Saturday, March 31, 2007

puppy power

Allie and I are trying to find a home for yet another fur orphan. Her name's Sadie. She's a puppy.

Last week we were walking our beasts when a car pulled to a stop beside us. The driver leaned out the window and asked if we'd like a puppy. If not, the driver said, she was going to take it to the park up the road and leave it there.

Not much deliberation on that one, as you might well imagine. In an instant Allie was leading an awkward, big-pawed mutt on a little leash.

Of course the first challenge was negotiating the whole arrangement with Gobo, our biter. I, being a complete and total idiot, decided that the best plan was to have the dogs meet right there on the sidewalk.

Bad move. because as soon as our canine demon got within striking range he had his fangy jaw clamped around the puppy's neck. I had to kick and punch him with all my might to keep him from killing her. As I rushed home to lock Gobo up and get the car for a trip to the emergency vet I heard the poor little thing squeeling with terror as it quivered in Allie's lap.

But there was no damage, thank god, and a friend of ours agreed to take her in until we found a home. And today we went all over town hanging up fliers and showing the floppy little scrub off.

Which woulda been great were it not March and unusually windy. I can't hardly breathe for all the polen. Why does the most highly anticipated time of year have to be accompanied by misery?

But I digress. Puppy power! If you want some, drop me a line.

Friday, March 30, 2007

king maker

The true force behind Funkhouser's miraculous win is revealed:

Thanks Laz. You rock!


On the day after, I was feeling all happy and sleep deprived. I wanted to spend money, so Allie and I made our way down Ward Parkway to the nearest mall. I bought a pair of Crocs, but I still wasn't satisfied, so I turned to Allie and said, "Baby, I wanna buy you a blouse."

So we went to Nordstroms and she got a real pretty one.

Then yesterday I heard her talking about it on the phone to one of her friends. I heard her say, "I don't know where he heard of blouses."

And I looked at her like, Huh?

Turns out it wasn't a blouse I'd bought her. It was a shirt.

I said, "But I thought a blouse was a woman's shirt."

She shook her head. I was wrong.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


My picture is on the front page of The Kansas City Star today. I'm off to the right of Mark Funkhouser and I look like a banshee on ecstasy.

We won!


After I lit my cigar, I wrapped my arm around Jeff Simon, the campaign committee chair, and said, "I can't believe it."

It seems like six years ago when I first met Jeff in Funk's dining room last November. I went to the meeting not sure what to expect. I'd gotten an e-mail from Mark saying he was running for mayor and he wanted my help. I thought it might be fun, but I didn't think we'd have a chance.

But then Mark leaned across the table, looked me in the eye and said, "I'm going to win this thing."

And I instantly believed him.

I'd like to say I believed we were going to win all along. And were it not for the frequent moments of extreme anxiety along the way I'd say that's true. There was just something supernatural about this campaign; there were too many perfect accidents and coincidences. And the buzz and enthusiasm around the campaign was so intense that I felt certain right up until the Jackson County results started coming in that we would win in a landslide.

Now that it's the day after it's dawning on me how close we were to losing it, how Brooks really could've crushed us if he'd done just a few things differently. If the mayor hadn't freaked out and made our main issue front-page news. If...

Right before Allie and I left the Beaumont Club last night Funk leaned over and shouted in my ear, "It's like a movie."

Damn straight. We pulled off a damned big Frank-Capra-style upset.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

take us to funky town!

The above video was made by a local artist who was so inspired by Funk's campaign he made a portable house out of yard signs and took pictures of it all over the city.

It's stuff like that that's made this campaign positively awesome.

So click play, let the funky beat send you dancing to the polls, and pass it on to a few friends.

Today is the one day when we have the power to bring about a change.


Monday, March 26, 2007


Cross-X has been named a finalist for the William Rockhill Nelson Award in nonfiction. Winners will be announced in may.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Mark's been raising pretty good money, but not enough to conduct polls. So we've had to rely on polls leaked to the media by others. And counting yard signs as we drive around town.

On the latter, we appear to be winning. But it get's weird sometimes.

