Op Ed
June 22, 2007

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Mayor Funkhouser needs to
support products made in KC

by Jim Stoufer

It is a sad day when the mayor will decline a Lincoln that was already leased for him. Then turn around and agree to accept free use of a Honda from a car dealer for his complete term of office. Ethics problem? You bet! An insult to the thousands of taxpaying workers in Kansas City that rely on the two auto assembly plants here? You bet! Is the safety and security of being mayor compromised? Former mayors say, yes!

At the Ford plant alone there are 3,200 UAW members that live within the city limits of Kansas City. They pay earnings taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, water bills and they spend money in Kansas City. That does not include the workers at the GM Plant and all those UAW members that work for the parts suppliers. For every one job in the assembly plant there are seven additional jobs in the supplier sector. Also many of Ford and GM salaried employees live in Kansas City.

Both the Ford Plant and the GM Plant build hybrid vehicles. Ford has the Hybrid Escape/Mariner SUV and GM has the Hybrid Aura. These vehicles are proudly made by UAW members and they are high-quality vehicles. The production of these vehicles provides millions of tax dollars to the City of Kansas City every single year. I had the pleasure of driving a Hybrid Escape to Oklahoma City. What a wonderful vehicle! I was very impressed with it.

Mayor Funkhouser’s actions are an insult to every person that works at both assembly plants, parts suppliers and their families. Who would think that the mayor of a city that has two assembly plants that pump so much money back into the city would turn his back on "homemade vehicles" and go for an import vehicle that directly impacts the future of this city? After all he gets a retirement check from the city, a nice paycheck for being mayor and a $600 monthly car allowance...all paid for with TAXES! That is one hell of a way to support one of the biggest employers in Kansas City. The Ford Plant even offered to allow him to come to the plant and drive a new hybrid right off the production line.

I would think that any mayor of any city would support buying products that are built/produced in the area. That in return would support the city tax base therefore creating a mutually beneficial arrangement. Kind of like paying yourself or getting a rebate for the purchase. Mayor Funkhouser needs to take lessons from the Mayor of Kansas City, Kansas as he drives what is built in his city.

I would love to see every city vehicle possible come from the area assembly plants. Seems to make sense to support your own residents and businesses. Buy American — Support America!

It is good to see that Mayor Funkhouser has declined his "free" Honda amid pressure about ethics and other reasons. However, it seems like a waste of taxpayer dollars to spend $10,000 to cancel a lease on the Lincoln. Maybe he will wake up and help support and protect good jobs that help pay the taxes. Millions of dollars flow into Kansas City from autoworkers each year.

Mayor, make us proud. Do what's right. Support area jobs!

Jim Stoufer is president of UAW Local #249.


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