Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not Trustworthy

If you have been following along here in Kansas City, we are in a time of budget austerity with cuts all over city government as our city struggles with decreased revenue and increased costs.  However, at the same time, the city council and the mayor have been championing both a large infrastructure improvement plan and a downtown train.  Both proposals are attracting criticism for the spending of money (and tax increase) and the train is being attacked as being impractical at best.
This recent article in the Wall Street Journal documents the issues around the support of the Power and Light District downtown, that this project has not been able to support itself and is a continuing drain on the budget of the city.  A lot of promises were made concerning the downtown redevelopment--I admit I bought some of them myself.  No body is buying these types of promises anymore--well, almost no body.  It is funny to read the posts by transit supporters in blogs and news articles and just find yourself not buying any of it.
We have lost trust in our political leaders.  We just don't believe them.  If they tell us the sky is blue, we are going outside to check it for ourselves.  They have proven themselves not to be trustworthy.  For whatever reason, whether out of dishonesty, greed, graft, or stupidity, their word has become untrustworthy.
Someday, there actually might be a good idea out of 12th and Oak, but most of us wouldn't trust it.  We've been burned too much.
The city fathers might find that regaining trust is easier if you go back to fulfilling the basic tasks of city government first reliably.  Get back to basics.  And for goodness sake, do not ask for more money!

23 comments:

Super Dave said...

Awesome post and one people have to agree with if they have any common sense at all.

chuck said...

I agree with Super Dave.

bembycs said...

Well I guess I am not one of the ones with common sense because all I see, frankly, are a bunch of complainers who do not really have any substantive solutions for the city, rather they only complain about every proposal that comes out. The same people that were whining and moaning about how the city does not spend any money on downtown are the same people who are now complaining about how the city spent too much money on downtown. The same people who complained about how terrible Kemper was are now the same people who now complain about the Sprint Center and how we do not have a professional sports team like they promised. Even more amazingly these same people further complain about how even if we got a pro sports team, we could not support it. More recently, the same people who whine about the fact we have no public transportation are now the ones who complain about the streetcar being impractical, whatever the hell that means, forgetting the fact that it is only a start to a larger system. Look at the starting point to any light rail system in this country and you will see a line that could be described as impractical as well, but you have to start somewhere. Even more recently, I have heard more complaining about infrastructure than I can even count and, yet, is Sly James’ desire to spend a billion dollars on infrastructure good? No. It is still not okay. You act like we are the only city in the country that has had to cut back, yet cities all across the country are cutting back on services, even as they pour money into huge projects. Which leads me to the conclusion that all of the complaints that I hear about the city, whether they be about infrastructure, crime, public transportation, or whatever, are not really about those issues at all, but for the life of me I cannot figure out what the problem really is. At best these naysayers can give a vague answer about listening to the people more, or something of that nature but they cannot give much more than that. I ask, what is your goal? What do you want? What do you want this city to be? What are these “basics” that you speak of? Are you really saying that the city should absolutely spend no money on anything, despite the fact that cities all across the country are spending countless dollars on projects to enhance the quality of life in their cities? (If you noticed, the Wall Street Journal article mentioned the fact that many other cities have done/are doing the same thing. How can we expect to compete on any level with other cities if we do not spend money on aesthetic projects? Are you really going to sit here and tell me that our downtown was better before, when it was all parking lots? What would you have done differently to make downtown better? Further, I cannot think of a successful city in this country that only focuses on basic services, which seems to be what you want the city to do. I am asking myself, so this is what you think? This is it? This is all we can hope for, a city that does not spend money on anything except basic services? You really want to live in a city like that? You have no vision of the city beyond this? This is the best you think our city can do? Lastly, I wonder why, if naysayers think that the situation in this city is so hopeless, bother worrying about it, just move out and forget it.

bembycs said...

I do want to state that I do think that basic services are important to this city, however I also think that these projects currently are and will continue to boost our attractiveness as a metro on a larger scale. When was the last time you ever heard a national article praise a city for its fabulous basic services? Instead you hear them praise a city for its bars and restaurants, its shopping, its public transportation, stuff like that; this is what attracts the kind of people that will make the city a better place. While crime is a problem, I certainly agree, I also recognize that many cities across the country have crime problems too, including ones that we think are so fabulous. Just look at some of the cities with terrible crime rates like ours: Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston, even Minneapolis has a surprisingly high crime rate, so we are in good company. I also believe that what is at least partially driving this desire for the city to only spend money on basic services is this idea that “well we cannot compete so why bother trying.” I think this is definitely present in these arguments at times. “We are a cowtown, let’s just accept that and not try to be anything else.” Again, we are not the only city where people complain about the local government cutting basic services. I read news from cities all over the country and I can tell you that the complaint exists everywhere, but once again we seem to get stuck in this rut where we think we are the only city with a problem.
One more thing, I noticed that the writer of this blog is from New York. Gee, talk about a city that spends endless amounts of money to boost its good neighborhoods at the expense of others (I am sure the airport sized convention center at the Aqueduct is really going to make life better in the South Bronx, Brownsville, and East New York), and a city with massive social and income inequality. Granted I love New York as much as the next person, but it is a city, a complex creature with many different attributes, meaning that there is always something to complain about if you want to find it. Even the greatest city in the world has its challenges, but yet I do not get the impression that we are nearly as willing to look at New York’s problems (or any other city's problems for that matter) as we are KC’s problems.

Super Dave said...

