27 November 2006

Hundred Days Late, Thousands of Dollars Short

The Boy Mayor strikes again!

Actually, 'strike' is perhaps too decisive a term - let's just say Rybak's made an alleged appearance and might have actually issued a none-too-harsh statement of some sort.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak on Monday called for the removal of controversial Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek, saying he no longer has confidence in her ability to lead the Fire Department. Rybak said in his letter that the city had reached an agreement in which Bleskachek will not contest her removal.
Bold, Mr. Mayor, bold, I say. You've finally made your first legitimate public statement on the matter AFTER the Kissing Chief has accepted her fate. Way to sidestep any political consternation.

(Bleskachek's) lawyer, Jerry Burg, said today that Bleskachek would still be a firefighter, although she would be demoted, and she would receive a settlement payment, if the City Council approves the deal. Rybak's spokesman, Jeremy Hanson, said the mayor's recommendation only concerns Bleskachek's removal as chief, and mentions nothing about a demotion.
Blesckachek's actions have the city embroiled in four discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits and now SHE'S in line for a settlement? And she's going to be demoted? To what? If she's too warped to be chief, is her warpedness just fine for a captain's job? What does that pay? Who are the lucky firefighters that get to report to her now? Who is running that pathetic municipal circus over there?

Bleskachek, 43, has been the focus of internal investigations amid those suits claiming discrimination and sexual harassment. A city investigation continues, but it has already been determined that the department gave preferential treatment to lesbians or those socializing with them. The city has spent more than $410,000 on the investigation, legal settlements and compensation of Bleskachek during her paid leave.
She's the one accused, and she's bailing out, but the city still somehow pays for her lawyer. Hundred grand here, hundred grand there; what the hell - it's only taxpayers money. There's always more to be had.

Rybak said that for more than a year, he has "been concerned about Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek's management of the department." Despite meeting with the chief and her lawyer, Rybak said, he is not confident that she can lead the fire department in a way that best protects the citizens of Minneapolis.
Maybe he's been concerned, but Rybak's been hiding behind the always-convenient shield/dodge of 'municipal employee privacy' until now. I guess he feels as though he's cleared some hurdle and will not suffer any political wrath from the GLBT gang or other similar single-issue constituency.

Rybak said Bleskachek would remain eligible for a severance payment. Since she was placed on leave March 22, Bleskachek has collected about $90,000 in salary and benefits, said Matthew Laible of the mayor's office.
Ninety grand just since March. Can you imagine what her total annual compensation must've been with salary, benefits, etc.?

This whole ridiculous episode reminds me of a definitive scene in Robert Altman's 1970 film MASH. As Frank Burns is being hauled away in a straightjacket, his time in Korea clearly over, Duke Forrest leans over to Colonel Blake and points out that "Fair's fair... if I punch Hawkeye and nail Hot-Lips, can I go home too?"

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