Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kneejerk Nine Attack Volunteers - Tony Rules Their World

In a display of shocking weakness, 9 City Councilmembers have cosponsored an ordinance attacking the role of volunteers in Kansas City. It is a transparent buckling to pressure put on them by Tony's Kansas City - a local anti-Funkhouser blog. In a huge over-reaction to that pressure, the kneejerk nine have proposed huge hurdles to volunteerism that would effectively shut down many avenues of service, and prevent the most expert minds from aiding our boards and commissions. Their service, however, would be rather pointless in the post-volunteer world the kneejerk nine propose, in that our best and brightest would be prohibited from giving direction to any city employee, elected or appointed officials or other volunteers.

A better and wiser council would appreciate the direction offered by the many volunteers who serve in so many roles aiding our city. But, alas, they prefer to take the direction of Tony's Kansas City.

Here's how it works. Every single day, Tony's Kansas City posts at least one attack on Mark Funkhouser and his family. Every single day. On many days, he will post multiple attacks, but, in a display of dogged OCD and creativity, Tony manages to find something nasty to say every single day. It's quite impressive, really.

(I don't blame Tony for his obsession, frankly, because I understand that, for him, his blog is about the art of provocation. And he's good at it - even better than I thought. As a supporter of Funkhouser and our city, and an observer of the impact that a steady stream of sustained nastiness can have on even a public figure, I wish he had chosen another target, but Tony's trying to make a point about the public and media, and Funkhouser has served as his subject.)


Every day, these councilmembers and their staff read Tony's attack. Every single day, they read sarcastic, derisive material about the Mayor's wife.

In the insular world of the political inside, one voice heard 365 times become oddly equivalent to 365 voices. And if Tony's topic of the day is on the mind of every single staffer and fellow councilmember, then, by gosh and by golly, every single person in the city must be talking about it, too! So, in the face of the overwhelming pressure of every single voice in the city shouting vitriol about the Mayor's wife, they feel compelled to act. Even if the voice is really one voice amplified by their own gullibility, and even if the action is going to harm the city in ways we cannot begin to tally.

Meanwhile, the average voter in the city has no idea who Gloria Squitiro is, and is looking forward to reelecting Funkhouser if satisfaction with basic services climbs.

If the proposed ordinance becomes law, each and every volunteer for the city will be forced to undergo the complete battery of trainings deemed essential by the kneejerk nine. "The training would include anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-violence in the workplace policies, as well the policy against nepotism." I'm not aware of what outside consultants will be hired to conduct all of this training, but I suspect that somewhere in this fair city of ours, some training consultants are toasting the kneejerk nine with fine champagne. Does anybody have any idea how much this silliness will cost?

Perhaps my financial concerns are overblown, though. Perhaps no trainings will be necessary at all. Who is going to waste their time volunteering if their direction will not only go unheeded, it will be prohibited? Who would want to risk volunteering to coach a parks department Tee-ball team if you'll be guilty of violating an ordinance when you "direct" Suzy's mommy to bring snacks for the next game, and it turns out that Suzy's mommy is a city employee who you are forbidden to give direction to. Who wants to serve on a board or commission if you are forbidden from offering direction?

We all know that's not really what the kneejerk nine want. The kneejerk nine want Gloria Squitiro to abandon her service to the city, and that's all. The rest of this poorly thought-out scheme is window-dressing to cover their cowardice.

I hope our Mayor has the wisdom to veto this misguided response to a talented blogger.

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91 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you seriously think Beth is influenced by Tony?

8/15/2008 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People still read Tony regularly?!

8/15/2008 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason the council did this.....Gloria is more of a disaster than the Mayor. Honestly Dan, you can't really defend her actions in that office with a straight face, but who could blame you, nobody can but the guy who has to sleep with her. The city made a huge mistake buying into the "everyman" campaign of the Funk. Instead we have found out he is nothing more than a fraud.

8/15/2008 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the average voter in the city has no idea who Gloria Squitiro is"

And that's sad, seeing as how she is the Co-Mayor and all....

Nice try, Dan, to try and pin this one on Tony. The Council finally woke up and saw the damage that Gloria is doing at City Hall, and is trying to rectify the situation.

Granted, it may be too little too late, with the lawsuits and all.

And, if you honestly think the Council gives a rats ass about Tony's blog, you sir, are delusional....

"The kneejerk nine want Gloria Squitiro to abandon her service to the city, and that's all"

As do a lot of people in the city, but why bring that up at all....

8/15/2008 6:47 AM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Dan, my friend - "...our best and brightest would be prohibited from giving direction to any city employee, elected or appointed officials or other volunteers."

In what world are "volunteers" allowed to give direction to employees or elected officials

I've worked in corporate America 35 years. "volunteers" don't give direction...they take it.

Volunteers make copies and fetch coffee. They DO NOT offer advice. Volunteers exist to help and learn. If they had anything of real value to offer, someone would hire them and pay them.

"A better and wiser council would appreciate the direction offered by the many volunteers who serve in so many roles aiding our city."

Again, I can't believe you think that "volunteers" should be giving anyone "direction".

Volunteers don't get to call the shots.

Volunteers arrange chairs for meetings, order the delivery of lunches and make sure everyone has a copy of the agenda.

"If the proposed ordinance becomes law, each and every volunteer for the city will be forced to undergo the complete battery of trainings deemed essential by the kneejerk nine. "The training would include anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-violence in the workplace policies, as well the policy against nepotism."

Duh! Everyone in any workplace, paid or volunteer should undergo this training. In my workplace, everyone takes this training at least once a year because my employeer understands that these are very, serious matters.

And it's not just my employer. This is standard operating procedure in corporate America and has been for at least 30 years!

