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4 October 2010

Dear Folks,

Welcome back to Notes From The DoubleWide!

While most of our Notes are one-pagers, this welcome back is a long one to provide you with a glimpse of the past, present and future of Funk’s administration. If you can’t read the whole newsletter now, please look at the last page and Save The Date of November 5thon your calendar.

The Mayoral Campaign 2007–The History

We can hardly believe that it’s been four years since Funk’s campaign for Mayor.

When Funk was the City Auditor, he came out strongly against the willy-nilly use of TIF incentives. He released audits showing that the abuse of those incentives left little money in the city’s budget to pay for basic services like cops, sidewalks, snow removal and street repairs.

Funk ran for Mayor to change the culture of government and get City Hall back under control. He planned to reverse the belief that you can’t fight city hall. He was not only going to fight City Hall, but he was going to win. Clean, Safe Neighborhoods In A City That Works For Regular Folks was not just a good idea; it was soon going to become a way of life.

Looking back, the thing we remember most about that time was the around-the-clock work. We never worked so hard and on so little sleep in all our lives, not even when our children were infants. Everything about the campaign was fast and furious, yet at the same, gratifying and fun. The only thing that kept us going was to think about the breather we’d get once the votes were counted.

But as we would soon come to understand, there would never be a time when we could slow down, not during the campaign, and certainly not after. It was almost unimaginable, but after Funk won the election, instead of things slowing down, the pace actually picked up.

Winning The Election–The Mayor’s Office

Funk’s duties as Mayor have remained around-the-clock, yet his job is immensely gratifying. It’s an honor for Funk to get to do a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people.

It hasn’t been easy at times, but whenever you’re making major changes, especially major changes like changing the culture of government, it never is. Backroom Dealmakers don’t just pack up and go home just because an “outsider” won the election. As you’ve seen, Funk’s opponents not only didn’t go quietly away, they ramped things up in an effort to halt the change.

Do you remember the “Pigs At The Trough” campaign commercial? It showed how Special Interest Groups were bleeding the City’s coffers dry through backroom tax incentive deals (TIF’s), deals that were paid for with city tax dollars.

When Funk was a mayoral candidate, he promised that the first thing he’d do in office was to develop an economic development policy that had clear guidelines to staunch the abuse of those incentives.

Standing Strong Through The Reform-Even When Your Opponents Are Cranky

Well, true to his word, among the first ordinances passed by Funk’s administration was that promised economic development policy, and that was the beginning of the long process of TIF reform.

But as soon as Funk did that, things got tough. The “Pigs at the Trough” started squealing, and they haven’t let up since. It appears they didn’t like their free pot of money drying up, and they weren’t going to take it lying down. They’ve been willing to say or do anything to get back the power they’ve lost, hence, the pseudo-scandals that ensued soon after the election:

The Free Car Scandal:
Funk initially accepted a donation made to the City of a yearlong lease of a Honda Civic Hybrid.

Lost was the fact that this acceptance was being Smart With The Money, as Funk was forgoing the expense of the Lincoln Town car and the police escort that the former Mayor had enjoyed. Forgoing that expense saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, not to mention it put two cops back on the street.

Funk never took possession of the car, and to this day, he still drives his 1997 Corolla on city business.

The Frances Semler Scandal:
Funk appointed Semler to the Park Board. Quickly, her affiliation with a group that opposes illegal immigration caused a controversy. But Funk stuck by his appointment because he believes that true diversity comes not just from tolerating different colors of skin, but also from tolerating different thoughts and opinions on topics that matter.

Lost was the fact that Funk’s Park Board included two African-Americans and the first Hispanic Chairman in Park Board history.

The City Manager Scandal:
The evidence of neglect in our neighborhoods, dropping citizen satisfaction scores, declining population and job loss, all were overwhelming proof to Funk that he needed to hire a city manager who was in tune with his agenda for moving the city forward.

