Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Does the Waconia City Council and resident's understand redemption?

Last night the Waconia City Council meet to discuss revelations recently unearthed about their Public Utilities Director. Drew Anderson was hired as wastewater worker by the city of Waconia a year after he raped a 14-year old girl in Stearns County. According to the Star Tribune, “[Drew Anderson] was not charged or convicted until two years after he was hired as a wastewater worker.” During the 4.5 hour meeting, which ended around 1 a.m., Anderson testified that several city officials knew about the rape conviction as far back as 1999.

When Anderson was arrested and pled guilty of the rape, the city of Waconia arranged to have Anderson serve his sentence in Carver County jail in order to allow him to work his job on work release. City Administrator Susan Arntz promoted Anderson this past spring said, “He has been an exemplary employee. We have never had a single complaint against him” (Star Tribune). Sexual abuse is an emotional topic and offers plenty of contradictions for those that pay their debt to society.

Depending on the degree of sexual assault determines if the person will need to notify the city they want to move into and if they must register as a sex offender. Forever they will be carry the label of sex offender which in lies the contradiction. While there are some that “cannot help themselves” when it comes to repeating as offenders but from all accounts thus far Drew Anderson has done his time, paid his debt to society, and move on from it to become a productive member of society without repeating.

Anderson’s attorney Marshall Tanick may have it right when he said; “a witch hunt done to appease a few people” is at the core of the issue surrounding Anderson. Keith Anderson, in his story A Secret at City Hall, brought to light the past rape conviction of Drew Anderson. In the same article, Keith Anderson reports that “[Drew Anderson] has played a major role in significant change, including the construction of a new water tower, a renovation of the old water tower on Main Street, numerous life station upgrades or installation, restoration of numerous aging sewer pipes, as well as a new water treatment plant on 10th Street.”

And now, citizens like Bonnie Olsen, want Drew Anderson fired from his job, not because of job performance, because of his rape conviction. “My issue is this conviction – whether he is a good or poor performer, he is a convicted sex offender” (Star Tribune). I do not condone Anderson’s past transgression but he did pay his debt to society, has not repeated and has become a productive member of society.

As I said before sexual abuse is an emotional issue and it is difficult for people to move past it when discovered. Drew Anderson did wrong when he was 26 years old. Now he is 43 and has elevated himself to Public Utilities Director for the city of Waconia all the while not repeating the savage act 17 years ago. As a civilized society, a vastly Christian society, we need not forget what took place but believe that our judicial process works, people can learn from their mistakes and redemption is real. To simply fire an employee, public or private, because of something done in their past, that has not been repeated, is unjust, unfair, and flies in the face of redemption. The City Council has delayed any decision until Monday.