Joe Miller: Calling Out Ed Ford, The Star & The ‘Dangerously Insane’ On KC Political Scene

I’ve just finished a book called The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson, who wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was recently made into a movie starring George Clooney. Ronson’s latest book, which comes out in May, is about “the madness industry,” and it says that a disproportionately high number of psychopaths are in leadership positions.

When I read that, I started thinking about all the characters I got to know during my stint at City Hall and wondering which ones might be dangerously insane.

But first, let’s have a little refresher course in psychology. Psychopathy is a unique condition in the annals of headshrinkdom. It refers to people who “are so deficient in empathy and conscience that they pose a threat to their fellow human beings.”

So who in city politics fits that description?

Über scum political operative Steve Glorioso comes to mind, of course. As does Terry Riley, the bullying councilman for the southeast part of the city.

And the name at the top of the list?

Northland Councilman Ed Ford.

The best example of his potential madness is a story I wrote about a few years ago for a different website. There was a downtown development deal that went bad. The deal had some tax breaks, which were taking money away from the Kansas City School District. A nice, non-psychopathic member of the Council met with the developer and worked it out so that the school district would once again receive its share of the taxes on the property.

But Ed Ford swooped in and killed the deal.


Because the development was in his district, and he wasn’t consulted on the deal.

At the City Council meeting where Ford bullied his fellow Council members into voting the deal down, he made a big deal about respect for his power in his own district, but said nothing about the poor kids who would have less as a result of his actions.

Who cares about impoverished kids? All that mattered was Ford’s ego.

I first started to see this aspect of him soon after my old boss Mark Funkhouser got into office.

Remember the whole Francis Semler thing?

Where Funk unwittingly appointed a member of the racist Minutemen organization to the Parks Board? Right in the heat of the controversy for that deal, the other members of the Council passed a resolution scolding the new mayor for his appointment.

What’s not known is that Ford was the main instigator of that power move.


It wasn’t because Ed Ford cares about immigrants, I can tell you that.

It was revenge because Funk didn’t appoint Ford to be Mayor Pro Tem. (Incidentally, that ‘s the same reason why Terry Riley was constantly conspiring, often with Ford, to make Funk fail.)

And after Funkyman removed Ford from his position as chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Ford vowed to “destroy” Funkhouser. And he spent pretty much every minute of his time as a Council member working to that end.

For instance, the ordinance banning Gloria from City Hall was originally Ford’s idea.

All this stuff comes to my mind today not only because of the Ronson book but also because The Kansas City Star has enthusiastically endorsed Ford for re-election. At the same time, the paper has reported a lot about how the soon-to-be-ex-mayor alienated his fellow members of the Council.

This is true. But it’s only part of the story.

The fact is, that the Council had a number of very seasoned politicians, some of whom might well be psychopaths, who were doing everything they could to make sure that Funkhouser failed.

Not once, so far as I’ve seen, has the paper pointed this out or challenged the perpetrators.

Now the paper is pushing for another mayoral candidate without specific experience with City Hall politics: Sly James.

That’s all well and good. But please allow me to make this prediction:

If James doesn’t give Ed Ford everything he wants — Mayor Pro Tem, committee chair positions — Ford is going to devote his life to taking James down.

He’s kind of crazy that way.

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7 Responses to Joe Miller: Calling Out Ed Ford, The Star & The ‘Dangerously Insane’ On KC Political Scene

  1. Markus Aurelius says:

    Thank you for bringing this to light. I’m a lifelong Northlander and I wish more Northlanders were aware of the ethics, or lack thereof, of their elected representatives. Some of the actions of Ford are absolutely unconscionable and ought to automatically disqualify him from public service. For far too many politicians it becomes more of a sport and less about public service. This is echoed at the state-wide and national levels as well.

    BTW, prepare to be publicly crucified for the comments in your post — branded as a disgruntled former so-and-so.

  2. smartman says:

    The Minutemen is not a racist organization any more than the NAACP is a racist organization. Planned Parenthood has KILLED far more people,(or potential people), of color and non-caucasian culture than the Minutemen ever will even if they declare open season and sell tags on our southern border.

  3. Tracy Thomas says:

    KCMO Council just like our current Congress, standing still
    This was a good insider post, Joe–thanks for the insight. It occurs to me that no matter how nutty some of the Council may be, they all decided individually and collectively to sacrifice progress during this term–in order for the Funk to fail and be limited to one term. Just like the current Congress. They deem it better to stand still and keep Obama from being re-elected. Both the Council and the Congress are giving the titular head enough rope to hang himself.

    And maybe that will turn out to be all to the good. Sometimes the electorate doesn’t wake up to nuance. They need the threat of imminent failure and collapse, a two by four to the head, to get them motivated.

    Sadly, the two mayoral candidates are just as vapid as the slate of likely Republican hopefuls for President in 2012.
    There IS no campaign for mayor. What’s the only issue? Polsinelli on the Plaza?? Really??? James and Burke are so afraid of upsetting anyone or challenging anything, this campaign is the cure for insomnia. I hear that they both get one hour Friday morning on KMBZ980. But since the election is next Tuesday, I don’t expect any issues to surface. The race is one point apart, (Sly James is leading). KMBZ was so desperate for news that they reported that Wheeler and Berkley had endorsed Burke–but that news was ONE MONTH OLD!! For Pete’s sake, that is pathetic. And who cares who Deb Hermann endorsed, or Henry Klein. They’re losers…who never got any traction in the primary.

    Keep spilling the beans, Joe. We need to know more.

  4. BarKeeper says:

    Minutemen vs. LaRaza
    This bunch of worthless freaky turds got the member of the Minutemen kicked out, and Obama put a charter member of LaRaza, a highly racist outfit, smack onto the Supreme Court!

  5. chuck says:

    Great article
    But, Funky’s inability to lick his finger and check the fuckin wind killed him.

    Intransigence and narcissism were more important than the mandate of his elected office. Funk would not adapt or cut his losses for the greater good of his objectives.

    I, for one, wanna thank Tracy for her comment. Maybe, after gobbling down all those pearls rendered before we swine, us poor dumb electorate salt of the earth unwashed masses will wake up to nuance. If that doesn’t work, a metaphorical 2 by 4 to the head should do it. I’m thinkin, bated breath, gratitude and a nod to a unapreciated local gadfly who shows us the way. Lucky, lucky, lucky…

  6. % says:

    The real story

    You probably already know this, but the key to receiving a Star endorsement has nothing to do with the ability to serve the public and everything to do with the candidate’s ability to serve the Star’s purposes. Ford’s a very good source to the Star, so their reporters and editors would like him to stay put. He was always on the ready to answer the phone when calls were coming from 18th and Grand to shoot down Funk, which had become the Star’s mission not long after Funk took office.

    Incidentally, your old boss Funk received the Star’s endorsement for the very same reason. Funk spent a lot of time at 18th and Grand as an auditor. That’s what got Funk the Star’s endorsement. Yael and others had constant access to him. When Yael couldn’t maintain that access to the exclusion of other media, that’s when Yael turned on him, and the rest of the Star followed.

    A candidate could have the means and the ability to pave the streets with gold, but if that candidate isn’t loyal to the Star, that person’s dead to the editorial board.

  7. kcredsox says:

    The only people the minutemen are racist against are illegal aliens in the United States. I think if you took a vote, you would find quite a few people that aren’t racist, believe in the same ideals.

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