Joe Miller: Three Reasons to Give Thanks for KC Mayor Mark Funkhouser

The Star’s city politics kingmaker, Yael Abouhalkah, issued a mea culpa this week for having helped Mark Funkhouser get elected mayor four years ago.

I suppose I should do the same thing here.

I suppose I should also respond to the Funk’s latest online video, in which he described everyone against him as a corrupt zombie who wants Kansas City to remain a patronage trough. Here again, Yael had a good response when he pointed out that virtually all of Funk’s initial supporters for his campaign are now against him.

And we’re all just as a anti-hog-trough as we were back then.

But I’m not going to do any of that. Instead, I’m going to celebrate Funkhouser’s accomplishments in office. And I’m going to look back at some of the good times we had.

But I’m not going to do any of that. Instead, I’m going to celebrate Funkhouser’s accomplishments in office. And I’m going to look back at some of the good times we had.

Truth is, there was some of both.

I think Funkhouser’s biggest accomplishment has been the drastic reduction in the number of metal plates on KC streets.

That was one of his most straightforward campaign promises, and it’s pretty much been achieved. I don’t think anyone who drives KC streets with any regularity can deny that there are far fewer plates now than there were four years ago.

I would credit this success entirely to Funk. He made a big deal of the issue on the campaign and continued to push it both publicly and behind the scenes and this led city staff to respond quickly and effectively.

Another was the first budget the Mayor and Council approved in 2008.

The budget that former City Manager Wayne Cauthen submitted that year was atrocious. It was full of accounting tricks and it would’ve put the city in a very dangerous position.

Funkhouser faced a serious challenge here. He had just tried to fire Cauthen, and his move backfired in the worst way. Politically, he couldn’t criticize anything Cauthen did because it would be perceived as a power move.

But he carefully read the letter that Cauthen submitted explaining the budget, and he found in it the words to criticize Cauthen’s budget. So he used Cauthen’s own  words to turn the rest of the Council against him.

One senior city staffer described this to me as “a master stroke,” and it set in motion three years of sound budgetary practices.

Lastly, I think Funkhouser has done a good job picking people to serve on boards and commission. As he promised, he’s looked outside the in-crowd to bring in some new blood and new ideas. His appointments to the TIF Commission, which oversees the city’s biggest tax break program, were particularly good: Margaret May, an Eastside neighborhood leader; Warren Adams-Leavitt, a longtime community organizer; Stretch, an artist and urban redeveloper.

The same is true for the other tax-break boards. And for the library board. And for the arts commission.

Each of those boards have received appointments of people who are smart, compassionate and who bring a fresh perspective.

SO there you go. Three important, real positive things Funkhouser has done for the city.

[Insert your own kicker punchline here.]

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3 Responses to Joe Miller: Three Reasons to Give Thanks for KC Mayor Mark Funkhouser

  1. Gavin says:

    appointments
    Anyone can find places to disagree with broad statements, so I hope I don’t come across as nitpicky, but I have to disagree with you on at least one appointment that Funkhouser made that was pretty disastrous: Frances Semler. She was a disastrous choice for the KC Board of Parks & Recreation. Who told Funkhouser that it would be a good idea to appoint someone from the freaking MINUTEMEN to a post like that? And he continued to back her even after La Raza and the NAACP threatened to pull their conventions from Kansas City. She was a disaster and Funkhouser lacked the political acumen to see that it was a bad appointment and he lacked the political acumen to back away from the choice entirely.

  2. Murrell says:

    Blackmail pure and simple
    So it’s better to be blackmailed and bullied by two blatantly racist organizations, the “freaking” LaRaza (the Race) and the “freaking” juvenile and irrelevant NAACP, than to stand with your appointee?
    Sure, fold your tent, and run like hell for cover! Let the convention threat decide policy….typical ass-kissing liberal response. So typical.

  3. Steve says:

    BLACKMAIL PURE AND SIMPLE: REVISITED
    Sounds like Gloria found this post

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