Tracy: KCTV Mayoral Debate; Sly James Mops Up Floor with Mike Burke

Even before the first question, Sly James scored the first basket..

He stepped out from the podium (that’s called breaking the 4th wall in theatre) and extended his hand to mayoral rival Mike Burke. It was the difference between an alpha male and a behind-the-scenes guy best at setting up the volleyball for someone else to spike. 

Score: James 1, Burke 0,  Game on.

In opening statements, James asked an intriguing open-ended, rhetorical question. How would you describe a bumper sticker for KCMO without mentioning BBQ, jazz or fountains?  Burke came off as nervous, with a statement that was neither visual nor memorable.  He looked like a slightly-flabby Mike Huckabee, his voice is clenched and too high.  

The moderator, investigative reporter Stacey Cameron from KCTV5 played a bit of dirty pool by altering the question that was supposed to be identical for both candidates.  And he asked some really loaded questions that no self-respecting lawyer, James or Burke, would answer.  Like, will you raise property taxes or sales taxes to pay for new sewers?  Burke dodged to the left, suggesting a federal infrastructure tax.  James dodged to the right, proposing a STATEwide infrastructure tax. 

Call that round even.

Next, Cameron asked will you take the mayoral pension.  James drew the first laugh of the night: “I would like to be elected first!”  Humor is always disarming.  Score a 2nd point for James.  

Star reporter Steve Kraske asked what was the biggest difference between the two.  Once again, James went visual: “Obviously, I look more like Denzel Washington,” he quipped.

Thus addressing the elephant in the room — that he is black- in a fun over-the-top manner. 

Burke reminded the audience that an Agent of Change requires experience.  But even when he was right, Burke was no James Bond.  He’s just not very convincing or compelling. 

Point 3 to Sly James.

Ed Reyes from Dos Mundos asked about utilizing the Latino population.  And Burke responded as if he was debating KC Mayor Mark Funkhouser:

“It will not be an afterthought in a Burke administration,” he said. 

Talking about yourself in the 3rd person is so Charlie Sheen James vaulted pictorially into the present, “We’ve already done this, when we assembled our TEAM.” 

Again, point: James.

James’ one gaffe – and it was a big one – came when he responded to the question by Eric Wesson from The Call, about the $900 lunch by the police.  James was flippant: “Who in this room hasn’t exceeded an expense account one time?” 

Oh. My. God.  I heard the room gasp. 

Burke won that round by naming four or five specifics:  “I’ll get tough with the Police Board.  We will select the next Chief of Police.  We can save $2 million on healthcare.  And consolidate expenses for IT and HR.”  

Most debates go downhill but this one really heated up. 

Regarding the downtown hotel, Moderator Cameron asked in a snotty tone if KC should negotiate in public, on the public access TV station.  James hit a homerun answering candidly: “No!  We should not.  Transparency is good, but negotiating on TV is bad.  Look at Court TV.” 


The moderator tucked his tail back into his trousers, while James pressed on, with more sound bites and great quotes: “Indianapolis has all our conventions.  They took them!  You can’t be half in and half out.”

Burke tried valiantly to assert leadership, “I’ve talked to developers.  We are bleeding conventions.  I served for 5 years on the Convention and Visitors Bureau.  But no, I would not guarantee the bonds.  I like the Cincinnati model–they only helped buy the land.”  

So even tho Burke had more facts, James had the charisma.  

The last question was the hate Kansas one: about losing AMC Theatres to Kansas.  The border war, 400 jobs, $47 million.  Moderator Cameron again tried to box in the candidates, asking, “Will your first visit be to Jeff City???”

James countered like a leader with: “No, that might be my 2nd or 3rd visit.  First I’ll go to St. Louis, then Springfield.  We will work together when we go to Jeff City.  And we won’t just send some letters at the last minute.  The city can’t compete by itself with the entire state of Kansas.”

Burke tried once again, with the lame platitude, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.  And I’ve actually BEEN to Jeff City many times.  Don’t let Kansas pick us apart.”

But when Burke tries so hard, and even when he’s right, it just comes off as weakness and whining.

Clearly, despite the $900 luncheon gaffe, Sly James is a natural leader; he won the March 8 debate. 

And I predict he will win March 22.