But instead of debating those facts, a majority of the City Council, along with many of the Mayor’s opponents, assailed the Mayor for the “way” he handled the firing. It seems that there was something wrong with privately telling the City Manager that he should resign, lest he be fired.

Lost was the fact that the Council came to agree with the Mayor and helped him dismiss the City Manager in late 2009.

The “So-Called Volunteer” Ordinance Scandal:
Most personal to us was the targeted legislation brought about by the City Council to ban volunteers from serving the City. Initially, the ordinance was billed as an important safeguard for city staff and volunteers both. But as more amendments were made, it became clear that the ordinance was aimed only at the Mayor. It seems Council members were trying to distance themselves from the Mayor in an effort to prevent the pseudo-scandals from bleeding over onto them.

Lost was the fact that the ordinance was found to be unconstitutional and was struck down by the Courts.

Funk’s response to the hyped-up pseudo-scandals was to say, “Bring It On,” as he knew that you couldn’t change City Hall by backing down to this type of bullying.

Never Giving Up, Or Worse, Never Giving In To Special Interest Groups–Funk Continues To Choose You

Despite all the smokescreens, Funk continued to plug away at changing the culture at City Hall by tackling the long overdue changes that the voters trusted him to make.

Funk brought the budget under control - first by balancing it, and then by focusing more of your tax dollars on basic city services. Of course, the “Pigs” squealed over this too, with the loudest squeal coming after Funk fought to put more cops in the neighborhoods. It wasn’t a hard choice for Funk: More cops over more glitzy projects? Not a hard choice at all.

The list goes on and on. But the most impressive win is the fact that the City’s finances are now in the best shape they’ve been in the last 10 years, despite the recession.

Families First–It’s Worth Fighting For, Even If It Isn’t Pretty

Funk has succeeded where others have failed. He’s fundamentally changing the culture of government at City Hall and putting the focus back on the heart of the city: cops, spending, basic services, families, neighborhoods and schools.

While it would have been easier to give in to the forces that wanted Funk to revert back to the way that things have always been, that’s not Funk’s style. He gave his word to the voters and he’s keeping it. He could have easily made the pseudo-scandals go away by giving up on his promised agenda, but he took this job not for the title, but to actually get things done. Going along just to get along doesn’t produce the real and lasting changes.

Real Change Takes TimeAnd Guts–We’re Not Quitters

If you’re still with Funk, we know that you too, are strong and tenacious fighters who are willing to do what it takes to make things right for the ordinary citizens of our city. Thank you for hanging in there with us through the changes.

In the weeks to come, Funk’s campaign website will be fully up and running. From there, you can learn more about Funk’s agenda for his next Mayoral term, and read about the other successes that Funk has fought hard for and won…despite the din.

The Political Pundits Wrote Him Off Last Time–Never Underestimate The Power and Wisdom Of Regular Folks

Just like the last campaign, we’ll be relying on grassroots support to see Funk, and ultimately, you, through to another win. A win that will allow Funk to spring off the solid foundation that he’s already built and continue to bring professionalism, safety, fiscal sanity, livability and economic growth back to our city.

Your support can take many forms, from volunteering your time to donating to the cause. You can do that and more

In the meantime, we welcome you back to Notes From The DoubleWide!

All the best,

Gloria and Mark

P.S. Save the date:
Friday, November 5th, 6:00 p.m.

(We’ll fill you in on the details shortly)

P.P.S. If you no longer wish to receive Notes From The Doublewide, please click the link below and we will remove your name from our mailing list.

Some People Say...
"Mark's common sense is what is needed in all levels of government."
-Kent Rader, Comedian

"I think Funkhouser is the most intelligent mayor Kansas City has ever had. He's a blue-collar guy with a Ph.D."
-Bill Drummond, Glass-Etcher

"Mayor Funkhouser listens to his constituents whether it's at the grocery store or a town hall meeting. He hears our concerns and implements them at City Hall. He is our voice."
-Laura Remy, Real-Estate Investor

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