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Goodbye, Sweet Hitmen

The new regime means a retirement of the political operatives we've come to know so well.

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Even before Mark Funkhouser is sworn in as the city's next mayor, it's clear that there are a few things he hates: potholes, tax breaks for wealthy developers, low door frames.

Oh, and Steve Glorioso. The aide to outgoing Mayor Kay Barnes has drawn the ire of Funkhouser, who has labeled Glorioso and his cronies as political hitmen. In other words, these might be dark times ahead for the city's political bulldogs.

The Department of Burnt Ends caught up with Glorioso as he was about to slink his way back home to Mordor.

DBE: You're no fan of Mark Funkhouser. How will he do as mayor?

Glorioso: Having been around mayors and governors and one president, I always thought I knew exactly what it was like to be the mayor and how the office operates. When Mayor Barnes — after I worked on her re-election campaign — invited me to come down and work in the office for four years, I was quite taken aback. Mayor Funkhouser will feel his way along. He knows city government, but he doesn't know the political office. You have to get a lot of people to agree to go along with you.

What do you think about businesses like Lil' Jake's getting pushed out for the "progress" of downtown?

That's what happens. There were also a lot of surface parking lots across from where the Cordish entertainment district is going. There were a lot of haunted houses and, gee, they have to go, too. But you have to make choices, and the choice was for a new downtown. One of the victims of that were some of the businesses, the haunted house and the barbecue joint.

We've called you Darth Vader and the prince of darkness before in the paper.

No, that was Pat Gray. I've never been called that.

Oh, OK. Well, even people who don't like you have defended you as not doing the illegal stuff. What do you think of the unsigned fliers that went out in this mayoral race?

I abhor anonymous anything — the anonymous Web sites that pop up, the anonymous mailings. In fact, the mayor filed an ethics complaint on behalf of the people of Kansas City. In my opinion, if the media would do a better job in covering elections, it would keep some political consultants from doing anonymous mailers.

Seems like every couple of months, you're in some faraway land. Last time, was it Azerbaijan?

No, Albania.

What are you doing?

I flew on a jet plane in 1954, which was a big deal at that time. When I graduated from college, I spent a lot of time traveling around the world. So that led to a lot of travel. At least 11 times, I have been an election observer. My most favorite was in the Ukraine during the Orange Revolution. When Mark Funkhouser used that as his [campaign color], I bet there aren't 400 people in the city who immediately understood what that was. I was there for almost two months. I met [Ukrainian President] Viktor Yushchenko, who was poisoned by Russian agents.

And just for the record, you had nothing to do with that, right?

No, I did not. In fact, by the time I got there, he had already been poisoned.

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