Thursday, November 01, 2007

The True Paranoids

An anonymous commenter to this blog’s previous post said “you guys are paranoid” when we reported to you on the City Manager’s plan to “put lipstick on the corpse”(Bridge-Zilla) and ram it through while making a pretense of public involvement and consensus.

Last Tuesday evening, Mayor Funkhouser held a Town Hall meeting at Avila University where several members of Friends of Red Bridge spoke about exactly how the City had hired BWR, an engineering firm, to put on a mock public-involvement exercise while remaining in total control. The firm has even conducted a survey that was carefully created to get exactly the result they wanted. (The survey results are being advertised as a consensus for a bridge over the railroad and river valley.)

That’s the background. Now, here’s the story:

Not long before the Town Hall, the Mayor was briefed by BWR on the status of the project. City Hall employees—presumably in the Public Works department—objected, saying that BWR should not speak directly to the Mayor; only City staff should do that.

Sounds pretty darned “paranoid” to Fearless Leader.

And so, too, to Councilman Sharp, who was heard to make similar comments to a number of people after the Town Hall meeting was over.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is Bridge-Zilla Dead?

As connected as Friends of Red Bridge are, I have to wonder if they’ve heard about the nasty rumor going around. Word among some of the local engineering companies is that the City Manager has gotten the word to CIMO that the only reason the viaduct style bridge isn’t already in the works, is because Chuck Eddy handled it poorly. The strategy now is to put up a front of meeting with the public and taking input, then ‘put lipstick on the corpse’ and build the original bridge. This rumor seems to be supported by the fact that engineering firms only had two weeks to respond to the RFP, the absolute minimum required. A former employee of an engineering firm here in town said it takes at least that long just to get a proposal put together.
John Sharp and Cathy Jolly are to be commended for doing the right thing for neighborhoods. Obviously, the rest of the council and the new mayor felt the same since the ordinance to repeal Chuck’s condemnation ordinance passed unanimously. Now they need to keep their eyes on city staff and CIMO to ensure whatever procedure is followed is done so in good faith. Right now the rumor mill says that isn't happening.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

One Rotten Apple

The sixth district’s long countdown to the last days of Chucky Little and his ‘the bridge is failing, the bridge is failing’ attitude has finally come to an end. Hopefully, a new day is dawning with two representatives who care more about neighborhoods than those with big bucks who may contribute to their campaigns.

Unfortunately, Chuck’s sidekick’s days have not ended. While Harry Ingels will no longer be working as an aide in the sixth district offices, he will still be at city hall working for newly elected Russ Johnson from the second district. Harry gave what almost turned into a very tearful goodbye at a recent sixth district community meeting. His speech did draw a few tears from the audience, but not until he mentioned he would be staying on in the council offices.

During Chuck’s early years as councilman many of his constituents wondered who the real councilman was, Chuck or Harry. Hopefully, Councilman Johnson will be strong enough in his position that his aide will remember he is an aide. Those in the sixth district can also hope their cohorts in the second will not have to suffer Ingels’ venom and misplaced sense of authority. Whether on his own or at Chuck’s bidding, Ingels tried his best to divide the sixth district over the Red Bridge issue. He concocted the eleventh hour appearance of supporters of the project by calling people and telling them to appear at the Operations Committee. After the last public meeting he called friends and family and asked them to send in favorable comments, and then got some of them submitted into the official record after the deadline. Also, after a sunshine law request for a handful of documents, he charged an arm and a leg for copying (actually, research to look up emails).

Probably more of an indication of his true self came after a discussion of putting sanitary sewers into one of the older neighborhoods still on septic tanks. Many of those involved were older and on fixed income. The cost of the sewer project was of great concern, but Ingels' response was that they should just all go live in an old folk’s home.

There is great hope riding on the new council. The next four years could be a very positive time for neighborhoods. Our new mayor will undoubtedly change the ‘culture’ of the city council and the way they do business. Yet, it is with heavy heart that many in the sixth district realize how detrimental and insidious the influence of Harry Ingels could be. Russ Johnson certainly has his work cut out for him.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Astroturf Update

Chuck Eddy has been the most visible proponent of the “Bridge-Zilla” plan to widen Red Bridge Road, but Eddy’s aide Harry Ingels is doing a lot of work behind the scenes.