Tracy Thomas – who lives and works in the great state of Kansas – writes commentary and satire for KCConfidential.  Reach her at She also choked out a $100 donation to fellow Centurion Burke in the primary

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18 Responses to Tracy: KCTV Mayoral Debate; Sly James Mops Up Floor with Mike Burke

  1. smartman says:

    Neither of these gentlemen has what it takes to clean up the mess we’ve made. Dreck public sshools, shoddy infrastructure, no growth in good paying jobs, crime, etc. The perfect candidate would be a combination of the two. Charisma is great if you’re trying to get laid. President Obama has a great deal of charisma. It’s no substitute for leadership and experience. Neither of them have really articulated their vision or plan for getting us from point A to point B. They talk in broad brush strokes with little detail. The media is not asking and demanding answers to the tough questions. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. We won’t get fooled again, or will we?

  2. HARLEY says:

    moderator was the worst…Glazer should moderate!
    his questions actually contained answers…and they were way too long for a short debate.
    Who got this guy. Glazer should have been the moderator….we would have questions like…
    1. Do you think we should allow prostitutes in the power and light district.
    2. Whats your opinion….hair club for men or bosley medical…who does the better job?
    3/ What about dui’s…should the police stop issueing dui’s in kc.
    4. and the biggest question on every kc resideents mind…..
    and now that kc has let cerner….amc and now all the stripper whores move to kansas…
    will you visit Bazookas again?

  3. chuck says:

    smartman’s moniker is, imo, well deserved.
    I lmao when he posts and love his takes.

    Smartman is cognitively dissonant with respect to our mayoral candidates. One is a charismatic rookie, and the other’s oerve includes “smoke-filled-back-room-handshake-deals which have frequently resulted in a distinct lack of economic acceleration for this city.

    Buck up smartman, either candidate will be a galactic improvement over our last mayor, who, caught in a Death Star tractor beam of his wife’s insecurity and need, abrogated his responsibilities and the mandate of the people to narcissism, stupidity and self destruction.

    I like Tracy’s article here and take note of Botello’s observation that the election will be boring because the candidates like each other. I think its great that they respect each other and will, I hope stick to the issues.

    SLY: *on the phone* “Ok Mike, I gotta go.”

    MIKE BURKE: “Ok.”

    SLY: “Hang up.”

    MIKE BURKE: “No, you hang up.”

    SLY: “No, you hang up.”

    MIKE BURKE: “I hung up first last night.”

    SLY: “Come on Mike, hang up.”

    Me, I love it, I think that civility and friendship will breed a more honest appraisal of the issues in the election.

    So smartman, no requiem for a dystopian future, but a nod to the gipper, its Morning in Kansas City.

    We have short memories, and are an impatient lot by design. Americans want Glengarry Glen Ross results fuckin yesterday. Thats cool, but the guy in office, putting down the coffee needs a little lebensraum and time to achieve results in the face of inherited chaos. Obama will be a great president imo. Sly will be a great mayor too.

    IMO, the election of a black president and the anticipated election of another black mayor is so fuckin American it gives me goosebumps. I swear to god I wanna stand up and sing God Bless America! It is real time metaphysical proof of MLK’s dream of content of character. MLK was the ultimate mainstreamer. Fuck diversity.

    Sly is hope for the future and a new paradigm at City Hall which includes, for the first time in a long time, the mandate of the people.

    Smartman, it ain’t “meet the old boss, same as the new boss” its “I CAN SEE FOR MILES AND MILES!!!”

  4. A casual observer says:

    Down for the Count!
    Tracy can definitely put words together. After reading this blog posting, I think I can skip all future debates … Just as long as she will be doing the recap.

    Ding, Ding, Ding. TKO for the lady in the ringside seats.

  5. smartman says:

    Coffee’s 4 Closers
    These two are more Sheldon Levine than Ricky Roma. KC needs an engine overhaul not new sparkplugs. We’re getting sodomized by Kansas….Kansas for God’s sake. The state whose number one tourist attraction is a furniture store named after another state. Kansas, the leech on our semi professional sports teams, cultural amenities, airport and so many other things they can’t afford on their own. Could these two be any more milquetoast? As for the whole black mayor thing, Nigger Please! Being black doesn’t even count in Sly’s favor or dis-favor depending on your prejudicial preference. He’s Bryant Gumble/Lionel Richie black. I’m more concerned with his barrister pedigree and monicker of “Sly”. For Stallone it works. Last lawyer I knew named Sly had an office in Queens and had an uncanny way of making witnesses “mis-remember”. The last time we bought into the whole “I’m a uniter not a divider” thing it didn’t work out so well. Fuck mediation, I want some lead-e-ation. Like the Staple Singers, can’t somebody just say, “I’ll take you there”. NOPE, we get two guys singin’ I got a brand new pair of roller skates and you got the brand new key. We’re gonna get screwed like Brad Pitt at a hairdressers convention.

