Kansas City, Mo. The employment discrimination lawsuit against the Kansas City mayor and the city will not be delayed by the release of the mayor’s wife’s diary, in which she takes sharp jabs at city council members — calling one a moron and another a phony.
City attorney Galen Beaufort and Mayor Mark Funkhouser’s lawyer, Jim Wirken, said Tuesday that publicity from the release of the 35-page section of Gloria Squitiro’s diary would make it difficult to seat an unbiased jury for a July 27 trial.
Beaufort asked that the trial be delayed until after Labor Day, “when the frenzy will have passed.”
“This is a document that is going to leave a negative impression,” Beaufort told the judge. “It should not be heard by a jury.”
Lynn Bratcher, lawyer for Ruth Bates, who filed the lawsuit, said the case has already had extensive media coverage and it “isn’t going to be any better in September.”
Jackson County Judge Ann Mesle said that although she had not yet read the entire excerpt, which was released Monday as part of discovery in the case, she declined to reschedule the trial. But she said she would consider it depending on the diary entries.
“If anything I read causes me to think we need to continue it, I will let you know,” Mesle said.
Reached at his home Tuesday, Funkhouser said he and his wife did not want to comment.
Squitiro has come under lengthy criticism since Funkhouser took office in 2007 for her role in the mayor’s office, where she was a volunteer.
Bates filed her lawsuit in June 2008 against the city, Funkhouser and Squitiro, accusing Squitiro of making lewd comments and referring to Bates, who is black, as “Mammy.” She also claims she was paid less because of race and gender.
The City Council eventually passed an ordinance aimed at keeping Squitiro from serving as a volunteer in the office. With his wife banned from working at his city office, Funkhouser has held his weekly staff meetings at the downtown public library.
Councilman Bill Skaggs said Squitiro had the “right to have her personal opinion about people” and that he was aware of her feelings about council members.
“Probably none of us would like to have personal diaries published,” Skaggs said. “I knew that Gloria was disgusted with all of the council because of the volunteer ordinance.”
In the diary, Squitiro wrote that she was frustrated with City Council members, staff and others who criticized her and her husband. “The hypocrisy of the female council members makes me want to puke,” said a July 7, 2008, entry in the diary.
The diary, titled “It All Started When I Was Born,” also referred to Councilwoman Jan Marcason as “the biggest phoney on the council.”
A diary excerpt also said that Skaggs was “a moron if he thinks he can get out of this with his usual wink and nod. We know that he and (former chief of staff Ed) Wolf played a crucial role in the ‘volunteer’ ordinance.”
Referring to Bates, Squitiro wrote, “That (expletive) has another thing coming to her if she thinks she can silence me to her lies.”
Squitiro also says in several places that the discord at city hall has taken a toll on her and her family.
“I am distraught. I have never hit a single person before in my life, but I have hit Funk more times in the last 18 months than I can bare. I don’t know how he remains with me,” she wrote.