Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Straight Talk with Funk VI, VII & VIII

We decided to try to do things a little differently today for Straight Talk with Funk VI, VII & VIII.

CLICK HERE for a stand-alone video player.

Straight Talk with Funk III, IV & V

Mark's vision for Kansas City.

Mark's background.

Mark's experience as auditor.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Straight Talk with Funk I & II

For the next week or so, I'm going to turn this blog into a vlog.

On Saturday, I sat down in front of a video camera and talked for a while about my background and experience, my hopes and plans for Kansas City. With the help of some technically savvy friends, I broke the interview down into a series of short films I'll be posting here this week.

I hope you find them interesting.

The first two are about why I want to be Mayor, and why I think I'd do a good job.

P.S. If you think like any of these videos, please feel free to e-mail them to your friends!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Well, I guess it's official: I'm now an Internet star. The enormously popular blog Tony's Kansas City has featured me in a YouTube video:

It was great to finally meet Tony (I guess it says something about me if I'm "important' enough to lure him out of his mom's basement). But it's more exciting to be a part of the amazing things that are happening with the Internet.

I've said over and over that my number-one priority is to increase citizen satisfaction with City government. Well, one area where we're not satisfied is in the way City leaders communicate with regular folks (or, more accurately, the way they don't).

Consider this:

  • 72.7 percent of Kansas Citians are not satisfied with how City leaders are keeping them informed about what's going on.

  • 83.2 percent of Kansas Citians are not satisfied with how City leaders have engaged the public in decision making.

  • 79 percent of Kansas Citians are not satisfied with the leadership of the Mayor and City Council.

One way we can change this is by communicating with folks in the ways we're already communicating with each other. And this means not only that City leaders need to get in there and start blogging too, but that we need to help bloggers to get more and better information so that they can be more effective in spreading their message.

(BTW, Tony, LOVE George Clinton track!)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

One more:

Klein and Funkhouser Push Ideas
Blog KC, January 24
My campaign continues to make news. In case you've missed it:

Barbs Start Coming
KC Buzz Blog, January 23

Push-and-Shove Among Kay Barnes, The Chamber, and Mark Funkhouser Continues
KC Buzz Blog, January 23

Funk on Street Junk
KC Buzz Blog, January 23

Ex-Auditor Criticizes Sprint Center Deal
Kansas City Star, January 23

Where's the Funky, Mr. Funkhouser?
Kansas City Star, January 21

Funkhouser Announces Plan for Pesky Metal Plates

Campaign Release, January 23

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Last week, Reclaim Democracy released a report on Kansas City's Tax-Increment Financing program, also known as TIF. The report was put together UMKC economics professor Michael P. Kelsay, Ph.D., who did an outstanding job.

While it raised a lot of the same issues I raised in my work as City Auditor, it also revealed for the first time, in stark statistical fact, the social and economic injustice associated with Kansas City's use of TIF.

Though TIF was originally created to help revitalize areas of the city that are struggling economically, Kelsay's report stated that:
88% of TIF plans are in four Council Districts (1, 2, 4, and 6) which contain the two-thirds of the city’s population who are the most affluent, best educated and least likely to be members of a minority group.

The two Council Districts (3 and 5) with one-third of the population who have the lowest income and the highest rates of poverty and unemployment receive only 12% of TIFs.

This was something that I never directly confronted as City Auditor because I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until the very end of my career. Now it's blatantly obvious that TIF has been used almost exclusively to line the pockets of insiders under the guise of "economic development."

Two weeks ago, when I went to City Hall to testify against yet another one of these TIF plans -- this one for one of the wealthiest and most vibrant areas of the city -- I told Channel 9 Reporter Michael Mahoney that TIF is not doing what the Mayor and current City Council claim. They say that this kind of "economic development" is essential to the effort to bring more revenue into the city, revenue that can be used to offer good basic services to regular folks like you and me. But, as I said to Mahoney, "Sales tax is flat."

