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Archive for Thursday, November 27, 2008

K.C. mayor fights ordinance

November 27, 2008

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— The mayor’s in hot water. With City Hall. Again.

His short time in office dogged by one perceived misstep after another, Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser’s most recent fight with the City Council — over an ordinance that keeps his outspoken wife from volunteering at his office — is bringing embarrassment to a city laboring to improve its image, remake its downtown and fix its aging infrastructure.

Funkhouser, a straight-shooting former city auditor who won office in 2007 on the strength of his economic smarts and sharp focus on fixing the city’s transit and sewer systems, sued the council earlier this month after it enacted an ordinance that keeps his wife, Gloria Squitiro, from volunteering in his office.

Squitiro has sparked her share of controversy since her husband took office, including allegations that she referred to a former mayoral staffer, who is black, as “Mammy.”

Funkhouser also has responded to the ban by handling more city work from home — deepening the dysfunction between him and the council. “I’ve never seen this extreme disconnect between a mayor and council,” said council member Ed Ford, who worked with two other mayors before Funkhouser.

Funkhouser, 59, said he is just sticking up for what’s right, adding that the ban on his wife “infringes on the integrity” of his office and that she is a vital part of his administration.

It’s only a year and a half into his four-year term, but some question whether the man they admired as the city auditor for 18 years can turn things around.

Funkhouser said important work, such as the economic task force and preparing the budget, is getting done despite the bad feelings between him and the council.

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