Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waconia’s Multi-Million dollar headache

Drew Anderson, Waconia City Council, and concerned residents were back at it again on Monday night to discuss if convicted rapist Anderson ought to keep his job. During the meeting a new revelation took place which will make it harder for the City of Waconia to fire Anderson; Anderson is a veteran. As a veteran Anderson is not an at-will employee something that City Attorney Kelly Dohm informed the City Council last night. Last week in "Does the Waconia City Council and residents understand redemption?" I raised the concern of punishing a person for past transgression after that person served their time and did not repeat for over a decade. At what point in ones history is one able to prove they have atoned for their misdeed and prove themselves as a positive public contributor?

The City Council members of Waconia now have a political powder keg on their hands. Waconia has about 10,000 residents and just shy of 200 of them showed up to hear the fate of Drew Anderson last night. Mayor Roger Lehrke summed it up when he said, "There's a whole lot of stress in the city right now." To an outsider, with the luxury of detachment on the issue, a power play is taking place and someone has an axe to grind with Drew Anderson either within the public utilities department, general public, or on the council itself. Regardless of where the ire is raised the simple fact is that the city cannot and should not fire an employee for a past transgression that goes back over a decade.

No decision was made last night, at least not publically, and leaves the city of Waconia and Anderson in limbo. Even before the veteran status of Drew Anderson was established, the residents of Waconia teetered on the edge of a lawsuit. A lawsuit that Drew Anderson will easily win and the cost to the citizens of Waconia millions of dollars. Are the residents willing to see their taxes rise or an assessment established to cover the multi-million dollar payday for Drew Anderson to make a point of firing a man who did rape a 14-year old girl but has learned, atoned, not repeated, and become a productive member of society? I know that if I were a resident of Waconia I would not; rather I learn from the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we distort this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."

Hopefully the City Council members of Waconia recognize forgiveness, does not mean to forget what Drew Anderson did, and move forward with keeping Drew Anderson as an employee. Otherwise they will saddle the city with a scramble to figure out how to pay a multi-million dollar lawsuit for firing Drew Anderson. Once again is the City of Waconia ready for that?