"The kneejerk nine want Gloria Squitiro to abandon her service to the city, and that's all."

Her service?

Perhaps you can help me out here.

What "service" is she providing that adds any value whatsoever to the citizens of Kansas City?

Because isn't that what every person taking up space in City Hall should be doing? Working for the citizens?

8/15/2008 7:01 AM  
Anonymous travel said...

The City is being sued because of incidents with the Mayor's wife, who is or was a volunteer, correct?

Perhaps what we are seeing with this proposed volunteer ordinance is to be part of a settlement agreement that may be in process in relation to that suit. I simply throw that up as speculation.

I haven't read the proposed ordinance so don't feel confident in responding to it yet; however, it does seem to me that a volunteer policy (ordinance) is in order after what has happened at the highest levels of government in Kansas City. The City must be careful, though, not to make it so onerous as to shut down volunteerism.

8/15/2008 7:10 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

First of all, I'm going to have to start signing my comments on this blog from now own.

Secondly, you took me apart on this one.

Not about Squitiro (in my opinion). We'll disagree on that sometime later . . . And I'll still note that you've never defended either her alleged actions or her presence directly.

However, what you did is completely school TKC on the subject of political disagreements expressed in a constructive but still ardent and intense manner.

I appreciate the link and the mention but more importantly I'm pretty thankful that you're out here doing what most of us could never accomplish . . . Proving that bloggers are, in fact, are just as insightful and well-reasoned as anyone working in the big media.

8/15/2008 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Our Long Municipal Nightmare is nearing and end said...

Actually I think it is the law and not Tony that rules their world. Funkhouser and Gloria have been flaunting the law in order to make the world agree with their dysfunctional family arrangement. They have violated the nepotism laws since the day Mark took office.

The Council is simply trying to put things right after a year and a half, which can hardly be called kneejerk.

However YOU can be called a jerk Dan.

As a supposed lawyer you should understand such a concept as obeying the law, but you really could not hack it in the practice of law could you Danny Boy?

I guess that is why you and Jason Kander get along so famously? Neither of you so-called lawyers have much experience with practicing law or speaking the truth.

As far as a blog being based on the Art of provocation, what about this one and the lies you distributed concerning Amy Coffman? You did noting but post, encourage and distribute provocative statements about Ms. Coffman for over a year. You proved yourself to be totally without ethics in your activities supporting the Kander campaign, which came as no surprise to those of us who have watched you support and defend Funkhouser.

At least Tony makes his outlandish posts and comments available for the record, but you go back and clean up the record. You go back after the fact, after the provocation has done its work, and you delete comments that might reflect poorly on Kander -- even when they are made by his supporters. Someone might get the wrong idea by reading the record, so Dan launders the record.

The proverbial chickens are coming home to roost for the Shoe-Less-Wonder Dan, and it looks like the trouble might just extend to the Funkhouser's own Dr. Goebbels.

You are going to have your dirty butt kicked off of the Committee for County Progress Executive Committee for ethical infractions. Should that surprise anyone?

You are a creep and a bum Dan.

8/15/2008 7:27 AM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

I hope our Mayor has the wisdom to veto this misguided response to a talented blogger.
-----------------

First off, this Mayor, Smart With Nothinghouser doesn't have a droplet of common sense. Second, you too are a wee bit misguided if you think that Tony has this kind of reach or power. As an aside, he comes up with provocative Funk posts without breaking a sweat... Mark Funkhouser and the Squid provide Tony with a multitude of issues where stupidity, vileness, lying and arrogance stand out almost by themsleves and because the Star and Yael T Abouhlakah are manning the deck of the HMS Funkhouser and reporting almost nothing and certainly nothing in depth, Tony has a free run to bring the issues out and make his own mark. I suppose that is what bloggers do... especially asutue, hard working top nothch one's like TKC.

8/15/2008 7:49 AM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

The city made a huge mistake buying into the "everyman" campaign of the Funk. Instead we have found out he is nothing more than a fraud.
-------------

Yep! The Orange Revolution is dead and seems o have turned out to be a fiction created by the Funk. I suppose that because he thinks he is the samrtest guy in the room, he and the Squid can fool all of the people all of the time. His actions have been so vile, unpleasant, humilitiating, rude, vulgar and just plain stupid, that most of the people who voted for him have already figured this out.

8/15/2008 7:52 AM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

And it's not just my employer. This is standard operating procedure in corporate America and has been for at least 30 years!
-------------------------------

If you hadn't noticed, politics doesn't run under the rules of Corporate America.

8/15/2008 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Jan! Boooooooooo Deb Hermann!!

Finally a city that work! I hope the remaining city councilmembers (Hermann, Sharp & Skaggs) see the importance of this ordinance and fully support it, move it quickly thru the finance committee, and override the mayoral veto. Councilwoman Hermann needs to finally show some leadership and be accountable to KC taxpayers rather than blind loyalty to the co-mayors and Skaggs. This long nightmare needs to come to an end. The voters/ tax payers deserve better government on the 29th & 22nd floor of City Hall.

8/15/2008 8:08 AM  
Blogger PlazaJen said...

Dan, you have to recognize this is a direct result of the lawsuit. Is it overkill? Maybe. But I'm absolutely furious that my tax dollars are going to have to pay for the actions of Gloria, an unelected "volunteer" who has brought embarrassment and distraction to the city and its reputation.
I feel like I'm dining in a restaurant and the kid at the table next to me is screaming, throwing food, and in general, ruining everything - but everyone at that table, and the waitstaff, are all pretending it's ok. Calling it "expression" or "finding his voice". I would venture to say the dogged stubbornness of the mayor on this issue alarmed almost all who voted for him. I'm all for adhering to values and principles, loyalty and love. But to be so blinded and un-budging, adamantly refusing to hear any other viewpoint - well, those are the trappings of a misguided despot, not a leader.

