Editorial cartoon from RC Weekly News - Mayor Shaw, Principal Jones and Sam Kooiker
We ran a pair of vehicle-related stories last week. One was about Central High School Principal Pat Jones being suspended (without pay) after admitting to using a district-owned vehicle for travel that wasn’t related to his duties.
By all accounts, Jones is a decent person who made a mistake and admitted to it. There doesn’t seem to be a scandal here; it seems more like a reminder that public property is not for the personal use of the people who work for us.
Another was a story we had worked on for weeks on accusations that Mayor Jim Shaw had driven his city-issued vehicle for personal use. A pair of aldermen, Sam Kooiker and Michael Schumacher, are leveling that charge as well as making other claims of city hall shenanigans.
We held the story for some time and pondered whether or not it was something the public had a right to know about, but the disclosure of an additional $28,000 added to the council travel fund tipped the decision in favor of publishing.
Shaw has been in the news a lot in the past year or so, from his battle with Legionnaire’s disease, his heart surgery and his scuffle with an Iowa State Fair police officer. But through it all he has kept up a brave front, smiling and waving in public, as I saw him do last Thursday at the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Awards Luncheon.
Should Shaw be punished for putting a few miles on a city-owned vehicle? That’s not for me to decide, but I doubt this rises to the level of Watergate.
It’s just another reminder that when you’re in the public eye, people are watching.