Before I visit with Mayor Sam Kooiker about his bid for a third term at Rapid City’s helm, let’s take a look at the Kooiker blog scorecard. How have I treated him on these pages?
- During the 2011 campaign, I mirthfully noted that conservative writer Michael Sanborn was willing to argue for his guy Sam as the non-big-money candidate. Subsequent analysis showed Kooiker and the man he defeated, incumbent Alan Hanks both enjoyed some big-money support.
- During the 2011 campaign and in 2012, I noted that the courts were not finding enough evidence to uphold the allegations of fraud that Kooiker leveled against city landfill staff and Fish Garbage Service. Later in 2012, the city secured a civil settlement with Fish Garbage Service, which the city claimed as vindication:
The civil case by the city continued, gaining strength and reaching a settlement earlier this week, when it was announced that Fish Garbage Service and George and Clifford Fish agreed to pay $375,000 to the city. The Rapid City Council approved that settlement Tuesday. And Wednesday morning, Kooiker, Allender, Ragnone and city lawyers appeared at a news conference to emphasize the settlement’s confirmation of misdeeds in dumping practices by Fish Garbage Service [Kevin Woster, “Former Landfill Attendant Sues City for Damages Tied to Fish Garbage Case,” Rapid City Journal, 2012.09.08].
As of December 2014, former landfill employee Randy Meidinger had seen the court dismiss most of his federal case against Rapid City officials but maintained an active suit against police Lt. Peter Ragnone for violating his rights in the landfill investigation.
- Early in 2012 I cheered Mayor Kooiker’s apparently fearless willingness to converse in the blogosphere.
- In February 2012, I noted with approval that Mayor Kooiker took the time to testify before the Legislature against a really bad bill seeking to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights.
- I joined the Rapid City Journal in approving of his veto of longer terms for Rapid City officials, a move Kooiker’s opponent in this election, Steve Allender, criticizes.
- In 2013, I noted Kooiker’s willingness to stand up to pressure from uranium miners and his stand for transparency in economic development.
- Last summer I noted that Kooiker saw racism in the City Council’s rejection of his initial choice of a new police chief to replace retired Chief Allender. To support his point, Kooiker cited the racist screed published online by Councilwoman Charity Doyle. Councilwoman Bonny Petersen said Kooiker was just “playing the race card,” but she never refuted his charge that racism was part of why Doyle et al. rejected Lt. Elias Diaz.
So given that record, can you trust me to do a fair interview of the mayor of South Dakota’s second city? Let me see if I can get through to the mayor’s office and find out….