During my career in government, as a city administrator, city planner, and city councilman, I have had the good fortune to work with, and for, several mayors and council persons. The city of Brainerd is blessed to have an outstanding mayor in James Wallin and thoughtful, caring alderpersons in James Dehen, Mary Koep, Lucy Nesheim, Gary Scheeler, Kelly Bevans, and Anne Nelson Fisher. The citizens of the city are well represented by these outstanding public servants.
As well, I have found the city staff to be the best I have ever worked with and for, and the citizens of Brainerd are to be thankful for the hard, intelligent work performed on their behalf by all of its employees.
I am a bit puzzled over the actions of Bob Olson. Here is a gentleman whose experience in government, including time as Brainerd mayor, should give him sufficient insight into how things get done at a municipal level. I speak from experience, of course, as a former Clear Lake City councilman from 1999-2003. I have never --repeat -- never in my dealings with elected officials (including congressmen and state legislators) seen such a destructive, negative force as that being exhibited on almost a daily basis by Bob Olson. In Mr. Olson's view of reality, he can harangue, pester, and generally cause any level of consternation to city staff, all in the name of sport.
To be fair, I have absolutely no doubt that Mr. Olson is sincere in his desire to help those who ask him for help. I know I was sincere when people contacted me in Clear Lake, and am sincere in helping people in my present capacity. I also know that the other Brainerd elected officials are extremely sincere in helping citizens wade through the maze that can be city government. However, like myself, the rest of the Brainerd elected officials trust staff to do the right thing and realize that we all are human and make the occasional, rare mistake. It has been my experience during my relatively brief time here that staff owns up to their mistakes, greatly rues making them, and immediately takes corrective action. In other words, like all of us do when we make mistakes, and we all make them. The rest of the Brainerd elected officials are understanding of the inherent nature of the human condition and appreciate staff's honesty and sincerity. Mr. Olson uses the rare staff mistake to buttress his own jaded opinion of staff and, like Pilate, place a crown of thorns on our head, carry our own cross on Sixth Street (renamed Via Dolorosa and, by the way, televised on public access) and nail us to that cross. It is the rest of the Brainerd elected officials, as well as the people of Brainerd, that act as staff's own Veronica and sustain us in our daily administration of council policy. For that, the city staff thanks you.
(Powers is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He was Brainerd's interim city planner from mid-July until Dec. 31)
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