Stillwater News Press

Columns

January 27, 2010

Pam Nelson: That dog won't hunt, Mr. Mayor

— In the world we live in we must, because of security reasons, use name tags,

wrist bands, lists and other means to make sure that people who are

in a place are actually those people who are supposed to be there.

There are reasons beyond security. If we plan food and beverages for an event we determine a head count for planning.

If everyone decided to crash a reception, the fire marshal could have something to say about overcrowding, so there would be a safety issue also.

People have guest lists for gatherings and there are reasons for that.

As a publisher of a newspaper I have a media pass. For years I have gone to high school football games, junior high basketball games - all sorts of sports activities - and can get into all of them for free because of my media pass. I have never done so.

I show my media pass to the ticket taker up front so they will know why I am taking photos on the sidelines or why I am up in the media box along with all of the other

media representatives from newspapers and radio. It is not a suite for VIP's. It

is a suite for the media to record the game, away from noise, up high so you

can see, and with lots of electrical outlets for equipment. You can stay at home and hear the game and read about it the next day in the paper.  

When I go to a game I always hand the ticket taker my money to buy a ticket for admission or I show my season ticket that I have purchased in the fall. They always say, “No you don't have to pay. You have a media pass,” and I say no. I do pay - always.  

To say they put the special access band on my arm before I have a chance to pay, well, that dog won't hunt.  Just because I am a publisher, that entitles me to nothing. As an elected official our mayor is a servant of the community that elected him. Being mayor entitles him to nothing simply by virtue of being mayor.

Because we have publisher, mayor, doctor or corporate CEO in front of our name means nothing. No one cares.

And in an elected official we want to know that what our mayor cares about is honesty and integrity. He needs to use those qualities to make good decisions for a community that needs strong leadership.

Getting elected is the easy part; staying elected is hard. If you are in that position for “ME,” then you are in the wrong job.

The opening night of the new high school stadium, the mayor gave a speech. Was he invited that night or did he decide just to show up and speak? Well, no one kicked him out. I was there and so were many others who were on the field and I bet just like they were and I was, he was invited. He knows when he is invited.

We are a forgiving society. We forgive people for all sorts of things because we are

human and we understand. But when you hide, blame other people, whine, cover

up or get caught in something that doesn't make sense it ticks us off and we

don't like it.

Now that may seem like a little thing to you, but honesty is pretty high up in my view.  I find it hard to believe that a school would not take its security precautions seriously and its safety issues seriously. I think they do and I think they did. They had a list. They told the mayor he was not on the list. He insisted on entering a private gathering anyway.

This behavior and the concern it caused prompted the superintendent to bring up the subject during an open board meeting regarding the new stadium and security issues.

My understanding is that a thank-you reception was held at the stadium for local businesses that helped with donations and support. And why not? Funding from our state is so tight for schools these days, our schools need help from those businesses, and we appreciate it.

The mayor knows he was not invited. The mayor knows he was not ushered upstairs against his will. The man used his position as mayor to maneuver his way into a private function, twice, and brought along a guest one of those times.

Whether Superintendent Ann Caine should have access to a box in the stadium or who was on the guest list are questions for another time. They are not issues to be used to divert attention from the mayor’s unacceptable behavior.

Pam Nelson is Stillwater NewsPress publisher.



 

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