A city parks board appointee has resigned after her controversial membership in an anti-illegal immigration group prompted two organizations to take their annual conventions elsewhere.
Mayor Mark Funkhouser said the board member, Frances Semler, told him she did not feel supported by him, as drama continued to swirl over her membership in the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
"I am disappointed that Ms. Semler has stepped down from the parks board," Funkhouser said in a brief statement Tuesday. "She says she didn't feel supported. I think the record shows differently."
Semler did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Funkhouser spokesman Kendrick Blackwood said the mayor was not aware that Semler, 73, planned to resign and did not know until the office received a fax from her late Monday night.
Funkhouser appointed Semler last summer to the five-member park board, which considers such issues off-leash dog areas and outdoor party permits.
Protests and claims
Her appointment triggered protests from minority groups, including the National Council of La Raza, which voted in October to cancel plans to hold its 2009 convention in Kansas City because of Semler's membership in the Minutemen. The Arizona-based Minutemen advocates vigilante patrolling of the Mexican border and reports illegal immigrants to authorities.
Last week the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said it also decided to move its convention from Kansas City to New Orleans.
Charles Steele Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, advised other civil rights organizations to boycott the city over Semler's involvement with the Minuteman.
"We are asking all civil rights organizations to stay out of Kansas City. We are going to shut you down," Steele said.
'Unfounded and unjust'
In the fax sent late Monday, Semler said accusations against the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps "have been unfounded and unjust."
"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,'" the fax said.
Funkhouser said he hoped Kansas City could move on.
"Now it is time for the city to move forward and put this matter behind us," his statement said.