Skip to comments.Mayor, council at odds on board appointee
Posted on 06/15/2007 3:11:51 PM PDT by MissouriConservative
The Kansas City Council registered its disapproval Thursday with Frances Semlers controversial appointment to the parks board, but Mayor Mark Funkhouser is not backing down.
In a highly unusual move, the council voted 9-3 to urge Semler to resign, or if she refuses to do so within a week, to ask the mayor to recommend her removal.
She has been the target of criticism because of her involvement with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group that opposes illegal immigration but that some view as a violent vigilante hate group.
The council resolution was a symbolic rebuke of one of Funkhousers first major acts as mayor, but it is not binding. A parks board commissioner can only be removed by the council upon the mayors recommendation.
Funkhouser said he would listen carefully to the divergent views on Semler and do what my judgment tells me to do.
Earlier, Funkhouser acknowledged that Semler offered to resign, but he rejected her offer.
I told her to hang in there, Funkhouser said, amid a growing clamor to drop her.
Semler said Thursday she was disappointed by the councils action and was frustrated by the controversy.
My main focus is the inner city. This is summer, and we need to give kids something to do, Semler said. I dont want to be divisive. I want this to go away.
Semlers appointment to the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners has caused outrage within the Hispanic, black and Jewish communities because of her membership in the Minuteman group.
About 30 people attended a rally Thursday on Avenida Cesar Chavez to urge her removal from the parks board.
Former state Rep. Paul Rojas said parks board President John Fierro the first Hispanic to hold that position had a responsibility to speak out against Semlers appointment.
But Fierro, who sat next to Funkhouser at the mayors news conference later Thursday, said he would not do so.
Ive had two conversations with Frances Semler, and Im comfortable working with her, Fierro said.
Dozens of people also called or e-mailed The Kansas City Star on Thursday to support Semlers stance against illegal immigration.
Councilwoman Beth Gottstein, however, said parks board appointees should be models for our community, and Semler would not be, especially in the view of a Latino community that has spoken out forcefully.
This is an organization that systematically preaches hate and violence, Gottstein said about the Minuteman group.
Funkhouser voted against the resolution, along with council members Deb Hermann and Bill Skaggs, who said it carried no weight. Councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks abstained, saying she has been ill and had not been able to meet Semler or research the issue.
At his news conference, Funkhouser made it clear he is not going to be bullied or pushed into asking for Semlers resignation. He said he has talked with her and is convinced she has the best interests of Kansas City parks as her priority.
Im being pushed pretty hard, and my response when Im pushed is that I generally get more resistant, he said.
Semler acknowledges her association with the Minuteman group, and she has played a role in organizing a March for America rally set for Saturday at the state Capitol in Topeka. But she has said her views on immigration have been blown out of proportion by her detractors.
Funkhouser said Semler is a 74-year-old grandmother who has been found guilty by association.
I believe her, the mayor said. I think she is a good person. I dont think she is a hateful person.
The mayor said his office had received numerous calls and messages in support of Semler, who is president of the River Forest Neighborhood Association and president of the Clay County Rose Club.
Funkhouser acknowledged, however, that he might not have made the appointment had he known it would cause such controversy. He said that he Googled all his appointments but that he did not discover Semlers association with the Minuteman organization.
A CNN interview with Semler in which she raises questions about immigration, however, comes up when Semlers name is searched on the Google Web site.
In an effort to mend fences, Funkhouser said he would meet monthly with representatives of the Hispanic community. And he said Semler, as well as all of his appointments, will remain on probation through his term as mayor. Funkhouser said he would be watching her words and actions closely.
I will not tolerate bigotry of any kind, Funkhouser said. If one of my appointees makes remarks or actions, in the course of their duties, that are inconsistent with the inclusive theme that Im trying to run, then Ill take the appropriate action. Frances Semler has not done that.
Funkhouser said he would talk with Semler about her intentions regarding Saturdays rally in Topeka.
The mayor said he probably would tweak his vetting process for making appointments and ask for the thoughts of more people. He said in the future he probably will ask people if they belong to any group that some might view as a hate group.
Funkhouser said he personally disagrees with the Minuteman group and he does not share Semlers opposition to SmartPort, a program to make Richards-Gebaur Airport an inland trading port with Mexico.
As a parks board member, shes probably not going to weigh in on that, Funkhouser said.
Thursday mornings rally was attended by representatives of the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee, the NAACP and other groups.
The Rev. Nelson Thompson said that the Minuteman group has a history of violence, terrorism and hate and that Semlers appointment was a clear lapse of judgment by the mayor.
Some attendees quoted purported members of the group advocating shooting illegal aliens. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers the Minuteman group to be a nativist extremist organization, meaning that they target individual immigrants rather than immigration policies. But it does not label the Minuteman group a hate group.
The Minuteman Web site says it has no tolerance for racism or bigotry, but its mission is to secure U.S. borders against unlawful and unauthorized entry. Its members voluntarily patrol the border with Mexico and are impatient to build a fence.
“The Rev. Nelson Thompson said that the Minuteman group has a history of violence, terrorism and hate and that Semlers appointment was a clear lapse of judgment by the mayor. “
Don’t these types ever get tired of repeating the same old thing about so many different groups that don’t think the way they do?
There needs to be some standards about who can use the title "Reverend". I know it's not an official title, but it is way overused and gives credibility to jerks. If a newspaper ever quotes me, I will demand they precede my name by "Sir" or "The Honorable".
It’s good to be the King. ;-)
These days I understand that one can get the title of Reverend by mail order. It seems to have lost its meaning in today’s world.
I would like for the Rev. to name an act of violence or terrorism by the MCDC which is what the lady belonged to.
It goes back to my original comment. They just pull these words from a playbook and paste them on anyone that does not agree with them. It’s a typical democrat tactic. If they say it often enough, then people believe that it is true because some people are too ignorant to do their own research.
The mayor is not going to ask her to resign, which is a good thing. I sent him a comment requesting that he ignore the council’s bluster and keep her on the board. It’s no wonder this city is going you know where in a handbasket.
“Funkhouser said he would meet monthly with representatives of the Hispanic community”
I feel bad for this woman but kowtowing to these race hustlers is the exact wrong move. I’d tell them to stick it!
This old lady isn't in the KKK, but she will be treated that way. Rev. "Fuzzy" Thompson, (His nickname) is a local leader of NAACP etc. and is bulletproof no matter how wrong he is or overthetop his comments are as long as he appears to be giving racist whitey hell.
That is not right but it works that way.
Unfortunately, these situations usually don’t end well. The Rat thugs use their “veto power” quite ruthlessly, and the targets of this usually aren’t tough enough to take the heat.
But maybe the mayor and Ms. Stemler will have the guts to stand firm. We need to tell them we support them.
“That is not right but it works that way.”
Very true. It used be a man was known by his word. If that word proved false, then it was known that the man was a liar. Now, no one cares if it’s false or not, as long as it achieves their politcal goals. I’ve always hated the saying “the end justifies the means” but in today’s society, it’s the way things are done.
“But maybe the mayor and Ms. Stemler will have the guts to stand firm. We need to tell them we support them.”
So far she has said that she won’t resign and the mayor has stated that he won’t ask her to do it. It’s a good thing the council’s resolution is powerless. they do enough damage with the power that they have.