8/15/2008 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obsurd. How can you really think nine members of the City Council are intimidated by a blogger?

Yes, volunteers will be required to undergo some training if this ordinance is passed. Why is that a bad thing?

8/15/2008 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Doc said...

Regarding “The training would include anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-violence in the workplace policies, as well the policy against nepotism.": it surprises me that such a program wasn’t already in place for everyone the city employs: full-time, part-time, contractor or volunteer. I can tell you that said training has been part and parcel of the Federal workplace for at least the way too long I have been here. And, prior to my civil service employment, it was in place the decade I spent in uniform. Moreover, any corporate or civic entity that receives any Federal funds is required to offer said training. And, as X.O. pointed out, every other business of any consequence, regardless of whether or not they do business with the Federal government, will insist their employees take these courses.

It is simply a part of modern life and has been since at least the mid-70s.

The fact that these courses usually do nothing other than keep the sexism and racism normally found in any sampling of people down to a dull bull roar is beside the point: they are mandatory because they serve as CYAs for the government and businesses involved. “Yes, we trained that person in EEO and Diversity, yearly. We certainly can not be held to fault.”

The fact that the city has no such prior policy in place is criminally stupid, in my opinion.

~

Having said the above let me add –again from long personal experience in the government- that completing EEO, civil rights, privacy, ‘no fear’ act, sexual harassment and diversity training each and every year does not in any way guarantee the absence of sexual, racial or other harassment in the workplace.

In fact it often provides cover for a pernicious reverse racial or sexual discrimination: protected “classes” may often behave incorrectly with impunity. Some minorities may sit at their desks all day and do nothing but chat with their neighbors, make personal phone calls, take extended lunches and do little or no work in such a fashion that it needs be redone by someone else, all without fear of reprisal. This is especially true in an era where a lack of funds means that the average government employee is already performing 2 & ½ jobs – it takes an onerous amount of oversight and attendant paperwork to let a government employee go. I imagine it would be double the work in the city’s case as the employees there have union representation.

~

On somewhat of a tangent, I have friends (black, white and other) who work for Kansas City and speak of a “black mafia” culture in that workplace, wherein certain employees are allowed to do little or no work, or work outside of their expertise or job areas, without reprisal. It is apparently long-standing and the word is, “don’t mess with it.” These friends note that many other employees have in the past been baited into uttering less than PC-like words which quickly bring down official reprimands. This is the past and current culture at City Hall.

The fact that none of this ever makes its way into The Star, or onto the daily newscasts, or even the blogs is not, in and of itself, noteworthy: it too is a part of modern life and has been since at least the mid-70s. I only mention it because it is the elephant in the living room - Funk has been a city employee long enough to have a solid feel for what life at City Hall is like. Or he should have.

I do not have one clue about really happened between Funk’s wife and the city employee in question, nor do I care. And I would maintain that no matter what actually happened in that moment, it was meaningless except in terms of public perception, something Funk should also have realized. Finally, even 5 year olds understand we do not appreciate royalty –except at a remove- in this country: the person elected goes to the office, the spouse not elected stays home. The Clintons confirmed this. That he will not banish his wife from his office – or she remove herself – until such time as a judgment is found against her speaks poorly of their combined political instincts.

Did he truly think he was just going to walk into office and shake up the established order without some major pushback?

~

A last thought.

Those of us who have presences on The InterWebz tend to overestimate their importance to…well, everyone.

Folks who use blogs as public diaries are the least deluded about this – they understand it is (initially) ego driving them. With any luck they connect with like minds and become their own mini-borg, befriending each other, dining out in the brick and mortar world and bringing each other down to size. A lovely thing, really.

Those of us who blog about ‘issues’, whether those issues be local or international, tend to take ourselves a tad bit more seriously. This is to our discredit: the information we are attempting to impart is what’s important, not our web sites.
So trust me when I say the only person reading Tony’s childish scribbling on a daily basis is Tony. This is undoubtedly true of my site, yours and any other random 10,000 blogs.

Relax.

8/15/2008 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Doc said...

*AHEM*

the above was posted on my own time as I readied myself for my weekly pastoral sojour...

fore!


; ' )

8/15/2008 9:06 AM  
Anonymous God said...

You are a liar Dan.

8/15/2008 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Jesus said...

What He said.

8/15/2008 9:09 AM  
Anonymous The Holy Spirit said...

Don't look to me to get you out of this one Dan.

8/15/2008 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Dan's Guardian Angel said...

The big guys are really pissed over this one Dan.

I am looking for a new job.

8/15/2008 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan,

I have a question for you. Do you think this ordinance has anything to do with the lawsuit filed against the mayor and his wife?

Your post seems to say it is all the fault of TKC. So I am curious, do you honestly believe that the current lawsuit has no bearing on this?

From your post, I am assuming you believe the lawsuit was not a cause, but I could be wrong. Please clarify.

8/15/2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Parliament said...

We need the Funk

8/15/2008 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the proposed ordinance becomes law, each and every volunteer for the city will be forced to undergo the complete battery of trainings deemed essential by the kneejerk nine

What is the saying. One bad apple (or volunteer) spoils the bunch.

8/15/2008 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc you're a bit of a coward. You write about TKC but I don't ever notice him writing about you. Try to make your envy seem less obvious.

8/15/2008 10:11 AM  
Anonymous alwaysfiredup said...

"Meanwhile, the average voter in the city has no idea who Gloria Squitiro is"???

