Thursday, December 04, 2008

Has the City Council Lost its Mind?

The depositions of Funkhouser and Squitiro undercut the Bates case pretty severely, and provided the First Couple with their long-awaited opportunity to get their side of the story on the record. So, when Bates slashed her settlement figure in half, Funkhouser brought the more reasonable settlement demand to the council with a recommendation that they dispose of the suit once and for all.

Incredibly, they chose to play political games instead of behaving responsibly. If you think about it for a second, the move was completely illogical.

IF you really believe that the Bates case has merit, then how in the world can you justify refusing a reasonable settlement demand that eliminates the risk of a bad jury verdict? You can't, so the rejection was a foolish, risky political maneuver.

Even IF, on the other hand, you believe that the Bates case is meritless, then you still ought to follow the rational course and accept a settlement demand that may well prove to be less than the legal expenses to defend the case, and, again, eliminate the risk of a bad jury verdict. (By the way, if you believe the Bates lawsuit is meritless, you owe us all a big apology for that unnecessary Anti-Volunteer Ordinance.)

So, whether you believe the lawsuit is a valid claim or not, the only rational decision today was to settle it.

Of course, the one person I singled out this morning for being squarely in "silly season", Ed Ford, was the leading voice rejecting the settlement. Incredibly, he tried to get Funkhouser to drop his lawsuit against the Anti-Volunteer ordinance before he would behave responsibly.

Really, Ed Ford? Was that really a condition you had to insist on before doing the smart thing? Obviously, you agree with me that the Anti-Volunteer Ordinance is an embarrassment that will get slapped down by the court, and the only way it survives is if nobody challenges it.

It's shameful that Ed Ford and 9 of his cohorts rejected the settlement offer, and it's obvious that my hopes this morning that silly season is nearing its end was premature.

(I should point out that it was great, though not really surprising, to see Russ Johnson vote in favor of the settlement. It's a shame that his colleagues preferred political gamesmanship to doing the right thing.)

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33 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm
I thought the mayor rejected all talk about settlement 2 months ago.
He thought he would be vindicated. That's obviously not the case. Those depositions were awful for his case.
The Council did the right thing. Why not pursue a 2 for 1 deal? In my mind, it is Funkhouser that doesn't want to negotiate and settle. It's not politics, Dan. It's a simple negotiation and the Council is doing the right thing by pursuiing to kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

12/04/2008 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

I was disturbed when I heard the news that the council was predicating support for the settlement on the mayor dismissing his suit about the volunteer ordinance. Haven't had time to really work it out, it just struck me as wrong, legally. And the more I thought about it, I think it's just dumb politically.

I disagree that the depositions were a terrible weakening of the Plaintiff's case. Seemed like a wash to me. It's very much a traditional fact dispute - let the jury decide - kind of case, that reasonable lawyers will counsel their clients are better off settled because no one can honestly predict how it will turn out. So I don't care what spin any party puts on it, it makes sense to settle the case at this point.

But the dispute about the volunteer ordinance can get its day in court with minimal cost. It's a dec action, not a particularly costly thing to do. The city isn't paying for the mayor's lawyer and the city attorney's office can handle the defense effectively. I've got no problem with them devoting resources to this issue rather than defending a slip and fall case. And if there's one thing I learned from reading Funkhouser's depo, it's that he respects court decisions even when he doesn't agree with them. So why not let it go to the judge?

I understand the political impulse to just bury it right now. But, realistically, I'd rather have the ordinance issue proceed through the normal course. And also, realistically, the threat of further Wirken law bills is a greater cost than any challenge to the volunteer ordinance.

I'm comfortable with the volunteer ordinance being challenged in court (although the entire mess seems to be an illustration of 'interesting facts make bad law'). Although I appreciate the desire to make it (and Gloria) just go away, I don't think it's realistic to expect the Mayor to accept that and from the long view, I think it would be silly to kill a settlement on the discrimination case to dispose of the ordinance case. Enough is enough. Let Bates go, and defend your ordinance actions in court.

12/04/2008 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

To be clear, the reason I think the "drop your ordinance lawsuit" demand is politically stupid is that (a) no reason to believe the mayor will agree to it; and (b) even if you could get him to agree to it through sheer force he'd never consider it legitimate (see veto of volunteer ordinance).

12/04/2008 8:35 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

WHAT????

