winning the battle, losing the war / by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser continues to baffle the pundits, the council, and the public. Last week, he filed a lawsuit against the city asking a Jackson County judge to overturn a portion a recent city ordinance that banned family members from serving as volunteers for city staff. The ban doesn't prevent the family members from occassionally volunteering for city staff, just from volunteering ad infinitum with the city.

The ad infinitum part was the problem with the mayor's wife, Gloria Squitiro, who was seen by many as holding the symbolic key-to-the-city and anyone who wanted through the door, had to first get past her. That the mayor and his wife couldn't see that the public resented this setup is hard to understand given his pre-election statements proclaiming "once elected, if the public calls out my errors, I will listen and respond". How many ways must one say, this isn't what we (the public) voted for when we elected you, before you begin to understand? The public has been screaming over this issue for a year now and the mayor still doesn't get the fact that he LOST this political battle. It's time to move on with the agenda of the city and the people.

In many ways, the mayor is correct. We really don't need laws that are written to address one person, one family. But more importantly the mayor is dead wrong on the political issue, which in this instance happens to be larger than the law. The council and the people (at whose discretion the mayor serves) have overwhelmingly spoken. There is no inherent aspect of being Mayor of Kansas City that allows one to have their spouse as the office gatekeeper. And this is a huge problem for the mayor and the city because publically he's getting beat up one side and down the other and still, still, he refuses to relent. This is a politcal loss being taken by the mayor as a personal one, and if the mayor wants to lead, he needs to get on with the job of leading. Intractability isn't a leadership quality.

Politically, it hard to imagine a politician who's been more adept at shooting himself in the foot. In this latest pot-shot, the mayor has lost most of his toes on his right foot and seems to be wobbling at the helm and in danger of falling over on his head. By filing this suit, the mayor continues to keep this black-eye issue in the news where it only serve to continue to diminish his ability to work with the council, the citizens, and the media. But more importantly, it prevents the mayor from showing true leadership. That really is the mayor's job, not to run the city (the city manager does that) but to lead the city forward.

Case in point. Light rail. This was an issue the mayor decided to lead on, and it went down to overwhelming defeat. Why? In Part, because people don't think the mayor responds to their needs, so why should they listen to him? It is hard to lead when you continue to alienate. Yes, the ordinance was, in part, politically motivated, but understanding when you've lost the battle and moving forward is where agile politicians shine battle. The mayor continues to be awkward and awkwardness is not helping the city in a tough time.

Remember the slogan? A CITY THAT WORKS. A good slogan, but the problem here, is that this isn't working. Get over it. Move on up. And get back to work.