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Unprecedented: Mayor Funk is Censured

Dedicated to the sunshine of truth,

the moonshine of meeting deadlines,

and the starshine of Victoria.

8661 Deer Run Dr. * Victoria

952-443-2351

The Victoria GAZETTE

Victoriaís Corner Bar.† Nightly Specials and Menus.† 952-443-9944

by Sue Orsen

The Victoria Gazette

†††††††† It is unprecedented in the history of Victoria that a mayor of Victoria has been censured.† Equally unprecedented in the history of Victoria, a mayor of Victoria has been censured with consequences.†

†††††††† It happened on Monday evening, August 14th, 2017, during the regularly scheduled city council meeting.† Like nearly all city council meetings since January 2017, it was not pretty.† It is the ugliest time in the history of Victoria, that a sitting mayor brought himself to such public humiliation.† It took three years for Thomas C. Funk to get elected to office and then only seven months to be publicly and formally censured by the Victoria City Council.

†††††††† What does censure mean?† Every source of definition states more or less the same thing:† It is a formal, public reprimand for an infraction or violation†† It is taken by a deliberative body against members whose actions or behaviors run counter to the group's acceptable standards for individual behavior.† It is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism.† It is a level of punishment for violation of ethics.† It is a public reprimand for inappropriate conduct or voting behavior.† It is a group condemnation of a group member.

†††††††† In other words, it is more than a slap in the face or a rap on the knuckles with a ruler.† It is a public dressing down.

†††††††† Consequences imposed by the second motion that night at the Victoria City Council meeting stipulated that keys and security codes at City Hall be changed so that Mayor Funk does not have easy access.† He is prohibited from using City of Victoria letterhead stationery.† He is no longer the official mayoral participant at outside functions.† There is a time span of nine months, beginning immediately, placed on the consequences.

†††††††† The two historical motions were made by Councilmember Tom Vogt who said Victoria is facing an "intolerable situation" and the mayor's actions are "completely uncalled for and unprofessional."† He then read, with passion and conviction, the following statement directly to Mayor Funk and into the official public record:

 

†††††††† TO MAYOR FUNK:

†††††††† In recent matters pertaining to Open Meeting Law litigation, of which you are the lead plaintiff/appellant, you did so act.

†††††††† On July 19th, 2017, the City of Victoria, as authorized by the City Council, issued a letter to the State Attorney General requesting an opinion on matters pertaining to the payment of defendants' legal fees.

†††††††† On July 20th, 2017, you sent an unauthorized letter to the Attorney General's office directing them to disregard the City's request.

†††††††† At the July 24th, 2017, City Council Meeting, you declared a reversal of your previous assertion that you had a conflict of interest in certain Open Meeting Law litigation matters (such as payment of legal fees).

†††††††† Instead of recusing yourself, as had two other councilmembers, you proceeded to preside over a meeting that considered payment of defendants' Open Meeting Law litigation legal fees, as well as discussions related to sending an additional letter to the Attorney General.

†††††††† Further, you had the audacity to make a motion to engage another law firm to opine on the legal fees issue.† Ensuing discussions included your intense questioning of the City Manager and the City Attorney regarding these matters.

†††††††† During the course of the meeting, City Attorney Vose advised the Council in no uncertain terms that, in his opinion, you absolutely have a conflict of interest and should not vote.†

†††††††† After the two recused councilmembers returned, the Council entertained a motion that you, indeed, do have a conflict of interest.† The motion passed 3-1-1.† Your actions showed egregious and blatant disrespect for the office of mayor, fellow city councilmembers, and city staff.† These actions were shocking, self-serving, and quite possibly illegal.† In addition, these actions expose the City to potential litigation.

†††††††† Having summarized the events and circumstances, I hereby make a motion to censure Mayor Thomas Funk.

 

†††††††† In response to Councilmember Vogt's statement, Councilmember Jim Crowley and Councilmember Tom Strigel were supportive and called Mayor Funk's actions "a complete affront and unacceptable."† The fourth councilmember, Tom Gregory, stated, "The mayor's actions were extraordinary and unusual.† From a legal standpoint, I'm not an attorney and I can't weigh in."

†††††††† When Mayor Funk said he had a statement that he would be making available, and that there are attorneys who agree with him that he has no conflict of interest in voting on matters related to his lawsuit, Councilmember Strigel said, "If you ask enough people, you can always find someone to agree with you.† It changes nothing for me."

†††††††† Councilmember Vogt continued to speak directly to Mayor Funk, "This is common sense.† You lit the fire and now you want to tell us how much water to use.† Your letter to the Attorney General was inexcusable.† You interrogated the City Manager.† You shouldn't have even been at that meeting."

†††††††† The motion to censure Mayor Funk passed 3-1-1.† Mayor Funk voted nay.† Tom Gregory abstained.† Earlier this year Councilmember Gregory also reported that he, too, has no conflict of interest related to the lawsuit, yet his father, Marvin Gregory, was a plaintiff with Funk et. al., and the son admitted he served as the "eyes and ears" of the father who was ill and has since died.

 

THE REST OF THE STORY IS IN THE PAPER EDITION.

September 2017

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