I am sorry to burst your bubble, but by this point EVERYONE in Kansas City who has looked at the newspaper over the past year knows who Gloria Squitiro is.

And most of us are unhappy that the candidate we voted for brought his wife in to co-lead. Funk says he can't get along without her, but he got along without her just fine for 35 years or whatever in the auditor's office. Anything that gets her out sooner rather than later is fine by me.

8/15/2008 10:12 AM  
Blogger sophia said...

Jesus, Mary and Joseph - what a craptacular post. Are you purposefully mirroring Tony's style (minus the all caps red letters)?

If you're really concerned that this legislation is a bad idea (outside of how it would affect Gloria), was placing the discussion in the context of "nobody really cares about Gloria" the smart way to go?

8/15/2008 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, this post is going over like a lead balloon ... the jig is up for Squitiro. Maybe the mayor will resign, too, and save the hassle of a veto override. Really, how stupid is he to jeopardize everything he has worked for to kowtow to his wife!? He's unfit to be mayor; a perfect example of the Peter Principle -- you rise to the level of your incompetence.

8/15/2008 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Captain Tuttle said...

The ordinance would regulate all volunteers at City Hall, but council members acknowledged Thursday that it is largely in response to a lawsuit against the city, the mayor and his wife, Gloria Squitiro.

The Star say it was the lawsuit that prompted the ordinance.

So Dan, is the Star wrong? Does Tony really have that much power?

8/15/2008 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Dan is a lawyer.

8/15/2008 12:35 PM  
Anonymous try2 said...

We all know that TKC had nothing to do with this - Dan's is just trying to position/discredit nine members of city council.

The ordinance is about two things: (1) enacting a workplace protection policy and (2) expanding the definition of nepotism.

Notice that Dan did not talk about nepotism. The ordinance defines nepotism in terms of the presence of actual authority and power, in addition to the current definition based upon the presence of monetary compensation.

Who could argue with that? Well, people could, and I would be curious to hear Dan criticize the expansion of the definition of nepotism.

Now, let’s talk about (1) above- here’s how it works: a situation arises in the workplace that exposes the city to financial risk and employee to workplace discrimination and harassment. It doesn’t matter whether Gloria or the Mayor is found guilty in the pending lawsuit – that is not material. The city council, learning from this incident, is taking appropriate measures to prevent the SITUATION from occurring again.

The additional workplace protections act to prevent a situation like the current lawsuit from occurring which mitigates the risk of an actual instance of discrimination and harassment.

Corporations, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations having been doing this for over 30 years – using specific instances to learn from and enact additional policies as circumstances dictate.

Is Gloria being unfairly targeted? That’s not material – all workplace protections have resulted from specific circumstances between two or more people. It is their situations and actions that have caused the identification of a need for further workplace protections. Are these people, who serve as the basis of enacting workplace protections, harmed unfairly by the enactment of the protection?

Of course not! It does not even makes sense to talk about it in that context.

8/15/2008 12:40 PM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Dan is a lawyer like the Funk is a MAyor :)

8/15/2008 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of cities do not require volunteer's to go through sexual harassment trying (some do, just google it). Why spend 2 hours in training, to volunteer for 1 Saturday morning.

I think they should drop the training requirement and just have volunteers sign a form saying they have been given a copy of the city's sexual harassment policy.

Wouldn't that protect the city and make it easy on volunteers?

The rest of the ordinance seems ok.

8/15/2008 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, this is what you stand for:

"Gloria has been essential to all of our successes."

That is a quote from Funk, today. You are, in fact, the only individual defending Gloria publicly.

That is something to be proud of. After all, Gloria has done so much for our city.

8/15/2008 7:52 PM  
Anonymous The Spanish Inquisition said...

Daniel -

Is your post genuine - and did you reflect your true, real thoughts in what you wrote?

You should be honest in all things, because your behavior will ultimately be judged. The pain may not be from our rack, it simply may arise from the fact you do not grow closer to God by being dishonest.

Hell hath several forms, Daniel.

8/15/2008 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Captain Tuttle said...

Ok, now that last comment was just creepy.

8/15/2008 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Waldodem said...

They both need to go...
WAY TO GO JAN for speaking for KC and getting her OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8/15/2008 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone watch the video of Gloria's response to the proposed law?

8/15/2008 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you think ALL 9 are reacting in a knee-jerk manner?

8/16/2008 2:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about a kneejerk reaction!! Dan, it's pretty obvious you didn't even read the ordinance.

You owe the city council, your readers and other bloggers an apology.

You simply got it wrong, and you are misleading everybody who reads this blog.

Here is just one example, you say:

"Who wants to serve on a board or commission if you are forbidden from offering direction?"

That's completely wrong - appointees to boards and commissions are not defined as volunteers for the purpose of this ordinance.

From the first page of the ordinance, Sec. 2-1950 Definitions:

"Volunteer means a person who, of his/her free will, provides services to the City without receiving monetary or material compensation, except that an appointee to a City board or commission shall not be considered a volunteer for the purposes of this article."

You are doing bloggers a disservice everywhere with your shoddy, kneejerk posts.

8/16/2008 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheesh, Dan....

Nothing like getting your ass kicked up and down on this post and then running and hiding....

8/16/2008 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey DANEE!!

Sorry, when I get excited I add a few ee's to the end of people's names.

Does it bother you? Well, if it does, that's tough because that's what I do when I'm excited.

Get used to it.

So you called the entire city council COWARDS for trying to put in place common sense workplace protections.

And you lied as well.

Why do you lie, Dan?

8/16/2008 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

8/16/2008 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan-eee?......