Like, as I was driving to the Brookside St. Patrick's Day Parade a few weeks ago, toodling down Ward Parkway (this city's mansion row), I noticed one giant Funkhouser sign after another, compared to a mere two for Brooks. It was one of those moments when I felt in my gut that we'd win this thing. I thought, If these rich folks are coming out this strong for Mark, we're looking good.

Then, a week or so later, Allie and I were driving down Ward Parkway and we saw tons and tons of Brooks signs. And, oddly, some of the big Funkhouser signs had disappeared. It was one of those moments when I thought we might lose.

Allie was instantly suspicious. She thought Brooks supporters might have planted them without permission. I had a hard time buying this, though. I figured the wealthy elite would never stand for such tactics.

But yesterday we drove down Ward Parkway again. This time almost all the Brooks signs were gone. The same couple big signs I'd seen on that first day were still there. But the littler signs that had been so abundant a week earlier were now few and far between. Indeed, the ones I saw were in two yards: One of an empty house with a for sale sign out front; the other a house under construction. Oh, and there was another one snug up against a bush, hidden from view of the nearby house.

At home later last night night, I got a call from Gloria, Mark's wife, asking me to write a campaign press release about yard signs.

And here it is:
Statement on Stolen and Illegally Placed Yard Signs

It has recently come to our attention that yard signs – many of them the large four-foot-by-eight-foot variety – have been stolen from the front lawns of our supporters along Ward Parkway and Brookside. At the same time, our signs have been illegally planted on public property in the Northland. The Funkhouser campaign team does not condone, nor participate in, the placement of signs on public land.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I've never worked so freaking hard in my entire life.

But it's good.

And, BTW. All those things I've written about the mayor. I take them back. I love her. Really! I love her!!

Thank you Kay!!

From the bottom of my heart.

Thank you.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

first planting

I planted four 12-foot rows of peas today.

Every spring feels like Genesis all over again.

Glory be.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

dee williams

I put a Dee Williams sign in my yard the other day. She's running for 3rd District, at large.

I voted for her opponent, Melba Curls, in the primary, mainly on name recognition. And I like Melba. She went to Central High, and I've interviewed her about her experience being one of the first black students there after Brown v. Board. And she's always been supportive and accessible when I've raised issues about various bureaucrats trying to hold the Central debate squad back. I'd be very happy to have Ms. Curls serve on City Council.

But now that I've been to a few forums, I've decided to vote for Dee Williams.

Judging from her responses to questions at forums, she seems to have studied City Hall more closely than just about any other candidate. I'm impressed that her home page offers links to very good studies/plans on light rail, housing, infrastructure and TIF. I'm pleased to see that she's backing these.

And I like her experience:
• 30 years of promoting community and economic development

• Developed the City’s Minor Home Repair and Barrier Removal grant programs, designed to construct modifications that make the home more accessible.

• Developed the City’s New Construction program, which is responsible for new housing and new sub-divisions in underdeveloped neighborhoods

• Advisor and consultant to neighborhood groups in redevelopment planning

• Appointed by the Mayor as director of the “troubled” Kansas City Housing Authority

• Appointed by the city manager to manage the City’s failed housing agency

• Assisted in the development of downtown Quality Hill, Westside Housing, Northeast, Renaissance and Citadel developments.

• Former YMCA and Credit Union Board member

• Member of the Women’s Political Caucus

• Member of the Citizens Association

• Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, N.A.A.C.P., and National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials

Plus, I like, quite frankly, that she's not endorsed by Freedom, Inc. (Even though they're backing Sharon Sanders Brooks, who I would've ordinarily thought of as a Freedom outsider; and who probably only got the nod from the group because her opponent has a fraud indictment). I have a sense that Dee Williams has the courage to stand up to the insiders, and represent regular folks like me.

(And she also went to Central!)

Friday, March 16, 2007

parade queen

Last weekend I went to the Brookside St. Paddy's Day Parade. Allie was in it. She rode in a convertable with our friend Deb, who is trying to get a dog park opened in her neighborhood.

