Page 3 of 3
In his book, Funkhouser says, he talks about this huge and growing gap between what we say is supposed to happen in democratic government and what is happening. For example, citizen trust in government at all levels is declining in virtually all Western democracies and, certainly, in the United States. In order for democratic self-government to exist, there has to be a certain base level of trust. And that worries me.
The basic elements of trust, he says, are that the government has integrity, generally chooses the right course of action the morally right course of action and has competence. And if it chooses the morally right course of action, it will succeed. Second, if it doesnt succeed, it will acknowledge and learn from its mistakes. He adds, The third critical component is transparency -- citizens will see with their own eyes that were choosing the right course and succeeding and learning.
Thats the theory, anyway. Now, Funkhouser says, I just want to see whether or not all the theories and ideas that I have actually hold water. Can you really raise citizen-satisfaction scores? Can you really get rid of the damn metal plates? Can you really make Kansas City just as appealing a place to live as Prairie Village? Can the schools be good? Can we have a real bus and a real transit system? Yes. Thats not easy. Its hard to do, but Id love to give it a whirl.
Before all that, though, a nap. Then Funkhouser has phone calls to make, a résumé to update, basement shelves full of stuff he has to read for his book, which is due in the spring.
Outside Funkhousers house, its a couple of hours later on this same brilliant Saturday afternoon. His neighbors are still raking leaves. But somehow, the whole city feels different or like it could be, anyway.