Thursday, March 19, 2009

CCP Calls For Ethics for All

P.O. Box 10462
Kansas City, Missouri 64171

For immediate release:
March 18, 2009
CONTACT: Pat McInerney
(816) 983-8364

CCP Calls For Uniform Application of Jackson County Ethics Code

The Committee for County Progress, Jackson County's oldest political organization, today called on the Jackson County Legislature - and all Jackson County elected officials - to make themselves subject to the Jackson County Ethics Code enacted earlier this year by County Executive Mike Sanders. Following enactment of the code by Sanders, the legislature passed the code as an ordinance but exempted themselves from its provisions. By executive order, the code currently applies only to the County Executive.

"It's only right that every elected official should be bound by the new ethics code," said CCP President Pat McInerney. "Because they set the ethical tone for the county, the idea that there is one set of rules for elected officials and another for everyone else really undermines the idea of having an ethics code at all. The new Ethics Commission should immediately review the Ethics Code and recommend whether it will apply across the board or just to some. The code may need other improvements, but exempting the people elected to represent us is not the way to start."

McInerney said he expected the legislature to abide by the code and predicted that, once resolved, the ethics code issue would not be a campaign issue in 2010. CCP has been involved in previous Jackson County charter issues - urging and passing a measure reducing the number of legislators from 15 to 9 in 1985 - and has been a voice for progressive and open government since its inception in 1964.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A False Choice at the Sports Complex

Yesterday, in his attempt to imitate a classic National Lampoon cover, the mayor sought to pit public safety against sports in a town that has no reason to brag about either. "Every dime spent at the ballpark means a better chance someone will crawl in your window" seemed to be the regrettable message from Hizzoner. But the choice between major league sports and public safety - especially when it comes down to $2 million of a $1.5 billion budget - is a false one. It's false because there is no dollar-for-dollar tie between the two budgets, and, as has been pointed out, the KC earnings tax is virtually the only way to (forcibly) share the responsibility of the stadiums and the teams with the JoCotians. Nobody mentioned increased efficiencies or other balancing mechanisms. Instead, the mayor chose the easy way with the cute alliteration of a "choice between . . . families and football" etc.

And yesterday's episode was yet another unfortunate example of the black hole that overlays 12th Street between Oak and Locust - communication between the City and the County is virtually non-existant, left to play out in competing press conferences and the blogs.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pork: The Other White Meat

The retirement of Senator Kit Bond, a senior ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, creates both an opportunity and a dilemma for those vying to fill that vacancy in the United States Senate.  Love him or hate him, Jackson County has benefited from his tenure in the senate. 

Bond was instrumental in securing funding for the IRS Service Center, the Whittaker Federal Courthouse, as well as funding for city transportation and infrastructure.  My sisters in the women's community complain that he is "bad for women." Well, clearly he does not recognize sovereignty over one's body as a basic human right as we do, but Bond, along with Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, backed appropriations that fund domestic violence prevention programs and treatment programs for victims of sexual assault.

Senator McCaskill is leading the charge for pork reform.  She co-sponsored a bill that calls for transparency, clearer rules and increased restrictions on the appropriations process.  It's good legislation, but it signals and unwillingness to bring home the bacon.

Republican candidate for that senate seat Roy Blunt was a principal in the Tom Delay holy trinity of politics, power and profit.  Yet now we see him standing in stern solidarity behind a bronze John Boehner as Congressman Boehner bemoans "porkulous."

Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan has a track record of being both progressive and pragmatic.  Will she get on the pork reform bandwagon?

So, where does this leave Missouri in 2010 if the appropriations process remains the same? Senator McCaskill will not participate in an appropriations process that "is about power and party." Although one of the two candidates will prevail in this race and earn a seat in the senate, neither will assume Bond's muscle as it relates to appropriations.  Maybe the time is right for both Missouri senators to embrace pork reform, but can Missouri afford this?

Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt will have to stake out a position on this issue that is good for the state and good for the country.  They can either draw a contrast between themselves and Senator McCaskill or join the fight for pork reform.  Either way it will have to be addressed, as Senator Bond will leave some big ol' pork prints to fill!