Judging by the war of words erupting at city hall between Mayor Mark Heyck and city councillor Niels Konge the two men have decided now is a good time to launch their 2018 municipal election campaigns.
Both have filed code of conduct complaints against each other stemming from a 2015 incident – and subsequent investigation initiated by the mayor — in which Konge, a developer and construction company owner, had some angry words for a city inspector on his job site.
In case readers are unfamiliar with what a code of conduct complaint is, essentially it is allegation that an elected city representative has acted badly. It requires another elected city representative to sign it, and the remaining elected representatives to decide whether a committee — likely composed of at least some city councillors — should be struck to investigate it.
If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for more political mischief we don’t know what is.
This thing has crawled along slower than a repaving project on Franklin Avenue and will surely drag on for many more months to come.
Frankly, council has better things to do than spend years passing this hot potato back and forth. It is certainly not in the best interests of the citizens to have council divided and paying more attention to their battles with each other than fighting for the people who elected them.
This political crisis, as it were, threatens to bog council down in its last year before election, preventing actual work that needs to get done – like finally doing something with the downtown lots the city purchased five years ago.
Konge admits he’s made some mistakes– he may face consequences, and he probably wouldn’t be surprised. Although city hall officials were closed mouthed about the original complaint, Konge wasn’t. According to Konge, it started when he kicked a city inspector off one of his jobs sites in his role as president of Konge Construction. Alas, he can’t change his hats like a fashion model. He’s always a city councillor, even on his job site. But what he can, and has, done, is admit when he’s made mistakes and move forward.
In his complaint, Konge is asking for the city to reimburse him for the $8,000 worth of legal advice he said he sought during the mayor’s investigation — which most of council deemed illegitimate — and a public apology. For his part, Heyck told press that he wouldn’t tolerate the abuse of city staff, and that he would not be intimidated, describing the events as “bullying.”
If Heyck thinks clinging on to two year-old complaint over heated words is good politics, that’s his business but it does nothing to improve his credibility as mayor.
In any event, all this makes for excellent articles and water cooler talk but doesn’t necessarily make for a good city council. Everyone involved has stressed that this is not personal. Instead, it’s about bigger issues– whether that be sticking to the policies in place, making sure things are fair and transparent, or standing up for what one believes is morally right.
And that’s all well and good. But council has a job to do this week. And next week. And all the weeks between now and the next election. They need to focus on that, not their campaign slogans.