I attended Mayor Funkhouser's Town Hall meeting tonight, and I'd like to give you my take on the whole thing and perhaps get some feedback if anyone is actually reading this thing.
A man stood up early on in the question session to address what he called the elephant in the room. The audience probably knew that he was referring to the Francis Semler affair, just as we seemed to get the allusion to Mrs. Semler earlier in the evening by the Mayor himself. The speaker voiced his support for Mayor Funkhouser's position, and received applause from the audience. After that, there were no further references to that issue. So, elephant it may be, but not something concerned citizens in south K.C. seem interested in talking about.
If it is the elephant in the room, that's only because the matter has been blown up into a big media ta-doo for political reasons.
The real elephant, the mother of all elephants, is something more fundamental, and I saw it in virtually every issue being brought up that people really wanted to talk about. That's why I got up to say what I said near the end about the bureaucracy being a huge dead weight dragging down the implementation of reforms that I think the Mayor and a majority of the Council want to see happen. I've heard it said that most City Hall employees voted for Mr. Brooks and now they have no incentive to see "A City That Works", and I know from my foxhole experience in the Red Bridge battle that we are up against stiff resistance to change and public involvement. In his response, the Mayor talked about the culture at City Hall, but my head was still spinning from having made a speech in public, so maybe I can hear from you about what you heard at the meeting.
As far as Red Bridge is concerned, Terrence Nash explained another elephant in a different room: the project is essentially an illegal act. The Council said one thing, and the Public Works department has done something different. No, not different: opposite. Teresa Edens talked about the survey, which is just pure evil if you ask me. (I haven't been so incensed about anything since Bill Frist was Senate Majority Leader.)
Arnold McMann was the first speaker of the evening, and brought up the issue of accountability of public funds. That was the first of many issues that for me keep coming back to the need to do a "full Gorbachev" on this City: glasnost, perestroika and democratization.
Maybe the Mayor and his family should refrain from trips to their dacha in the Ozarks until we get things sorted out.