“The Mayor has the prostate of a 30 year old!”
December 5, 2008 Leave a comment
Here’s a story that’s been making the rounds lately: “Who runs Kansas City, the mayor or his wife?”
The people of Kansas City thought they were getting a straight-shooter with financial smarts as their new mayor. What they got, critics say, is a henpecked husband who needs his wife to tell him what to do.
In an era when politicians get in trouble for infidelity, Mayor Mark Funkhouser finds himself under fire for his devotion to his wife, a sharp-elbowed New Yorker whose role as his closest adviser has locals wondering who’s really running this city of 450,000.
“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,” said City Councilman Ed Ford, a leading critic of Funkhouser and his wife, Gloria Squitiro. “I think we were all surprised that he felt she was so indispensable once he became mayor.”
We first heard of The Funk and his Svengali wife via a story that NPR ran a few months ago that adds a lot of entertaining deets:
At first blush, Funkhouser and Squitiro seem kind of an odd couple. He’s extremely tall — 6 foot 8 inches — bony and gruff. He can come off as cold and socially stiff — like Spock from Star Trek, only gray-haired and even more stern.
Squitiro describes herself as a “feisty, tiny, little Italian broad.” She’s open, effusive and earthy. Before jumping into politics last year, she had been a birthing coach who has worked with more than 500 couples.
When Funkhouser ran for mayor, Squitiro jumped in to manage — and humanize — the campaign. They beat the local business and political establishment.
And when Mayor Funkhouser moved into City Hall, Squitiro grabbed a tiny cubical [sic] right outside his door. Squitiro says that, after 30 years together, she knows exactly how Funkhouser thinks. So when people in the office have questions for the mayor — and he’s busy — they can just ask her.
Yael Abouhalkah, a columnist with The Kansas City Star, says city residents don’t need a gatekeeper in the mayor’s office.
Abouhalkah backed Funkhouser in last year’s election, but he didn’t figure on Squitiro’s huge role in the administration.
“She is irritating. She is outspoken. I think the mayor’s even admitted that she can be brash. And, yes, some council members don’t like that,” Abouhalkah says.
Indeed, all 12 of them voted for an ordinance that would stop Squitiro from volunteering in the mayor’s office.
Councilwoman Jan Marcason sponsored it.
“When a spouse or someone closely related to you is working for you, your judgment is clouded by your feelings for them, and so there’s a lack of accountability,” Marcason says.
The Mayor was NOT amenable to this ordinance, and in response he’s suing the city council and conducting business out of his home.
It turns out that the Council’s objections aren’t simply on a matter of principle, but because Ms. Squitiro is offending a LOT of people around KC with her “feistiness.”
Known to supporters as “The Funk,” the 6-foot-8 Funkhouser is a former city auditor who got elected mayor on his fiscal prowess and his promises to pay more attention to poor neighborhoods and stop pampering developers. Squitiro is a former birthing coach who orchestrated her husband’s run for City Hall after the couple fired his campaign managers.
“The idea that once we won the prize, I was going to dump her and say, ‘See you, honey, in four years. Go on back home and bake cookies, fold some laundry. I’ll be there when I get there,’ is absurd,” he said.
But Squitiro quickly gained a reputation as a controlling influence on the mayor and a divisive and meddlesome figure at City Hall. Funkhouser’s chief of staff, Ed Wolf, resigned earlier this fall, complaining, “It was kind of like having your mother-in-law go along on your honeymoon.”
As for the allegations in the lawsuit, the couple’s lawyers said that Squitiro routinely gave affectionate nicknames to staffers and that the word “Mammy” came from Squitiro’s adding an “e” sound to the word “Ma’am.” In a sworn statement, Squitiro acknowledged making sexual references but insisted they were jokes.
The episodes have been part of a bumpy 18 months for Funkhouser.
He was criticized for accepting free use of a hybrid car from a local Honda dealership. He unknowingly appointed a member of the Minutemen, an anti-illegal immigration group, to the city parks board, prompting civil rights organizations to pull their conventions from Kansas City.
And last winter, his wife wrote a holiday letter to friends recounting in detail the mayor’s prostate exam. The letter was leaked to the Star and made the rounds on the Internet.
Here’s a link to a PDF of the letter, courtesy of NPR; however, because we love you so much (and because this is simply hilarious), we’ve transcribed Ms. Squitiro’s Christmas-letter account of the Mayor’s prostate exam for your reading pleasure.
“Believe it or not, but winning the election wasn’t the best thing that happened to Funk this year…
Poor Funk didn’t know what a physical [exam] entailed once you passed age 50, but I did, and I could hardly wait…It was only when the nurse told Funk to take everything off but his socks that I saw Funk get an inkling of what might be coming. The exam took forever and just when Funk thought he escaped what had quickly become his worst nightmare, the doctor ordered him to roll over on his side. I waited in gleeful anticipation as I watched the doctor’s sausage-sized fingers go up under the sheet. Trust me, it wasn’t too hard to tell when the doctor hit his mark as it was at the exact same moment that I saw Funk’s eyes bulge out of his head.
Sadly for me, my sadistic laughter was very short-lived. His eyes hadn’t even had the time to go back into his sockets before I heard the doctor announce to the world that the Mayor had the prostate of a 30 year-old. It was upon hearing these words that I knew payback would be swift and cruel for me. Sure enough, it was. Ever since then Funk has been strutting around he house like he’s a young bull in the ring and whenever he happens to catch a glimpse of me, it’s as if he’s seeing the Matador’s red cape for the very first time. I tell you, it isn’t pretty over at the Funkhouser house right now.”
She also adds, incredibly, “I must say, my little Funky sure does look sexy when taking the podium at those town hall meetings.”
All of which surely has the people of Kansas City humming that Brothers Johnson classic: