. If it looses, then Kansas City and the taxpayers will have to pay the debt load.

II. Citizens are unsatisfied. Of 45 categories of services that citizens were asked about, Kansas City ranks below the suburban average on every single one. This level of satisfaction will not allow the city to grow and has to be improved drastically or people will continue to leave and the city will continue to lose taxpayers.

III. For many, many years unemployment rates in Kansas City were at, and frequently below the national average. Beginning in 2001, the rates began to climb. Today they are at 7.5 percent and for African-American males, the rates are 45 percent. This is untenable and poses a huge threat to city. Light rail can help alleviate some of this by providing jobs and development in economically underprivileged areas of the city.

IV. The level of discourse has to change. People in power resist change at every turn. They circumvent those who advocate change by almost every means possible and that includes diminishing their opponents via trivialization, petty bickering, and talking about things about which they have no business to talk about, for example Christmas letters. We have to communicate better and here the Mayor included himself.

He ended his speech with a quote from Michelle Obama when she asked about why would you want to be in politics given how difficult it is and how vindictive and mean-spirited people can be.

"We’re not going to keep running and running and running, because at some point you do get the life beaten out of you. It hasn’t been beaten out of us yet. We need to be in there now, while we’re still fresh and open and fearless and bold. You lose some of that over time. Barack is not cautious yet; he’s ready to change the world, and we need that. So if we’re going to be cautious, I’d rather let somebody else do it, because that’s a big investment of time, just to do it the same way. There’s an inconvenience factor there, and if we’re going to uproot our lives, then let’s hopefully make a real big dent in what it means to be president of the United States.”
Michelle Obama to Lelsie Bennets, Vanity Fair, Dec.27th, 2007

The Mayor then took questions from the audience for 30 minutes and dealt with light-rail funding issues (needs to be regional), 3 am bar closing downtowns (not going to change until the citizens ask for it to change), and how the Bannister Mall project was changed to make it a better deal for the city.

re: the mayor's parsed approach. He did not parse words today. You would have never a speech like that from a feel-gooder like Mayor Kay Barnes, or from most members of the past, or even current city council. Now the question is, are citizens ready to change?