Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't Fall for a Third Recall

I have angry thoughts to share about the council's decision to approve the $5000 for the Life Changers conference, but those deserve more time and organization than I can commit to right now. TKC gossip about a third recall effort against Funkhouser, however, I can do off the top of my head.

I didn't vote for Funkhouser in the primary. I didn't vote for him in the general. I actually signed the second recall petition (although I regret doing so for reasons unrelated to my feelings about his fitness to be Mayor). I'm normally a sucker for the good government platform that Funk ran on, I just saw no indication, from the very beginning, that the man had the necessary skills to affect positive change. Fairly early on his administration, I became concerned that his abject failure in the political skills department would be used against every "outsider" who ever dared to run for municipal office in the future. "Remember the Funkhouser!" our overlords would proclaim when we dared to take someone seriously who didn't follow the normal path to power. (Never mind that Funkhouser was not an outsider and never would've come close to the Mayor's office without the unqualified adoration of the KC Star editorial board, he was apparently remotely threatening to some power base and that was enough for people to credit him with some undeserved grassroots outsider status.)

The first recall effort against Funk was a self-indulgent publicity stunt. They didn't bother to read any of the rules or assess the task outside of sending out a pissy press release. Hence, not even having registered KC voters on their formation committee. The second recall effort was, sadly, the closest thing to a grassroots effort I've seen here at the municipal level. The press coverage and elitist skepticism that leaked through made it apparent that the powers that be were going to sit on the sidelines for that one. Some (maybe most?) people think that the second recall effort failed for lack of funds. I'm calling nonsense. The second effort failed because someone somewhere decided to pay people to gather petition signatures and those people did what those people always do -- they wander around high traffic spots asking for signatures without bothering to ask simple things like "are you a registered voter in KC?" The petitioners relied on conventional (money buys success) wisdom and overestimated the number of legit sigs they were collecting. The second effort needed a firmer rejection of money politics and a greater acceptance of grassroots power. It's a stinking recall petition. If you can't get enough signatures without paying people to collect them then your recall is probably going to fail. Unless you consider the voters sheep... in which case. Oh, never mind.

Now, we have a threatened third recall. Enough. Signing that petition is worse than voting for Clay Chastain's gondolas as a solution to our transit problems. Because Clay is obviously a fairly easy to control nut. But whoever would be putting money forward now for a recall petition is going to be a fairly powerful pussy who isn't easy to control at all. I'm at a loss for the appropriate and politically correct term that would describe a person who doesn't bother to commit funds to a recall until they see an underfunded, disrespected effort with a blowhard as a spokesman almost succeed. All I know is that I don't trust that person to have the community's best interests in mind. That person doesn't care about us having a lame duck Mayor. We've got a weak mayor system, governance isn't going to come to a halt if no one is listening to the Mayor. My money is on the notion that whoever would fund a third recall effort would be looking forward to taking advantage of the truncated and chaotic mayoral race that would result from a successful recall. The kind of race that would most benefit an establishment, well funded, ducks lined up, business as usual kind of candidate. I can wait until the next regularly scheduled mayoral election for that. No need to pay extra for a special election.

This is all based on AWESOME TKC TIPSTERS. Which means the third recall isn't so much something that is going to happen, as much as something that someone wants to see happen. To the extent that this AWESOME TIP was a trial balloon, please consider this my insignificant dart directed at it.


  1. I agree.

    I didn't sign the second recall petition for three reasons: first, they didn't make a case for the nepotism charge, they simply cast the accusation; second, the city charter, if not unconstitutional, is unjust because it allows about half of the people who vote against a candidate to peel back the election; and third, it's impractical, by the time you spend $500K in election cost and the lawsuits you may have a marginally effective weak Mayor for about a year - not in the best interests of the city.

    At this stage, I agree, another election is even more impractical. Although I am very tempted to sign the petition because he is such an ass.

    What city council ex is trying to raise the money? I'm dying to know.

  2. I'm not really curious about who the ex-city council person is. I'd be surprised if it was someone who planned on running for the office.

    And please please please resist the urge to sign the petition just to register your opinion that the man is an ass. The time for that will be february 2011.

    I don't think it's necessary to prove the nepotism charge to have sufficient grounds for a recall. I don't have the standard available at the moment, but it's something along the lines of reasonable people agreeing that circumstances are such that the Mayor can't perform his duties. I find it plausible that judicial review could conclude that Gloria's role in the office, and more importantly, the Mayor's defense of that role (a private concern) above all public concern, makes him incapable of performing his duties. This case is a serious outlier on the facts.