Frances Semler, the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners appointee whose membership in the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps caused a political controversy for Mayor Mark Funkhouser, has resigned.
In a statement faxed to area media outlets, including The Kansas City Star, Semler writes “ENOUGH, I am resigning.” In the letter she cites repeated and ongoing personal attacks against her character as a reason, and blasts her most vocal opponents and levels her own criticisms at Kansas City Police Chief Jim Corwin and unnamed City Council members, saying some on the council have made “vicious, false and irresponsible claims about me.”
Also apparently, in recent days, Semler has taken issue with comments made in published reports by Mayor Mark Funkhouser and his wife, Gloria Squitiro.
“I do believe I have been a positive asset. There are many projects I eagerly wanted to pursue,” Semler writes. But after reading quotes from Funkhouser in the The Star last week, “I feel BETRAYED.”
Semler could not be reached Tuesday morning for comment.
Funkhouser in June appointed Semler, a neighborhood association president, to be the sole Northland representative on the five-member park board.
The appointment triggered sharp protests from several minority organizations, including the National Council of La Raza, In October, of La Raza voted to pull its convention from Kansas City, at a projected loss of $5 million, because of Semler’s connection to the Minutemen, a divisive group that takes a hardline stance on immigration issues.
On Jan. 15, the leader if the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said that the SCLC had decided to move it’s convention from Kansas City to New Orleans and would call for a boycott of Kansas City if Semler was not removed from the park board.
Rita Valenciano, head of the local Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, said Semler’s decision to step down was a welcome outcome. But she, added, she would have preferred if the mayor had taken action himself.
Semler had offered to resign last year when controversy first erupted over her appointment, but Funkhouser declined the notion and publicly backed her appointment.
“It’s something that should have been taken care of in the very beginning,” she said. “It was a lack of leadership … my concern is if the mayor is going to accept her resignation.”
Before launching into her criticisms of city officials, Semler writes “as a United States citizen I have always felt able to express my views freely. Out of respect for the Mayor, I have allowed my voice to be stilled. No longer.”
While referring to illegal immigration as a “well-organized invasion of illegals,” she defends the Minutemen as an unjustly attacked group dedicated to the enforcement of immigration laws.
John Shultz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Text of the Semler resignation letter:
ENOUGH, I am resigning.
Any individual or organization who speaks with concern of the impact of the well-organized invasion of illegals in this country is subjected to being called terms such as bigot or racist. Many citizens are reluctant to do so for fear of being subjected to the destruction of their character as I have been.
As a United States citizen I have always felt able to express my views freely. Out of respect for the Mayor, I have allowed my voice to be stilled. No longer
Yes, as a member, I have associated with men and women members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. I have found them to be dedicated to the belief that laws must be respected and enforced. Accusations against this organization have been unfounded and unjust. Members advocate for protection of all borders and enforcement of our laws. A report by the American Legion includes these same concerns.
The controversy regarding my membership in MCDC was fueled by Kansas City Star reporters and the President of the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, Rita Valenciano. John Fierro, President of the Kansas City Park Board, has been connected with this same group. This Coalition is associated with La Raza, led by Janet Murguia, who was pictured on the front page of the Kansas City Star with fist raised. Are these paid positions and are our tax monies involved? Reverend Charles Steele Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has threatened to “shut” the city down. It has been my experience that many of those supporting illegals are immigration lawyers, also paid with taxpayer funds.
Members of the City Council of Kansas City have made vicious, false, and irresponsible claims about me. One member has publicly, with arrogance, expressed her support for “open borders.”
Have the 12 to 20 million illegals in this country made an impact on the economy of Kansas City? Estimates are as high as 40% unemployment in some areas of this city. The invasion of illegals willing to take low wages for long hours has resulted in the income of working men and women being depressed here and nationwide.
Yet, we have a police chief who has publicly boasted about the protection of illegals at the Westside Can Center, staffed by Linda Callon. Chief Corwin spoke to this at a forum held at Penn Valley Community College sponsored by Missouri State Legislators. He was challenged by State Representative Gary Dusenberg for not upholding the law as he had pledged to do. Dusenberg is a former Missouri State Highway Patrolman. Kansas City is not designated officially as a “sanctuary city,” but it is.
It was with great enthusiasm that I accepted the responsibilities of the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Board. I do believe I have been a positive asset. There are many projects I eagerly wanted to pursue, but after reading the Mike Hendricks article in the January 17, 2008, issue o the Kansas City Star quoting the Mayor and the untrue statements made by Gloris[sic] Squitiro in a recent January publication of the Kansas City Hispanic News, I feel BETRAYED.