KCUR News
1:50 am
Fri August 7, 2009

Council Revives Volunteer Limits Ordinance

Kansas City, MO – The battle over the volunteer duty of the wife of Kansas City's mayor is on again. The city council passed a revision of the volunteer ordinance that sponsor Ed Ford said addressed the points raised by a judge that declared the original ordinance unconstitutional last week.

Specifically, Ford's changes expand the limits on family members volunteering to include appointed officials and city employees, and define the "regular volunteer work" the first ordinance prohibited as anything over ten hours per month.

Bill Skaggs and Deb Herman joined the mayor in discouraging the council from rushing the ordinance through. Hermann told her colleagues: "This sets us up that soon we will be voting on 'are we banning the mayor's wife? Are we banning someone else's family member?' It not only continues the fight today: it continues the fight into the future, and I would implore of my colleagues that our citizens expect us to be working on the business of the city." A 9 to 3 vote ended their efforts.

Mayor Funkhouser seemed to imply that he will once again sue the city over the new ordinance. He said the ordinance is "a violation of civil rights," adding, "I would defend the civil rights of you and of anybody in the community. And I will do so in this case."

As for his wife's future role in his administration, the mayor said, "She has been a vital player in my office. She continues to be a vital player in my office. She will be a vital player in my office going forward."

The original ordinance was passed after a mayor's office employee sued the city over remarks the mayor's wife allegedly made. A judge declared it unconstitutionally vague in definitions and directed against specific individuals.