It's no secret what everybody wants out of City Hall: a better city. A good city needs smooth roads, uncracked sidewalks, a sewer system that doesn't stink. And to do all that, a good city needs plenty of money and fiscal discipline. Unfortunately, Kansas City has neither. But it does have a great capital-improvements department, where city staffers do the best they can with what they have. The capital-improvement staff mans the city's Public Improvements Advisory Committee process, where citizens lobby at public forums for the city's meager spoils. Obviously, they run into some angry people out there. But they're always quick with reliable information, even if it isn't always what people want to hear -- most often, "We just don't have enough money to do that." If they were telling the truth, they'd probably have to add something like, "We'd like to do that, but unfortunately, your former city councilman secretly defunded your neighborhood project in order to buy another city councilman's vote for one of the many "legacy" projects that haven't really amounted to anything." But everybody knows that anyway. What's important to people out in the neighborhoods is being treated with respect. The workers in the capital-improvements department do at least that much.