Aker has harsh criticism for Rapid City's Tom Johnson and Jim Shaw
Former Republican Legislator and Rapid City Journal columnist Alan Aker has some harsh words for Rapid City Alderman Tom Johnson and Rapid City Mayor Jim Shaw in his column this weekend as he makes the case that the seat belongs to the constituent, not the elected official:
I thought about that day when I read about the recent scuffle in the Rapid City Council chambers in which Alderman Tom Johnson accused Aldermen Sam Kooiker and Mike Schumacher of being liars. Specifically, he used the terms “pack of lies,” “not honest,” “deceitful,” “bullying,” and “overbearing” in describing Kooiker and Schumacher and statements they had made outside council chambers.Read it all here at the Rapid City Journal.
Schumacher and Kooiker denied lying or doing anything wrong, and I believe them. But that’s not the point. Even if you believe everything Johnson said about Kooiker and Schumacher, Johnson’s outburst was wrong and destructive, and he owes an apology to Kooiker, Schumacher and his constituents.
Johnson lacked legislative temperament. Someone with a legislative temperament would not make negative, personal comments about his colleagues. Legislative temperament doesn’t mean you never say anything critical. It means you confine your criticism to the proposal under discussion. It extends beyond your colleagues to staff, lobbyists or regular citizens attending the meeting. It’s also known as decorum. It’s really just courtesy and good manners. It helps distinguish the proceedings of a governing body from a barroom brawl or pro wrestling.
Maintaining decorum is the responsibility of every elected official, but in a meeting in which it’s breaking down, it’s the particular responsibility of the presiding officer. In Johnson’s case, that was Mayor Jim Shaw. Shaw, who seems to be unaware that the phrase “preside over a meeting” contains an action verb, could have slammed his gavel down and called for a temporary adjournment or admonished Johnson.
Shaw and Johnson’s performances at the last council meeting reminded me of the days Shaw spent as an announcer at Black Hills Speedway.
Johnson was revving his turbo-charged mouth. Shaw was master of ceremonies, but not of events. Rapid City government, as is too often the case lately, was going round and round in circles. Let’s hope we can end this pointless race without a crash.