8/16/2008 10:45 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sorry, sports fans, about my silence in response to the silliness here. So far, I've seen only one legit question to my insights - so I think the lawsuit was not the inspiration for the ordinance. Of course it was, in a way, but the lawsuit in itself is no big deal. There have been prior lawsuits involving mayors' offices, and there will be later ones, too. The kneejerk nine didn't react to the lawsuit - they reacted to to what they thought was an outcry.

8/17/2008 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee Dan, seems like you really have the pulse of the public. Lead them to do your will.

8/17/2008 11:15 AM  
Blogger sophia said...

Of course it was, in a way, but the lawsuit in itself is no big deal. There have been prior lawsuits involving mayors' offices, and there will be later ones, too.

Prior lawsuits...hm. For example? I couldn't think of any so I just did a quick (and broad) search on westlaw looking for mayor sued for harassment. The most recent decision was a slip opinion from the eastern district in january 2008. Presumably Thorton v. City of Kirkwood remained a slip opinion because the Appellant went out and shot up the council a few weeks after it was issued, thereby mooting the issue of whether or not Thorton was being prevented from expressing himself at council meetings.

Lawsuits "involving mayors' offices" (as you so gently qualified it) aren't unheard of. But they normally involve disputes about sunshine laws and allocation of powers. Having a discrimination/ hostile work environment claim arising out of the Mayor's office is pretty damn uncommon. I couldn't find one in Missouri (didn't look elsewhere).

It is a big deal, regardless of your dismissive attitude. Given your embrace of such a faulty and unsubstantiated premise, it's not surprising your analysis of the situation is unpersuasive.

8/17/2008 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Captain Tuttle said...

Having a discrimination/ hostile work environment claim arising out of the Mayor's office is pretty damn uncommon. I couldn't find one in Missouri (didn't look elsewhere).


I hate to say it, but I think you are proving Dan's broader point. This situation is so rare, do we really need a law that will affect kids volunteering to pick up trash from a local park? Will my 7 year old daughter have to take sexual harassment training before she can volunteer to clean up Brush Creek? Will we have age specific courses? This opens up all kinds of questions.

Over the course of 10 years it may be cheaper to just pay for a lawsuit or two rather than pay for harassment/discrimination courses for thousands of volunteers.
Lets look at the following provision:

No volunteer shall accept payment of any kind (including gifts, cash, discounts, concessions, services or other similar item or benefits) for services rendered as part of his or her volunteer service, unless expressly provided for by the City Manager or his designee.

Does this mean no free soda's for parks volunteers?.

All volunteers must submit to a criminal background check. The cost will be paid by the City department or office in which the volunteer is assigned. The Director of Human Resources, or his or her designee, will determine whether the persons fitness for volunteer service based upon the results of the criminal background check.

No volunteer shall begin performance of an assignment until they have been officially accepted by the City and have completed all required screening and training.

Volunteers must receive training required by the City Manager prior to performing an assignment. All volunteers must complete a City-sponsored orientation prior to beginning their volunteer services.

On Sept 27 Swope park is having National Public Lands Day. It is billed as a "hands on volunteer" event. I was thinking about going with my two kids. With this new law, does the city have to first run a criminal background check on me, my 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter? Will me, my 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter have to go through sexual harassment and discrimination training first?

I really hope I am reading this ordinance wrong.

8/17/2008 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Ochs said...

Dan has spent the weekend trying to put this post back in the proverbial bottle .... poor Dan.

8/17/2008 3:50 PM  
Blogger sophia said...

I hate to say it, but I think you are proving Dan's broader point.

I think you and I disagree as to what Dan's broader point is. You raise good points about the ordinance and that's a discussion it would be nice to have. But with Dan's post, the substantive criticism of the ordinance was almost an afterthought (and as demonstrated in some of the comments, it appears he didn't read the ordinance prior to criticizing it).

Dan's point, as I took it, was that anyone who thinks that Squitiro's status in the mayor's office is a problem that needs to be dealt with is being foolish and responding to manufactured outrage rather than a real problem. I disagree with that point. As I noted earlier, I don't think Dan would have pushed the idea that Gloria isn't a problem if he wanted to have a serious conversation about how this ordinance would affect the rest of the city volunteers.

I've read the proposed ordinance and it really does look like something worked up as a response to litigation. It basically has every bell and whistle that indicates excessive ass-covering.

The requirement for criminal background checks and the full range of sensitivity training is nonsense and needs to go. Criminal background checks are frequently recommended to employers whose work involves giving their employees sensitive access to customers. The concern is for liability to third parties for the criminal acts committed by an employee (we'll skip over the protections built into respondeat superior). I have a difficult time believing that city volunteers are regularly in a position to cause this kind of potential exposure to liability. I think most criminal background checks are unnecessary but I sure as hell would recommend against instituting it as a city wide policy until the city actually faces a lawsuit where they're facing liability for the criminal acts of a volunteer. That's one area where you don't get bonus points for adopting an overly cautious approach.

With the sensitivity training, I liked someone's earlier suggestion that volunteers sign off on having read the city's policy on not being an asshole in the workplace. I would probably limit it to just the "regular service volunteers."

I find it interesting that the ordinance distinguishes between volunteers ("periodic" and "special case" being the other types) but doesn't treat them differently. Many of the obvious difficulties (erecting barriers to kids picking up trash) could be avoided by only applying the stricter rules to regular service volunteers. I think that makes sense and would be easily justified legally.

The no benefits section is a bit extreme and I wonder if that's been an existing problem. I also doubt that the reference to "concessions" is referring to beverages.

I'm not sure about the "no direction" clause. I'd want more information about what exisiting behavior that would be prohibiting outside of the obvious target.

