Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funk's Loss

What happened on Tuesday in the election was apparently quite the historical event. No incumbent since the 1920s had lost the Kansas City mayor's office. The only other time since then was when Charles Wheeler tried to run for a third term and was defeated in the primary. There has been quite a lot of analysis of why this happened, especially when many believed that Mark Funkhouser would go through to the general election.

I agree with most of the stuff that has been said. Any one of these personality related items might have been beatable, but the collection of them that amassed over the years, especially in the first two years of the term proved to be too hard to overcome.

Themes come through over and over: stubborn, unable to retreat from a position, dogmatic, demonizes opposition, tin ear towards others. Result: unable to get along with City Council, at odds with the City Manager, no sense of how offensive his wife's activities were to others. When the economy crashed in the second half of Mayor Funkhouser's term, it guaranteed that he would not be able to recover--he would not be able to make a big economic splash in the city. Snow removal woes in December 2009 were the icing on the cake.

By and large, with regard to managing the city's finances, if you leave out all the law suit settlements, Mayor Funkhouser has left Kansas City on pretty fine footing, especially when compared to many other cities. In addition, he insisted on more accountability with regard to TIFs, shutting down the gravy train of easy tax breaks. It's unfortunate that his inability to play well with others made it virtually impossible to retain him as mayor; he did do the city good in some ways that may not be clear for several years.

Photo by the Observer: Mayor Funkhouser during his May 2010 visit to Ruskin Heights.


Anonymous said...

I agree he didn't have the right skill set to survive in the touchy-feely, hyper-sensitive world of KC politics, but I don't recall him demonizing anyone. Rather the opposite: he was demonized by his detractors.

Bill Drummond said...

Funkhouser has been attacked viscously and continuously by the mouth-trumpets of the powers-that-be. He and his wife are good people, - and he has busted his butt to do right by Kansas City.

If he ever decides to help us again, ( and "why should he"? ), it would be in OUR self-interests to fully support him.

the observer said...

Upon reviewing the fluffy mailer that I picture in the post above this one, I remembered why I voted for Funkhouser back in 2007. I liked his no-nonsense approach to finances--I thought we had been "livin' on a dream" a bit too much. He spoke plainly and that appealed to me too.

I thought the Semler deal was over done, much ado about nothing. However, I was troubled by how he handled the situations with his wife and the City Manager. In addition, it seemed as if the government of the city was on an emotional edge. This is all parties fault, but it is the mayor who will take the fall for it. After a time of this "grade school" stuff, and especially after the court cases that cost time and city money, anyone paying attention knew that Mark Funkhouser was going to have a very hard time being reelected.

There is a possibility that history will look kindly on Funkhouser's term, especially if the next mayor is one who can help push the city in a positive direction. They will be building, to some extent, on Funk's foundation.