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The Ballad of Funkhouser Should End in Resignation
Mark Funkhouser
Credit:  Michael McClure

Having once been a reporter covering the machinations of City Hall in Kansas City, Mo., I know it can be pretty exciting.

Back then it was a corrupt City Council, with a new councilmember being hauled off to jail every week. We used to joke in the newsroom that they should construct a tunnel underneath the park between City Hall and the Federal Courthouse to make it easier on everyone.

It seems that Mayor Mark Funkhouser is intent on writing his own history as one of the most controversial least liked and least effective mayors ever to hold office.

But as much as writers like myself love to watch a train wreck or a pile up at the Kansas Speedway—the Ballad Mark of “Funky” Funkhouser and his entourage of one—must have an end; resignation.

A week doesn’t seem to go by without the mayor being sued or saying something so asinine that it’s hard to believe that anyone ever voted for this guy. It’s seems rather unlikely anyone will again, as he has decided to change political philosophies and according to reports raised only $300 at the end of last year for a possible re-election in 2011.

Any re-election is highly doubtful considering the swirl of controversy that seems to follow this guy, like that dust cloud around the Peanuts’ Pigpen. He is so loathed that someone even started a Facebook page entitled “Funkhouser Sucks” and a petition was circulated for his recall.

Probably the worst part of all of this is that average residents are the ones who must suffer from unplowed streets, unfunded mandates, backroom deals and cuts to essential services. It would be funny, if it were a joke. Unfortunately it is not.

The most ridiculous utterance to come out of the Mayor’s mouth was his idea for the repeal of the City’s earnings tax, which represents 40 percent of the City’s annual revenue. The City is already facing millions of dollars in debt and bills it can’t pay, and its leader decides it would be a good time to consider getting rid of one of its largest sources of revenue. This is not only stupid, it is dangerous to the safety and well being of the residents of Kansas City.

The position of Mayor holds great sway over the City Council and over the years has again become too powerful. That is why KCMO has a City Manager form of government—designed to restrict the power of the office. This unchecked power has been used to violate the City Charter, unjustly fire City employees and spread fear and intimidation throughout City Hall.

The end around firing of Wayne Cauthen, the previous City Manager, is another example of local politicians and their overlords making a mockery of constitutional and representative government. Writers like myself might find it to be great fodder for stories, but sadly it will cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay off a guy who doesn’t even work at City Hall anymore.

Another lawsuit by former City worker has been filed against the Mayor (i.e. the City), which probably will cost the City many hours defending itself and most likely end with a six-figure settlement for the plaintiff. At least the lawyers at City Hall will have some job security over the coming months.

If Kansas City Missouri ever wants to compete with St. Louis or even Louisville, Kentucky, then this sad squeaky song must come to an end. Resignation, not recall, is the answer.

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Added: January 15, 2010. 06:11 PM CDT
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