I saw it as a total distraction from anything-more-urgent city measures- the Councilperson Jan Marcason-led silly city ordinance regarding municipal "volunteers (Mrs. Funkhouser)."
15 September 2008
Since this newsletter’s sole purpose is to keep our friends and supporters in the loop of the inner happenings in the Mayor’s office, Funk and I want to share with you our view of the events that occurred at City Hall this summer.
Months ago, the Mayor was disappointed when some of his fellow council members did not come to his defense after a former mayoral staffer filed an unfounded lawsuit against him. The allegations were especially disturbing to the Mayor because they were made by 15-year friend of his family who worked in his office for a mere six months before filing her first discrimination complaint against him.
Instead of coming to his defense, councilwoman Jan Marcason chose to exact punishment before the Mayor had a chance to defend himself in court. She did this by authoring a “volunteer” ordinance, which she kept from the Mayor’s eyes until a few minutes before she brought it to legislative session a few weeks back. It was clear to Funk that the real intent of the ordinance was to dictate to him how he runs his office as it only targeted his wife. But when he spoke this truth, he was repeatedly told that the ordinance affected every single one of the thousands of volunteers within the city’s system. At a business session, another councilwoman responded to the Mayor’s concerns by saying that the city council would not “be so small” as to pass a law that targets one individual.
In legislative session last Thursday, Marcason stated that the volunteer ordinance was “good policy, protecting both the city and volunteers from liability and conflicts of interest.” But when questioned by the Mayor, she admitted that the only volunteer that she believed would be affected by the ordinance was his wife.
If the ordinance becomes law, Kansas City will be the only city in the United States to try to ban its First Lady from the Mayor’s Office.
Further, the ordinance states that any elected official who fails to comply with Marcason’s ordinance would be subject to a municipal violation, which could mean a jail sentence of 180 days.
This overreaching action reminds Funk of one of the first lessons taught in kindergarten: keep your hands to yourself and your eyes on your own paper. With this ordinance, the City Council is trying to dictate how the Mayor runs his own office
Just to be clear: I do not “volunteer” for the City of Kansas City. The title of First Lady was handed to me the moment that my husband was elected Mayor. My only role in his office has been to serve my husband as his personal assistant, so that he can better serve the residents of our city.
The hours of the Mayor are long. During the campaign, Funk and I were naïve when we thought that our close-knit family could carry on as usual after Funk was elected Mayor. When the reality of the time required for Funk to do this job well sunk in, we didn’t complain. Instead, we simply looked for ways that Funk could do this new job justice, and still remain true to the family man that he has always been. The way that we found works best for both the City and for our family was to have the two of us roll up our sleeves and put in the needed hours together.
While the Mayor’s hours are long, Funk knows exactly how to get the job done. His Policy Agenda is taken directly from his 18 years of work while serving as the City Auditor. And while my hours are long as well, I too know exactly how to get my job done as I’ve got 30 years of experience being married to him.
Given these facts, when the ordinance was first under consideration the Mayor tried to reassure the council about my specific role in the office by offering them a written description that he wrote that describes my duties as the First Lady. You will find that description below.
This catches you up on the details from this summer. We will keep you informed about what Funk decides to do next regarding this ordinance. In the meantime, Funk wants you to know that he will continue putting in the time that it takes to turn this city around. Even with the added burden of this ordinance, Funk has never stopped working on the real issues that matter to you the most: streets, codes, cops and kids.
He also wants you to know that he is not going to let this situation stop him from making good on the olive branch that he extended to the council last Thursday when he asked them to stand with him and be a unified council.
Funk is aware that this type of turmoil is not only normal, but is to be expected any time great changes are taking place. Because of this knowledge, he is not discouraged and he hopes that you aren’t either. He could choose to sit down and shut up. That might make a little of this ugliness go away. But if he did that, the opportunity for great changes would also go away.
The good news is that Funk has already gotten much accomplished – the foundation has been laid for many of the changes that both you and he want to see come to fruition. Even with the darkness that surrounds the intent of this ordinance, it is an exciting time for Kansas City. Great things are being accomplished rapidly. With the coming together of this council, there will be no end to the things that can move forward in our city.
Thank you for hanging in there with us. Thank you, too, for all the love, prayers and support that you have showered our family with. We couldn’t have gotten by without it. As always, Funk promises to stay true to you.
The Duties of the First Lady
The First Lady does the following things for me so that I can do other duties: •Write special thank you notes and letters on behalf of the Mayor. •Write a weekly newsletter based on activities in the office. •Answer the email generated from the newsletter. •Make phone calls when assigned by the Mayor. •Accompany the Mayor to meetings, functions and social events when requested •Work on special projects such as: the education summit, youth programs, Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, women and children’s issues, and revitalization of the urban core. •Consult with the Communication Team on message and public relations. •Facilitate communication between the Mayor and his staff.
The First Lady does not: •Supervise staff. •Hire staff. •Make decisions on behalf of the office. •Handle confidential materials.
The next Town Hall Meeting:
Marlborough Community Center, 8200 Paseo Host: Marlborough Neighborhood Association Wednesday, September 17, 6 p.m.
Marlborough Community Center, 8200 Paseo
Host: Marlborough Neighborhood Association
You can respond by email to this newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org.