Friday, November 07, 2008

Mayor Funkhouser Stands Up for What's Right - Political Courage versus Political Opportunism

Funkhouser has announced his intention to file a lawsuit seeking reversal of the Anti-Squitiro Ordinance, just as I argued that he must over a month ago. I hate to see litigation erupt, but the Council's attempt to take over the Mayor's office was a serious breach of governmental roles, and Mark's suit is important and justified not just for his own convenience, but for future councils and future mayors.

It has been mildly amusing to see pundits and observers get themselves worked up about Funkhouser's meetings at his home, when it has been obvious that Mark was simply "laying low" until after the Light Rail Election.

Of course, the expedient thing for Mark to do would be to simply set Gloria up outside the office and set her to work on a project of her choosing. Heck, if he asked her to take on elderly issues, or community health concerns, or some other topic, it would generate positive exposure for both of them. They could walk away from the pack of lies and backroom dealings that resulted in the "volunteer ordinance" and start building an invincible base of political capital for the next round of elections.

They know that. Heck, I know of at least one political coward who offered that advice.

But Mark has a lot more political courage than I do, and he's going to stand up for the structure of our city government. The council does not control the mayor, and the mayor does not control the council.

Mark is entirely capable of working under the control of the council. He did that for years as Auditor. He's great at it.

But it's not his role now, and it wasn't the council's role to pass an ordinance directing him on how to run his office. Politically, the council saw an opportunity to pick on Gloria Squitiro when she was down, and they took full advantage of that opportunity. They did what was easy and convenient and politically expedient.

Now Mark Funkhouser needs to be the grown-up who looks above the rat-pack politics of the 26th Floor and considers what is right for the future of our city. By going one way, he could join in the Council's political opportunism and make himself (and his wife) more popular than ever. By going the other way, he will expose himself (and his wife) to more hostility and frustration, but he will fulfill his responsibility to his office and to this city.

Thank God we elected a non-politician to the Mayor's office.

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44 Comments:

Anonymous Sophia said...

I suspect you're beyond reasoning with on this point. What I'm wondering is if anyone reading your post reconsidered their position on the matter. So, hey strangers on the internet! Please comment here if what Dan wrote changed your opinion.

11/07/2008 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have an firm opinion on the issue, but Dan makes a good point. This council is like Mean Girls.

11/07/2008 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Porchpundit said...

"Funkhouser has announced his intention to file a lawsuit seeking reversal of the Anti-Squitiro Ordinance, just as I argued that he must over a month ago."

Did you "argue" this or did you "advise" Funkhouser, Counselor Dan?

Dan you are not a commentator, you are a large part of the problem that IS the Funkhouser Administration.

I hope that the City's defense attorneys depose you and seek to access whatever records of communications you have had with the Mayor, his office or the First Political Crony. Dan, here is some helpful advice from a layman, don't even think about destroying such records unless you like to wear orange and you really do not want that license to practice law.

I believe you have brought harm to this city and that you continue to do so.

11/07/2008 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Jayhoax said...

"Thank God we elected a non-politician to the Mayor's office."

And it's biting the city in the ass....

"the expedient thing for Mark to do would be to simply set Gloria up outside the office"

The expedient thing would have been for Mark to go to work without his security blanket....

"But Mark has a lot more political courage than I do"

You call it "political courage". Non-sycopants call it "stubbornness".

"Now Mark Funkhouser needs to be the grown-up"

Well, that would be a first...

11/07/2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan/Everyone,

What kind of time frame would we be expecting a ruling to come down on this?

3 months, 6 months, years?

11/07/2008 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mean Girls. I love it.

Sophia, count me swayed. But don't give Dan the credit, give it to the first anonymous commenter, who perfectly summed up this council.

11/07/2008 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Miller go back to work and quit blogging on the public payroll.

11/07/2008 9:53 AM  
Blogger Logtar said...

A agree with him with sheep like blindness Sophia.

11/07/2008 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mayor, The Council, and the entire leadership of this city is a freaking joke. They are fiddling their light rail/volunteer ordinence tunes while the city is being swamped by a budget crisis, a sewer crisis, and a crime crisis. Change came to Washington and Jeff City on Tuesday. I cannot wait until change comes to Kansas City. Between the Council, Mayor, and the School Board, the political talent pool in this city has become the Sahara.

11/07/2008 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the outside looking in at this, it seems to me that the Mayors wife created such a bad atmosphere for the city council to work in that they were forced to take legal steps to correct the problem. Something the Mayor refused to do in the spirit of cooperation and compromise for the good of your city.

This shows poor leadership to me, more akin to throwing a childish fit because you can't have it your way.

The Mayor needs to leave his wife at home.

11/07/2008 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Nuke said...

I don't like discussing politics on the net, but I would like to answer Sophia's question and then go back under my rock.

