I met Manistique councilman Jack Hoag at the local casino, this morning. He ignored me, deliberately avoiding eye contact, as we passed each other. I turned around, after he passed me, and said, in a cheerful voice, full of Spring's good will, "Good morning, Jack." He stopped, turned, and answered my salutation. "Don't ever talk to me again, after calling me a crooked politician!", and then continued on his way...
I suspect the cause for his statement is the public roasting I gave all Manistique City Council members for their, and the City administration's, questionable behavior concerning a recent contract that council members were asked to approve on March 25, 2002, as presented to them by City Manager Allen Housler.
I have included, in the following pages, my letter to the editor and my written presentation to council that document what I, as a member of the general public, perceived and stated.
The logical conclusions that I considered and voiced were inferred by the action of City Council members and members of the City Administration. Those rhetorical conclusions, implied by what I witnessed and understood, neither called or labelled any member of Manistique City Council a crook. What I said did raise unanswered questions concerning facts and motives, and inferred possible conclusions.
Most of the issues I raised still remain ignored by those that chose to remain silent, concerning the specific issues I raised. Council members and members of the city administration have no obligation to address any public comments, but if their silence implies a degree of guilt, then they must live with the consequences of their choice; it helps keep officials straight.
If silence makes City Council members appear as "crooks", to members of the unwashed masses, Council members have only themselves to blame.
Regarding any official action or policy, public officials' silence provides a justifiable motive for any member of the general public to question the official behavior.
If, when addressed with questions concerning specific public business, public officials choose to ignore, evade, deceive or resort to personal defenses, then I have reason to consider the possibility of corrupt behavior, or "dumb" behavior. I have no reason to consider other options.
I called no one a crook or a "corrupt politician", least of all, Councilman Hoag.
Relative to the public record of Mr. Hoag's behavior, concerning the contract issues, what I am aware of, I find commendable. Regarding his and others' silence, concerning certain public issues, I can only guess. Selfish self interest prompts me to consider silence with far more skepticism than candid discussion.
As an incident of childish behavior makes no one a child, an incident of possible corrupt behavior makes no one corrupt. A "minor" lapse of professional judgment or behavior is one thing, a corrupt or crooked politician is another.
I did voice the possibility that the public record suggests some public officials might be "bent", concerning the proposed Wilcox Professional Services' contract for the general engineering and oversight of the M-94 landfill closure.
I suggest that Councilman Hoag and his peers, consider the issues, from the critical point of view of a "public servant" and not from the perspective of an adolescent responding to a schoolyard taunt.
As for those members of the Manistique City Council and administration that conclude that I have questioned their integrity; I have, for very specific and salient reasons of official action, or the lack thereof. If you believe that I have hurt you for unspecified personal reasons, have the courage and integrity to stand up and be heard, relative to the issues I raise, or live with the consequences of your silence or "personal attack" defense to the public policy issues I raise.
Whether I am not liked for personal, political or philosophical reasons, it is my intent to talk to, and with council members, as I am moved, about political issues. Any particular council member's umbrage, based on a perceived personal slight related to political issues, bothers me not. Politicians have a public obligation to be bigger than their personal egos and preferences.
As for any social conversation, with any or all members of city council or administration, I will not mourn the loss, if it is denied me; though I do expect them to remain civil, as responsible adults.
For those that still wonder what all the "mud slinging" is all about, it is about questionable political behavior and the political defense of attacking the accuser rather than addressing the issues identified by the accuser. After all the heated response from members of the Manistique City Council and administration, I remember only one issue addressed directly.
The City Attorney stated that he had not determined if a contract passed from Tetra-Tech MPS to Wilcox Professional Services, with resigning employees that became employed by the new business. In a sea of silence, evasion and personal attack, it was refreshing to witness a response that related to the issues I raised. Thank you Mr. Filaramo.
For students and adults alike, I offer the following copies of a published editorial letter and the written Council meeting public comments regarding issues that concerned me. Keep in mind the reading comprehension and logic skills required to be elected as a City Council member or hired as a City Manager.
For those interested in the City Council's and City Manager's response to the issues I raised in my editorial letter of 04/18/02, and my public comments at the City Council meeting of 04/22/02, please read about their responses in the 04/25/02 issue of the Pioneer Tribune. I thank reporter Paul Olsen for his detailed and thoughtful reporting of a sensitive issue.
If I gain the Pioneer Tribune's permission to post their article as a web page, at this site, I will.