Dan.

The Funkhouser's/Squitiro's have been SCREAMING that they do not want to settle, THEY WANT THEIR DAY IN COURT.

They are innocent, and they have always maintained they can prove it, screw a settlement.

And now they want a settlement. They're practically begging for a settlement.

Gloria complained earlier when the insurance comnpany settled her case that she didn't want the insurance company to settle because she wanted HER DAY IN COURT.

What happended to that, Dan?

If they are innocent, why have they changed their tune 180 degrees? Why are they so anxious to settle now?

Their depositions weren't strong, but you say they are. How can you argue their testimony is strong when they offer to settle the day after their testimony?

How exactly does that work?

12/04/2008 8:36 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

The Funkhouser and Squitiro depositions are on the verge of perjury, if not perjury.

Their testimony under oath directly contradicts the sworn testimony of Ed Wolf and others.

To assert in any way that their testimony is somehow libertaing is, well, downright... strange.

12/04/2008 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

mainstream-

Opposing parties offering differing testimony isn't perjury, it's a factual controversy. In the real world people see, feel, and remember things differently. And that's why we have juries to sort out the "truth" for that particular dispute. I have no problem believing that Squitiro wouldn't remember or register offending people. From a defense attorney's perspective, the funniest thing about those depositions is that they demonstrated an equal opportunity hostile work environment. It's not based on gender or race, Gloria was just a first class pain in the ass to be around.

12/04/2008 8:51 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Indeed, Mainstream, it would be strange to claim that their "testimony is somehow libertaing". Strange indeed.

It's interesting that the demand got cut in half after the depos, don't you think?

And, in case anybody doesn't understand it, Gloria got settled out by an insurance company, so she won't be getting her day in court. She got the closest she'll get when she told her story in the depo. (By the way, as someone who always advised clients to say as little as possible, it must have been well-paid torture to be her attorney.)

12/04/2008 8:57 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sophia - As an aside, thank you for commenting here. Even when you disagree with me, you are (almost) always thoughtful, on point and generally non-personal. You're one of the reasons I like this blog.

12/04/2008 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

(By the way, as someone who always advised clients to say as little as possible, it must have been well-paid torture to be her attorney.)

Amen, brother. It was interesting to read those depos as an outsider, but as an attorney I was horrified by how wordy those depos were. By the end, I had to conclude that either Bates' attorney wasn't fishing or she is a really shitty fisher.

And even when I disagree with you, Dan, I appreciate that you run this blog for mouthy people like me to opine on even when we're too lazy and undisciplined to run our own blogs. :) I'm pretty sure we agree 90% of the time -- it's nice to have someone intelligent to disagree with for the remaining ten percent.

12/04/2008 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of an attorney is wasting this much time on a $185K case? Even if the settlement was "slashed," as Dan says, the case was only worth $320K.

A collossal waste of time.

12/04/2008 9:19 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Exactly, Sophia.

A jury can disntinguish certain things, which makes the Funkhouser desire to settle that much more notable.

What is the difference between a factual controversey and perjury?

One person's facts are another's speculation. Or another's argument.

That's why the Funks have woken up to the fact a jury trial is dangerous.

example:

One man grew up in the south, and at the office called a young black woman "nigger" because that was what he grew up with hearing, heck, he didn't know it was bad.

But the African-American woman who was the recipient of that remark took offense and sued.

Intellectually, by himself, the cracker can argue he wasn't racist, for a multitude of reasons, right? He could argue that point academically before a judge.

But before a jury?

Not gonna work so well.

Experienced lawyers see the fraility of the arguments that Bernie Mac and Mammy were simply innocent. doesn't work in the huge body of case law in this category.

Case law on hostile work environments is uniformly and almost unanimous in the assertion that it's not what is said, it is what is heard. And how the hearer interprets what is said.

And when the hearer lodges a complaint to clarify their situation, and the situation still continues, the case is pretty much decided in favor of the plaintiff.

12/04/2008 9:21 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Complaints? Hmmmm . . .

On the other hand, I want to acknowledge that Lynn Bratcher is a darned good attorney.

12/04/2008 9:24 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

On the other hand, I want to acknowledge that Lynn Bratcher is a darned good attorney.

Forgive me if I was unclear...I came down on the "not fishing" side.