No, none of Dan's posts have changed my mind. I think both the Council and the Mayor are acting like Jr High Schoolers.

11/07/2008 12:10 PM  
Blogger Phil Cardarella said...

The Mayor is right and it has NOTHING to do with whether you agree or disagree with his wife.

At issue is the independence and authority of the Mayor -- any mayor, not just this one. Like him or not, he was elected by the people. No one voted for any Councilmember to run the Mayor's office, and it is a BAD idea for the Council to arrogate to itself that power.

The real issue is not the political correctness of the Mayor's volunteers, but the Charter authority of the Mayor's office. It is terribly depressing to see elected Councilmembers who do not seem to understand that important distinction. When the Charter was changed, we were told that it would create a stronger mayor form of government, yet this Council has done everything to frustrate that intent.

If the Council wants to pass a Resolution critical of the Mayor's volunteer policy, that is within their authority. So be it. Controling the Mayor's office by ordinance is not. It violates both the Charter and the will of the people who elected him -- not them -- to that office.

I am not sure "Mean Girls" is entirely accurate as an analogy, but it is apparent that the newer women on the Council seem particularly embarrassed by what they see as the political incorrectness of the Mayor's wife. Unfortunately they do not seem to believe that their personal or collective disapproval is sufficient, and have supported an inappropriate attack on the Charter authority of the Mayor's office.

11/07/2008 12:28 PM  
Blogger Owen said...

A mayor shouldn't sue his own city. A council shouldn't bar the mayor's family from city hall. Two wrongs don't make a right but they do make an entertaining fight.

11/07/2008 1:50 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

I have to disagree with you. This ordinance applies equally to all members of city council, including the mayor.

I challenge you to tell me what set of letters in this ordinance unfairly discriminates against the mayor.

Not heresay intent, but the actual leter of the ordinanace that unfairly cobnstrains the mayor.

You can't do it. At least you or Dan or anybody has yet to offer a rational argument based upon the letter of the ordinance.

11/07/2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Thanks, Nuke.

Phil,

I think the mayoral authority argument is probably the best one that can be made, but it's still very weak. We've got anti-nepotism laws that tell the mayor what he can't do in his office. The mayor's petition seems to think such laws are only concerned with financial conflicts. The facts of this case are an excellent demonstration of the broader concerns - confused lines of authority, favoritism, and, most importantly, preserving the interests of the marriage above the public interest. The mayor's technical avoidance of the anti-nepotism statute by having his wife volunteer doesn't remove all those concerns.

I don't think it's fair to call the council mean girls. They're not doing this for sport. As a professional woman, I can say that it's not Squitiro's "political incorrectness" that bothers me - it's her utter lack of professionalism. The mammy shit wouldn't have gone anywhere if she'd dealt with it in a professional manner - apologizing and respecting that boundary.

11/07/2008 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil, I'm curious--doesn't it become the business of the council when the mayor's wife is engaging in sexual and racial harrassment in the office? Isn't it the city's business that his wife has exposed the city to lawsuits? Isn't it there business to act when he can't put on his big boy boots and do the job himself? I don't like the council much either, but they are protecting the city while the mayor is putting our tax dollars at risk because his wife cannot behave herself.

11/07/2008 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Jayhoax said...

"doesn't it become the business of the council when the mayor's wife is engaging in sexual and racial harrassment in the office? Isn't it the city's business that his wife has exposed the city to lawsuits? Isn't it there business to act when he can't put on his big boy boots and do the job himself?"

Nope.

Apparently, the Mayor has carte blanche to do what he, or his family, want to do in the office....

11/07/2008 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:09 AM.

Beth is not a joke.

11/07/2008 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan love and defends Beth and Funk. Like they say, birds of a feather

11/07/2008 7:47 PM  
Anonymous ray ray said...

ouch...Joe Miller leaving Funk?

So says Tony

11/07/2008 7:51 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Why would Funkhouser replace Cindy Circo, effective chair of the Housing Committee, with Sharon Sanders-Brooks, the most ineffective member of city council?

For the same reason he's suing the city - Funkhouser, truly, doesn't give a shit about Knasas City - it's all about Funkhouser and Squitiro having their 15 minutes of fame - except it's not 15 minutes, it's four years at a tremendouse cost and penalty to the city.

Yael's 9/6/2007 column, regarding the new chair of the housing committee, Yael says:

"This is where it gets really depressing: The newly elected City Council member for the district — Sharon Sanders Brooks — can’t even take care of her own property.

She’s on trial for a housing code violation because a vacant house she owns in the 2800 block of Charlotte Street has a sagging ceiling. The house has had numerous maintenance problems since 2005, according to the city."

Funkhouser replaces an effective housing chair with the most dysfunctional member of city council.

She can't maintain her own rental properties in the district she lives in and represents.

We're going to be examining, in detail, her codes violations, and educating Kansas City on the new Housing committee chair.

