Politics & Government

What's news in K.C.? A few pages from the mayor's wife's diary

KANSAS CITY — A 2008 journal kept by Gloria Squitiro shows that the mayor's wife was deeply upset with City Council members, city staff, the media and even her husband.

The diary was one of two disclosures Monday in the long-running lawsuit filed against the city, Mayor Mark Funkhouser and Squitiro by former mayoral aide Ruth Bates.

In a deposition, also made public Monday, former mayoral staffer Shawn Pierce testified that Squitiro had created a troubling office atmosphere and made raunchy sexual comments about co-workers and others. But Pierce also said that he had not heard the mayor make such comments.

Squitiro’s 35-page diary — titled “It All Started When I Was Born: Book Part Two” — was produced during the discovery process in Bates’ lawsuit. City Council members received a copy Monday.

Through a spokesman, Squitiro and Funkhouser declined to comment.

The diary documents Squitiro’s reactions, sprinkled with profanity, to a series of events between July 2008 and early January of this year. It reflects her anguish and anger over criticism.

At the time, Squitiro’s role in the mayor’s office was becoming a political issue. Eventually, the council passed an ordinance — over Funkhouser’s veto — that prohibited volunteers like Squitiro from working regularly in city offices. Funkhouser has sued the city to overturn the ordinance.

Squitiro records her reaction while discussing the ordinance with her daughter. “I told her that I was bitter and angry and that I couldn’t believe that I was living in this backward, Podunk city,” she wrote.

Squitiro criticizes several council members by name in the diary.

“She’s desperate for approval and attention, yet she’s a joke in the eyes of most,” Squitiro writes about Councilwoman Beth Gottstein.

On Sept. 2, 2008: “I despise Jan Marcason with a vigor and energy that knows no bounds.”

On Oct. 23, writing about Councilman Bill Skaggs: “This guy is a moron if he thinks he can get out of this with his usual wink and nod.”

July 7: “The hypocrisy of the female council members makes me want to puke.”

Skaggs and Gottstein could not be reached for comment. Marcason declined to comment.

The disclosure of Squitiro’s views about her husband’s council colleagues — and staff members, board appointees and others — come at a time when relations between the mayor and council are strained.

Councilwoman Cindy Circo said she was out of town and had not seen a copy of Squitiro’s diary. When told of its contents, she said she would not let Squitiro’s commentary affect how she did her job.

“How do you combat that?” Circo said, responding to Squitiro’s journal entry about her.

The Kansas City Star also comes in for criticism in the diary.

“The Star knows no bounds of immorality,” Squitiro wrote.

And her husband is sometimes idolized and sometimes rebuked in the diary.

Recounting a dinner in which she was not invited to share a seat at the head table with her husband, she writes: “These macho men had just slapped the Mayor’s wife in the face. … The worst part was that I knew that my husband hadn’t even noticed the insult.”

The journal also reflects Squitiro’s frustration over criticism of herself and her husband, the long hours needed for the job, and the potential effect of city politics on her marriage and family.

“The utter anger and viciousness that some people feel free to express to someone that they’ve never met is hard to get used to,” she writes. “It enters my soul, though I know that it shouldn’t. I need to find a way to protect me from others pain.”

In December 2008: “It amazes me how many people have come to tell me what to do; yet none have come to offer compassion, understanding, or empathy. Where is everyone?”

Funkhouser’s attorney, Jim Wirkin, said he was concerned that the publicity created by the diary might delay the trial, scheduled to begin July 27, because it would make it difficult to obtain a fair trial. He said he didn’t think the diary should be made public.

Pierce’s deposition is the final one before the Bates trial begins. Squitiro’s insurance company has settled with Bates, but Funkhouser and the city remain as defendants.

Pierce worked for about 18 months in the office before Funkhouser fired him.

In the deposition, he said he was hired for less money than Bates, who has sued claiming discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Squitiro, the city and Funkhouser have denied her allegations.

Pierce later was named acting office manager, receiving what Bates made. After she left the office, his pay was boosted by $14,000.

Pierce stated the office was tense. “You could just feel the discord among staff and stuff and it was so thick you could cut it with a knife,” he said.

When he became acting office manager, he had a meeting with the mayor and Ed Wolf, then the mayor’s chief of staff. According to the deposition, the mayor said to him: “You know the situation in the office.”

Pierce said he replied: “I understand if momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy.”

Pierce said raunchy sexual comments were made about city employees and elected officials outside the mayor’s office.

At one point, Squitiro rudely joked that a council member was having sex with his aide, according to the deposition.

Squitiro testified in an earlier separate deposition that she sometimes used innocent sexual innuendo as humor in the mayor’s office. She has insisted, as has the mayor, that she never made racial or sexual slurs.

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