Kansas City needs a real man for the city manager's job.

Kay's Playpen 

Kansas City needs a real man for the city manager's job.

No sooner had Bob Collins announced his early retirement as city manager than rumors of who would replace him began zipping around the old tower at 12th and Oak. Informed speculators had Auditor Mark Funkhouser or Public Works Director Ed Wolf at the top of the list.

For their part, Mayor Kay Barnes and various city-council members engaged in the obligatory public handwringing about how difficult it will be to replace Collins, especially as they struggle to figure out how to make up the $45 million shortfall in his budget for next year.

We'd like to recommend Robert H. Brooks for the job. He's the Atlanta-based owner of Hooters, who offered to provide underwiring, er, underwriting for one bankrupt Kansas City institution, sparking late-night TV jokes about Vanguard-cum-Hooters Air Inc.

In fact, if padded bras and orange hotshorts are what it takes to keep Kansas City in business, maybe a few of Kansas City's other formerly proud, now-sagging signature companies ought to take a tip from Brooks. Maybe Sprint could quit laying off employees if it merged with the gentlemen's club out on Noland Road and 350 Highway, creating a bistate economic powerhouse called Sprint with Legs.

And we hoped that the Shady Lady might be willing to lend her services to utility giant Aquila Inc. now that wonderboys Richard and Robert Green have seen their bonds downgraded to junk status. It turns out, though, that even the topless bar on East 12th Street is taking it in the shorts in this tough economy -- when even leisure hours are devoted to seeking income.

"It's a critical time in the entertainment industry right now for everyone except the boats," gripes General Manager Joe Spinello, who points out that some strip clubs are giving away meals but still can't lure patrons away from the casinos. "How strong is gambling if naked girls and free food can't get it?"

Sadly, if Brooks decides he doesn't want the privilege of being able to paint a couple of wise ol' owls on top of City Hall, not even Satin Dolls wants the naming rights. "When's Kansas City going to help my industry?" roars a manager who says he's too busy mopping the floor to give his name.

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