A city councilor in RC censured for questioning wasteful spending?

Obviously I have not seen the emails, but my first response would be that Mr. Kooiker was wrongly censored;

Kooiker and Wieczorek went on the offensive for more than an hour, arguing the details of the Rapid Transit incident, the resolution of censure and the actual content of the more than 1,000 pages of e-mails released by the city.

Wieczorek said by definition, harassment means conduct that causes emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose. The e-mails Kooiker sent to both Sagen and Ellis, he said, were primarily seeking answers for constituent questions and concerns.

“Is this harassment of Mr. Sagen?” Wieczorek said. “Was there an attempt at a legitimate purpose?”

Included in the e-mails are one-sentence messages, thank you e-mails, messages repeated multiple times and messages forwarded directly from constituents, Wieczorek said.

“He asks questions in a way that you might not ask questions. But that doesn’t make his questions wrong. He approaches his advocacy for constituents with zeal, with gusto. That doesn’t make that approach wrong. He does not back down, he follows up. That does not make his approach wrong,” Wieczorek said.

The sad part about it was, that Kooiker was looking for answers on throwing away $30,000 in unused transit fliers, then the city spends another $17,000 investigating whether or not he ‘harrassed’ city employees. Talk about a monkey fucking a football. Not only should our elected officials have the right to question department heads, they should be doing it on a regular basis and secondly, these department heads better be giving, honest, timely answers. Who do these people think pays them? A money tree? Taxpayers pay you, and you should have to answer to them. See, in the private sector, when your boss asks you a question, you answer him, you don’t go crying and filing harassment suits because you didn’t like the answer he asked you. Last I checked we are a right-to-work state. Your boss can fire you for any reason, and in the same respect you can quit for any reason. If you don’t like how your employer (the taxpayer) is treating you, then quit, otherwise STFU.

I liked this interview Kooiker did with Stormland TV News. This quote stood out;

“It is part of my responsibility to question how tax dollars are being spent when we have a $140 million budget. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously. This resolution, if it passes, essentially turns council members into rubber stamps,” Kooiker said.

That’s how it works in Sioux Falls. Don’t ask any questions and get out the rubber stamp. That approach has put our city over $330 million dollars in debt and the only thing we have to show for it is monkey crappers and potholes.



6 comments ↓

#1 l3wis on 02.17.10 at 5:25 am

Read the ACLU’s objection here;

http://dakotawarcollege.com/archives/12020

#2 John2 on 02.17.10 at 1:25 pm

Ya’ don’t get it-due to the lousy reporting. Kooiker, over more than one year, sent over 1000 pages of emails about what was a near-trivial mistake. RC apparently printed bus schedule fliers without running a pilot to prove-the-concept. Kooiker allegedly repeatedly went outside the supervisory chain. Kooiker allegedly made less than accurate public statements at council meetings. Cost of printing fliers was by any metric less than 0.02% of the $150 million dollar city budget. There were other means available to Kooiker but he chose not to use them. The censure was more about Kooiker’s lack of judgment than his intention.

Right-to-work does not apply to government employees.

#3 l3wis on 02.17.10 at 1:56 pm

I agree he went about it the wrong way, BUT I admire him for questioning the wasteful spending, and for that, he should not have been censured. What I am hearing from RC is that the public was behind him on this.

#4 Thad Wasson on 02.17.10 at 2:46 pm

If Mr. Sagen thinks several e-mails that he has to respond to is harassment, he has led a very sheltered life.

Everyone is accountable to someone. Unless you have FU money, get used to it.

#5 Plaintiff Guy on 02.17.10 at 3:13 pm

Rapid City dances to a different drummer but at least they are still constitutional democracy. Maybe he’s been smoking something but at least he’s been heard and he should question spending.

Speak up in Sioux Falls and the mayor instructs the media to talk about the weather or print religious letters while he tortures you Sadam style at the city hall dungeon.

Revoke Home Rule.

#6 l3wis on 02.17.10 at 8:38 pm

As I understand it, he didn’t go thru the chain of command and that is why the transit director complained. I just think it is funny that the directors fellow co-workers turned him in, I think that is what the director was bitter about. Thad, I agree, how is an email harassment? I just delete stupid emails, no skin off my back. I also find it ironic that the city spent $17,000 to investigate harassment of a councilor who was questioning $30,000 in wasteful spending. Hello! Wasteful spending alert!

Red tape, fun stuff.