Tuesday's vote on the earnings tax in Kansas City, Missouri, resembled a worker's decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan. Voters came to the conclusion that the 1-percent tax on their wages was worth keeping because it's "matched" by people who work in Kansas City but live in surrounding communities.
The e-tax cruised to an easy victory, surviving the challenge to its legitimacy. Wealthy financier and libertarian Rex Sinquefield spent a reported $11 million on a statewide ballot measure that forced Kansas City and St. Louis to put their earnings taxes up for a vote. Kansas City voters approved the tax by a margin of 7 to 2. In St. Louis, the ratio was 9 to 1.
Let us pause to reflect on the results of Tuesday's citywide election results.
Lesson Four: Kansas City has no respect for its elders. Kay Barnes' bottomless pantsuit collection and Richard Berkley's vaguely familiar persona weren't enough to drag Mike Burke to victory. Seems that endorsements by former mayors don't carry the same political muscle that they once did -- at least, not the ones from mayors on Metamucil.
Sly James' election-night watch party at the American Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine was the most entertaining political event in decades. It had everything: jazz musicians, rappers, free
food, dapper volunteers and supporters, an ice sculpture that doubled as a shrimp platter, and
freeloaders in droves.
Guests were firmly encouraged to don name tags at the entrance to the museum. The logic behind the mandate quickly revealed itself. Name tags are Awkward Moment Repellent! No more panicky seconds spent racking your brain for that nice lady's name as she descends upon you faster than your $3-domestic-beer-soaked synapses can fire.
Mike Burke entered the ballroom at Westin Crown Center at about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. A campaign worker escorted him to the stage, clapping aggressively in an attempt to ward off any displays of pity or sorrow.
Keeping with the spirit of a campaign that florists complained was too nice, Burke said Kansas City is ready to move ahead, even if he isn't going to be the guy leading the way. "Kansas City is such a wonderful city," he said. "We have so many things to be proud of. I'm pleased that, as a result of tonight's election, we will have a mayor that will help tell that Kansas City story and make us proud again."
During his campaign for mayor, Mike Burke has accused Mark Funkhouser of hanging a "closed for business" sign on Kansas City. Funkhouser went into office on the promise that he would make developers work harder for incentives.
Things slowed to a crawl, all right. How much the economic downturn and the mayor's pigs-at-the-trough rhetoric were at fault is anybody's guess. But the Blame Funk crowd might want to keep one thing in mind when lamenting the lack of activity at the city's economic-development agencies, and that's the agencies' potential for corruption.
So here's what we know about the campaign to eliminate the earnings tax in Kansas City, Missouri: It's dishonest.
On Thursday, the e-tax abolishers pretended to catch the city in a lie. Like a detective raising a suspect's handcuffed wrist in the air, the campaign says the city was recently forced to admit that the entire $200 million collected by the tax does not go to police and firefighters. Of course, city officials never made such a claim.
The campaign to eliminate the earnings tax in Kansas City has put a face on the tax. An East Side face.
An image of a grim-looking Emanuel Cleaver II appears on the section of the KC Tax Reform website devoted to the tax's history. It's an interesting choice, given that the tax was enacted before Cleaver went into office and endured for 12 years after he left city government.
Lobbyist and conservative pundit Woody Cozad can't serve two masters. Cozad is working as a spokesman for the campaign to eliminate the earnings tax in Kansas City, Missouri. The campaign kicked off on Thursday in anticipation of the April 5 vote.
Cozad's support of the repeal means that he won't be working as a lobbyist on behalf of the Kansas City Police Department, one of the beneficiaries of the tax, which raises $200 million annually.
Kansas City voters got the Funk out. Mayor Mark Funkhouser won't see a second term in office -- the first incumbent since the 1920s to not survive the primary.
Sly James and Mike Burke will square off in a March 22 run-off election. KMBC Channel 9 reported that only 38 votes separated James and Burke.
In case you forgot, today is Election Day -- the first of three Election Days between now and April that will be crucial in determining the future of Kansas City and the entire region. (You can run, JoCo, but you can't hide from your scary urban relatives.)
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