Monday, June 11, 2007

Funkhouser Remakes the Parks Board - Bring on the Funk!

I tend to run in traditional liberal circles, and a lot of my friends could not bring themselves to place faith in a bean-counting white dude to make real changes in the way our city runs. People even whined when he opened up the inauguration ball to the whole city, and disclosed who paid for it.

Mark took another step toward opening up the city in today's announced Parks Board. He has appointed John Fierro, the Executive Director of Mattie Rhodes center (and a heck of a good guy) to be president. John is one of the community's most respected voices focused on improving life for the Latino community, and his appointment as president is a message that the Latinos on the West Side and in the Northeast will be heard.

John is the only incumbent - he will be joined by the following:
• Tyrone Aiken, executive director of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.

• Frances Semler, a Northland neighborhood activist.

• Aggie Stackhaus, a former City Council member and former chairwoman of the Land Trust of Jackson County.

• Ajamu Webster, a founding member of the Kansas City chapter of the National Black United Front and president of DuBois Consultants Inc.
I don't know which one of these will have the honor of displacing Tim Kristl, but I like to think that Aggie Stackhaus will take his seat. The beauty of having a scrappy woman-of-the-people like Aggie replacing Tim "TIF Pig" Kristl would rival the beauty of any of Kansas City's wonderful parks.

I'm pretty certain that the average income of this important board has dropped by at least a digit.

Thank you, Mayor Funkhouser, for your work in giving us a government that reflects our city.

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Anonymous mainstream said...

Oh boy, I still like the direction of what Funk is doing with the Parks Board, but Semler has issues, from what I'm reading.

Lesson: circulate your commission choices with people that are knowleagable about the person.

I think this, unfortunately, is potentially a very big screw up. It's magnified because of the aggressive statements Funk made earlier today where he commented on how screwed up the Parks Board was, and how he was, essentially, setting things right.

The screw up is magified because he pissed people off and there are people standing in line to make this as huge a deal as they can possibly make.

And if he she helping organize an anti-immigration rally in Topeka this weekend, it's just going to get worse.

I think the best advice Funk can take now is to rise above the hard feelings he may have towards many in the establishment and tone his rhetoric way down; and focus on leading instead of giving the establishment "the bird" whenever he can.

And I was, and still am, a very strong Funk supporter. But he should consider yanking her, regardless of her other qualifications.

I say that guardedly because I don't have all the facts.

6/11/2007 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having personally overheard Aggie Stackhaus use the phrase "colored people" I'm not exactly thrilled with her appointment either.

I wouldn't call white trash like her a "woman of the people." She has nothing in common with me, thank goodness.

6/11/2007 9:54 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I hear what you're saying, Mainstream, but you're flat-out wrong. Semler sounds like he may be a piece of work, though, like you, I don't think I have the full story. But I don't care that much about it.

If Funk withdraws every appointment he makes that has a questionable view, he's going to be subjecting himself to an impossible and unprecedented standard. You are right - he has shaken up the status quo (just like I hoped he would), and whiny defenders of the Barnes world are, indeed, lined up to take potshots at him. That's why he has to ignore them and do what is best for the city.

Clearly, Semler is on this board because of his knowledge of the Northland. His position on border security is no more relevant than his position on abortion.

Funk appointed Fierro to be chair. Presumably, if they want to talk about border security, he'll wield the gavel.

Can Semler do a good job on the Parks Board? I have yet to hear anyone suggest he can't. I suspect he and I disagree entirely on immigration issues, but that's entirely irrelevant, and the people who are making a big deal out of it do NOT have the city's best interest at heart.

This is not a good Parks Board. It's a great Parks Board.

6/11/2007 10:06 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Oh, come on, Anonymous. White trash? Missing Kristl, are you?

I can't disprove your allegation, but I can express my doubt, and assure you she's never said anything of the sort in my presence.

Get used to the fact that not everyone involved in city government, not everyone who has the ear of the mayor, is going to be a millionaire anymore. If you're going to sneer at us all for being white trash, you're going to have a long 8 years.

6/11/2007 10:12 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

As I said at TKC...

"Dude, it's the Parks Board. They will be deciding how often to have a contractor cut the grass and whether to install protective mulch under the swings.

Who cares?"

