Out here in blog land, a story is circulating that Dan Cofran has been given the hook as the “main debater” for the Save Kansas City Committee, which is pushing for retention of the earnings tax.
The implication is that Cofran has been reined in because of a statement he made to a woman who asked him what her options were if she worked in Kansas City and paid the E-tax but didn’t live in the city. “Then don’t work here,” was Cofran’s, sharp-elbowed response.
E-tax opponents have jumped all over it, featuring it in two TV ads.
And now, says a local blogger whose first name happens to be Tony, Cofran has been “sacked.”
Not exactly. Here’s the full story.
First, a disclosure: I am a member of the Save Kansas City Committee’s steering committee and have spoken to two groups, urging retention of the E-tax.
Cofran, a lawyer and former city councilman, indeed has been the main speaker on behalf of the campaign, although other officials, including civic leader and campaign co-chairman Anita Gorman, have also appeared.
Cofran has made a dozen or more appearances on behalf of the committee and represented the committee in a Kansas City Star debate, published last Sunday.
Cofran is not getting paid; he is volunteering his time.
The main spokesman for the opposition, a nebulous group called Freedom PAC, which has an address in Kansas City, North, is Woody Cozad, a former Missouri Republican state chairman.
He is getting paid.
The problem that has crept up on our side is that Cofran, while representing Save Kansas City, has also been working — for pay — as chief opponent of the proposed Polsinelli, Shughart building on the Plaza.
He and lawyer Dave Fenley of the Husch Blackwell firm debated the Polsinelli issue on KCUR yesterday.
Steve Glorioso, a consultant to the Save Kansas City Committee, said that even before Wednesday’s debate, “we’d been a little concerned about him (Cofran) mixing the two issues.”
“It’s confusing to people,” Glorioso said, referring to Cofran being perceived as a “swivel top,” that is, pitching retention of the E-tax one day and opposing the Polsinelli building the next.
Glorioso said he asked Cofran early this week if he could postpone Wednesday’s debate with Fenley, but Cofran said he couldn’t do that, primarily because a City Council committee is scheduled to consider the matter next Wednesday, the day after the E-tax election.
On Tuesday, Glorioso said, he learned that Cofran planned to debate not one but both issues on this week’s edition of KCPT’s Week in Review, which will be taped tomorrow morning.
Glorioso said Week in Review moderator Nick Haines had set up the show so that Cofran and Fenley would debate the Plaza building for 15 minutes and then Cofran would square off against Cozad on the E-tax for the remaining 15 minutes. Cofran agreed to the format.
That was way too much swiveling for Glorioso and other Save Kansas City officials.
Glorioso said he called Haines and said, “This thing on Friday just won’t work.” He told Haines that the committee would be sending Dianne Cleaver, a committee co-chairman, in place of Cofran.
Glorioso said he then sent Cofran an e-mail, laying out his concerns and telling him about the change of plans. He said Cofran sent him a response, essentially saying, “That makes sense.”
With just four days left before the election, only one more event is scheduled — on Monday — and Glorioso said Cofran had not been in line to be the speaker.
So, yes, Cofran got reined in, but not because of the “Don’t work here” comment.
And, by the way, I can’t see that comment persuading a large number of Kansas Citians to vote against the E-tax. Half the people who pay the tax live outside the city. And don’t you know we Kansas Citians just love having our friends who live outside the city help us pay for the streets, parks, entertainment venues and arts facilities that our “visitors” regularly use and enjoy?