The seemingly miraculous 11th-hour appearance of some supporters of the project in the Operations Committee last December had many wondering if it was Eddy himself, or Ingels, who had rounded them up.

Every time that such an accusation was made, however, the denials were absolute and vehement. But it wouldn’t be the first time for Mr. Ingels.

For example, after the last public meeting on the project, there was a time period for sending in comments to the City for inclusion in the official transcript. Opponents to the project were sending in a large number of comments. Apparently, on the day of the deadline, Harry Ingels got wind of what was happening and called as many of his buddies and relatives as he could and had them send in comments in support. Some of the comments he solicited were received past the deadline, but the City department in charge made exceptions as long as they were in favor of Bridge-Zilla.

Now, Harry Ingels is at it again.

Some of the people opposed to Bridge-Zilla testified at an Operations Committee meeting. There was no one there in favor of the project. After hearing all the testimonies and before the Chair could react, Councilman Eddy mumbled that he knew there were people in favor of his bridge. At that, the Chair held the ordinance for another week -- presumably to give the other side an opportunity to testify. At the next meeting, about two dozen of them appeared. We now have it from a very reliable source that it was Harry Ingels who orchestrated that show of supporters.

Then last week, Red Bridge was on the agenda for discussion in the business session. The leaders of the opposition were told they wouldn’t be allowed to speak to the Council, but, as it turned out, both sides were given an opportunity to testify. Surprise, surprise. The other side was prepared. Chuck Eddy was in the hospital, so it’s doubtful he got the message out.

Harry Ingels strikes again.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dirty Little Campaigns

Not to be trite, but the election is upon us and the sixth district is at a crossroads. We can elect establishment candidates or we can elect fresh faces with fresh ideas. It has been 8 years since City Hall has cared about neighborhoods, and it has been 8 years since the sixth district has had anyone that cared about them, period.

At least 3 candidates, Alvin Brooks, Beth Gottstein, and John Sharp, opted to hire Pat Gray to run their campaigns. Pat Gray is about as establishment as you can get and the campaigns he runs can best be compared to those of Jeff Roe. As a result, all 3 candidates mailed out false and misleading ads that arrived in the mail Friday and Saturday. It’s a shame that Brooks, Gottstein, and Sharp felt the need to resort to negative campaigning.

If they don’t feel they can win the election on their own merits without tearing down their opponents, why should we have enough faith to elect them as our representatives? If they think we will see their opponents as the better candidates then maybe they are. Mark Funkhouser, Doug Gamble, and Darrell Curls, their opponents, would all represent us with integrity and do their best to support our neighborhoods.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Grass Roots v. Astroturf

Chuck Eddy's plan to ram through a massive road project in south Kansas City has drawn an intense level of grassroots opposition. Councilman Eddy said "If you don't like it, don't vote for me" and has rebuffed his constituents' attempts to discuss the matter further.

Now, the Kansas City Star has reported that his plan to convert Red Bridge Road into a possible collector ramp for the NAFTA super-highway is "on the ropes."

So, for the first time in his 8-year tenure on the City council, Dr. Eddy has become interested in democracy. A couple dozen of his supporters have arisen to push the project (known as "Bridge-Zilla" among some opponents). They deny any connection to Chuck Eddy, though some of them have been seen at the councilman's mayoral campaign functions.

Now, a political action committee, Citizens for 3-Trails, is joining the fight by distributing information in support of Bridge-Zilla. But wait! Who are these people? Readers of this blog will notice that Chuck Eddy's crony is treasurer. Have a look at their Ethics Commission reports and don't be surprised who they are giving money to: That's right folks, Chuck Eddy for mayor!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Concern is Back

Many Kansas Citians received a mailing today that amounts to a last-minute negative attack on mayoral candidate Mark Funkhouser. Who is behind this? It's the Public Safety Concern that we warned you about many months ago!

Public Safety Concern is a political action committee that has violated Missouri ethics rules on numerous occasions and they are largely funded by the Firefighter's Union, one of the most powerful forces in Kansas City politics.

Recently, they failed to file required ethics reports for 40 days prior and 8 days prior to the election. However, you can see their year-end ethics commission report.