Oh, and she also specializes in funneling money back to her "friends" in the third district - like Rodney Bland. She went to several city departments asking for $120,000 to, in effect, pay the salary to Bland, who has over four pages of ethics and other violations, including a sexxual violation, in Missouri CaseNet. Make sure you search under Rodney S. Bland.

And I believe she was able to, through her race-baiting, threatening activities, get Rodney S. Bland at least $50,000.

Her appointment to housing is a monumental affront to good government.

11/07/2008 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, I dare you to call this good management. What a joke.

http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/15579

11/07/2008 8:52 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

What an historic week, but for the actions of Funkhouser - I cannot even bring myself to call him our mayor.

We elect Barack Obama our next president, breathing new life and enthusiasm for public service, unity and change.

We are in the middle of the worst economic crisis in three generations! We need to bring people together to solve very difficult problems.

And what does Funkhouser do this week? He sues the city and fires the capable the housing chair with a voicemail - "you're off housing. Goodbye."

Jesus - Funk makes decisions ONLY for his self-interest. Funkhouser is doing nothing to solve the problems of our city.

11/07/2008 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Fuck Yael. I'll grant that the Gloria issue wasn't predictable. But the "he's not a politician!" issue was. Say what you will about politicians, they generally have the sense to keep the important constituents happy. The mayor's most important constituent is obviously his wife. Good luck with that. Pretty sure that's not what he ran on.

11/07/2008 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We should have known he was worthless when he had to negotiate with his wife to stay out after the streetlights came on.

11/07/2008 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Quality is Job 1 said...

The oil is burning late at City Hall tonight and lawyers are researching the nepotism law.

11/07/2008 9:55 PM  
Blogger Midtown Miscreant said...

The wise and even handed thing, would have been to keep his wife out of his office in the first place, especially after the racial/sexual harrasment suit. The mayors first priority as mayor should be the well being of the city and it's people. What is laughable is his statement the other day that he intends to run for re-election. He is a joke on a national level, he cares nothing about this city, he is incapable of the task and incompetant at best. There is something seriously wrong with an adult who cannot function without their spouse 6 feet up their ass. On the bright side, all of the antics and controversy insures the Funk is a one trick pony, he wont be back for a second term.

11/08/2008 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Jayhoax said...

"and the mayor does not control the council"

Tell that to Cindy Circo....

11/08/2008 7:48 AM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Even the Kansas City Star has withdrawn it's support of Mayor Funkhouser.

http://www.kansascity.com/340/story/880337.html

Oh, and Joe Miller has resigned as Director of Communications.

http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/15573

11/08/2008 7:55 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

XO

Thank you for pointing out the direction of the mob. If I become interested in joining the mob, I will certainly seek your guidance.

It's funny how none of the Funk critics can answer the problems with the Anti-Squitiro Ordinance. Instead, they want to attack him on other topics or claim that the council was provoked into passing a lousy law because they don't like Squitiro. But nobody can defend the law. Interesting.

11/08/2008 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Dan,

I defended the law. It's about anti-nepotism, which is more than not handing out fat contracts to family members. I repeat: the facts of this case are an excellent demonstration of the broader concerns - confused lines of authority, favoritism, and, most importantly, preserving the interests of the marriage above the public interest.

That was my favorite part of the petition, where it argued there couldn't be any justification for the law. Completely ignoring the obvious.

I did some reading yesterday about challenges to anti-nepotism laws. This case has about the worst facts possible to advance the cause. It's an illustration of why such laws are necessary.

Oh yeah, I'd love to see some case law or statute supporting the "affinity" argument. It seems unlikely that such a loophole would have gone unnoticed for so long.

11/08/2008 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Miller resigned to spend more time with his muse.

Miller said he has been taking graduate courses in creative writing at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and he realized that the stress of the mayor's job was just too much when combined with that advanced course of study.

Do these people have no concept of public service? I really don't get it.

11/08/2008 9:12 AM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Now that Miller is gone, why not you Dan for Press Czar? Or whatever Miller's job was. At least you won't mind reporting to Schmendrick Blackwell. And if Funk lasts out his term (he won't but who knows) Schmndrick won't leaving you a clear path for the chief of staff spot. This might require moving into the Funk gruesome and mortgaged for more than it is worth Squitiro Mansion (the house is a little musty and usually not well kept but who cares, chief of staff, right?)but people have sacrificed more to get less (I can't cite an example but no one will challenege me on this I hope).

11/08/2008 9:34 AM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Dan, Do you have a comment about the Star rejection of the Funk in this mornings editorial?

What say ye Dan of Gone Mild fame?

11/08/2008 9:53 AM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Just to be clear... the Star's withdrawal of support.

Dan, any thoughts?

