Premier Center Settlement Reveals Mayor’s Struggle with Public Life and Truth [OPINION]
A lot has happened in the world in recent days, both nationally and at home.
For reasons that are not clear to me, President Donald Trump has decided that the most pressing issue facing this nation – at least one that requires his attention – is whether or not professional athletes stand for the National Anthem.
First of all, last I checked there were bigger things going on including, but not limited to, North Korea’s continued pursuit of a working nuclear weapon and threats to test a bomb above ground for the first time since WWII, Iran rumbling once again after we threaten to scrap the nuclear deal that freed some of their assets, Puerto Rico destroyed and reeling from Hurricane Maria, the rise of the right in Germany, the economic collapse in Venezuela and the continuing investigation into the role of the Russian government in trying to influence elections around the world.
All that and our president decided to pick fights with athletes.
I tend to believe it’s all a diversion. We as a people are more concerned with the bread and circuses of the NFL than we are about global politics. We know that’s true. The president doesn’t think football is violent enough apparently.
Back in Sioux Falls, we found out last week that Mayor Mike Huether lied to us. That may seem a harsh assessment but I’m not sure how else to read the settlement the city was forced to release over the warped and bubbling silver siding at the Sanford Premier Center.
The mayor said we got $1 million in the settlement when it was announced in 2015.
But it was sealed from the public so we’d just have to trust him on that one.
The problem is, that’s not true.
You can maybe say it is true if you add up all the cash that flowed back and forth, but the implication by the mayor was that the taxpayers got $1 million.
That’s just not true.
That’s purposely misleading.
That’s a lie.
That’s a violation of the basic trust between an elected official and the people who put that person there. It’s a paternalistic approach to governing that assumes the politician knows what’s best for the people. In fact, you’re just better off not knowing the details. It’s too messy. You wouldn’t understand.
It reveals the fundamental flaw of the concept of running government like a business. In business, you can make all the secret deals you want, and maybe that’s what is best for your business.
In government, secrecy is a virus, growing and festering below the skin until the internal organs are rotted and dead.
That’s what we have in Sioux Falls today. We have a city government that can no longer be trusted, led by a man who never understood the phrase -- public trust.
Mike Huether may be a good person. He may be a loving father and husband. He may be a brilliant marketer and caring philanthropist. He can be all those things and still not be a good mayor.
This is just the latest and most overt example of the Huether approach to government, the inability to weather criticism and the outright hostility to those who would question him.
He should probably resign, but he won’t. He’s only got a few months left in office so we’ll ride it out until May. But to me, he’s got no future in public life. I don’t know what his plans are, but my advice is to go back to the private sector Mr. Huether.
There’s a broader lesson in the events of the past few days and weeks. It’s a reminder of a timeless truth of human frailty. Given power at whatever level, people will use it, and some will abuse it. That’s why we have a media. That’s why we have a First Amendment, and a Second.
Those truths are self-evident.
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