All the extra ass-covering outside of "stop Gloria" is what leads me to take Marcason at her word that this ordinance was developed as an attempt to limit future city liability for behavior of volunteers. It is an over-reaction in that I don't think it does much to limit that liability and it does a lot to increase the costs (on all sides) of volunteering. But it's not a bad idea, just a faulty execution. I can't support the legislation as currently written but I hope that they go back to the drafting table and come up with a more workable solution.

I was simultaneously amused and horrified by Funkhouser's response that the city had gotten along fine without legislation like this before. Squitiro's role, behavior, and resulting lawsuit are, as far as I know, unprecedented in City Hall history. Yes, Mr. Mayor, the city got by fine without it because in the past the people allegedly in charge didn't let volunteers run the place. It's a situation the Mayor has not only allowed to develop, but actively encouraged and is now claiming he can't do his job without her.

I think the city council is acting responsibly by stepping in and trying to fix this. It's been obvious for a long time that Squitiro is an obstacle to positive change, no matter what the Mayor wishes. If he insists on pulling the whole damn city into his marriage and acting like approving of Squitiro is the lithmus test for wanting a "city that works" then he doesn't deserve the title or role of public servant.

8/17/2008 4:14 PM  
Anonymous try2 said...

Dan is very misguided here, and I am not sure why.

I agree Sophia. The distinctions made between types of volunteers will undoubtedly lead to differential requirements as well, which will address 95% of the concerns I have heard thus far.

This is the beginnning of legislation, and the legislative process is designed to improve things.

What perplexes me is why Dan would put forth the idea 9 members of the city council ared swayed by TKC. It's ridiculous. He has no facts, heresay or speculation, other than his, that this is the case. It doesn't even make sense intuitively.

I think council is swayed by an pending lawsuit and potential settlement that could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Dan doesn't seem to understand that ALL workplace protections arise because of individual and class action lawsuits.

The good news is no one buys what Dan is saying. Dan didn't even have the presence of mind to read the legislation.

8/17/2008 5:31 PM  
Anonymous DKC said...

This is no different than a previous passage of term limits just to get rid of Carol Coe.

8/17/2008 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan,

Beth would not do something without thoughtful consideration first.

8/17/2008 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sorry, sports fans, about my silence in response to the silliness here. So far, I've seen only one legit question to my insights"

Insights??

Try gibberish....

Face it, Dan, your silence is due to the fact that you are getting your ass kicked on this post, and you know you have no defense to what you have written, so you are burying your head in the sand....

8/18/2008 6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What perplexes me is why Dan would put forth the idea 9 members of the city council ared swayed by TKC."

It's much easier to blame this whole mess on TKC than where it really lies, with our co-Mayors....

8/18/2008 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Captain Tuttle said...

I think you and I disagree as to what Dan's broader point is. You raise good points about the ordinance and that's a discussion it would be nice to have.

Maybe you are right. But outside of the co-mayors, is there anyone that thinks this law as written is good?

The distinctions made between types of volunteers will undoubtedly lead to differential requirements as well,

As it is written now, the ordinances has the same requirements for all volunteers. An 8 year old picking up trash would have to submit to the same background check as the co-mayor.

It specifically says "ALL VOLUNTEERS."

8/18/2008 8:54 AM  
Anonymous try2 said...

Aye, Captain!!

But legislation changes - and is expected to change from the process. Very few ordinances emerge from the process unchanged.

Substitute language is common.

Background checks on 8-year olds was not the intent, and no one would think that is rational.

The bones of this ordinance are sound, and this is a rational response to a very serious situation created by someone who is, perhaps, Kansas City's most notorius volunteer.

8/18/2008 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Captain Tuttle said...

But legislation changes - and is expected to change from the process. Very few ordinances emerge from the process unchanged.

Ok, I thought this was a done deal. The world is full of bad laws that had unintended consequences.

8/18/2008 9:38 AM  
Anonymous try2 said...

Captain, I agree. I fully expect this legislation to be modified and address the issues raised here and elsewhere.

I would expect that the most training will accompany "regular-service volunteers" and the least would accompany "special case volunteers"; and I would expect minors to have even a different set, with the most focus on obtaining parental/guardian consent (sec2-1953. Minors as volunteers.)

Most every ordinance has substitute language.

8/18/2008 10:24 AM  
Anonymous DKC said...

At it's most basic this dust up is a result of the Mayor having defeated the establishment in the election. Nothing ticks off the powers that be more than success that doesn't require their help. Having said that, I do not believe that Gloria is an asset that the Mayor can't live without in the office. She appears to not be extremely sophisticated in the ways of interpersonal relations at a level of public life where a certain personal decorum and civility must rule the day.

8/18/2008 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to read all of this and comment but I got bored.

I know Gloria - Gloria is not a nice person.

Her behavior is not indicative of the kind of leader I want representing me.

I am sorry I voted for the Funk and would sign a recall petition if a valid effort came along.

8/18/2008 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Sick of Dan's Pompous Attitude said...

Dan, since you have been recognized as a volunteer public relations adviser to Gloria and Mark by the Kansas City Star, and you have done nothing to deny that identification, are you not acting in contempt of court by even talking about the Gloria's activities that may be relevant to the case?

8/18/2008 8:35 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

So many of you are so silly, but the last comment takes the cake. Umm, no, I'm not worried about contempt of court, and I'm afraid you don't recall what the Star had to say very clearly.

For those who have been excitedly dreaming up reasons for why I haven't responded to your each and every concern, I was out of the city and, for all but about 10 minutes of the past 4 days, not able to access the internet.

The truth of this situation remains that the City Council, each and every member of which pays attention to Tony each and every day (they either read it or have a staff member tell them what it says), came up with one of the worst ordinances in Kansas City history, because Tony convinced them that it was necessary. Great demonstration by Tony of the power of a dedicated voice, and a great demonstration by the kneejerk nine of the adage that hard cases make bad law.

