Also: A candidate plays horse.
It turns out that development interests lined up behind the effort to rewrite the charter. The Better Government Committee, which sent out mailers urging voters to pass Question 2 on last week's primary ballot, received tens of thousands of dollars from development lawyers, architects and builders.
The Better Government Committee raised about $176,000, according to campaign disclosure reports. The largest chunk came from the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, a group of corporate bigwigs, including Sprint boss Gary Forsee and Commerce Bank CEO Jonathan Kemper. Supporters of Question 2, which passed by an almost 2-to-1 margin, said the new charter will improve efficiency, cut red tape and create new ethics requirements.
In addition to promoting good government, Kansas City's corporate overseers were apparently looking to make things easier for contractors. Under the new charter, the city will be able to more easily use "design-build," a system in which a single contractor oversees a project from design to ribbon-cutting.
The Better Government Committee's receipts suggest that a segment of the sketch-and-crane set in Kansas City thinks design-build is pretty cool. Among those contributing to the cause were Burns & McDonnell ($10,000), the Heavy Constructors Association ($10,000), J.E. Dunn Construction ($5,000), HNTB ($2,500) and Black & Veatch ($2,000).
Kansas Citians can expect nuts, bolts and all manner of construction materials to keep flying as long as city leaders continue to make things easy for contractors.
There's one reason the good people of Kansas still have an anti-evolution member on the state Board of Education from the 3rd District. His name is David Oliphant.
Oliphant, an Olathe architect, siphoned off 10 percent of the votes from pro-evolution candidate Harry McDonald III, who got 40 percent. That gave the seat again to incumbent John Bacon, who got 49 percent.
Oliphant said during the campaign that the board's controversial decision to change the science standards was the state's number one education problem. But he didn't appear to have his head in the race at all times. He missed a candidate forum at Johnson County Community College, and he was late in filing a campaign-finance report. His candidacy has raised suspicion that he was a stalking-horse for Bacon. Or maybe he's just a dipshit.
Decide for yourself.
The Pitch: Are you responsible for John Bacon winning the primary?
Oliphant: No. If you add mine and the other guy's together, it still comes out less.
Yes. I didn't exactly do the exact math. John got 62 percent, if I remember right.
I don't think that's true.
I'm just sort of going off what I remember vaguely from that evening. And the other thing is, it's pretty presumptuous to think that all of my votes would go to either candidate. I mean, that's not even something I'd consider as a possibility.
Your campaign didn't raise any money beyond the $425 you donated yourself. Does that suggest a lack of effort?
No. I chose not to accept any money. I didn't want to be beholden to anybody but the voters.
But how were you going to get your name out? Obviously, that effort was insufficient.
Well, that's the way it goes sometimes. I definitely didn't want to take any money from the NEA. John's backing was pretty wrapped up and tied. So I just felt that someone needed to run representing parents.
Did anyone ever talk to you about dropping out of the race?
Well, I actually had been asked to drop out a few days after I signed up. I said that I'm not a quitter, and I thought the voters ought to have the option of choosing who they wanted.
If you couldn't win, would you have rather seen Bacon or McDonald win?
Me, personally? Simply because of the way he ran the campaign, I thought I would have much rather seen John. I thought he ran a much more professional and honest campaign and tried to keep it centered on the issues.
But you stated that the state's top education problem is the board's decision on the science standards.
Yet you would rather see Bacon win as opposed to McDonald?
Well, McDonald definitely did not represent parents. McDonald represented professional educators. Never once did he ever really talk about parents having input in their child's education. In fact, his position was that if you weren't a professional educator, you weren't competent to make a decision in your child's educational future. I can't support that outlook at all.