See for yourself:

So here we are, supposedly pumping up our economy with retail TIFs, when, in fact, there is no growth in sales tax revenues. Indeed, they're actually declining when adjusted for inflation. What's more, we are losing population as a proportion of the metropolitan area.

Looking at this, I believe that any reasonably intelligent person would conclude that the TIF process has NOT worked to provide "economic development."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

For the few of you who don't subscribe to Governing Magazine, you might like to know I was featured in this month's issue. I know, it sounds like a dry trade journal, but among us folks who work in government, it's bigger than Rolling Stone.

Besides, it's not all that dry. It's one of the few media outlets where public servants like me can let our guard down a little bit and speak the truth. Because, really, it's a magazine for folks who want government to work better. And that'll never happen if the people in power sugar-coat everything.

So, as you might imagine, I was pretty candid in the interview. Some people might be afraid of such straight shooting. But I'm not. I think it's what we need in this city.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's been a very busy week. The members of my campaign team and I are feeling some momentum build behind us, and it's quite a rush.

Folks in the media like to ask me how I like campaigning. I get the sense that they're implying that I can't hack the political side of public policy making.

But I love it! I tell them that it feels liberating.

I can finally say exactly what I think without having to worry about whether or not I've made the mayor or the City Council angry.

I can finally talk directly to my real bosses, the people of Kansas City.

Anyway, it's been a busy week. Here's a sampling of the media attention our campaign has gotten:

Candidates For Mayor Speak at First Forum
Kansas City Star, January 17

Mayoral Candidates Focus on City's Fix-It List
Channel 9, January 16

Funkhouser Walks (and Talks) On Water
KC Buzz Blog, January 16

Funkhouser Draws Most Applause at MLK Forum
KC Buzz Blog, January 15

Funkhouser Leads all Mayoral candidates in straw poll at Northland Mayoral Debate
Community Coalition to Fix Berry Road, January 10, 2007

Mayoral Candidate: KC Should Limit TIF Projects
KMBC, January 10, 2007

Funkhouser Speaks Up For Taxpayers
Kansas City Star, January 11, 2007

First Mayoral Poll Made Public
KC Buzz Blog, January 10, 2007

Funkhouser/Fairfield Smackdown
KC Buzz Blog, January 10, 2007

Northland Mayoral Candidate Forum
KC Buzz Blog, January 10, 2007

Stay tuned, folks! There'll be more where that came from.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I was a guest of Darla Jaye on her talk radio show Friday and while reviewing some of the things that have been written about me she asked if I was a pessimist. I immediately answered “No, I’m not a pessimist.” I believe in democracy and no one who truly believes in democracy can be a pessimist.

Here’s the way I see it. A pessimist is one who will not acknowledge and confront problems because he sees no way to lead people toward making a meaningful improvement in the situation. What these people term optimism is really just an “emperor’s new clothes” kind of denial. I’m actually a real optimist. I see problems and I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to marshal facts, ideas and people to make change positive changes.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

I’ve heard that people wonder if I have the political skills to be an effective Mayor. That’s a surprising question. I’ve worked directly for elected officials most of my adult life. I’ve studied and written about politics for decades. I got things done with very little formal power. And I often annoyed greatly those who had far more formal power than me.

Yet I kept my job and thrived in my career.

How did I do that?

I think I might know something about politics.

Others who think I might be a great Mayor wonder how well I’ll do as a candidate. They say that what you’re supposed to do to get elected is find out what people want to hear and tell them that. (Personally, I’d rather get beat telling people the truth than win spreading BS.)

Actually, you'd be amazed how similar campaigning is to performance auditing. Using data, interviews and analysis, you figure out what should happen and what is happening and where and why the two are different. Then you decide on a solution to narrow the gap between "is" and "should be" and start trying to sell people on the solution.

My theory is that if they buy my answers, they vote for me.

So far, it's looking as though my theory might well become reality.