Note to Readers: Mayor Sam Kooiker's response to my 6/17 post about his handling of the police chief selection follows:
My opponents have often maligned my affiliations in an effort to define me – don’t fall for their tricks. For example, in 2007 Alan Hanks and Jody Severson hammered me as a "right wing nut" because of my Christian faith, and in 2011 these same two guys hammered me as "in bed with the unions", and basically accused me of being a left wing nut in a flier to conservatives, due to my advocacy for the Firefighters in the face of serious injustices they had experienced.
I am deeply flawed, but being “delusional” or “handing out favors to friends” is not one of them. I believe in picking the best people.
Regarding Chief of Police, this was the first time in recent memory where the position open to all qualified applicants. 26 people applied, including 6 with strong local ties. The final three included 2 local candidates (Diaz and Jegeris) and a candidate from Florida. I personally interviewed all three. I knew Karl Jegeris longer and better. I was very impressed with Elias Diaz's vision, his leadership style, his impressive personnel record, and his diversity. He is part Native, part Hispanic, and also taught Spanish and English as a Second Language.
Regarding personal affiliations, not one donor asked me to appoint Eli Diaz. Several of my donors asked me to appoint Karl Jegeris -- who I also have a lot of respect for. I responded to these requests by saying I had a responsibility to pick the right person.
Two council members, Charity Doyle and Bill Clayton, may have been driven by their well-known biases. It would be easy to say “Well that doesn’t account for the other 6 no votes”. Even so, the ferocity of Charity and Bill’s opposition had an impact. Charity's biases against minorities are well documented in her book, called Political Prostitution. Don't accept my word for it – you can read it on Amazon.com. One of her multiple slams on Hispanic people is only a few pages after her bizarre defense of hanging nooses in public. She had also accused me of having a conflict of interest in the Disability Consideration policy in October 2011 (because I have a disability), and she even threw her ink pen across the room on camera when I voted for the policy. She also fiercely opposed a stronger Human Relations Commission ordinance in 2014.
In this case though, I thought she would abstain due to the fact her husband is a police officer and the head of Fraternal Order of Police. Instead, Charity worked hard to smear Elias Diaz.
Bonny Petersen has said I have the tendency to double down and fight when under attack. Of course. That's often good leadership. I was surprised by the smears against Lt. Diaz and the opposition in general because “outside” choices have been made before for Department Head positions, including 2007 when Alan Hanks appointed a new Fire Chief from Omaha instead of the “inside choice”. So I did consider “doubling down”. Lt. Diaz was not even an “outside” choice. He is an experienced member of the existing RCPD leadership team!
But to Lt Diaz's credit, and to Karl's, Lt Diaz rose above the situation and asked me to support Karl after the initial vote. I am so proud of these two men and their willingness to work together and embrace each other's ideas.
Now that the dust has settled, 3 things have been confirmed and should be celebrated: 1) Karl Jegeris has been confirmed Chief of Police. He will do a wonderful job. 2) Elias Diaz has been confirmed a rising star in the RCPD. 3) For the first time in a long time, Rapid City has a police chief who went through a rigorous process, and who made it to the final three based on no one’s influence but their own merits."