Diana's Defenders Push Back
In the Pioneer Press, letter writers Michelene Miner and Dave Hafner voiced their support of the mayor and her posse. (Shorter Miner: I trust the new council members no matter what. Shorter Hafner: If we purge the dissenters, then this council can get things done.) Even on a web forum, we saw a "carol" assert her own blind faith in Diana: "I think that Copeland is doing a fine job. Diane [sic] would not have hired him if he was bad."
From what we heard about Copeland's background (unemployed for more than a decade, up to his neck in personal debts and unpaid court judgements, unable to finish his 12-course graduate degree with 14 years of trying so far, etc.), he hardly seems like the best qualified interim manager available. His primary qualification seems to be that he's a personal friend of the mayor and her husband who really needed a job.
Carol also added a familiar line: "There was a lot of things going on with the previous manager that the public does not know about."
I've heard this vague claim before, and to be honest it frustrates me, because I've never been able to pin anyone down on the details. (She doesn't even say they were bad things -- for all we know, she could be talking about a hitherto unreported passion for Russian cinema.) The ineptitude of the new city council is easy for us to see (just peruse the archives below for many examples), but I didn't used to watch things so closely. As a result I really don't know what horrible things the past administrations are alleged to have done. Why doesn't someone tell us about them? (You can mail us your tips at WhatsLeftOfMaplewood@yahoo.com, if you'd rather not leave a comment below.) Maybe the last council was just as bad as this one, and I was simply blissfully ignorant of it.
If these things were so bad, why wasn't the previous manager fired for cause, instead of being let go for a vague "difference in vision" and given a comfortable severance package? If department heads and other city employees were in on the corruption, why haven't they been terminated by the interim manager? Shouldn't there be a paper trail of wrongdoing that the new rulers of city hall can uncover? Shouldn't there be lawsuits against the city by aggrieved parties (besides the mayor's husband) getting media coverage?
Is it possible that some of these alleged misdeeds were made up by the people who got elected to the council, in order to rally support? I have one friend who voted for Diana (and now regrets it) because of things that she told him when she was door-knocking -- things that were misrepresentations or outright lies (like saying the city was in terrible financial shape, $20 million in the hole or something).
We've seen Diana lying on the record when she thinks it's safe (as in her claim that she did not authorize an internal background check of Copeland, against the advice of counsel and staff who recommended an outside entity be hired to do it -- yes, I'm assuming that she's lying, but that's no less valid than the letter writer who assumes the head of the Minnesota State Bar Association, our former city attorney, is lying . . . but he wasn't there to defend himself when Diana accused him). It's not hard to imagine that she and her crew would spread lies in their efforts to get elected. We know that the Office of Administrative Hearings found that Hjelle, at least, distributed false campaign information. And that's what he actually put into flyers on paper -- maybe Rebecca and Diana are smart enough to use whisper campaigns for their innuendo.
It seems like it would be easy, if you're writing a letter to the editor, to state even one simple claim of wrongdoing: "Richard Fursman drowned my kitten," or whatever. But they never do.
My working hypothesis, therefore, is that they are making things up. They can spread vague claims of malfeasance by whisper among their supporters, and let the rumors drift out into the larger community. They don't want to put them on paper because they don't want to be at risk for libel.
If someone can disprove this hypothesis, I'm open to hearing about it.