  6. chuck says:

    Ok, be gloomy, sheesh…

  7. Kyle Rohde says:

    I was at the same debate…
    …and thought Burke won it decisively. As charismatic and likable as James is, Burke actually knows how the city government works and can hit the ground running. I like both guys and wish James could be the “vice-mayor” if such a postion existing – wait, it does – that’s Gloria’s job, right?

  8. bschloz says:

    The leads are weak!
    You’re weak…………
    2nd prize is a set of steak knives.
    3rd prize is your fired.

  9. Tracy Thomas says:

    Smartman, I request you ask Hearne to delete your comment
    for using the N. word on MY post.
    The new system does not allow him to edit a comment, it must be entirely deleted.
    This is the 2nd time this week you have used the N. word.
    You did it in the Greg Hall post about Heidi as well.
    It is racist.
    I request that you stop doing that.
    If you want to edit your comment, then email hearne, and he can send you the comment where YOU can delete the N. word and then repost it.
    Otherwise, take your racist banter off my post, please.

  10. smartman says:

    Me a Racist
    Yeah, I’m a racist, that’s why I’ve donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center for 30 years. That’s why I currently employ 7 black men in my contracting company. Men that didn’t know shit about construction or remodeling when I hired them. All I asked them to do was watch, listen,learn and bust ass. Several others that worked for me in the past have hung out their own shingles with my support and are making six figures. Soul Train reruns are one of my favorite things to watch. In high school when my friends listened to REO, ELO and BTO I listened to Cameo, Brick and Slave. Like my soul brothers I use the “N Word” as a term of love and affection and have since I was 15. You don’t know shit about me but you think you can call me racist because of one word. Stupid Ignorant Bitch. My actions speak much, much louder than your words.

  11. chuck says:

    There is a genuininely good argument for not only
    using the word nigger, but over using it.

    I am not being a smartass here.

    Demystification of that word, and the destruction of its power, for those who use it, for those whom it is used against, and for those whom it is used in conjunction with their every day vernacular, will, after all, make it just another word.

    Still an impolite word, like fuck, or cocksucker, but just a word.

    Connotations applied to the word nigger are always 100% subjective. If its an “on purpose word”, then usually its weaponized and a racial slur. If its descriptive in terms of context, then its colloquial.

    The problem is delegation of the “Nigger Word Police”. That delegation, is, once again, subjective and reduced by that very process to an egalitarian accusation along the lines of a Scarlet Letter.

    Many of our fellow readers are no doubt mortified by the saucy language on blogs, this one and others, and, would be even MORE mortified by the word nigger. Or, would they?

    Its just too damn subjective. Things change. Me, persoanlly, I think using the word Nigger in the 50s, 60s and 70s, was completely racist.

    30 years later, you can’t turn on the radio, go to a night club or watch TV without hearing this word.

    Clarification is impossible because the experts, black and white, yellow and brown will dissagree. That in conjunction with the First Amendment make outlawing a word impossible.

    If you stood up in the theater and yelled NIGGER!!!, no one would run for the exits and be trampled. You might be trampled, depending on what part of the city your in, or what color you are.

    Thats not good, imo.

    Demystify that word for the greater good. It is too powerful and in the end, I think, the irony is, that as it stands, it is an impediment for black people. jmo.

  12. chuck says:

    Tracy, I was thinking…
    Yesterday, at 9:26, when you posted your request to smartman, did you automatically assume he was white? Would it be ok, had he been black? Smartman’s use of the word in this case, is as a pronoun, which would certainly pass muster in the sense that it was not an overt racial slur.

    Only you can answer that question Tracy, but me, I think the word needs to be demystified and dissarmed.

  13. bschloz says:

    Because, African American Please….
    just doesn’t roll off the tongue….Love this blog love this thread…its a big hit over here in hymietown.
    EDIT BUTTON..HA…we got no stinkin edit button you gotta bring A game to Hearne’s place.
    Smartman you make Jim Jeffries look like Pat Boone…… maybe just end that N word with an A instead of R….dude that R is a little harsh and yes I’m assuming you are white and over 50.

  14. Tracy Thomas says:

    Chuck, I did consider if Smartman might be black
    Good question, Chuck. And yes, Hearne and I had discussed it. It still is not OK to use the N word, on MY posts, no matter what your race is. And not just because this post is about the mayor’s race, featuring a black man, Sly James, vs. the timid son of Tom Pendergast’s attorney.

