Letter: City Council certainly waffled, but mayor must goThe Red Wing City Council was called upon Monday to respond to a critical issue regarding Dennis Egan's astonishingly bad judgment in entering into a contract for lobbying services with silica sand companies, while being mayor, getting paid by both to engage in conflicting jobs at cross purposes.
By: Richard Johnson, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
The Red Wing City Council was called upon Monday to respond to a critical issue regarding Dennis Egan's astonishingly bad judgment in entering into a contract for lobbying services with silica sand companies, while being mayor, getting paid by both to engage in conflicting jobs at cross purposes.
Citizen input by virtue of emails and letters to the council as well as the R-E clearly reflected their disgust.
The facts were not in dispute. Egan's decision three weeks ago was found in a publication rather than informing the council directly.
He gave a great campaign speech about his accomplishments as the mayor for 20 minutes, which was hugely self-serving and not relevant, and the council spent the next hour and a half dancing around the periphery, unwilling to label his conduct or confront him on it. They spoke of turning it over to the attorney general or having a committee study it for them. They seemed unfazed about spending taxpayer money.
Several on the council finally asked the mayor to pick one of the jobs and quit the other, to which he arrogantly said no.
The strongest language they used in describing the issue was "ethics" and "conflict of Interest.” Words are the ammunition of a democracy and it was apparent that the council was out of ammunition.
Although I attended the meeting as an opponent of sand mining in Goodhue County, as did most of the many attendees, I had no intention of speaking and did not do so at the appropriate time provided.
Finally, after 1 1/2 hours of what I would call "apologetic reluctance" by the council, I could see it would not be possible for me to leave the meeting without confronting and labeling the mayor's conduct. Although out of order, I told the council they needed to do that for the community’s and citizens’ sake.
I said this man is corrupt.
The fact that I spoke at an inappropriate time finally gave the president and several members the courage that had been sadly lacking. They erupted in a common voice: Sit down. You are speaking out of order. You are breaking our rules!
They jumped from their chairs, threw their arms about, excited that they could now show their courage and pursue a common goal: my ejection from the council chamber, which was accomplished by signaling two big and fit police officers, who hastened me down the aisle and figuratively threw me down the council chambers steps.
Now, I am 77 years old, 5 foot 6, and have missed too many exercise sessions. Their conduct was a gross overreaction of the task assigned to them. The oldest woman on the council could have successfully escorted me out as I was complying.
At least I had managed to get consensus on a common goal from an otherwise indecisive, confused council, utterly lacking in courage and conviction.
If they had not been so abrupt, I would have next told them that had each one stood and told Egan they personally were appalled by his conduct and judgment, that he had brought embarrassment upon them and the city, that he must resign, and that, if he wouldn't, they would, thenEgan would have resigned then and there, finding no comfort for his inexcusable conduct and seeing that he had no one to talk to. But I couldn't, they didn't and he didn't.
There are two lessons to be learned.
One, if you are chairman of a public meeting, change your calendar to accommodate the 100-plus people there and table the mundane to the end of it.
Two, do not be afraid to have the courage of your convictions and to act on them. Trust your voters. Don't get too far out in front, but also don’t lag too far behind.
For the restoration of respect for the community, Egan must go.
Remember, silica sand mines will damage health, quality of life, the environment, the tourist industry, property values and our fresh water resources.