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.