Kansas City’s electorate is increasingly apathetic and disinterested in most local issues. But rather than just complaining on hate radio like most people frustrated with the status quo, I think it’s important to examine the folks who determine most elections within the city limits. For veterans of this scene, the info might be elementary but it’s interesting how many people don’t know this stuff and then wonder why local politicos are so incompetent.
Here we go:
Let’s start with an organization that has been in the news as of late: The Committee For County Progress has a long and storied career that starts with an epic election in 1964 that weeded out corruption in Jackson County. Seriously, I can’t remember anything they’ve done since. Still these folks are the most powerful organized force dedicated completely to Jackson County issues and for the most part they determine who will be elected.
The Citizens Association is another organization steeped in history. The group traces its legacy back to the Pendergast days. I was at a panel they put on last night getting into a slap fight with Veteran Star reporter Dave Helling. What I noticed was that just about every important person in Kansas City Proper politics showed up. Those are powerful resources on which to draw and this group is often underestimated.
Let’s not forget Freedom Inc. On the Eastside. These folks are often the target of some rather merciless criticism and they’ve had some significant campaign finance reporting problems. Still their endorsement is sought after and I like the way they take cash from politicos rather than trying to lobby with funds like most other special interests. Complain all you want, this group still holds some significant sway East Of Troost.
La Raza Political Club – On Kansas City’s Westside and Northeast area this group is really just the extension of veteran political denizen Lali Garcia’s Rolodex. That said, the 80-something lady has a list of contacts that runs all the way to Washington D.C. There’s a common misunderstanding that this group is affiliated with the National Council of La Raza but the connection is informal. LRPC is mostly just a very powerful and influential lady offering her suggestions to an entire community that she has served for most of her life.
The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce isn’t a political group per se but not much in this town gets done without their blessing. One way or another, everybody with money in this town takes their cues from this group and in the long run cash rules the day when it come to politics.
Speaking of which, I’m gonna leave out all of the rinky-dink neighborhood groups because their influence is limited and overstated. What this list of important political groups demonstrates is that only rich people and voting blocs can make a difference. Locals should really stop deluding themselves that their single vote counts.
Sadly, these groups have been running things since the Baby Boom, but most couch potatoes don’t bother to become involved in the way this town’s politics operates. Lately, the Tea Party Movement has been making waves in Kansas City but they have yet to influence one single local election and all they’re really good for is carrying anti-Obama signs for a few hours after work.
Meanwhile, Kansas City is host to a vast array of political organizations which pretty much determine local elections but remain under the radar of most voters who cast their ballot in a clueless bliss.