11/08/2008 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Inafunk,

I read Dan's "direction of the mob" comment as a response to both the Miller resignation and the Star's withdrawal of support. I thought it was pretty clear.

11/08/2008 10:33 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

No one thinks it's normal to do what Funkhouser is doing. You call it a mob - and I call it reasonable people arriving at a reasonable conclusion.

This lawsuit is frivolous. The complaint has six counts, and all six counts are ridiculous canards. I'm surprised the plaintiffs didn't, literally, throw in the kitchen sink.

I mean, the complaint starts out by saying if you don’t think we’re right on any of these 6 counts, at least arbitrarily rule the ordinance doesn’t apply to Gloria. And absent in this complaint is any justification or reasoning, it’s just a series of unsupported statements.

This complaint is a strategy of flailing six hail mary passes with the hope that one will get caught.

Count I is a tired old ploy to obfuscate.

Count II inexplicably tries to categorize Family Member into a close-ended class, contradicts VI, and if count I is true - invalidates the current neptosim law! NOT.

Count III brings up an alleged procedural issue. What did Funkhouser say when the anti-light rail coalition brought up procedural issues on light rail? “If you can’t talk about the issues, you bring up procedural complaints”. The lawyers can argue about this one. This is yet another gimmick.

Count IV argues a litany of constiutional infringements with absolutely no explanation as to how those rights have been infringed.

Count V tries to create an implied authority (absent any legal/court precedent)from the city charter that the mayor can operate his office unrestrained by city laws.

And Count 6 argues that a spouse is not a family members and argues that every nepotism law in MO and elsewhere is unconstitutional.

This complaint isn't going anywhere, and it's a desperate move.

11/08/2008 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, are you taking bets on the outcome of this case?

11/08/2008 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Lance Weber said...

I would probably take bets on this action if I lived in a free society. Isn't wagering illegal in Missouri?

100:1 Funk wins this lawsuit.

Is it an arrestable offense to lay odds?

11/09/2008 10:39 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Lance,

Unfortunately, Funkhouser won't win the lawsuit. Please refer to my near-legal opinion above for the reasons why.

My rapier-like legal wit indicates all six counts won't pass muster in a court of law.

But, there is always hope. And faith.

Stand strong.

Sincerely,

mainstream

11/10/2008 8:47 AM  
Blogger Phil Cardarella said...

Everyone just take a breath and think for a minute:

Do we want a City government where the Mayor's office lacks independence from the Council, to the point that the Council can dictate who gets to sit in his office -- unpaid, with no actual authority other than tha ability to advise him?

Pretend Mark and Gloria have won the lottery and moved to Tuscany. Pretend any one of the Gang of Twelve have become Mayor instead. Is it good government to have the Council dictate who the nextMayor may consult & when?

The "nepotism" issue -- no matter how much it is touted -- has no legs. Anti-nepotism laws are designed to prevent REWARDING your relatives with money or authority, not using them for free advice and help.

This City needs a stronger Mayor form of government. The last Charter changes were intended to accomplish that, but seem to have failed.

11/10/2008 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Jayhoax said...

"Anti-nepotism laws are designed to prevent REWARDING your relatives with money or authority, not using them for free advice and help"

When the Mayor comes out and says that when Gloria speaks, she speaks for him, that goes beyond advice and help and on to authority.

11/10/2008 5:43 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

I do not see anything in this ordinance that will prevent the Mayor from getting any advice he or she desires.

This ordinance applies to unpaid volunteers (a distinction from our paid volunteer army...)

Now, if they want their spouse as a fulltime volunteer directing city employees in an office in city hall, then, this ordinance would prevent that.

I'm just going to repeat myself - Funkhouser can obtain any advice he wants that legal means allow - he can even obtain and solicit unpaid volunteer advice - just not from a from their spouse as an unpaid volunteer directing city employees at City Hall.

And once again, I have to ask for some facts.

Some facts, PLEASE. PLEASE TELL US HOW THIS IS GOING TO HARM THE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR. DON'T AGAIN TELL US IT WILL HARM THE MAYOR'S OFFICE, TELL US EXACTLY WHY AND HOW IT WILL.

To date, no one - NO ONE - has supplied the exact reasoning of how exactly this will harm the office of the mayor, and how this discriminates against the office of Mayor.

11/10/2008 6:10 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

OO! OO! OO!

Wait a minute, I've got it!

A long long lost half-sister of Gloria arrives in town, and announces she has the cure for cancer, but can't divulge the secret cure unless she has five city employees in the water department that report to her in the Mayor's office for 5 months of clandestine research.

But noooooooooo.

We can't learn the cure for cancer because the volunteer ordinance forbids such activity!!

The evil volunteer ordinance has prevented a cure for cancer, it must be repealed!!!!!

(This is a prefect example of the city council acting impulsively, jeopardizing not only Kansas City but the health of the entire world!!)

11/10/2008 6:43 PM  

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