An opening salvo in the next Mayoral race

COLUMBIA, Mo 5/17/14 (Beat Byte) -- It's been rumored for months that Third Ward Columbia City Councilman Karl Skala will run for Mayor Bob McDavid's seat next year.  Now, conservative (some say "right wing") magazine publisher Fred Parry wants to be "the first person in town to officially endorse Skala in his bid to become Columbia’s next Mayor." 

"I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to plant the seed and get everyone used to the idea," Parry explains in an editorial running this month in a suite of magazines that includes Inside Columbia

Both sincere -- and sarcastic -- the Parry endorsement suggests Columbia's most well-known magazine maven -- and one of its biggest boosters -- honestly believes Skala could be the town's next Mayor.  

"Skala deserves to be Mayor because he has paid his 'civic rent' by serving multiple terms on Columbia’s City Council, Planning and Zoning Commission and the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition," Parry writes.  "But more importantly, the citizens of Columbia deserve a mayor like Karl Skala." 

On the other hand, though Skala may win the title "Hizzoner," Parry doesn't seem thrilled by the prospect.   "A vocal minority" and Skala's "posse of 'smart growth' patriots" have taken over as apathy has set in amongst the population, he says.   

"From blocking the creation of enterprise zones (EEZ) in our most impoverished neighborhoods to establishing moratoriums on downtown development," Skala's group has "dismantled job creation and economic opportunities" at every turn,  Parry explains.  "Columbia’s City Council is paralyzed by its current 5-2 progressive majority." 

The editorial mixes policies like mixed metaphors, however.  Parry condemns Skala for supporting Garagezilla and  opposing EEZ/Blight.   But the same backers -- most notably Tribune publisher Hank Waters -- pushed the garage and the blight incentive.   In fact, blight/EEZ's main promoter -- REDI -- has a new home on the garage's first floor.  

"Once Mayor Skala gets a chance to see what it takes to make a payroll, or when he must find a way to fund critical infrastructural improvements, he might just change his tune," Parry explains.  "He may think twice about running off housing developers while turning a blind eye to the construction jobs leaving our community every week." 

Next, a shot at the activist community.   "When Skala becomes mayor, he’ll see for himself what it’s like to deal with self-anointed activists who lust after the power to say, 'No!' to every proposal," Parry explains. 

Ironically, these same activistists largely disagree with Parry's assessment of a 5-2 "progressive" Council majority intent on blocking developers.   

On development particularly, Councilmen Michael Trapp and before he stepped aside, Fred Schmidt, consistently voted "yes" with the so-called "Chamber of Commerce" crowd.  Schmidt's successor, Ginny Chadwick, is seeking a compromise that would allow Opus Development to build its wildly unpopular six-story student apartment downtown. 

Opus -- and the petition against its apartment -- remind of an important point:  overwhelming numbers of mobilized citizens have blocked policies like Blight/EEZ, TIF, Ward Gerrymandering, and other proposals, not "progressive" City Council members. 
Parry parts with praise for Mayor McDavid and condemnation for his "dysfunctional" Council peers.  "We’ve compromised our future by not giving McDavid a City Council that is capable of helping him move the city forward," Parry says.   "I cringe when I think of the damage that Karl Skala could do in three years as Columbia’s mayor. Unfortunately, I think the only way to motivate and mobilize the citizenry is to show everyone just how bad things could get when we give untethered power to the progressives."