Marky Mark (Funkhouser) and his hand-appointed Parks Board (for now known as the Funky Bunch) are a PR nightmare at every corner. For something that seems so non-controversial, this parks board has sure found a way to be a disaster for the Funkhouser administration, and he has no one to blame but himself.
For the past several months, local people in Waldo have been put forth a proposal for a new dog park in Sunnyside Park to serve the Waldo and Brookside neighborhoods. The folks met all kinds of demands to overcome the few, but vocal, opposition to the park. So today, at the Parks and Rec meeting, the Parks Board decided to propose an amendment to the current Off-Leash Dog Program. The new amendments feature a couple of provisions that basically ensure that there will be no such thing as a neighborhood dog park in KCMO -- in spite of evidence that there is demand for dog parks in other cities and they actually have a propensity to raise property values. You can read more about those amendments here.
What was marvelous about the amendments were the complete under-handedness and lack of openness that they came with. The news the the public hearing about the Sunnyside Dog Park was cancelled and that these Amendments were going to be voted on came on the Parks and Rec Website at 11:00 today.
When someone mentioned that violated their agenda policy of 24 hours notice they smuggly stated "well, it was posted in our lobby yesterday" -- yes, because the average Kansas Citian passes through the Parks and Rec lobby probably several times a day. Nice job getting the word out.
It was also brought out that apparently these amendments and discussion all occurred behind closed doors (since they never happened at a public meeting) -- which is yet another violation of the requirement that these types of meetings are open to the public (yeah, that'd be a Constitution thing).
Then, the amendments were passed with ZERO public discussion -- or at least none that didn't come while Fierro was banging his gavel trying to maintain order. As soon as the new amendments passed, Fierro looked over at one of the other folks in the room and said something to the effect of "Is it safe to assume that Sunnyside Park no longer qualifes for the dog park." The Person said "yes" and Fierro replied, "well, then let's move on."
If the news stations (who were all present) come back with a newscast that shows anything short of a circus show tonight, it will have been some super-fine editing in the works.
This is going to be a (yet another) PR debacle for the Marky Mark's appointed Funky bunch. Marky Mark based his campaign off of public openness -- that didn't happen in this case. He also called out early in his administration that he badly wants to increase use of the city's public park spaces, and then had his parks department, behind closed doors, turn down an opportunity where scores more people would be using Sunnyside Park -- and funding all of the renovations with PRIVATE FUNDS. And to make it worse, they've made sure to continue to make it virtually impossible for other private groups to build more parks.
Meanwhile, Marky Mark made a comment at the announcement of the Park's board that previous board was elitist - -and THEN, allows Aggie Stackhouse (who it's my understanding was the driver behind these amendments) to drive this plan into the ground because she is friends with one of the few opponents of the plan.
Whoever is handling the PR at City Hall doesn't get paid enough to deal with this...it's another debacle, and there is no way to spin what happened out there today. I voted for the Marky Mark, and have supported him, but allowing this type of thing to continue within the Funky Bunch. It's time to break up the band.
Editor's Note: Looks like the new dog park guidelines are already up on the web. It's amazing that it was proposed, voted on, and on the web in the amount of time it takes to sell out an Elton John Concert (90 minutes) but it took them 21 hours to update the website to let people know the agenda item change.