On Friday, the Sentinel exposed how the Kansas City Star prefaces all articles about the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsible Government (CFRG), with the diminutive, “the group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Government.”
The group calling itself CFRG has invited now even more scorn for managing to gather twice the needed signatures on its “notice to circulate a referendum petition” on the downtown hotel. Spokesman DanCoffey insists that the group calling itself CFRG is not against the Downtown hotel, it just wants voters to be involved in the process given that the developers “are asking for $167,000,000 of taxpayers cash, land and freebies.”
As Coffey notes, the group calling itself CFRG turned signatures over to the City Clerk on Friday and things were initially quiet. “It is obvious our action was unexpected by the hotel pushers,” says Coffey. “It wasn’t quiet for long and soon they started with the name calling, finger pointing, weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Chief among the teeth gnashers was development lawyer Mike Burke. He was far from subtle. “This is another example of an isolated group of individuals trying to block the tremendous momentum Kansas City is experiencing to move us forward to become a world-class city,” said Burke. “They represent no one but themselves as they continually seek publicity for themselves regardless of the damage it does to the community.”
Burke argued that the ordinance approving the zoning plan for the hotel had passed by an 11-0 vote of the City Council and that there has not been a new convention hotel built in the last 32 years.
As to Burke’s claim that the group calling itself CFRG is only interested in self-aggrandizement, Coffey counters, “He needs to remember we get paid nothing while he’s looking at a $6,000,000 payday if he is successful in scamming the voters of KCMO on this hotel.”
The idea that Kansas City has not built a convention hotel in 32 years does not strike Coffey as a selling point, “What does that tell you? Maybe we don’t need it! Again look at Wichita and St. Louis.” The latter two cities have had less than positive experiences with their hotel projects.
Burke, by the way, was one of several worthies to denounce the group calling itself CFRG. Said Ronnie Burt, CEO of Visit KC, “I think it is irresponsible for a small group of people to try to derail so much success in this city.” Mayor Sly James claimed the group calling itself CFRG was “putting politics before common sense.” And even Joe Reardon of KCK weighed in, hoping that the issue never appears on the ballot.
Undeterred, the group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Government now begin its push to gather the 4,500 to 5,000 signatures needed to get the petition on the ballot. Those who might wish to help can find the group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Government on Facebook.