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One Bad Audit

Last week, Mayor Kay Barnes and City Councilman Chuck Eddy tried to punish City Auditor Mark Funkhouser for the crime of having his picture published in this paper. Barnes has reportedly been mad for many months at Funkhouser, who has questioned the city's debt load and its (lack of) tax-incentive policy. Rather than attack his auditing, though, Barnes and Eddy bizarrely scolded Funkhouser for his "participation in the April 20-26, 2006, Pitch profile of Stan Glazer."

The reprimand went into Funkhouser's personnel file. The auditor told The Kansas City Star it was the first such admonishment of his 30-year career. The note continued:

As you know, Mr. Glazer is an announced candidate for City office. Therefore, your agreement to take part in a "photo op" for his candidacy is totally inappropriate. If you knew in advance that a reporter/photographer was going to be present and would publish your conversation, then you stand to be in violation of the City Charter prohibition against city employees engaging in political activity.

We consulted with the City Attorney and he concurs that at best your involvement in this matter was a misjudgment and gives the appearance that you made yourself available to assist in Mr. Glazer's candidacy.

At this point, we direct readers to the accompanying photo, with the request that someone please explain how it could possibly be considered a "photo op," much less one that will actually "assist in Mr. Glazer's candidacy."

The letter went on to Funkhouser's "regrettable" remarks in the Pitch.

Under relentless goading from Glazer — who kept unsuccessfully trying to get Funkhouser to say something bad about Barnes and the City Council — here's what Funkhouser finally said he'd like to see in a mayor: "I'd want someone who can say no, because there's a lot of no to be said, and someone who can wrestle with the city's financial problems and be open and honest with the citizens on the choices we face."

The letter from Barnes and Eddy spun Funkhouser's comment: "The implication that the elected officials and professional staff of the City are not 'open and honest with the citizens on the choices we face' is an affront to everyone with whom you serve."

Er, who's not being particularly honest here? Let's just consider this an official reprimand in the personnel files of Mayor Barnes and Chuck Eddy.

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