I have said on this blog and elsewhere that I believe that our city attorney Jason Green is a good and qualified man. I have trusted him in the past.
It is painful to me to suggest now that I believe he has betrayed the trust of the people of Rapid City. In the Tuesday Kooiker censure hearing, questioning by Alderman Ron Weifenbach, made it very clear that Mr. Green included as findings of fact in the Resolution of Censure information he "knew or should have known" to be utterly false and politically motivated. When asked where he came up with the comments contained in the resolution about Mr. Kooiker sending more emails than the other councilpersons combined, he admitted he made it up, based on his general "feeling."
Weifenbach correctly points out that findings of facts cannot be based on "feelings." And, Green is guilty of the very thing the council claims to have been censuring Kooiker for. The difference is clear. Kooiker was accused of mentioning the number $30,000 when describing what others told him was the cost of discarded transit brochures, when he supposedly knew the number to be false. He was to take it for granted that Mr. Ellis was telling him the truth. Mr. Ellis wasn't. Mr. Kooiker did not know (regardless of Mr. Kroeger's attempt at the hearing to get him to admit otherwise) the value of the brochures at the time he made a request for information in a public meeting. Mr. Green declared to be true information which he had no way of knowing was true...because as it turns out...it was false. He did so by including the information as "finding of fact" in the resolution of censure.
I'm very fond of Jason, and have been for many years. But, he is a sworn officer of the court. He included information in a "finding of fact" that was not fact at all. I do not know why he did so. But, he is an attorney of some repute. And, he should have known better. And, his actions have probably exposed the city to what will likely be very expensive litigation. His actions caused Alderman Kooiker to retain, at his own expense, the services of an attorney, who clearly demonstrated that information contained in the resolution of censure was utterly false.
When Weifenbach asked Mr. Green where he got the information contained in the resolution of censure pertaining to more than 1000 pages of emails generated by Kooiker to Public Works Director Robert Ellis over a period of 18 months, he said he got the information from Mr. Ellis. But, when Mr. Ellis was forced to produce the emails, he and Green appeared to have conspired to pack the record with duplicates upon duplicates upon duplicates in order to come up with the more than 1000 pages. And, they did this with the clear intent to "poison the well" of public opinion and the opinions of the city council.
Mr. Green was given multiple letters from Kooiker's attorney concerning Kooiker's rights, which were deliberately kept from council members.
Alderman Costello, rightly told Mr. Green at the hearing that in the future, he would prefer to have that information.
I do not know Mr. Ellis. I know several civil engineers in Rapid City and each of them have told me of their fondness for Mr. Ellis. However, Mr. Ellis apparently deliberately provided false information to Mr. Green. And, when challenged, falsified the record by duplicating numerous pages of emails, in hopes that nobody would read them, and in hopes of poisoning the well of public opinion and the opinions of the council.
The mayor is in an embattled position now, as are members of the city council who passed a resolution of censure based on information they knew to be false.
In Mr. Green's case in particular, it makes me sick to suggest that it is time for both to go.