I have known Alvin for almost as long as I have lived in Kansas City, and I think the world of him. I met him years ago in the trauma bay of one of our inner city emergency rooms after a drug-related multiple shooting. Alvin is a blessing on this city and in my opinion he is the Citizen of the Year every year. He has served this city for over thirty years, first as a police officer. He was the Mayor Pro Tem for Kay Barnes and he is the founder of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime. He is a tireless example of everything that is right with my city, my party and my community.
And I failed him.
I made the biggest political mistake of my life when I supported Mark Funkhouser for Mayor. I should have thrown my support to the man I knew. But I wanted a stop put to the TIF madness that did get a bit out of control during the Barnes administration. I have apologized to him in person and he has graciously forgiven me, but this is the kind of error in judgment that requires public contrition.
In the days after the 2006 midterms, I turned my attention to the upcoming municipal elections, and I wrote a post at my original blog (it seems to have disappeared into the ether or I would link it) calling for him to run, and stating unequivocally that if he didn’t run, we should draft him.
He had been the voice of reason and a steady hand during his 18 years as city auditor, and had locked horns with Mayor Barnes over the TIF issue. I thought he would rein them in and use them wisely to spur development and community betterment on the east side, and his track record as auditor inspired confidence that he would be the right person to navigate us through some rough financial waters.
That is what I supported and voted for. That is not what I got. What I got was a three ring circus that is nothing short of a national embarrassment. People from Arkansas are making jokes about how the Funkhousers make the Palins look classy!
He managed to balance the books for this city of 450,000 and do his job as auditor for eighteen years without his wife at his side. Councilman Ed Ford was quoted in the national media saying “I knew Mark for almost 18 years as auditor and didn’t even know he was married. It’s not like he needed his wife when he was auditor. I think we were all surprised that he felt she was so indispensable once he became mayor.” Frankly, anything that gives Ed Ford and the chuckleheads ion the city council that sort of attention is a sin against nature.
I’m surprised, too.
It isn’t like she is politically savvy.
Let me tell you about my one interaction with her. Some of you may be aware of a hissy-fit I threw a year and a half ago that resulted in some signs taken down from Metro buses. I contacted the Mayor’s office to inform them that the signs were up and needed to come down, that the law had been struck down, and they might be in violation of federal civil rights laws.
The response that I got from Ms. Squitiro surprised me with it’s naivety, and I knew she was playing out of her league. Her response was not one that indicated she even understood what I was talking about. Instead, she was surprised that the ads were placed, because when she contacted the Metro offices to inquire about placing ads on buses during the campaign, she was told that they didn’t do political ads. It struck me that she didn’t see the distinction between candidate ads and public service announcements.
Trivial, I know, but it was an early warning to a political junkie that she was out of her element. This was before the Bates lawsuit and before the flap over her parking her plump little butt outside the door of his office and appointing herself the gatekeeper and the anti-nepotism ordinance that the council passed to keep her out of the office and before Funk started working from home to stave off the separation anxiety.
The endless chain of distractions has undermined the entire administration and damaged the image of the city. We have high standards for our mayors. We elect men like Emanuel Cleaver and Richard Berkley and Charles Wheeler and honor them by naming major streets, parks and airports after them. Something tells me that we aren’t going to be similarly lauding the Funk any time soon.