These are our leaders

(Image from Facebook)

Scott Kunka is Mayor Snoop Lukey Luke’s director of the Office of Management and the budget director of the Finance Department. I have long pronounced his name as Kuhn-kah.  It looks like kuhn-kah.  Like funk or junk. Kunk. A.

Apparently, his Ukranian heritage means it is actually pronounced KOON-KAH.

Who knew?

Anyway, I guess one too many times after hearing his name mispronounced by City Council President Darlene Harris during meetings, Scott KOON-KAH fired off this email to Darlene Harris, all of city council, The Dread Lord Zober, and others.

Marty Griffin read this email on air and I obtained a copy from NONE OF YA’ DAMN BUSINESS is her/his name.

—–Original Message—–
From: Kunka, Scott
Sent: Thu 9/15/2011 9:31 AM
To: Harris, Darlene
Cc: City Council Members; Qureshi, Cathy; Mazefsky, Gabe; Zober, Yarone; Osterman, Kim
Subject: Ethnic Mocking?

Councilperson Harris,

I have come to expect your hostility and attempts at bullying when I come to the Council table.  Though I often silently recoil at the insolence you so clearly have for me, my staff, your own colleagues, and the venue of City Council itself, I am strong enough to take it.

However, I am drawing a line at your mocking of my last name. Though par for the course, it was appalling to me, my family, friends and colleagues.

To repeatedly do so in public and on television is absolutely gratuitous and disrespectful to my family name. My late father was a proud American and equally as proud of his Ukrainian heritage. That you have insulted his memory is unforgiveable.

Some might think it rose to the level of ethnic harassment. Aren’t we beyond the days of disparaging people whose last name ends in a vowel?  It makes me wonder what other ethnic hostilities you harbor beneath your thin public veneer.

I have the right, and demand that you pronounce my name correctly, and without sarcasm. Or if you are unable or unwilling to do so, please refer to me as Director in the future.


No, Internet, this is not a joke email. This is a real email sent within the City of Pittsburgh’s high-level administration. Why do I share this with you?

Because I hate Scott KOON-KAH, The Director?  Not at all. I don’t know him from Gabe Mazefsky.

I share it with you for several reasons:

1. If mispronouncing a last name is “ethnic harassment,” I’d like to publicly apologize to Zach Galifianakis. Or as I call him Zach Gale-ee-fie-A-nah-KISS. Sorry, bro.

2. I feel kind of stupid and diversity-etiquette-challenged that I wasn’t aware that a name ending in a vowel meant it was a more ethnic last name than those ending in a consonant. Did you know that?! But then again, my last name ends with a Z from a Mexican family name and my maiden name ended with a D for a Syrian name. SO I DON’T EVEN KNOW NOW! Just to be safe, I’m sorry Dan On-oh-rate-oh! I think I need to take one of those diversity sensitivity classes that some corporations offer. I’ll hug it out with all the people whose names I’ve botched the pronunciation of. We’ll cry. We’ll forgive. We’ll move forward. (ding!)

3. Do you realize, Internet, how awful the city administrators’ relationships among each other are if one member is so suspicious and wary of another that he views the mispronunciation of his last name as ethnic harassment to the point that he would email this ridiculousness to everyone and their mother to make the complaint?!

4. The Director, however, in this email, does sound like he’s a few french fries short of a steak salad, if ya knowwhaimeen.

5. Pro tip: NEVER ever ever send this kind of message via email to a bunch of city council people, some of whom don’t even like you, and certainly not to the The Dread Lord himself, who I hope has more important things to deal with like slowly stroking his evil cat (that’s not a euphemism), because the Internet is FOREVER and bloggers like me will put that ridiculousness out there for everyone to read and point at and laugh at and to say to themselves, ARE WE PAYING FOR THIS SHIT?!

Best to just etch the message in goat blood on her office walls next time, Director.

6. From now on, everyone, everywhere, in all things, shall refer to Scott Kunka as The Director.

It is now so.


That is church.


  1. Craig
    September 20, 2011 2:02 pm

    Heather, “rude” is not a major offense, it’s just something to be aware of. It didn’t sound like a thick tongue was the problem here, it was intentional rudeness, that would make the count one and one.