Monday, July 27, 2009

Will Sophia Get Any Credit?

I see that Bottom Line Communications is upset that the KC Star published an editorial applauding improvements in the park system without giving Mayor Funkhouser credit for the improvements. BLC didn't link to the Star editorial, so I had to track it down myself. Doing so, I came across a link to another Star editorial where I, personally, suffered the same churlish lack of credit at the hands of the Star editorial board. In that other editorial, the Star criticizes the City Council for not settling the Bates case last December for less than a quarter of the price they approved last week. As demonstrated on this blog within the past few days, I made the same criticism of the Council last December. None of this 20/20 hindsight bullcrap. In real time, man. But do you see my name and the journalistically necessary "told you so" in that editorial? I. Thought. Not. Shame on you, Kansas City Star.

(In case anyone reading was unaware, the above sarcasm is an indication of why I am considered "sometimes obnoxious." Of course the same point could be made without the snark. But it isn't as much fun. And we should try to squeeze as much fun from life as we possibly can.)

Relying solely on the Star editorial about the parks and BLC's response to same, I guess I'm missing why Funkhouser deserves credit for this. The parks were in bad shape in 2003. Funkhouser, as auditor, produced an audit demonstrating that. The parks board pushed for a program that appears to have helped. We spent more money on maintenance of community parks and less money on the more touristy things (Zoo and Liberty Memorial). Neighbors of the parks spent more time and effort lobbying for park improvement and for private funds. All of this sounds reasonable and plausible. BLC's case for giving Funhouser credit is that he was the auditor who produced the report and that he appointed a new parks board in 2007.

Since nothing I've read indicates that no one previously noted problems with the parks, or that no improvement happened until Funk's appointees came on, or that Funk proposed specific changes as auditor that were then followed by others at that time or executed during his term as Mayor, I'm not seeing the grave injustice being done to Funk by the Star. I find it entirely plausible that he would've recommended limiting funding to the Zoo or Liberty. But BLC doesn't bother to mention if that were the case or any other specific details. Under the circumstances and given facts (he was just auditor, with the power to recommend but no power to execute) it would seem unfair to place the mantle of glory on Funk's shoulders.

To the extent that Funk's prior acts contributed to the current improvement, that seems like the job of the Mayor's communication office to promote, not the Kansas City Star. And I'm afraid that this BLC post is supposed to be that equivalent. Listen, I'm open to giving Funk credit. And most people are open to watching politicians claim credit for things that they were tenuously or remotely involved with. It's how politics works. But, Funkhouser folks, you need to do some of the packaging here. It's insulting to the press and to the community to expect us to do all of the work. Maybe shoot a press release over to Prime Buzz explaining in detail the changes Funk suggested back then that have made a difference today and then following up with what the current parks board is doing to build on these gains? I'm no expert, but I'd find that more compelling than BLC whining.

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