I will postpone, for a short time, the planned blog on SD Republican Convention Delegates, in order to attempt to correct a deliberate obfuscation.
Mayor Kooiker’s deliberate and detailed falsehood must be rebutted immediately. He lied, and he knew he was lying when he said that his appointment for Police Chief was rejected by the Rapid City Common Council (by a vote of 8-2), due to “racisim.”
As a Jew, my whole youth was subject to painful experiences of prejudice. Even much later, there were a few instances of prejudice in my years as a Legislator. I chose not to make a big deal about those instances and to forgive and move on. As a consequence of having so long and so often been a target of bigotry, my antenna has been carefully tuned for over eighty years to the smallest suggestion of prejudice.
I know, and the Mayor, who has himself had similar experiences, knew that the Council Decision was not, let me repeat NOT! as a result of his false allegation. He did not do his homework before making the appointment. He did not appoint the most qualified candidate available. Thankfully the City Council turned down the Mayor’s first choice. As a result, with due thanks to the Mayor for the wisdom shown the second time around, we now have a much more qualified Chief. For years the Mayor and I have been friendly and have shared our feelings about the terrible insult that prejudice visits upon its victims. That is why I am especially disappointed about his dishonesty in this last episode. It puts on sad display a vindictive side of the Mayor that we’ve heard whispered about in city hall but that he has generally managed to conceal from public view.
In order to make the point even clearer, this Blog was given permission to use the following letter, from “the mouth of the horse” – a very wise thoughtful horse – Councilwoman Bonnnie Peterson.
Rapid City (SD) Alderwoman Bonny Petersen Responds To RC Mayor Sam Kooiker’s Post Dated 6/27: on John Tsitrian’s “The Constant Commoner” Blog spot
I can’t let Mayor Sam Kooiker’s remarks on your June 27, 2014 post stand uncorrected. As a council member, I can assure you that the Mayor knows why the appointee wasn’t confirmed and it had absolutely nothing to do with his heritage.
The Mayor knows the real reasons the vote was no, he knows it has nothing to do with heritage, yet that is what he suggests. He attacks two council members to divert attention from the real facts– that the selection process was adequate until it got to Mayor Kooiker. Once there, Mayor Sam Kooiker failed to do his due diligence. Let me repeat, Mayor Sam Kooiker and only Sam Kooiker failed to do his due diligence. He chose to ignore information that eight of us could not. He can say whatever he wants and point his finger outward, but the fact remains he made a mistake. The eight no votes were a no to a bad decision; it was not a vote for a preferred candidate. We knew that the Mayor could bring in someone from outside the state and we were willing to accept that over his appointee. None of us took our vote lightly.
We all make mistakes and it would be nice if the mayor would accept and learn from his mistakes, instead of turning to his counterproductive methods, of attacking others. Until I read his comments in your blog, I had always held out hope that the Mayor was capable of becoming upright in his techniques, that he would learn that his personal attacks are not good for the city.
Prior to the vote, I anticipated there was a high likelihood that Sam Kooiker would use the appointee’s race and heritage as a means to attack the council. Seeing him now actually use it, only confirms that Mayor Kooiker is willing to use race as a tool to get what he wants, whether for an appointee or revenge. This is disrespectful at best and dangerous at worst.
Now his words have spread across the state, the impact to the council, though significant, is minor compared to the impact on our community. Our city has real race issues without making them up for political gain. We have police out on the streets twenty-four hours a day and the last thing they need is our Mayor claiming governmental racism, when he knows it had nothing to do with the vote. He betrays our community by using race as a political weapon. He undermines the huge efforts made throughout our city every day to alleviate the effects of racism. How do these comments influence those that already feel disenfranchised or businesses looking to move here?
After serving with the Mayor for 4 years and working closely with him while in leadership for two years, I have noticed he uses predictable and unproductive methods that you have seen in his comments. When he detects disagreements, he launches attacks and accusations against people that reflect a different view or that he perceives as a political threat. He brings up totally unrelated facts and throws them out there in hopes they will stick. He is too ready to throw people under the bus for his political goals, whether they are his own citizens, employees or council members.
He takes advantage of situations that require confidentiality and the council can’t or won’t divulge information that would contradict what the Mayor says because it could end up in a lawsuit. He will shine the light on one part of a story that supports his claims, while knowing if the complete story was illuminated it would say something entirely different. Example of some situations that could require confidentiality and force council members silence are issues involving our employees, claims against a Mayor or council members, lawsuits or whether or not a council member actually asked for his legal fees to be paid.
The negative methods that Mayor Kooiker clings too and has mastered so well are the reasons the majority of the council no longer trust or respect him. Is this the fault of the individual council members? I think history clearly shows there is something about the way Sam Kooiker conducts himself that alienates people that work closely with him. (It is not his causes—many of us support his causes–it is his techniques.) Not playing well with others is fine until it undermines the city—and Sam Kooiker pointing to racism on this vote though predictable is beyond disappointing– it is outrageously irresponsible.
John, Even though the above needed to be said to reflect an accurate picture of what truly happened, I agree with the Mayor that there are things to celebrate. Coming in as a nurse wanting to serve her community, but not really connected to movers and shakers in the city, I didn’t really know what to expect. As I end my service on the council, I have more faith in our government than ever. Our council members come from all walks of life and bring different life experiences to the table. Overall, they truly desire what is good for the city. Each decision is based on that and only that. I have read speculations about 6 – 4, pro-Kooiker and anti-Kooiker or Establishment and Outsider, but I don’t see it that way. When a diverse group does their homework, and weighs that against their life experience and what they have heard from their constituents, their votes will naturally come together and differ at times. There is no sinister plot, council members seldom talk to each other off the dais. Rarely do they know the votes before they are cast. This is encouraging because the council is an important part of the checks and balances that work to do what is right for Rapid City. I will forever be thankful that I was given the honor to serve and I will forever do what I can to protect the city.