6/11/2007 10:18 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

I agree, Dan, that her views immigration probably won't impact making decisions on park investment and maintenance.

The problem is that it just looks bad. An official that actively organizes anti-immigration rallies and is associated with the Minutemen - isn't a bad person - but the wrong person to be associated with the Funkhouser Administration.

It's the truth, you are associated with the people that you associate with.

And don't get me started on Semler - Semler had a duty and common sense would dictate disclosure of those associations.

Funk doesn't have a lot of history with neighborhood associations and "neighborhood activists". I do, and 75%f of them are very good, and 25% are wingnuts.

Semler may not be a wingnut, but not disclosing that to Funk was a wingnut move. Her comment on Primebuzz was "I hope you don't make an issue over this". It was selfish and self serving.

Selmer should have disclosed those associations. Semler casts a shadow on the Funk Administration, a shadow that isn't needed. Semler is not the only one in the Northland that can do good on the Parks Board, so why, with every action of the Parks Board over the next 4 years, inflame loyal, hardworking Funk supporters on the Westside and elsewhere in the city with this association?

Will the Funk Administartion be better off or worse off with Semler?

Worse off.

Do you know Lali Garcia? She's a sweet lady, strong Funk supporter and while I haven't talked with her I'm sure she's aghast over the choice. Simply aghast.

But she's probably still a Funk supporter, as I am.

(And of course, I still don't have any more facts since the last time I opened my big mouth.)

And I still like what he did with the Parks Board.

6/11/2007 10:27 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Dammit, Mainstream, if you're going to be so reasonable, I'm going to be forced to agree with you.

Semler ought to resign, but Mark shouldn't withdraw her.

6/11/2007 10:38 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Yes, but as you said Dan, we need more information.

I may be sounding especially stupid tomorrow when more facts are on the table.

What really makes me mad is that Funk is a trusting person, and I think Semler did him a great dis-service, if the information we have is accurate.

Look at Tony's KC - people who already have it out for the Funk will claim racism when we (and they) know it's not the case, and that nothing could be further from the truth.

6/11/2007 10:49 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Where it concerns Funkhouser, and a few other issues, Tony is incapable of reason, and undeserving of attention.

6/11/2007 10:51 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

FYI, Francis Semler is a "she" not a "he" . . . She's more than just a little controversial, she's part of the freaking Minutemen. What a terribly uncomfortable situation, putting a member of a racist wingnut organization on the board with an Hispanic chairman.

6/12/2007 2:58 AM  
Anonymous lifelongcitizen said...

Let's be clear this is about ignorance. Funkhoosier is ignorant about who he appoints to important positions, he is ignorant about the history of the KC Parks & Boulevard system, he is ignorant about who uses the parks, he is ignorant about the prevelance of white males on the Park Board (3 of the last 11) he is just "regular" ignorant and he revels in it. Heaven help this gracious City over the next four years...and let's count the days until he heads back to West Virginia.

6/12/2007 8:02 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Lifelong - What is with the ridiculous hand-wringing on this? How is HER (thanks Eric) position on border control (an enormously popular position, by the way) relevant to the parks position? It simply isn't.

And, no, you're wrong about his knowledge of the parks system. He's been auditing it for years, and seen how it skews toward the wealthy and the white. He knows who has been on the parks board (Tim Kristle????) and what their background is (country club). If you, like the prior commenter, are upset that "white trash" is sitting where only the wealthy belong, then, yes, you are going to face along 8 years of Funkhouser changing your world. Too bad.

6/12/2007 8:09 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

When you listen to Funkhouser the message is pretty clear - take better care of our parks and make them more usable and enjoyable for the poeple living in the heart of the city, where our Parks also need the most attention.

And do it within the current budget.

His approach seems to be very reasonable and sound.

6/12/2007 8:26 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I too have to share concerns about Aggie Stackhaus. In my case it was second-hand knowledge of her referring to a friend's employee as "that little colored girl you got workin' for ya." I have no reason to think he would lie to me about something like that.

Aggie is known to be vindictive and to use her contacts at the City to carry out personal vendettas. Now she has free reign at City Hall. This was my primary concern when she ensconced herself in Funk's campaign and now my worst fears have been realized.

