I’m somebody who doesn’t read the blogs or online comments because many of the commenters are politicians who hide behind a screen name to propagate hatred, not fact. But I was recently sickened when a colleague handed me a copy of Mayor Kooiker’s response to your 6/17 post and cannot sit idly by any longer.
First off, a true leader wouldn’t put these claims out there. They are divisive. They hurt the City. They hurt the people. They hurt the police department.
Kooiker has a well-established pattern of creating drama to mask his inadequacies. When he makes a mistake, instead of owning it and learning from it, he uses the power of deflection to take the focus off of him and put it somewhere else. He makes up more lies. More excuses. He continually tears people down and apart rather than bringing them together.
When I joined the council I was a Kooiker supporter. One month later two police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty and a third—my husband—was shot and seriously wounded. This was when I learned who Sam Kooiker really was. He approached me while I was standing guard outside my husband’s hospital room conversing with an officer who’d worked on the Fish landfill case. Mayor Kooiker randomly turned to me and said while motioning to the gentleman, “Now this is the real hero!” I was immediately filled with horror, silently praying that the next words out of his mouth would excuse the insensitivity of his words. “(This officer) uncovered the waste and fraud at the landfill,” is what he said. One officer was dying in a room behind the Mayor’s back. My husband (we thought at the time) was dying in the room behind mine and that is what the Mayor was thinking about. I was speechless. I excused myself, went in my husband’s room, and cried my eyes out over having voted for somebody like him.
As I got behind the scenes and explored what was really going on with various issues, I discovered that everything Mayor Kooiker accused Alan Hanks of doing he either misrepresented, or does ten-fold. And I have voiced it because I thought people would want to know the truth. Since that time I have frequently been in the Mayor’s political cross-hairs. He rehashes old debates over and over and over and over and over…. I am one in a long line of people he has done these things to which is why I haven’t discussed his accusations before. I always believed that to give attention to any delusion just encourages the delusional. But Mayor Kooiker has hurt my family deeper than Daniel Tiger did. Daniel couldn’t help the way he was. Neither my husband nor I have never felt one ounce of anger or hatred toward Daniel because of the volunteer work both my husband and I have done over the years with kids just like him. Mayor Kooiker on the other hand does these things intentionally. He exhibits the exact behavior we expose in our book and I can no longer stand by and let him continue to spread these horrible lies and put my husband, my family, and the City’s police department at risk.
Speaking of rehashing old issues…
Disability Consideration: We changed this in October 2011. Nearly three years ago. Because of this policy, we now separate and put a flag on people with disabilities. The way we did it before, there was no way for the hiring authority to know if a person was disabled which prevented them from discriminating. Kooiker has a selective memory on the matter; I said he had a conflict of interest not because he’s disabled but rather because he got to break the tie on a policy he sponsored. My only goal was to protect all applicants and not single anyone out. After the vote, I moved on. Interestingly, he has brought this issue up to me a dozen or more times, which I don’t understand because he got his way. I’ve never brought it up. Even if I had thrown my pen across the room as he continually claims—my husband almost died two months prior to this vote—perhaps I was going through a lot. I don’t know, just a thought.
Human Relations: My problem with this is well documented. First, we expanded this with no additional funding. Second, we gave private, unsworn, citizens the power to subpoena without any training in wielding that power responsibly. Third—the diversity of the commission extended to only minorities and women but I believed it would also be important to for a certain number of commissioners to have some kind of business experience because of the types of decisions and disputes they’d be handling. These mayor-appointed commissioners now have power over every landlord, business owner, and employer in Rapid City and I felt that training, character, and integrity were paramount if we were going to expand those powers. This one went Kooiker’s way as well yet he continues to cry about it.
Police Chief: My vote against this appointment had only to do with qualifications. Period. I have a deep regard and respect for police officers and what they face day after day and I felt that command staff experience was paramount in this appointment. Eli Diaz and his wife Sarah played a special role in the healing process of my family after Aug. 2nd. They will always hold a special place in our hearts and I pray that they don’t believe a word of what Kooiker is spewing. As far as abstaining from this vote? If my husband had applied for the job I would’ve. Or if I was going to gain financially by my vote I would’ve. His efforts to get me to abstain were nothing but a deflection tactic to mask the fact that he made a mistake. Smoke and mirrors. The only one engaging in a smear campaign here is Mayor Kooiker.
The Book: With respect to Mayor Kooiker claims about our (seven-year-old out of print) book, the book is all about our take on the role of politics in the state of the country. It’s about arming ourselves against politicians that would manipulate us into believing lies. It’s about personal responsibility. And it was written long before I ever considered running for office and long before we knew about the “Sam Kooikers” of the world. My husband and I are both engineers by degree and training and used political satire to illustrate viewpoints. Mayor Kooiker cannot tell the difference between the art of using political satire to illustrate a viewpoint and reality. As new writers, perhaps we could’ve done a better job of explaining our satire but for the two years following the book release, NOT ONE person accused us of anything negative. It was quite the opposite, even from people we now know are in the Mayor’s camp. It wasn’t until the book got in Mayor Kooiker’s hands that these attacks started. Seven year old book. The Mayor’s had it for two years. I’m sure you can do the math.
We discuss race issues quite a lot pointing out that we’re tired of people using race to further divide people—which, by the way, is exactly what Kooiker is doing here. In fact, Kooiker hasn’t once contacted me for clarification about comments in the book he seems so confused about. Why? The only answer I can come up with is that he doesn’t care about the truth, only his spin.
As we state in the book, we agree with Morgan Freeman, who, when asked by Mike Wallace how we could get rid of racism, said: "Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man. And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman." He also said Black History month was a joke: "You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
We further believe that Black history is American history. This does not mean that blacks give up their history or heritage, nor do whites, Hispanics, Europeans, Asians, etc. What we do is change our focus from how we are different to how we are the same and we work together to make the country better for all of us.
In the book we also talk about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech in the book and say that when MLK says that he has a dream that his children will live in a nation where people are judged by the content of their character and not just the color of their skin, was he talking about everyone? All races? We believe he was. WHY is this important to us? Because our family is Native American, Hispanic, Black, and white. The Mayor knows this but continues to spread evil propaganda by taking things out of context. It is sick.
By doing what he is doing, he is not only attacking me, but he is attacking my husband, a city employee, and possibly creating a hostile work environment for him, both within the department and on the street. He has created an environment where bloggers are taking the Mayor’s words as truth and attacking our police department, some are even singling my husband out. As painful as the August 2nd shooting was, the Mayor’s continued harassment, obsession with me, and attacks continue to hurt and cause damage to my family. I and my family deserve better. This police department deserves better. The people of Rapid City deserve better.