Mayor Mark Funkhouser seems to think that Northeast’s illegal dumping problem is “Interesting.”
At least that was all he could say when residents brought to his attention that the illegal dumping has gotten so bad in some Northeast parks that you can now see it from photographs taken from space.
Residents were right last week in giving the the mayor a berating for his lack of attention when it comes to police, codes enforcement, graffiti and a slew of other topics that Northeast residents have been barking about for years. Topics that he, as the “City that Works” and “Neighborhoods First” mayor should be on top of and know inside and out.
Even with two top staffers living in Northeast, the mayor still had to ask last week, with a straight face, “Is illegal dumping a serious issue here?”
The laughs and the gasps that followed from the crowd of about 100 people should have been enough to embarrass everyone down at City Hall.
This Newshound has joked in the past that the folks downtown were out of touch, but there it was on full display; a mayor who did not fully grasp the problems of a neighborhood he swore would benefit from his reign.
The mayor would call out some Northeast notables by name as important parts of the solution to making Kansas City and Northeast better, but when asked simply about HOW he is fixing issues like trash, graffiti or redevelopment, he would defer and simply say, “We hear you.” or “We are working on a plan.”
Mayor, these residents have been screaming for something to get done and you appeared in front of them as if this was the first time Round-up.
Where is the dedication to the “Broken Windows” theory or code enforcement?
Where are the promised resources for graffiti abatement?
Why cut off bulky trash services in an area that needs it most?
Every question met with a non-answer and even swipes at former mayors and others.
At one point, as the meeting hit a boiling point, several residents even said they were prepared to start practicing vigilante justice just to get a handle on the crime and graffiti problems in the area.
It was here, Mr. Mayor, that we expected you to use your stature, your position, anything, to reassure those frantic few that taking the law into their own hands would be wrong.
But you never did. You seemed to resign yourself to the barrage of questions and attacks.
Northeast does not need an economics lesson or a professor lecturing at the front of the class, they needed a leader who was going to tell them straight out what the next steps were going to be when it comes to picking up the pieces out here and getting back on track.
There have been many residents and community leaders out here that have been doing that on their own; dedicating their own time, resources and effort to making this a great place to live.
There was hope, at one time, that you would be one of those people and would lend Northeast a hand.
But if last week’s forum is any indication, that help will never come and Northeast will once again work on its own to keep residents safe and the streets clean.
Now that is “Interesting.”