    I had pretty much determined from Smartman’s use of language that he was white. Even tho he sprinkles in patois occasionally, trying to be “one of the guys”. And I am grateful that his comments today confirmed that he is indeed white.

    Here’s the deal, Chuck and Smartman and all you sad boys using this web site anonymously, perhaps when your viagra wears off…I write for free. Under my real name. I am a professional woman, self supporting. Recovering from a disability where I spent 3 months in a nursing home. It’s hard enough to get new advertising clients when I am a professed conservative. I certainly do not need to be associated with ENABLING anonymous racism.

    I took the time, when others did not, (even tho that is their so-called blog beat), to watch the KCMO mayoral debate, take extensive notes, write them up quickly and endure Hearne’s verbal abuse in the edit, so YOU could enjoy a scoring of the only televised debate, over your morning coffee.

    Whereas Smartman gets to reveal that he is still stuck in the Civil War, a resentful overseer of black crews. He gets to brag anonymously of how much he has done for his black workers. But let me assure you, as a CONTRACTOR, if he ever published his real name, he would LOSE CONTRACTS for his persistent racist use of the N. word. So he hides and brags. Sad, really. I do laud Smartman for training and developing new talent. But he is just as bad as those NFL owners who still have a self-esteem deficit, a power need to be ABOVE and not partnered with–the “hired hands”.

    As for your suggestion that we demystify the N word by overusing it–
    well, Chuck, you would not print your own name here, either, because you would surely lose YOUR clients or job (as smart as you are, I am fairly certain that like my favorite commenter, Harley/formerly JoJo, you are gainfully employed).

    Only a white man would suggest this nonsense. It will not fly with the black community, or us feminists, or the Jewish community, or the Asian community or the Hispanic community or the gay community. It’s only white men, hiding under their sheets, who suggest this crap. Your tribe has been losing contracts and losing power since the 60’s. Boo hoo.

    It is not up to YOU, white boy, to invent, with your high-falutin’ use of erudite private school language, how OTHER communities should tolerate your racism or other isms. You are the tribe of the resentful problem. Not the solution. It’s arrogant to pretend otherwise.

  15. Lorenzo Butler says:

    Thank you Tracy
    First and foremost, this is my real name. Secondly, I am a black man. Third, I created and helped coordinate the televised debate with my partners from KCTV 5.

    I can’t believe it is 2011 and people are trying to justify the use of one of the most evil words known to man. Tell me something, wouldn’t people find it odd if a white person was referred to as the N word? Demystify the word? Are you kidding me? That is along the lines of people saying racism no longer exists in America. Come on guys!!!

    Thank you Tracy for coming to the debate. Your review was entertaining and informative. I think we have two great candidates!

  16. chuck says:

    Tracy, I’m not really sure I deserve to be metaphorically
    placed under a sheet with Nathan Bedford Forrest because of a rhetorical premise. You are hoisted by your own petard.

    “Only a white man would suggest this nonsense. It will not fly with the black community, or us feminists, or the Jewish community, or the Asian community or the Hispanic community or the gay community.”

    Actually, it DOES fly with the aforementioned communities (ESPECIALLY the black community!) who use the word frequently and enthusiastically. There is the point of my analysis, which is that the word needs to be demystified because of its subjective nature as related to percieved harm.

    “It is not up to YOU, white boy, to invent, with your high-falutin’ use of erudite private school language, how OTHER communities should tolerate your racism or other isms. You are the tribe of the resentful problem. Not the solution. It’s arrogant to pretend otherwise.”

    For your imformation Tracy, I went to Ruskin High School and dropped out, got drafted and went inot the service for 4 years, then paid my way through UMKC.

    My mutherfuckin name is Chuck Fuckin Lowe and I don’t fuckin pretend to try and make any fuckin body like me. Its a fuckin “as is” sale with no fuckin refunds.

    So why don’t YOU take your smarmy fuckin sanctimonious elitest attitude and obviously modest, self appointed qualifications, and sharpen them where the fuckin sun don’t shine.

  17. Just another racist. says:

    “had pretty much determined from Smartman’s use of language that he was white.”


  18. professional woman, recovering from a disability says:

    Sorry, you are a protected class,recovering from a disabilty
    Which, as you have made apparent, makes you better by way of circumstance.

    Fuckin idiot.

    Hey dumbfuck–read Chris Hitchens and puke in your crotch with insecurity.

    I got some fuckin medals for ya, you dumbass, that don’t mean shit to me, pin them on your ego.

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