12/04/2008 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Yep, maybe they can settle so Gloria can go back to being an "overworked hebrew slave."

It is hard to believe that Dan still thinks so highly of Gloria after reading her deposition.

12/04/2008 10:01 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

"Has the city council lost its mind?"

Huh.

Gloria said "take the honda", a clear ethics violation.

Gloria named Semler to the parks board. The most divisive appointmentin KC history.

Gloria asks for police protection only when the mayor goes in the brown or black parts of town.

Gloria acts in a position of authority in rleation to the mayor's staff (and least Ed wolf swore under oath she did)

Gloria calls a black city employee repeasedly "Mammy" and another black female "Bernie Mac".

And Dan, you are defending this behavior.

And,

you're telling the city council they have lost their mind???

lol!!!!!!!!!!!!

12/04/2008 10:24 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Note to city council: let this case go to jury.

12/04/2008 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Mike Brady said...

I think the whole thing can be boiled down to this line from Gloria's deposition:

Q. Besides the Frances Semler issue, are there any other novice mistakes that you believe you made?

A. None that I could think of.


This reminds me so much of:
Q. Mr. President ... what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

A. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference


In my opinion, the main reason Democrats hated bush, was because he was so smug. He would never admit to mistakes and would blame his failures on others. He never took responsibility for anything bad.

Here, in her deposition, Gloria has admitted to make racists statements (Hebrew slave, Bernie mac, mam-eee), sexual comments in the workplace and firing everyone she did not agree with. The mayors office has moved out of city hall, the mayor has sued the city a second time (cauthen suit being the first one), and the city is being over allegations made by Gloria.

But after all this, Gloria can only thinks of one mistake the co-mayors made.

Just like Bush was arrogant and smug and whined about the media, the co-mayors whine about everyone else, never admit to being wrong and blame others for their failure.

No matter how good or bad Funk/Gloria are, they will be forever known as a bunch of smug a-holes.

12/04/2008 10:40 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

to the point, well said Mike.

12/04/2008 10:54 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Mike and Mainstream -

Even though some of your "facts" are simply wrong, even if they were true, you are offering reasons to dislike the First Lady, not to fail to settle the suit, and not to pass an unconstitutional ordinance and then try to prevent it from being reviewed.

That's kind of like when the whiny councilmembers tried to claim that Funkhouser's clumsy attempt to get rid of Cauthen "forced" them to give him an extended contract. No, it didn't. The proper response to a mistake is not always to make a bigger one.

Though this council does seem talented in its ability to make everything worse.

12/05/2008 6:03 AM  
Blogger I Travel for JOOLS said...

If I lived in Kansas City, I would be in deep depression. The entire city government is tied up in lawsuits of their own making in one way or another. In the meantime, the economy is tanking, there is a real possibility of thousands of local people losing their jobs even if the automakers get their bailout. The infrastructure is crumbling. Crime is out of control. Houses are going into foreclosure.

Is there not one level head in Kc government? The people don't care who was at fault at this point in these lawsuits ! They know there is truth and lies on every side. There are far more serious problems to be dealt with in Kansas City. Be done with it, settle it, and get on with city business. Worry about who did what to whom come election time. In the meantime, do what you were paid and elected to do!

12/05/2008 8:28 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

The point is Funk has now, inexplicably, reversed his long time position and wants to settle the lawsuit.

The point is he is willing to settle because of his weak position in this case. If you have a strong position in a case that is against you, you don't settle.

12/05/2008 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only is it totally explicable - if you would read, Funk has explained it pretty clearly. Funk and Squitiro didn't want to settle while she was a defendant, but now that her insurance company settled, all she had left was to be heard, which she was when she gave her deposition, which made the settlement demand crumble to half the original amount. Sounds like good work to me.

Your lack of sophistication is amusing - people with strong cases settle all the time. The vast majority of cases settle before trial.

(Does the fact that Bates wants to settle mean that she thinks her case is weak? No. It means that she's being intelligent about this, just like Funk and Johnson, but unlike Ed Ford and his mob of hysterical morons.)

12/05/2008 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan's analysis is spot on. We often (okay, rarely) agree, but in this case his ability to bypass emotion and get to the legal core of both cases benefits him greatly.

Settling the Bates case is the right thing to do for all involved. No good can come from dragging it out, especially if Bates is eager to settle.

