Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Council Representation Fantasy

I wasn’t able to attend or watch the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting today, but I imagined what a half-way-decent council person would have said:

Council person (to consultant): “This doesn’t look like a consensus to me. There are still a lot of people upset about your plan.”

Consultant: “Seventy one per...”

Council person: “71% isn’t a consensus. A consensus is something everyone agrees upon, and with the failure to get any approval from the very group that stopped the plan before and is just as opposed to your plan now, I don’t think you have any kind of agreement at all, let alone a ‘consensus’”.

Consultant: “It’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. Nobody ever gets everything they want.”

Council person: “Looks like the supporters of the big-bridge plan got everything they want, but that’s not the point. Sharron and Teresa here represent a group of people who set this whole process in motion. They are not entitled to a particular outcome, but they are entitled to a process that empowers them and addresses their concerns. What you did would be like reaching a labor agreement by using management and shareholders as the interlocutors while the workers just stood by and watched.”

Consultant: “I don’t think we could reach a 100% consensus.”

Council person: “OK. Let’s try. Teresa, do you agree that we need a bridge over the Blue River?

Teresa: “Yes."

Council person: “Tim, do you agree that we need a bridge over the Blue River?”

Tim: “Yes, and the railroad."

Council person: “Sorry, not asking about the railroad. We have a consensus for building a bridge over the river. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Consultant: “I don’t think the Citizens for New Red Bridge would call that a consensus.”

Council person: “Why not? I’m sure a survey will get a 100% affirmative response to that question. That’s what democracy is all about, isn’t it: surveys?”

Consultant: “Using those standards, Mr./Ms. council person, I don’t think any infrastructure project would ever happen. There’s always someone opposed to it.”

Council person: “We have a sordid history of infrastructure projects being put in place over large-scale community opposition: The famous Robert Moses expressway through the heart of the Bronx utterly devastated that whole area and it still hasn’t recovered. Here we have the Watkins Expressway. The lesson I draw from these projects is simple: building without reference to a neighborhood’s character is destructive. This Red Bridge thing looks a lot like that. Basically, we have a proposal to change the status quo, so I agree that we need a consensus, or an agreement from the parties involved in order to carry out the plan. If you lack that agreement, the status quo should remain until such time as an agreement is reached. I think that principle is especially applicable when the course of action being suggested is irrevocable. Building a smaller bridge leaves the big-bridge option on the table. But once the big bridge is built, it cannot be removed. So, you’d better be damned sure that you are doing the right thing before you proceed. In this case, I don’t see how we can be sure of that at all.”

Consultant: “But the federal funds expire in 2009.”

Council person (sarcastically): “Oh, well why didn’t you say so!? Bring on the freaking bulldozers!”


Anonymous said...

Please see the Mayor Funk comments last year @ the Red Bridge project. Where is the leadership from the 29th floor of City Hall? Another broken promise from the Funk?

Thursday, March 22, 2007
Building Bridges

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the 6th District. It's one of Kansas City's most unique and vibrant communities. It's very, diverse, yet it has remained a strong community because folks there have been able to see past their differences to find common ground. They've made their community a livable community despite neglect from City Hall.

Unfortunately the 6th District has become even more divided from City Hall, ironically, over the building of a bridge on Red Bridge Road. The reason for this is that the leaders who represent this community at City Hall -- Alvin Brooks and Chuck Eddy -- have been unwilling to build consensus.

I've talked with many, many folks in the 6th District. A lot of them are working on my campaign as volunteers. And time and time again I hear from them that they feel alienated from City Hall. They feel like they're being ignored by their representatives on the Council.

The bridge on Red Bridge Road has become a symbol of this.

City leaders have not respectfully listened to regular citizens in this process. They have not conducted business in an open and transparent manner. In short, the citizens do not trust their elected leaders - and that mistrust has extended, in some cases, to neighbor against neighbor.

Where is the leadership?

Leaders need to bring folks together, not divide them.

As Mayor, I will use my kind of consensus building to resolve that situation as amicably as possible. I know it's never possible to please everyone. But most people can feel good about a process in which they are asked to be involved, treated with respect and have open access to information - even if they don't agree with the end result.

I don't believe in ramming through projects that are devised in back rooms where the people of Kansas City have no say. To me, that's not consensus building at all.

As Mayor, I'll go to the 6th District, talk to residents and begin to restore their faith in a city leadership that has their best interests at heart. Working with them, I'll help find a solution. City bridges and roads should serve the neighborhoods where they're built.

Because that's how I build consensus: by being open, honest, straightforward and including all voices - not just those of a powerful few.

Anonymous said...

John Sharp wins. YOU LOSE!!!

Anonymous said...

That should have been John Sharp's campaign slogan.