Smear Merchants

Northeast News
June 28, 2017

Last week a smear campaign was launched against the Kansas City Museum for a tentative (operative term) parking plan that sought to take a small part of the parkland west of the Museum and use it for surface parking. Never mind that the document this campaign was based on is seventeen years old, developed when the overlords at Union Station controlled the Museum. Additionally, the dubious concept was floated by USKC to bamboozle Northeast residents into believing that under Union Station management, there would be a glut of visitor traffic to the Corinthian Hall. From a factual standpoint it was a Union Station scheme to divert mill levy funds – a 1/10th-cent, city-wide property tax that raises roughly $1.5 million annually to run the Kansas City Museum – and nothing more.
Last week’s smear campaign involved social media postings as well as a couple of strategically distributed manifesto documents to key neighbors around the Museum that implied that the entire “Gooseneck Green” area west of the Museum was to be decimated and utilized for surface parking. The campaign also vilified museum staff and planners in the process, citing a perceived lack of transparency and a complete disregard for George Kessler’s original intent for the park that now bears his name. It was an extremely well orchestrated and well-written smear to be sure, but never let facts get in the way of a good story.
Had this been the Museum of years past under the “management” of the Union Station bunch, the Dog would have understood the sentiment of the opposition. Too many times Union Station thugs like David Ucko and Bill Musgrave slithered in to neighborhood association meetings here in HNE and lied through their teeth in order to secure a piece of the coveted mill levy that partially funds Museum operations. More often than not they were sent packing with their tail between their legs by street savvy neighborhood residents familiar with their tactics. It should be noted that at one such Scarritt meeting, Ucko was lucky to escape with his skin – but that’s a story for another day.
This, however, is not that Museum. Throughout this process Museum officials along with architects, planners and Parks and Recreation Department heads have been more than transparent with Museum plans, painstakingly taking input at planning and listening sessions dating back to 2010, when the whole strategic plan was launched and involved community stakeholders at every level throughout the Historic Northeast community. Additionally, the singular document this campaign was based on is 17 years old and hasn’t even been explored by planners and staff as one of the final design options moving forward. As an aside, this little stunt put in to jeopardy the Museum receiving first round-funding from the city’s GO Bond measure that every community in the city is fighting for now. The Dog bets that little factoid didn’t get factored in to your little ego trip either.
Here’s a thought for the knee-jerk smear merchants with nothing better to do than initiate character assassinations from the shadows. Try having an open and honest dialogue based on facts rather than inventing a crisis based on an almost two-decade-old document that has little or no relevance today. Your actions came off as that of a spoiled petulant child who didn’t get his or her way, and gave the neighborhood another black eye in the process. Good job.

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