When my husband took office in May, 2007, he was no stranger to politics or to dealing with the media, since before becoming mayor he had been the City Auditor for Kansas City, Mo.
As auditor, it was his job to ensure city departments ran efficiently and effectively, and produced the best possible outcome for residents. That included making sure tax dollars were spent wisely. Sound simple? For him, the actual work was easy. The hard part was navigating his audit findings through the contentious 13-member mayor and council. With council egos bigger than the sun, and my husband’s reports viewed as kryptonite, it was no small task getting the council to properly serve constituents.
But Funk had the political savvy to prod the council away from its self-indulgent natural inclination, and he was also successful within his profession, finessing long overdue audit standard changes on a national level.
His work garnered him respect among colleagues and residents, and especially with the media. The local newspaper, the Kansas City Star, lauded him for being a “fearless straight shooter,” and frequently held him up as the rare public servant who never backed down from doing right – not even in the face of council threats. Once, they even saved his job.
Given that 18-year history is why our heads spun when my husband’s cell phone rang at 2:30 in the morning, just a few hours after his election night win. We had not even backed out of the parking lot from his watch party venue yet. As it turned out, this was just the first of many times the Kansas City Star would try to dictate to the new mayor how he should run the city.
Why the Star thought my husband would alter the platform on which he ran (when not giving in to bullying was the reason it supported him as the city auditor and the very reason they endorsed him for mayor) is the story told in the second book, “Hiding Behind Nice.” For now, just take my word for it, the paper applied great pressure to make Funk abide its agenda instead of his own, and it didn’t stop for the entire four years he was in office. But better than taking the word of a stranger, please click on the List of Selected Media and draw your own conclusion.
The 537 Selected Media Pieces written about me (at the time, reading them made me feel as if I were living inside a funhouse) caused a predictable response inside my real house. It was clear when I opened the newspaper for the day, as “What the hell!” were the words that always followed that action. And my next refrain was always, “I don’t frigging believe this!” Or at least this was the case until I canceled my subscription to the newspaper.