Getting a court ruling on the volunteer ordinance is also the right thing to do. The legal precedent set by the council either needs to be affirmed or struck down.

12/05/2008 10:53 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

No. Cases are settled all the time for expediency.

However, in the specific cases of Funk and squitiro, they took very public positions of avoiding a settlement so they could "have their day in court."

That's not happening, because they have copme to terms with the fact that they will lose.

Funk & Gloria apologists will hail this as some sort of exoneration.

And of course, like many of the statements of those two, nothing could be further from the truth.

12/05/2008 11:31 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

And as I have said before, "serving justice" and "what is best for the city" are two totally different things, unfortuntely.

In this case, they are clearly at odds.

12/05/2008 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Bernard Mac said...

Dan are you taking bets on and not to pass an unconstitutional ordinance?

Remember you were wrong about the Cauthen lawsuit. I would pony up some bucks on the volunteer ordinance passing muster.

12/05/2008 11:59 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

What a crazy, zany world we live in.

12/05/2008 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Jayhoax said...

Someone needs to tell the Mayor if he's going to settle to just settle and shut up.

He can't resist taking one last shot, and it may end up costing him.

And here we thought Gloria was the mouthy one....

12/05/2008 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bates wins! Funk wants to settle!

12/05/2008 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you calling Beth a cohort???

12/05/2008 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark & Gloria are psychotic - "Folie a Deux"

Consider the following excerpts from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Further proof that our city is being lead by a mayor and co-mayor not fit for governing and should be removed for cause:

"Shared Psychotic Disorder". Also known as "Folie à Deux", this "seldom" diagnosed, but all-too-commonly observed type of psychosis occurs when an otherwise healthy person develops delusions after associating with one or more independently psychotic delusional people (Mark & Gloria). In other words, this diagnosis applies to people who have been isolated and "brainwashed" by people or groups with delusional and dogmatic agendas. The cure for this condition is social; patients need to be separated from their delusional associate(s)( i.e. Mark goes to work at City Hall and Gloria stays home), and shown the inconsistency and irrationality of their delusional beliefs. This task becomes more complicated when patients' delusions involve religious themes (i.e. Gloria states in Bates deposition that Mark's position has be ordained by GOD)because religious convictions cannot be argued in rational, logical terms; they are instead articles of faith.

According to the DSM-IV-TR:
A) A delusion develops in an individual in the context of a close relationship with another person(s), who has an already-established delusion.
B) The delusion is similar in content to that of the person who already has the established delusion.
C) The disturbance is not better accounted for by another Psychotic Disorder (e.g., Schizophrenia), or a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

The psychotic disorder described above and exhibited by our dynamic duo is further complicated by their own individual personality disorders - Mark (Narcissistic) and Co-mayor Gloria (Histrionic personality disorder ).

Again, consider the following from the DSM-IV:
According to the DSM-IV, individuals (Gloria) with histrionic personality possess at least five of the following symptoms or personality features:
• a need to be the center of attention
• inappropriate, sexually seductive, or provocative behavior while interacting with others (i.e.Gloria's sexual innuendos)
• rapidly changing emotions and superficial expression of emotions
• vague and impressionistic speech (gives opinions without any supporting details)(very evident n both Mark & Gloria's despositions)
• easily influenced by others
• believes relationships are more intimate than they are.

Finally, according to the DSM-IV individuals (Mark Funkhouser) with Narcissistic behavior exhibit
a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1)has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)(i.e. Mayor's top 10 priorities)
(2)is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love (Gloria)
(3)believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4)requires excessive admiration
(5)has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6)is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends (i.e. I bet Asjes, Simons, Noties, George Blackwood,Wolf, Miller, Bates, and many other former supporters now feel taken advantage of by the dynamic duo)
(7)lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8)is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9)shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Simply put our dynamic duo is crazy and should be recalled or removed from office immediately.

12/07/2008 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully we will have a new Mayor in 2011 to lead us into the new decade.

12/08/2008 2:28 AM  
Anonymous Kill The New Ruskin Fence said...

Hopefully KCMO will have a new mayor in 2009 to lead into a new decade........

And the totally unneeded QUARTER MILLION DOLLAR artsy fartsy ART FENCE around Ruskin High School will disappear instead of sucking up hard earned tax payer monies!

donlake@ymail.com

12/09/2008 11:44 PM  

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