They Vote Green
Individual citizens and neighborhood groups try to influence the city’s development process through their testimony at public hearings, but development interests have a different strategy. Of the four councilmembers on the Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee, which makes final recommendations on development to the whole council, all have enjoyed significant campaign contributions from developers, their lawyers, utilities, real estate companies and agents, and unions. Employees of these firms also contributed individually. According to Missouri Ethics Commission election finance documents:
• Since 1994, Ed Ford, chair of the committee, received more than $14,000 from identifiable development interests or employees of legal, engineering, and architectural firms. Donations came from such Kansas City heavy-hitters as J.B. Nutter, Garney Companies, the Heavy Construction Association, the Homebuilders Association of Greater Kansas City, Hunt Midwest, ReMax, the Walton and DiCarlo construction firms, Lasco Builders, Hillside and Talon development companies, Mark Bolling Homes, Larry Sells, Hallmark, King Hershey Burke Farchmin & Scholman (precursor to Falcon Ridge lawyer Michael Burke’s firm King Hershey Coleman Koch & Stone), and Kingston Environmental Services. Principals of law firms Lathrop & Gage and Polsinelli White Vardeman and Shalton, which handle many high-profile projects around town, also contributed heavily to Ford’s campaigns. Union contributors included Plumbers Local #8 and Greater Kansas City Building and Trades Unions.
• Bonnie Sue Cooper’s campaign fund included $7,625 from development interests, including DiCarlo, JLW, and J.E. Dunn construction companies; attorney Michael Burke; and Station and Argosy casinos. Real-estate agents, brokers, and investment companies showing interest in Cooper included Whitney Kerr, James Kemper of Tower Properties, Zimmer Realty, and Holiday Apartments.
• Jim Rowland received $13,755 from such entities as Hallmark, Heavy Constructors PAC, AMC, Power & Light PAC, and Kansas City Southern Rail PAC. Real estate companies or their employees from the Tutera Group, J.C. Nichols, Henry Wurst Inc., and J.D. Reece also contributed significantly. Lawyers from Lathrop & Gage, King Hershey Coleman Koch & Stone, and Polsinelli White Vardeman & Shalton were also heavy donors.
• Troy Nash received at least $3,325 from development lawyers, including Jim Bowers Jr., Aaron March, and Mike White, formerly of Polsinelli White Vardeman & Shalton, and from the firm itself in Nash’s first bid for city council and for his new campaign chest. He also received at least $250 from developer Hugh Zimmer. Construction unions have also been friendly to Nash: He’s pulled in at least $4,175 from unions representing plumbers, roofers, masons, heavy construction laborers, and asbestos workers. This summer, the Carpenters District Council, representing several locals, contributed $12,500 to Nash campaign coffers.