Hispanic group cancels K.C. convention

Oct. 21, 2007 at 1:46 PM
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KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A Hispanic civil-rights organization has canceled its 2009 convention in Kansas City, Mo., due to a controversial appointment by the city's mayor.

The move by the National Council of La Raza comes after Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser did not act on its complaints about an appointed park board member, The Kansas City Star said Sunday.

"We had no choice," the group's head, Janet Murguia, said of the decision. "This is about Mayor Mark Funkhouser and his lack of understanding about an issue, his lack of leadership and his lack of respect for the Hispanic community."

The organization had a problem with board member Frances Semler, who is a member of an anti-illegal immigration group called the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

Despite the civil rights group's numerous complaints about Semler, Funkhouser refused to ask her to resign her Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners post.

"I think she has the right of freedom of association and freedom of speech," the mayor told the Star. "I don’t think her belonging to the Minutemen impacts in any way her work on the park board."

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