I am so grateful for the support of the community during a lengthy and life threatening illness. There’s no question that without that support I would not be here today.
Resigning from the legislature was one of the most difficult things any person could do if he or she enjoyed the process as much as I did. However, there was no question that it was my obligation to the voters of District 32 to step aside until I was 100% able to do the job.
Now that I am nearly fully healed, let me use the experience learned in 12 years of the legislature to serve in another way those who sent me there. Therefore this website is once again open for straight talking.
I’d like to begin with an issue that concerns me deeply.
Over 30 years ago Mayor Art LaCroix and Chief Tom Hennies established a method of preparing for future leadership changes in city government.
The process involved careful evaluation of every member of the police force to identify future leaders. From the results, a careful plan of promotion, mentoring, and training prepared some for future professional police leadership positions. Thus the next Chief was chosen with care and without personal prejudice or intervention.
The process has worked incredibly well, giving us effective leaders like Chief Tiezen and Chief Allender.
Sadly, Mayor Kooiker has chosen to violate the process, and it has had the predictable effect of reducing morale, embarrassing his appointee and, for that matter, embarrassing the whole police force.
In a transparent effort to railroad his choice through without adequate council review, Mr. Kooiker has radically altered the agenda for the city Council meeting next week. He inserted an unheard of meeting start that involves the rubber-stamp appointment of the chief, his swearing in, and a recess before the actual council meeting so that there may be a “party” with his chosen candidate and family.
Evidently the plan is to intimidate the council to approve the nominee, lest there be awkward moments with his friends and family waiting in the room for the ice cream, cookies and punch, or whatever they are having.
It’s a tacky trick and I doubt the council will fall for it, no matter how awkward it may be. The Mayor’s choice may have been the best choice available, but the council and the public will never know unless the council calls a “time out” to look at this extremely important appointment with the full measure of care that it deserves.
The Mayor has only himself to blame for the delay and confusion such a “time out” may cause. Had he followed the well established, fair and open procedure that has been the tradition until now, all concerned would have been the better for it.
To date the city council has not been involved in any of the chicanery stemming from the Mayor’s weird, closed process. This railroad job prevented a discussion of the candidate by the appropriate city committee. As a legislator, my experience was that whenever the committee process was deliberately avoided, bad things were sure to happen. No good comes from such underhanded dealings.
This is not the only recent example of the Mayor’s attempt to play kingmaker. He did the same thing recently by urging two “friends” to try disrupting County government by persuading them to run in the Republican primaries for Register of Deeds and Auditor. Seventy percent —70%!—voted against his nonsense.
Likewise, candidates favored by the Mayor for city council fared badly at the polls. Only one of them succeeded.
I do not know the man the Mayor has chosen for Police Chief. I have heard that he is a fine person but one who is not yet ready to be the Chief. Kind friends might urge him to withdraw his name this weekend. That would speak highly of him, preserve his future opportunities to ascend in rank, and put an end to the turmoil the Mayor’s political game has set loose in the department.
We seem to have turned a corner in city politics of late. I think the voters are getting tired of the Mayor’s underhanded, manipulative management style, a manner of governing that is all about self-protection and creating exit strategies to shield himself against any sort of blame. It is a style that has bottlenecked decision making, undermined trust, defeated progress, and driven out one good department head after another.
Fortunately, we now have a good, clear-headed council with many strong leaders. They should seize every opportunity to set the city on a positive path no matter how ineffective or damaging the Mayor’s conduct may be in the meantime.