Midway through the parade, I was standing at 63rd and Brookside when I saw them go by. Allie was sitting up on the car, smiling and waving to the crowd. And I just thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. And I thought, out of all of these people, and all the other people on earth, she's chosen me to be her husband.

Good feeling.

Been having that feeling a lot lately. I don't know if it's a newlywed thing, but Allie looks more beautiful to me now than she ever has.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

big bad beth

I think Tony is wrong.

Bether Gottstein doesn't look like her. Or her.

No. She's a dead wringer for her. (Ok. Hair not quite as good.)

Anyway, at the end of tonight's candidate forum in South KC, during the closing statement, Beth worked in a slam on her opponent, Doug Gamble. One minute she was laying out the usual platitudes, when all of a sudden she said, completely off subject, "You know, you learn a lot of things when you run for office. When I began, I never would've expected that my opponent got a $68 million TIF for a hotel on the Plaza."

Something like that. Anyway, t was so awkward, weird and nasty, that the audience groaned.

Afterward, I heard a number of people saying it was such a gross distortion of the truth that it's pretty much a lie. In reality, from what I understand, Gamble owns 5 percent interest in a property that could get a TIF.

Who knows?

But still. Even if it were true, it backfired.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

council candidates

I went to a candidate forum tonight at UMKC and finally got to hear some City Council candidates speak. The local media does a good job covering the mayor's race, but not so much the various races for city council. It's understandable; there's just so damn many of them. But still. How we gonna know who to vote for?

Go to forums.

Based on a handful of two-minute responses, my picks are:

4th District, at large - Doug Gamble
He nailed it on a question about economic development on the east side.

3rd District, at large - Dee Williams
This is based solely on the fact that she's NOT endorsed by Freedom, Inc., and because she's friends with some folks I trust and respect deeply. Her answers about TIF were on point, and she seemed really sincere in her desire to do good.

5th District, at large - Michael Brooks
Hed also had the right answers about development on the east side. He showed he really understood how the game is rigged, and what needs to be done to make it fair. And he had this really cool leader air about him. I instantly felt confidence in him.

6th District, at large - Cathy Jolly
Duh. Everybody's going to vote for her.

And, if this were a perfect world, and dreams could come true, Michael Porter would crush Terry Riley in the general. Porter seems like a regular guy, not an arrogent, bald, sexist asshole who think's he's going to be mayor pro tem, but is going to have a rude awakening on March 27.

The sad thing is, I have a hunch none of these folks will win, except for Cathy Jolly.

Oh well. What can you do?

All of you. All 50 or so of you who read this and are registered to vote in KC. VOte for the people I listged above. You can trust me. They're aight.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Today was a day to remember.

A little before noon, I got a call from a reporter saying that four of Mark's opponents in the primary -- Albert Reiderer, John Fairfield, Chuck Eddy and Henry Klein -- endorsed Alvin Brooks in the general. At their press conference, Eddy and Fairfield said that Mark is a loner who can't build consensus, that no one likes him, and that you can't learn government from a book.

The reporter wanted to know if Mark would be available for an on-camera interview that afternoon, to respond. I said yes, and booked it for 1:30.

I promptly told the other folks working the campaign. One of our team said, "We need to get as many folks down here as we can, to stand behind Mark."

So we got to it.

We sent out an e-mail to our supporters list. I put together a press release. And we just started pounding the phones.

Soon we had a huge crowd of people gathered outside the headquarters. A lot of them were wearing the bright-orange campaign shirt. Some were holding up yard signs and hand-written signs reading, "WE WANT THE FUNK!" A couple people even brough dogs, who they dressed up with orange bandanas with "Go Funk!" written on them.

As the press began to arrive, it suddenly occurred to me that our official campaign page has a link to a video of members of the City Council praising Mark for his 18 years of service to City Hall. They were voting on a resolution honoring him, which was sponsored by ... Chuck Eddy.

And, wouldn't you know, the video also has Fairfield saying that Mark had done an amazing job, and that they should play chess some day.

