Reaction to Egan frac sand job was a 'near-lynching'
The word "lynching" is generally reserved for more heinous crimes than the public reaction to the news that Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan had taken the top job with the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, the top industry group promoting development of frac sand.
Public reaction was about what you'd expect -- disbelief, anger, maybe betrayal, for some who had voted for him. Egan's decision to quit, or his removal from office, was all but guaranteed from the moment it became news.
The Red Wing Republican Eagle correctly points out that Egan had a lapse of "wisdom and foresight," in an editorial published in its weekend edition. But then the editorial goes down this path, which is just about as tone-deaf as Egan's decision to take the job with the Industrial Sand Council:
"While we wish he’d had the wisdom and foresightnot to become executive director of the new Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, he did, and the resulting debate over holding both posts escalated to the point of a near lynching.
Well, it’s over ... or is it? The imminent departure of a popular
public official (remember, he won both a special election and re-election by substantial margins) should prompt Red Wing citizens to ask themselves some searching questions.
• Are we in danger of letting one issue overshadow
every other matter?
(My opinion: No.)
• Would Egan have taken such a beating if he’d
accepted a job with an anti-fracking council?
• Did anyone so aghast over the longtime professional
lobbyist leading the sand council look at
any of his existing clients before electing him?
(Don't know...did the Republican Eagle?)
• What does it say about our community that respected
individuals feared speaking up for a man
who invited citizen input, fought for a cleaner Mississippi
River, promoted business and served on a
mayoral association’s national executive council?
(Possibly that they didn't want to be associated, in this context, with a public official who had put himself in an ethically tough spot.)
• What type of person, then, do we want in public
office? Do we want people who have no outside
interests, no involvement, who will rubber-stamp
professional bureaucrats’ agendas?
Check out the editorial and tell me what you think.
(Of course not. But people are saying they see a terrible conflict of interest in having the city's top elected official being a top advocate for an industry group that's involved in politically charged policy issues.)