In an interview featured in the fall-winter issue of Aristocrat Motors’ clientele publication, Today’s Aristocrat (motto: “Settle for more” — really), Barnes assures us that she’s staying busy teaching at Park University, and she’s crazy in love with her Mercedes. Which she purchased, of course, from Aristocrat.
Today’s Aristocrat notes that, as mayor, Barnes had a city-paid car and driver. Looks like she has made a smooth transition to getting herself around. "I’ve had a great experience with my Mercedes and also with Aristocrat Motors," she coos to the magazine. "The car is a dream to drive! The quality of service and friendliness of the staff at Aristocrat are exemplary." Take that, Mark Funkhouser. (What Craigslist user finally separated Mayor Funk from his old Toyota when it was time to unload the beater? We may never know.)
Right, so: dream, friendliness, exemplary — got it. The tackiness doesn’t stop there, though. The piece reads like an exit interview that has been stuffed between the seats of an S-Class for five years.
The best part might be when Today’s Aristocrat wonders: "What would you consider to be your legacy and most important contribution?" Wisely, Barnes doesn’t blurt out, Seeing blight everywhere! Tax-increment financing for everyone! That kind of enthusiasm she reserves for paydays, such as her recent trip to Sacramento, where she told that city’s leaders how they, too, could ramp up really expensive projects with hazy dreams of big-league tenants and booming profits.
Ah, well. She instead says: "I’m very proud of the 100’s [we don’t know why Today’s Aristocrat is edited this way — "hundreds" at a dealership usually refers to Franklins] of citizens who I appointed to city boards and commissions. They provided yoeman’s [uh, sic; maybe there isn’t an editor at Today’s Aristocrat] service whether we were dealing with downtown revitalization, creative programs for neighborhoods, or the myriad of unexpected challenges that occur in any community."
Today’s Aristocrat goes on to ask Her Former Honor to name her biggest "crisis or challenge" during her two terms at City Hall. Was it crime? Crumbling infrastructure? All that TIF? No, no and no. Barnes’ answer: 9/11.
"Perhaps the biggest challenge was the immediate aftermath of 9/11," she tells the glossy. "In Kansas City that morning, there was uncertainty about what might happen next so the Police and Fire Chiefs asked that I stay away from downtown to avoid having all city officials in the same place at the same time. In addition, we had planes landing at KCI from throughout the Midwest and beyond, so arrangements had to be made quickly for 100’s of people who were landing unexpectedly in our community." So ... mints on pillows and fresh-cut flowers?
All right, fine, that must have been a difficult week for Barnes and other Midwestern mayors. But with eight years in office to reference, couldn’t she have summoned the memory of something a little more local?
But wait, she still cares about us! By the end of the interview, Barnes manages to squeeze in a plug for the plan to build a 1,000-room convention hotel, which the City Council enjoys spending taxpayer money to study but not — so far — to build. It seems that she’s still smarting over that missing third of her big-dollar downtown-development hat trick.
Your move, Mayor Sly James. But if we see Barnes’ Benz parked around town with a bumper sticker reading "My other car is a streetcar," we’ll know it was you.