So I whispered that in all the reporters' ears, and promised to send them links later.

So the whole thing goes off great. The energy was incredible. Later one of our team said, "That was like a Frank Capra moment."

A little later I'm in the office and I see this hand-written note from Albert Riederer congratulating Mark making it out of the primary and saying how he hopes they'll work together in the future.

And, I come to find out, Riederer has an appoint scheduled with Mark for 5 o'clock in the afternoon.

Of course, he didn't show. It's obvious he never planned to attend. (More about Riederer tomorrow.)

Ah. Kansas City politics.

P.S. Check out the coverage on Channel 41 and Channel 9

Sunday, March 04, 2007

tif b.s.

Finally, finally, finally.


The Kansas City Star has finally called Mayor Kay Barnes on her bullshit about tax-increment financing.

(You may recall I wrote about this scam a while back.)

Herroner Barnes's stock answer to questions about this program run amuck has been that it benefit the city because it brings in more money. Kind of like investments.

But she has never offered any proof. She's just said it. And the Star has quoted her, and left it at that.

So today -- finally, finally, finally -- they gave us some facts. And whaddaya know? They refute Condo Kay.

From today's article:
City officials said the 54 current TIF projects have accrued significant benefits to the city — which is why the incentives were approved. But they haven’t been able to fully quantify the financial benefits versus the costs.

Budget analysts estimate the city will reimburse $79 million to developers in the budget year beginning May 1, up from $47 million this year. Nearly two thirds of the estimated increase will be related to the IRS complex and downtown entertainment district.

The budget calls for redirecting nearly $17.6 million in sales tax to developers next year, while overall sales tax collections are only expected to go up about $10 million

The 3/8-cent ATA sales tax collections (this pays for bus service for poor people)are expected to increase by $737,500, but transfers of that tax to TIF developers are expected to go up by $1.1 million, for a net loss

Some projects provide little new revenue for basic services. This is because workers and revenues are moving from a building that was not part of a TIF district to a TIF development. In these instances, the taxes that previously went for general municipal services are now directed specifically to the development.

The IRS center, for example, is moving workers from several non-TIF buildings in Kansas City to a TIF building downtown. The project is also attracting new workers from Kansas, but the earnings tax revenues from those workers will be directed into the project and not to city coffers.

Meantime, the city's economic development efforts in the rat market have been an unbridled success, with tens of thousands of the disease ridden, infant-biting vermin breading and thriving in Barnes's era of no money for rodent extermination.

Friday, March 02, 2007

barnes has been a boon for rats

I've got a free trial subscription to this new pay-per-view blog the Star has started. And earlier today I read a sneak preview of a column there by Mayor Kay Barnes. It's supposed to go in the paper. Maybe Sunday. But the column appears to be offline now.

Anyway, the column is as you might expect. She says Kansas Citians have to be careful in choosing the next mayor to ensure that we continue on all the great progress the city has made over the last eight years.

I'm not sure why they took it down, but I have a hunch it's because she wanted to add something about rats.

See, when Barnes was putting the finishing touches on her propaganda, 150 everyday Kansas Citians gathered at City Hall to talk about the kind of progress they'd like to see in Kansas City.

Gunshots ricocheting through neighborhoods, roaming pit bulls, crumbling tennis courts, negligent landlords and ill-prepared students were on the minds of many. Some of the most poignant comments came from residents pleading for more rodent control in the wake of a rat chewing off the nose and part of the lip of an infant this week.

That's right.

In this 21st Century American city, a rat chewed the nose and lip off of an infant's face.

What the article doesn't mention, but was reported in the Star earlier this week, is that under Mayor Barnes's administration the City recently slashed rat extermination from its budget. Quote:
The city funded a rat-control unit in the late 1990s and early this decade but closed the unit for about three years because of budget cuts

Ah yes. Progress.

A tenant-less arena. An in-the-red entertainment district downtown. A $30-million increase in tax kickbacks to well-connected developers who build projects in the richest parts of the city.

And life has never been better for rats.

Way to go, Kay.