Would it be asking too much for the Jolly Old Elf to bring us what we really want this year?
I don’t make a habit of releasing personal correspondence to anyone, let alone the most influential readership in the Kansas City region. Besides, the folks at Google and Microsoft are conducting most of that disclosure. But Christmas is the season of sharing, I’m told, so I’m going to do just that.
This is one I sent out to a long-time acquaintance, someone I’ve known and respected since I was wearing short pants.
You’ve been pretty good to me for more Christmas mornings than I can count—or remember—so I’ll be up-front with you this year: There’s nothing I need you to bring me this year. I’ve got the kids (they’re all doing great, by the way), meaningful work, weekend football, and if memory serves, People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive award from last year. So I’m good.
I do, however, have some special requests on behalf of a few others. If you deliver on these, I will have a very Merry Christmas, indeed:
• For the folks at City Hall, the guts to admit that, years after wrecking the traffic corridor along Gillham Road and Armour Boulevard, the pathetic under-use of bike lanes has failed to add that sustainability pizzazz we were promised. Give us back the wide boulevards this city’s designers gifted us, and scrap the plans to ruin other roads. And the very good sense to stop looking to Portland for inspiration.
• For John Sherman and his ownership cohort at Kauffman Stadium, a new Downtown venue. I’m good with that as long as it’s a gift from you—and not a shiny new toy that sticks the locals with the bill. Heck, I’d be the biggest booster of a Downtown park if those owners would take a cue from Brittney Mathews and Chris and Angie Long, owners of the KC Current, and fund the construction costs privately.
• For Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, the vision to see the role that Kansas City values played in making Cerner a global IT powerhouse. Sucking resources out of this region following last year’s acquisition won’t do Oracle—or this region—any good in the long run.
• For the people demanding restoration of local control of the Kansas City Police Department: A few history lessons on why that control isn’t local. Over the past half-century or more, local governance hasn’t produced a track record of responsibility on most fronts (K-12 public schools, anyone? Stormwater management? I could go on.)
• For the daily newspaper leadership here: A sense of shame, then a sense of balance. Failing either, the forthrightness to openly declare its allegiance to one political party and stop pretending that it is in some ways fair or objective.
• For the graffiti artists in town: Personal copies of “That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen,” by Frederic Bastiat. And, as they’re the types who would rather wait for it as the next installment in the Marvel movie series, tell them they have to read it, or it’s lumps of coal in 2023.
• For the clowns who think the few hundred bucks they get by pilfering someone else’s catalytic converter are more important than the $2,000 a car owner will pay to have it replaced, some Milton Friedman YouTube clips on basic economics. And, of course, the guts to do their work during daylight hours instead of emerging like rats from the sewer after dark.
• For the traffic-control division in Kansas City: A working search engine that can identify companies making the tech to synchronize signalization. Public officials at every level all seem to be stockholders in sustainable-energy companies, but none seem to be bothered by the sight of 10 or 20 cars idling at a red light when there’s no cross-traffic to manage.
• For the folks at the Jackson County property assessment office, the analytical skills to see that most of the other needs on this list believe their updated valuations on homes here. Local government service that amounts to bupkis does not warrant a doubling or tripling—or worse—in property taxes.
• For the Good Old USofA: A 2024 presidential campaign that excludes both Joe Biden and Donald Trump. I know we haven’t all been good, Santa, but nobody’s been bad enough to deserve a rerun of the last election.
• For Ingram’s readers (OK, OK, for everybody out there, but especially for Ingram’s readers): A safe, happy Christmas season filled with family, friends, and cheer.
• And, of course, a prosperous New Year—to hell with the economic indicators.