Funny how the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City works.
As you know, the organization of business and legal bigwigs dropped the proposed “translational research tax” on the County Legislature just weeks before the deadline for putting a measure on the Nov 5 ballot.
Said they had been working for months on details of the proposed $1 billion tax program and couldn’t present it to the Legislature until it was ready.
Well, you know what? They were telling the truth.
But they weren’t “working” on it in any conventional process. No, they were working on it through the campaign contribution process.
Last night I checked the last three years’ worth of County Executive Mike Sanders‘ campaign disclosure reports.
You won’t believe what I found, and we’ll bring that to you right after this commercial br…
Oh, wait, this isn’t TV, I can tell you right now!
During the last three years, individuals, companies and consultants who are involved in the translational sales-tax campaign have contributed nearly $65,000 to Sanders’ campaign committee.
The committee currently has about $260,000 on hand, and it is no secret that Sanders aspires to statewide office.
Now, you can’t get to one of the big offices in the State Capitol without a lot of financial help, and the folks who want Jackson County residents to approve this tax increase have paid handsome homage to Sanders.
In turn, Sanders gladly accommodated the civic titans when they came to him sometime this year (who knows when?) and asked him to support their plan for a new 20-year sales tax to pay for this extravagant and risky research program.
Also a gleam in the eyes of civic leaders was a proposed new Hospital Hill building that would house a Translational Medicine Institute of Jackson County.
…Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Makes me picture room after room of translators working with people of various nationalities, trying desperately to get to the bottom of those people’s medical complaints.
Anyway, Sanders obliged the bigwigs and pressed the County Legislature to put the sales-tax proposal on the November ballot.
The cowardly legislature then did its part, voting 7-2 on Aug. 26 — the day before the deadline — to put Jackson County Question 1 on the ballot.
Now, reports are circulating that infighting has been occurring within the proponents’ campaign committee, the Committee for Research, Treatments and Cures.
That wouldn’t surprise me at all. Five or six different consulting groups are drawing down fantastic fees to try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes, and — except for my Irish buddy Pat O’Neill — some bloated egos are bouncing around at campaign HQ.
In short, Col. Sanders has cooked up a particularly greasy batch of fried chicken, and almost all the key people on the proponents’ side — including the civic leaders who have tossed hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign kitty — are trying to figure out how to get out of the frying pan.
Well, the hot oil is of the Civic Council’s making. Its members, along with Col. Sanders, ambushed the County Legislature, and now they’re trying to take Jackson County taxpayers for a ride. But thanks to a stout organized opposition that has emerged in recent weeks, the public has caught on, and many residents are infuriated.
What Civic Council members had hoped would be an intense but smooth, nine- or 10-week campaign has become a big street fight. The civic set didn’t bargain on that, and they don’t like it. Sure, they’ve got their gladiators, the horde of consultants, but the gladiators are just hired hands; they’re getting paid regardless of the outcome.
As I’ve said before, though, we — the opponents — have passion and extremely strong arguments on our side, and we are relishing the street fight. Not only that, we think we know who’s going to win.
…Now, here’s that list of individuals and companies that have given Sanders money during the last three years and are now involved in the Question 1 campaign in some way. (I could be off a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars because I just finished the review an hour or so ago — before I started writing this — and I’m dead tired.)
Burns & McDonnell engineering company — $20,000
Polsinelli law firm — $12,500
KCP&L — $11,500
Husch Blackwell law firm — $6,000
JE Dunn Construction — $4,500
Steve Dunn (Dunn Construction) — $750
Terrence Dunn (Dunn Construction) — $750
Tom McDonnell, retired from DST — $2,500
Pat O’Neill, consultant — $2,250
Pete Levi, Polsinelli — $1,350
Robert Kipp, retired from Hallmark — $1,000
Steve Glorioso, consultant — $600
Jewel Scott, Civic Council exec. director — $500
Lockton Companies — $500