If Tony manages to get this ordinance passed, I will buy him a beer and never, ever again claim that blogs don not make things happen in the real world.

8/18/2008 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Your Neighbor said...

They don't have the Internets in other cities folks; therefore, Dan could not sign on to his site.

Dan says it is true so it is so! That is why Dan did not respond for all that time. No other place on the face of the earth other than the Gloria and Mark Empire has the Internets.

As you all must now accept, because Dan says it is so, Mark and Gloria gave us the Internets, and if democracy and the rule of law runs them out of office (after the citizens of Kansas City have paid large amounts of treasure in attorneys' fees, court costs and damages) Mark and Gloria will take the Internets with them. You will never see porn again without visiting a porn shop. You will be forced to seek sexual release from someone you ceased finding sexually attractive years ago.

Danny you are a dishonest sack of fecal waste who's only importance in life is your attachment to two people who have no business in public life due to their obvious psychotic behavior.

I hope the Judge spanks you bare assed publically before he or she sends you to the lock up to meet new and very loving people.

8/18/2008 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whiskey Tango Foxy

Dan that had to be the most lame excuse that you have come up with in months.

Son of a Bitch it does look like you are trying to influence the jury pool. If was representing the plaintiff I would had the Sheriff's haul your ass in to court to answer some questions about your recent communications about the defendants.

8/18/2008 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Throw yourself on the mercy said...

Dan you know you can lose your license and do serious time for fucking with a jury?

8/18/2008 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan they are taking this charge to Tony's, which I imagine plaintiffs will monitor.

8/18/2008 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think some of the last commenters are crazier than Gloria.

8/19/2008 12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan-ee
(I like that).
Elsewhere you've argued that Tony is irrelevant. Now you are arguing that Tony is the mastermind behind this ordinance. In other words, you are saying Tony is relevant. Which is it?
The Council can't read Tony because Tony's blog is blocked in City Hall.
You are not giving the 9 enough credit by insulting them with this ridiculuous post. I would not underestimate them if I were you.

8/19/2008 2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I was out of the city and, for all but about 10 minutes of the past 4 days, not able to access the internet."

Lame.

"because Tony convinced them that it was necessary."

You give Tony too much credit, and the Council not enough.

Face it Dan, you, along with Funk, his family and the few friends he does have, have gone on a campaign to shift the blame of this whole ordeal to anywhere but where it belongs.

8/19/2008 6:08 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I need an excuse to take a few days off from posting here?

You deem yourself qualified to judge my explanation as "lame"?

8/19/2008 6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You deem yourself qualified to judge my explanation as "lame"?"

I am just as qualified to judge that as you are to judge that this ordinance was brought about the because the Council listens to Tony.

8/19/2008 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are no internets outside kc

8/19/2008 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is nice to see that there is some one who is going to make sure that Gloria and Funk get a fair trail both legally and in the media.
It is nice to know that there are still some people who will fight at a losing game. I really appreciate that.
It is not nice to find that there are people who think that a negative comment everyday can become manifest as a movement to persecute people who have done nothing wrong.
It is not nice to put so much emphasis on TKC's ability, because that is wrong.
TKC has been over the top on Squitro but she has provided so much material that he always has something to write.
Does the owner of this blog believe that Tony makes up all of the negative material that has appeared on the Funk's over the last year?
Do you not realize that most of the material originates as tips from inside City Hall, media persons and watchers of the world who send it to Tony and he checks and then prints it.
I seriously doubt that someone could make up a character like the Funks and their idiosincratic behavior with a new event of grossness every two weeks for a year.

I am tired of my friends from the east coast calling me and laughing about the City of Kansas City and its Jeb Clampet /Ma Kettle image.

8/19/2008 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three recent headlines regarding the volunteer ordinance from Yael Abouhalkah, the editorial writer who was the #1 supporter, citywide, of Funkhouser's mayoral campaign:

"Funkhouser twists facts to defend Gloria's Honor" (8/18)

"Mayor Funkhouser: Get a grip on reality" (8/15)

"Squishing Squitiro" (8/15)

8/19/2008 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan-eeee

Who else is standing with you on this one?

Nobody. Do you know why? You're the last defender of Gloria left.

You, Funk and Gloria in one corner, and everybody else in the other.

You have made so many ill thought out posts lately, I wonder what the vast majority of the CCP thinks?

Hmmmmmmmm.

Goneforgood.com

8/19/2008 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Lance Weber said...

Someone please tell me that anon at 2:55 is wrong about this:

Tony's blog is blocked in City Hall.

If that were true then it would tend to prove that Dan is right about the level of Tony's influence. When I first read this post, I thought Dan was going too far. But what do I know? After reading his comments and pretending for a moment that TKC is somehow blacklisted as "porn" by the City, now I'm not so sure.

8/19/2008 10:07 PM  
Anonymous try2 said...

No, Lance, his photos are reason enough to block the site.

I don't have a problem with it, but most responsible organizations would block it.

Why?

People walking by someone's cube or office would see the pictures, and it would potentially create a hostile work environment demeaning women.

I'm totally serious, and there is the case law to back me up.

THIS IS A VERY VERY GOOD POINT LANCE - the same reason Tony is banned from city hall is essentially the same reason Gloria is getting sued.

And why she will be prosecuted successfully.

8/19/2008 10:42 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I love it when people who know nothing about the law pontificate about legal issues and then end it by confusing a civil lawsuit with a prosecution.

8/19/2008 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Prosecuted" was used in a conversational context - in the context of someone being on the receiving end of an accusation, in a conversational-political blog.

