Complaint against councilman seeking the truth
The Brainerd Dispatch’s coverage of the upcoming case against Brainerd city alderman Gary Scheeler before a three judge panel at the office of Administrative Hearings is somewhat out of focus.
The complaint against Scheeler, filed by Jeff Czeczok, was based entirely on Scheeler’s own comments to a closed city council meeting.
Tapes of that meeting were delayed from public access for many months because union contract matters were to be discussed. Once obtained, they revealed serious matters related to Scheeler’s campaign.
Some of the troubling statements made during this meeting were as follows: “I have donated probably more on this campaign trail than I have in all the churches.” My wife said, “‘you are going to go broke on this campaign trail,’” he stated in reference to the amount he was donating to those in his voting precinct.
These comments were made after Scheeler, contrary to proper procedure, asked that it be “off the record” in this circumstance.
Based on the complaint, a hearing was set because a prima facie violation was established through Scheeler’s words. Anyone hearing this information, then, could have filed the complaint.
The Dispatch’s coverage immediately focused the reader on past contentions between Czeczok and Scheeler. Going into more detail on a nearly decade-old (and irrelevant) matter than on the complaint itself, certainly established the focus of the article off of the point of the matter. The back part of the article is where the issue is explained and Scheeler gave no denials, according to his attorney Ed Shaw. Scheeler, from behind his lawyer, also found it appropriate to attack the complainant by calling Czeczok “pathetic” and in trying to take away the focus off himself continued to attack Czeczok by saying, “this looks like a vendetta,” and “looks like sour grapes to me.” This childish behavior is coming from and elected official.
An important element, not reported in the Brainerd Dispatch, to this issue was the filing of a second complaint, based on a sworn statement from Alderwoman Mary Koep. She described a woman informing her that Scheeler had given her a Cub Goods gift card during the campaign after she told him she wouldn’t vote for him. Mrs. Koep has said that the woman does not want to come forward publicly, or even file a complaint, because she is afraid of Scheeler. I can see why. (I‘ll stay on track and not ask when gift cards became acceptable campaign hand outs.)
“While the complaint alleges troubling conduct that, if proven,” and “could establish a violation of the Fair Campaign Practices Act,” according to Judge James LaFave, it was dismissed on statute of limitation grounds. The initial complaint, although, does not have the same statue of limitation problems.
Remember, this isn’t some businessman engaged in extraordinary business practices, this is a government official, a leader for this city with power to affect all of our business, and our tax dollars. My confidence in him presiding in my businesses’s best interest is gone, as it is with a city council that will take no action on this man’s conduct (but rather, praise him,) as well as a newspaper that was easily manipulated by elementary defense attorney tactics. To be mature means to be respectful, responsible for your actions, and just (seeking what is right). All parties involved need some of this.