6/12/2007 9:23 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Mark -

I share your concerns about Aggie, but I think it's an exaggeration to say she has free reign at City Hall.

She doesn't.

I've always had good interactions with Aggie but I have also received a lot of first hand feedback that she can be difficult to work with, and she does not tolerate people that disagree with her.

Having said that I think that ultimately her heart is in the right place and she has a fairly sophisticated understandings of how Parks & Rec can be run better.

At the end of the day, I think that Parks & Rec will be a better department with her input. But she's far from a perfect choice for that board.

(And I hadn't heard about the "colored people" comments...)

6/12/2007 10:26 AM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

Want a little controversy? Well, here it is. I know nothing about these people on the Park Board. Yet I see accusations of racism leveled against two park board members even though, by commenters own admission, the facts aren't known and even though none of them are based on first hand knowledge.

Funk has probably heard the accusations as well, but would you, as Mayor of the City, get rid of people on the basis of rumor? I don't think so. I think I would trust the mayor (who everybody seems to like) to make the right decision based on facts.

6/12/2007 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Funk withdraws every appointment he makes that has a questionable view, he's going to be subjecting himself to an impossible and unprecedented standard.

So Semler belongs to a group that advocates placing snipers at the Mexico border and shooting people that cross it. Yep, Dan it would be impossible and unprecedented for Funk not to like someone like that.

6/12/2007 4:44 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

OK, I know I have incomplete facts, and no one seems to want to put up a Semler background on her anti-immigration stances. That might be too much to expect out of our local journalists.

However, I think


If she truly is a Funk supporter, and wants this administration to succeed, she should put the administration's interests above hers.

But I suspect she's a "neighborhood opportuntist" rather than a neighborhood activist.

Let's start a blog-initiated recall of thgis particular appointee.

I know Dan, it may set a very bad precedence, but it may be the right thing to do.

But I'm not sure we would be setting a bad precedence, and I'm interested in your opinion on this.

After all, the Flogging folks were successful getting the TIF audit results published via the sunshine laws...

6/12/2007 6:12 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous -

Please show me where the Minutemen organization advocates placing snipers on the border. Umm, guess what? You can't. You are wrong - you are making stuff up, or you are horribly confused by facts you don't understand. Either way, you should be ashamed of yourself. There are plenty of stupid people in this world - why be one more? Why not try to think and understand complex things. It's possible you could achieve that lofty goal. Please try.

Mainstream - I'll happily join in a blog movement to get Semler to resign. It sounds like her main interest is border security - we need people on the parks board who are passionate about the parks. Plus, I agree with you that her other issues are an unnecessary distraction for the Funk administration. I don't want Funk to withdraw her resignation - that would be a horrible precedent. If, on the other hand, we can get her to do the right thing, I'm all in favor.

What do you suggest? Should we start an internet petition?

6/12/2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/12/2007 8:29 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

PS, as for my concern about setting a precedent, I think the anti-Aggie junk put forth by Mark and others proves my point. "Gee, I heard from a friend of a friend that in a conversation over a beer, John Doe said . . ." Oh, please, grow up. Not everyone in government has to pass your personal test of purity. That's why Funk can't get into this game. Because if he bags Semler, he'll be called upon to bag Aggie, and pretty soon there won't be a single person in the city worthy of the appointment, except for the gutless and those powerful enough to intimidate opposition.

6/12/2007 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please show me where the Minutemen organization advocates placing snipers on the border. Umm, guess what? You can't. You are wrong - you are making stuff up, or you are horribly confused by facts you don't understand.

You are so wrong on this Dan. Here are a few examples.

I'm not going to promote insurrection, but if it happens, it will be on the conscience of the members of Congress who are doing this," he said. "I will not promote violence in resolving this, but I will not stop others who might pursue that.
Jim Gilchrist Minutemen co founder.


"Just shoot 'em on sight. That's my immigration policy recommendation. You break into my country, you die."

In the last election you cried over anti-Semitism about comments against Beth Gottstien. Now we have a person who is part of a bona fide hate group and you are defending them. You really need to quit kidding yourself, that the minutemen and its members are some sort of squeaky clean civic group.

6/12/2007 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, please, grow up. Not everyone in government has to pass your personal test of purity.

