First, a full disclosure: I’m going to vote for Mike Burke.
The troglodyte spewed all-caps glee all over his blog Saturday morning about how the Kansas City mayor’s race had “finally, thankfully” gone negative. He posted a YouTube video of an “attack ad” paid for by King Maker James B. Nutter, Sr., on behalf of Burke.
I watched it.
It’s not an attack ad. It’s a simple debate argument leadership style — the only issue the two too-friendly candidates have agreed to debate about.
The pro-Burke video offers a couple of examples of Sly James’s apparent indecisiveness and juxtaposes them to examples of Burke’s supposed decisiveness.
Debate 101. All extremely fair.
Of course, it’s no surprise that the sickly cave dweller has sensationalized it; that’s what makes his blog popular. But I have to admit that I was taken aback when I read James’s apoplectic response:
“Real leaders don’t change their character because they’re afraid of losing a campaign.
“Coming as it does on the same day that questions have been raised about a possible no-bid, insider deal for Mike and his law firm at the Port Authority, this all just seems like so much politics as usual. Mike has run a clean campaign up until now; he shouldn’t resort to this kind of nonsense. If this is what he means by ‘experience,’ then he and I have very different understanding of what that word means.”
This says a lot more about James than Burke.
For one, it exposes James’s thin skin.
Second, it’s a character attack, and, unlike leadership style, both agreed at the onset to not debate one another’s character.
So, it was actually James who was the first to go negative.
The same post on Troggy’s Kansas City contains a quote from an anonymous source inside the Burke campaign:
“This is 3rd Party bullshit. It’s Nutter and his old cronies trying to stay relevant because they know we are going to win. They want to latch on to our campaign because we’re doing something new while they’re using the same, old tired tactics. We didn’t have anything to do with this ad.”
This quote says a lot about the Burke campaign, and possibly Burke himself, though it’s not exactly clear what it says.
One possibility is that a middling member of the campaign went rogue and fired off the missive to Troggy (Get it? Troglodyte? Basement-dweller? Tony! He needs his own pejorative, doesn’t he?), and Burke and his top aides are none too happy about it.
This makes sense because it’s not wise to diss Mister Nutter.
And because, like I said before, it’s not an attack ad. It’s a strong but decent ad that the campaign should be proud of.
The other possibility is that Burke and company are trying to have their cake and eat it too: reach the masses with a solid TV message, and, at the same time, make a bit of noise among the backstabbing insiders who thrive on Troggy’s Kansas City.
For my vote’s sake, I hope it’s the former.
And if it’s the latter, I hope that, if elected, the Burke administration will cut off all communication with Troggy’s Kansas City, and refuse to even acknowledge anything on the site.
Seriously. Both candidates are talking about restoring dignity to the Mayor’s Office, but they’re posing for pictures and providing information for a guy who has an absolute lack of decorum and integrity, who only wants everything in the city to turn to shit so that he has something to write about.
Freeze-out Troggy, Mike. Let that be your first, good use of the bully pulpit.
I have some experience with King Maker Nutter’s third-party ads.
Do you recall the “pigs at the trough” commercial from the Funkhouser campaign? Nutter paid for that. (I wish I could say I came up with the idea, but all credit goes to David Westbrook.)
Anyway, a loophole in the law allows groups to exceed donation and spending limits to create ads on behalf of a candidate, so long as they’re not officially or financially connected to that candidate’s campaign.
But everybody breaks this rule, including Mr. Nutter.
In addition to the pig-trough ad, he also paid for several radio spots, all of which were written by yours truly—the official campaign director for the campaign.
When we were meeting in Mr. Nutter’s office about the ads, the King Maker and his men were quite candid with me about the fact that we were operating somewhere south of the law, mostly just to make sure that I understood that this was to be our little secret.
I care about three things in this mayor’s race: art, bike paths and dogs parks.
In other words, economic development.
The bike-paths-and-dog-parks is shorthand for “stuff that today’s white-collar workers want,” which is a commodity Kansas City is short on. Way short.
Art fits under the stuff-that-today’s-white-collar-workers-want category, and it’s also one of the few areas in which Kansas City is a true national leader. No kidding. KC’s art scene is straight-up Top 10.
So our next mayor needs to recognize this. He’ll need to use the Mayor’s Office to support the arts community and to communicate to the rest of the nation that art is central to our identity as a city, and that our scene is world class.
I did a search on both candidates’ sites for “art,” “bikes,” “dogs,” and variations thereof.
From James’s site: nothing.
The only thing I could find anywhere online was a YouTube video where James says his plan for art is to create a TIF district to develop the barren stretch between the Crossroads District and 18th and Vine.
This is one of those good ideas with a really bad back end.
The good idea is obvious: The corridor needs to be developed.
The bad idea is to set up a tax break zone to do it. James wants it to be a city-run TIF district, which will solicit bids from developers. It sounds like a nightmare, and not at all in the spirit of artistic creation that gave us our arts district in the first place.
When Kay Barnes was mayor, she spearheaded a plan to give art-related businesses in the area a tax break, so as to protect them from being priced out by gentrification. It was a good idea, and it’s been executed well.
But I can tell you there was a lot of anxiety about it in the Crossroads when it came into being. Folks were worried the plan would be abused by greedy developers and their attorneys, and that city government would be deciding what is and isn’t art, which would not be good.
Imagine how they’ll react if the city suddenly throws their community to a pack of low-bidding developers. Scarier still, imagine what would happen to the art scene itself.
From Burke’s site: Lots of art, no dogs or bikes.
(I did find a quote from Burke when I searched the full web in which he, in his capacity as attorney for the Port Authority, crowed about the completion of a phase of Riverfront Heritage Trail, which is today, all these years after Burke’s Pollyanna quote, a true embarrassment: a paved path that begins grandly with a big sign and fancy landscaping but ends abruptly at an interstate onramp a mere 50 feet away.)
Burke writes in one of his newsletters, “I have long felt that Kansas City’s art and cultural resources are crucial to our economy, vitality and quality of life” and “I’ll establish an Office of the Arts within the Mayor’s Office within the first 90 days of my administration that will work collaboratively with the art-supporting organizations that currently operate in Kansas City.”
Works for me.
My only worry is that Burke might not have good taste in art. By good, I mean the kind of stuff you see in Dolphin Gallery or Grand Arts, not the kind of stuff you might see at an art fair in the parking lot of a shopping mall in the suburbs north of the river, where Burke lives.
But I was driving downtown the other day and I got to thinking about an article I wrote years ago for the Pitch about the sad legacy of Berkley Riverfront Park. The article was not favorable for the city and its economic development pros—a clique of which Burke was very much a part. Yet he complimented me on the story and said it was on point.
I’m not trying to be vain here; I read the article recently and I could barely slog my way through it. It’s just that the memory says something about Burke, I think.
And also, this memory about the article and Burke’s compliment reminded me of my new favorite part of Kansas City: the bike path and reclaimed wetlands that link Berkley Park with the pedestrian bridge at the end of Main Street.
The bridge was designed by one of the coolest architecture firms in town, El Dorado, and the path and wetlands is designed with a similarly cool contemporary mix of new modern stuff, decaying urban stuff, and natures.
In other words, it’s good art — not suburban at all.
And it was pulled together by the Port Authority, for whom Burke worked as attorney, as I mentioned earlier.
I know the Port Authority has problems, but those are sort of beside the point I’m making here:
Burke might have good taste.
Lastly, a riddle for extreme insiders: How in Our Lord God Cookingham’s name did Ken Bacchus get the endorsement from the Citizens Association?