As publisher of this newspaper, I rarely write comments for the editorial page. I have my job, others have theirs. But, an incident March 4 involving Mayor Brian Hasek and a member of our staff, Dennis Minich, leaves me little choice but to comment. I am signing my name so the mayor, who often complains about transparency, has no doubt who wrote this.
As regular business concluded, the board was moving to executive session and Minich approached Hasek about a campaign donation reported on the state ethic’s commission site from a GT Investment Holdings. At first Hasek denied knowing who that was and challenged Minich. Hasek did, however, finally admit it is an LLC owned by Scott Beck. The exchange was confirmed by Chris Benjamin, a candidate for alderman from Ward I who was standing nearby. He confirmed the mayor “was red-faced” and “annoyed” by the query from Minich. He described the atmosphere as “tense.”
From there the situation spiraled.
Minich inquired if the $1,000 donation from Beck was related to a recent change in ordinances which had saved Beck the price of paving his parking lot, which had been a condition of his special-use permit for the Beck Event Space. As he was walking away, Hasek stated “get it right this time.” Minich responded and the mayor said he “had a big shovel and knew how to dig up dirt.” Minich shot back, “Are you threatening me?”
Following the incident, Minich was standing in a nearby parking lot with Clint Miller, a Ward 3 candidate. Hasek approached then and both Hasek and Minich attempted to clarify their positions. Hasek’s was, “My wife can find all kinds of information on anything on the Internet, and she’s got a big shovel. I’ve got dirt on everybody.”
Well, that’s interesting.
We have no knowledge about how many people comprise the “everybody” of the mayor’s universe, but such a statement spawns its own host of questions. Was it a threat?
Was it purely a statement of fact? Was he bragging? Is our mayor, in essence, a bully?
The mayor and his wife, Shawna, are widely known in the community. She is known to fiercely defend her husband on his Facebook page and does not hesitate to launch sharp and pointed retorts to his critics and opponents. With that in mind, could we assume that some of her big shovel information has already been used in an attempt to embarrass or
intimidate perceived foes?
I have spoken with both Hasek and Minich. While details vary, the gist of the story is confirmed by both.
Because we love Harrisonville and because we want it to be that friendly, genteel “All- American” hometown that we try to convince everyone it is, we offer these tips to whoever is sworn into office April 15.
• Make civility your watchword. Answer questions. Don’t try to be coy. Don’t think you are smarter than everyone else. Do not threaten people.
• Maybe educate yourself on the Sunshine Law and dealing with the media. Don’t brag about transparency when you aren’t being transparent.
• If you’re unsure how to formulate policy, consult the Code of Ordinances. Chances are, a clear path is already laid out there for you. If it is, don’t start making exceptions without good reason.
Public officials are held to a higher standard and code of conduct. If you have a problem with that, you might look at President Truman’s most-famous quote and remember you work in a “kitchen.”
Seriously, did we really have to say this stuff?