I guess my personal test of thinking its wrong to just shoot mexicans on site is to much for the Funkhouser!

6/12/2007 9:22 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

No, Anonymous, you're not pointing me to anything that says that the Minutemen or Semler support snipers on the border. You've failed. All you've shown is that a few idiots have said some stupid things. Tell me of any organization you've ever joined, and I'll find something stupid that someone from that organization has said. So, unless you have a policy statement from the organization, keep your inflammatory quotations to yourself.

And you're once again showing a massive lack of reading comprehension. I'm not defending Semler. From the gitgo, I have pointed out that I disagree with her. And the Minutemen.

I'm even willing to jump on board or lead a blog movement encouraging her to resign.

My "oh, grow up" comment was directed at the rumors that Aggie may have, once or twice in her life, have said something that apparently gave the vaporst to the blushing violets of our community.

6/12/2007 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Dan. I think Funk should appoint MORE Minutemen. We need to protect our parks from wetbacks. I hope Semler patrols Loose Park with Colt .45!

6/12/2007 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The FREAKING founder of the Minutemen said I'm not going to promote insurrection, but if it happens, it will be on the conscience of the members of Congress who are doing this," "A PUBLIC CALL TO ARMS". Can't you even see that is a not so veiled threat of violence? Semler is a willing member of that group so she must share its views.

6/12/2007 10:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/12/2007 10:19 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous 10:15 -

Maybe you have a point. Perhaps we should start guarding our parks from Johnson County invaders.

Anonymous 10:19 -

Again, is that an official statement of the group? No, it's not. Please be intellectually honest enough to limit the group's positions to the group's positions.

6/12/2007 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are splitting hairs. Bottom line is that the new commissioner has views that are probably more likely to be described as extreme rather than conventional or mainstream.
There were thousands of people who wanted to be on the park board. It's disappointing to see that Funkhouser couldn't find anybody who is equally qualified and who doesn't have such racist views.

6/13/2007 6:27 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Prime Buzz is reporting there will be an 11:30AM press conference Thursday regarding the Parks Board. Among the participants: the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP, and the Jewish Community Relations Bureau.

6/13/2007 4:09 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Mark, thanks for the update. Things could get awfully dicey if the conference goes as I anticipate it will. I hope that Semler has the sense and dignity to drop out.

Are you paying for Prime Buzz?!?!?

6/13/2007 6:03 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Dan, unfortunately I think things are way past dicey already.

Funk's a smart guy - I'd love to know who is giving him the advice on this (and a few other issues).

I think Mark needs to get MUCH better advice, or those around him with more common sense need to start speaking up.

My advice to Funk for tomorrow: listen to the people at the press conference - you may want to even attend. Don't say anything when you're there unless asked by one the the organizations hosting the conference. If you do say anything, say you NOW understand the situation, you apologize, and then tell everyone you will do the right thing.

Then go back and ask for Semler's resignation. If she doesn't want to give it, then fire her. She obviously is a bit lacking in the common sense department - and she didn't disclose to you one very important tidbit of info about herself.

Then put out a press release telling everybody she's resigned, you aplogize, and you've learned a lot. And you made a mistake by not doing the right level of background checks, and your putting in a process that will prevent mistakes like this from happening again.

Don't attempt to preempt the press conference or defend yourself. The people holding the press conference are taking time out of their day to address YOUR mistake, and they are (and have a right to be) offended.

They deserve to be heard, regardless of your plans.

Then politley refuse the Civic, continue to use your Corolla, stop insulting people, and set about doing good work you were elected to do.

6/13/2007 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Mainstream. Funkhouser needs a seasoned political advisor. The bunch of pitch writers he has surrounded himself with do not realize that they can no longer have the last word when they write their "anti establishment" speeches.
Dan insulted me a while back for jumping off the bandwagon. I'm not really off the bandwagon but I feel like I'm witnessing a car wreck and I'm frustrated because Funkhouser will not accept any help.

6/13/2007 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vapors to the blushing violets? Please!
Aggie Stackhaus is a verbal abuser, and is downright nasty to people she disagrees with or doesn't like. And this is not second-hand.
Your defense of someone who abuses the citizens she is supposed to be working for and uses her power in this way is downright disturbing.

9/18/2009 12:48 PM  

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