It is so like Dan to throw up a mundane, off-point minute legal point to distract the conversation.

Dan.

You're saying stupid things, repeatedly.

Lots of people at the CCP, among other organizations, are really regretting their association with you.

You're an embarrassment. You are the only one defending Gloria and Funk's behavior. Oh, and Dan, you have a long history of acting inappropriately.

You do not belong on the CCP exec committee, and most members of that committee recognize that.

Do you really understand how you are really perceived (and tolerated?)

If you do not, that's indicative of a much larger problem.

8/19/2008 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Lance Weber said...

Dan, bless your soul for putting up with the anonymous psychos who post threatening comments here revealing that they run in the same circles as you. That's got to be somewhat unnerving and would make most people just quit. I appreciate your efforts to further discussion on issues relevant to the quality of my life in this hostile environment. Thanks.

As far as City Hall blocking web content... you have got to be kidding me. I'd love to hear more about this. What is the name of the person whose job it is to review porn all day long on my dime? After all, there is a LOT of porn on the internet. What is the policy? Is it one of "I know it when I see it"? Can someone shop for a swimsuit on her break or is Victoria's Secret also blacklisted? How about Sports Illustrated?

I didn't realize how bad things were around here.

8/20/2008 12:34 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Thank you for your kind words, Lance. It is mildly unnerving to see people make allusions about my employment, volunteer work, etc., but those people are uniformly anonymous cowards. If anyone wants to call or email and start a genuine conversation about any of these issues, they obviously know where to find me.

As for whether I'm appreciated or tolerated or strongly disliked by the other members of the executive committee of the CCP - I honestly try not to pay attention to that kind of issue. I never, ever want to spend my time looking over my shoulder to make sure I'm in line with the right crowd before I voice my opinion. I appreciate those who disagree with me and address my concerns intelligently and persuasively, and I like to think those who disagree with me are of similar mind.

I really don't know what the CCP executive committee thinks of me. I know that a former member of the executive committee went to a meeting where that person had been told I would not be in attendance, and attacked me in profane terms until I unexpectedly arrived - but I'm not certain how much influence the tirade had.

I'm not going to change myself or my opinions in order to blend into the committee. I'm honored to be included among some of the smartest and best-intentioned politicos I know, but that privilege isn't enough to make me a "yes-man".

8/20/2008 6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is mildly unnerving to see people make allusions about my employment, volunteer work, etc"

Kind of like how it is mildly unnerving to see someone accuse the City Council of proposing a ordinance based solely on what a blogger would say...

8/20/2008 7:29 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Apples and oranges, if you think about it.

8/20/2008 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She would never engage in a tirade.

8/20/2008 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for Dan to respond to Sophia's points.

8/23/2008 12:09 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sorry, Sophia Fan - I was in New Orleans when Sophia made her post, and wasn't very impressed by her name-calling and ignoring of my points. If you really think her first post deserves a response, here goes - "Jesus, Mary and Joseph - what a craptacular comment. Are you purposefully mirroring Try2's style (minus the illiteracy)?

If you're really concerned that this legislation is a good idea, was ignoring the fact that it attacks the role of volunteers the smart way to go?"

As for her point about no lawsuits involving mayor's offices, well, she's sloppy. I know for a fact that mayors have been sued pretty often both in the state of Missouri and outside it. Heck, I've even represented city council members. Of course, if you do sloppy legal research, you're not likely to find that fact, and it appears that Sophia focused on one state's mostly appellate decisions, and most such cases get disposed of long before the appellate stages (as this one probably will, as well). As for her false statements on what such suits involve, well, given her inability to find the suits, please don't trust her description of them.

Finally, her analysis hinges on a false conclusion that if the suit were unique (and it's not), that would make it a big deal. For under a hundred dollars, I can run down to the courthouse and file any kind of suit I like, naming anyone I like. I could file a suit naming "sophia" as a defendant for sexually harassing me, or for causing me mental distress by posting poorly-thought-out comments (as a volunteer!). Suing a pseudonymous blog commenter would be unique (to my knowledge), but it certainly wouldn't make the suit a "big deal" or likely to prevail. It would just mean that a lawsuit got filed, and I might (but probably wouldn't) get in a little trouble for filing a meritless suit.

Sophia is generally one of the more insightful and thoughtful commenters on this site. Her comments when they agree with me are appreciated, and when they disagree with me usually raise good points. I don't mean to be harsh in my assessment of her comments here - she had an off day.

8/23/2008 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never read Sophia's blog so not a fan (no offense sophia).

Are you saying then Dan that the Mayor's wife using racism, foul language, and x-rated jokes obviously deemed offensive is not a big deal?

You can't go with the she didn't do it excuse, because when the story broke they admitted to her saying it but just with an -eee to everything

8/24/2008 10:27 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous - I doubt you know very much about the situation. Your hypotheticals are based on wildly incomplete facts. Why should the kneejerk nine interfere with the court system?

8/25/2008 12:59 AM  
Anonymous try2 said...

This suit is not unique?

Really Dan.

I'd like to see a lawsuit that is comparable:

- wife of mayor acts as mayor's chief of staff;
- wife of mayor walks around Mayor's office during business hours saying incredibly rude things, including direct sexual statements, some of which relate to penis length;
- Mayor's wife, a volunteer, gets sued for harrassment and discrimination, one of the prime reasons being she called a black woman "mammy".

There have to be tons of similar cases lol

8/26/2008 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan,

Do you really think Beth would act in a kneejerk manner instead of engaging in a thoughtful analysis of the situation and reacting accordingly?

8/26/2008 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan?

8/31/2008 7:56 PM  

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