So last night, I went down to the Waldo neighborhood forum with Mayor Funkhouser. I write a dog blog, and knew given the recent events of the Parks Board decision to rule against the Sunnyside Dog park (and a dog park and 95% of the rest of the city's parks) that I would go to see the show.
Mayor Funkhouser talked about his key issues -- fixing crime, fixing schools, fixing infastructure. All of these are major issues with the city and need a huge amount of attention. But it was interesting to me the scope of the concerns, and thank you's that came from the crowd.
People obviously spoke a lot about the use of park space. They asked about why the SW Corridor is one of the few neighborhoods in the city without a community center. They applauded the billboard amendment limiting new billboards because of the blight along Wornall South of 75th Street. One guy wished there was more yard waste pickup because the parks department inexplicably planted Sweet Gum trees on the street right-of-way that he doesn't own but has to spend his entire fall picking up sweet gum balls. They applauded the actions limiting payday loan places. And of course, they complained about the Park's Board not listening to their concerns.
What was interesting was that most of the concerns and bravos were for relatively small things. Any Kansas Citian with half a brain is aware that the schools suck, and crime is a real issue. What the people in Waldo wanted were little things...and a vast majority of them had lost faith in the city government to even be able to deliver on these small things. And sadly, if the governmmet can't even be relied on to deliver on the simplest of promises (public input, open government, dog parks) then how in the world would anyone expect them to deliver on big issues like crime and schools.
Funkhouser responded that that's just the way government works. The problem is he campaigned that his government would be different. It's not.
I heard a lot of people last night that have no confidence in the government to even follow through on the simplest of ideas. There's no way they trust them to do the big stuff. So while many of these "little things" seem like small problems in the grand scheme of Kansas City politics, I think they're undermining the administration's and council's major goals, and clearly breaking many of Funkhouser's campaign promises.
That's what I heard last night at the meeting...I hope Funkhouser heard it too.