Well bembycs least you admit you have no common sense and it shows.

First off I have lived around here all my life and will tell you hands down what works else where or as in other cities as a rule fails in Metro KC. Why I have no clue other than we seem to dance to a different group of drummers.

So when one starts comparing us to others or saying we should have as others your going down a proven path of failure. And many corporations who has spendt and lost billions in the KC area are doing just fine in other locations.

It's that track record alone that makes it hard for KC to have certain stores, pro teams and what not. We seem to be a huge bunch of we want but then fail to support. Or civic leaders say we want and the people are saying "We do?"

To many times KC has gone out and bought the apple cart then looked stupid when it comes time to get the horse. Either nobody has one for sale or will sell one to KC. Then the civic leaders all act dumb when the cost for the horses is 100 times what the cart was and the taxpayers have to cough up more taxes to cover the stupidity of idiot leaders. Then the whole mess sits going no where because nobody thought about how the apples was going to get here all year long for the cart to sell and at what cost. Again another failure left to the tax payers to clean up.

So you see we first must fix what we have, clean it up make it look good. A Toy Train going app 2 miles isn't going to make anything look better or is it going to fix KC as a whole.

Super Dave said...

Oh bembycs by the way a city with great basic services low crime rate and cheap taxes will get tons of attention and people will want to live in those locations.

Take away all the extra foo foo taxes people pay and see what the tax rate drops to. Take away all the tax money spent on parks not needed and idiot waste of tax payer money and see what the tax rate drops to

Your style of how you think life should be will just cost more money. A good city has the same services rather you live on the east side west or south side. Not just a few blocks here and there made thinking millions will come visit.

We already have an attraction in fact two last I knew with toy trains and people can go there if they feel the need to take a short trip on a train. The KC Zoo and Worlds of Fun would love to have them visit.

bembycs said...

Gee, with the description you give of KC, I wonder why you still live here at all. What you are basically saying, if I am understanding you right, is that things around here are so bad, that we cannot even compare ourselves to other cities-because things are so much worse. I am going to be honest: that is about the most irrational thing I have ever heard in everything I have ever read on urban issues. I cannot refute anything you say specifically because you do not give me anything to refute, it is just a lot of hyperbole, but not much more. It is going to take a little more than an entertainment district and sports teams that left town 30 years ago to even remotely convince me that what you are saying is true. I mean if you just look at the crazy budget messes that other cities get themselves into, they would make the Power and Light District seem like nothing. In Chicago, for example, did you know that the big, wonderful Millenium Park, now the number one attraction in the city was built for hundreds of millions of dollars, and then they found out that the parking structure below it could not support the huge sculpture they wanted on top of it, so they had to tear it down and rebuild it, and it cost hundreds of millions of dollars more? I mean if you really think that things are so bad here, then you have obviously not spent much time reading the news anywhere else.
Also, I can tell this is a very emotional issue for you, and purely driven by such. The fact that you seem to believe that we cannot compare ourselves to other cities because we are so bad has got to be one of the most irrational positions I have ever heard.
Oh and by the way, I guess my lack of common sense is contagious. Every year Gallup does a scientific poll of metro areas about whether people view their area as "getting better as a place to live" and Kansas City has the 12/51 highest percentage of people who believe that. Also, an unscientific NBC Action News poll about the streetcar downtown suggests that almost 60% of people think it is a good idea, with even more buying on if the taxing district were larger. Granted it is unscientific, but if it is accurate at all, that would be a pretty successful vote.
Clearly, there are still a lot of people who do not believe we are a bunch of losers, and maybe there are better yet more people who trust our government enough to give them, gasp, more money.

bembycs said...

I realize that I did not leave many facts in my previous post myself. I wonder, if things are so bad here, and companies lose billions here, as you say, why Kansas City was one of the cities between 2001 and 2011 to GAIN jobs, while many others especially in the Midwest lost jobs? Yes, many cities, especially those not in the sunbelt lost jobs, the only city in the Midwest besides us to gain jobs was Indianapolis. Even further our job growth was better than Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, St Louis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. (BLS Tables At a Glance) Further I also wonder then why we are in the top 20 of 51 cities for percentage of workforce in the creative class? (Kiplinger, with a term coined by Richard Florida, a famous urbanist), I also wonder why our bohemian index (another term coined by Richard Florida to describe artists) is way higher than the national average? (The Atlantic), I also wonder why over the past decade we were one of the major recipients of persons over the age of 25 with a bachelors degree? (The Atlantic, and Forbes), I also wonder why similar numbers are also true for younger "hip" people between 25-35. (Wall Street Journal in 2008). I also wonder why our tech GDP as measured by Milken Institute is in the top 15/51 in the country. I also wonder why Google decided to come here, I guess it is so they could save a dying town. Anyway, I just thought I would share what I see with you.

Super Dave said...

Man have you ever been brainwashed bembycs.


I gave you plenty to refute you just lack the history of KC to understand it.

You need to be in politics you can talk forever and mean nothing.

bembycs said...

Wow, and I am the one who has been brainwashed? Please enlighten me. You tell me how I need to understand the history of the city, how is that? I am all ears.
All of these facts I mentioned exist, how are they wrong? Are you saying that all of the things I said are wrong? Please I am all ears. I am willing to bet that you will not tell me anything, but please do so. I am more than willing to tell you everything I know, please tell me what you know.

bembycs said...

Also, I will ask again, why do you still live anywhere near KC if it is as bad as you say it is?

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