The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

About Karen Olson

Much has been made about Alderman Karen Olson's decision to not run for re-election, cast in the light of her abysmal performance at the Kooiker censure hearing.

In fairness to Karen, she had told me more than a year ago that she had no intention of running. And, I believe her.

Karen is not the best councilperson Ward 3 ever had. But, she's not the worst either.

Her decision to read a prepared statement, which revealed her long-standing personal dislike for Sam Kooiker, at the censure hearing, even after she had heard compelling evidence refuting the prepared statement's claims, was ill-advised and unfortunate.

Her decision to proceed with a trip to Washington, D.C. to a League of Cities conference after she declared that she wasn't running for re-election was ill-advised, unfortunate and arrogant. There will be a new player from Ward 3. We shall hope for better.


taco said...

Michael, please run for council.

Jordan Mason said...

The current incumbent (e.g., Lloyd LaCroix) I am running against has spent over $17,000 in a 3 year time frame on travel alone. I know people that make that in a year to live on. This is getting downright excessive.

Maybe some people have forgotten what the term "fiduciary duty" means, but I think it is high time we start holding our Representatives accountable to that idea. I find it hard to believe in the day and age of the World-Wide Web, that it is so necessary that our Representatives attend these conferences at the cost of thousands of dollars each time. Maybe they haven't heard the advertisements for WebEx, or understand how Instant Messanging works. Those are two cost-effective ways to conference with other people around the country, and one of them cost nothing but an internet connection (e.g., Instant Messaging).

My name is Jordan Mason and I am running for Ward 4 for the Rapid City Council. (

Bill Fleming said...

Jordan, some questions and a little free advice.

How much experience have you had winning federal grants? Have you ever landed one dime of federal funding? How much experience do you have negotiating with federal bureaucrats to use common sense when they apply the rules? Ever done it? How much do you know about how hard Rapid City must compete with other cities for funding for things like water and sewer projects? Ever been done that?

Only someone who has never done any of those things would think you could do it with a web conference. Only someone who has never been there or done that would think that all of the thousands of cities, states, nonprofits, and corporations who hire lobbyists are obviously doing something stupid that you seem to magically know how to do better.

Do you have any idea how many thousands of emails Congressional staffers have in their inboxes every day? Do you really think that's the way to get through? Do you realize that after the anthrax attack, letters to Congress don't get there real fast -- if they even get there at all?

It's OK to run for office the first time without knowing how things work in the real world. The problem is, as evidenced by your attitude, you don't have any clue about how much you don't know, and that's a real bad attitude to bring to the job.

It's very expensive for taxpayers to educate politicians who think they already know everything.

taco said...

Fleming is confused again. The council members do not go on trips for the purpose of securing federal funding nor do they they write federal grants while traveling on the taxpayer dime.

Instead they go to conferences. I have experience working for a nonprofit and we did not waste our money sending 8 people to the same conference - I don't see why the city government should be any less frugal (we also certainly didn't waste any money sending people who would soon be leaving to conferences - why is LaCroix failing to take a stand on that wasteful spending?)

Jordan Mason represents the Rapid Citians who realize that most of these conferences are junkets that we shouldn't be sending 8 people to.

I have heard the council members talk about this or that great program they discovered while away at a conference paid for by the people. I have went to the website for the conference and immediately found that same information.

Hang in there Jordan, while the good ol' boys will try to discredit you, the regular people appreciate that you are exploring ways to improve our city without needlessly wasting taxpayer dollars.

taco said...

I had to run before I finished my last post.

Fleming wrote: "It's OK to run for office the first time without knowing how things work in the real world."

Jordan Mason volunteered his life to defend our country. Perhaps you, Fleming, don't think his honorable service is worth very much in the "real world;" however, I think having a city council member who has shown his willingness to bravely serve our country is relevant "real world" experience.

Sadly, Fleming seems to think service to our country does not provide someone with knowledge of "how things work in the real world."

Bill Fleming said...

So Taco, when Jordan served in the military, did he phone it in, via email, or did he show up in person?

Maybe you should pay attention to what I'm saying instead of trying to make up something I didn't say.

taco said...

Only you, Fleming, would equate military service with a city council junket. This is the type of spin people are sick of.

Bill Fleming said...

It was your comparison, not mine, Taco.

Jordan Mason said...

Mr. Flemming,

First, to your last comment, I “showed up” for four years as a C.T.T. (Cryptological Technical Technician) in the U.S. Navy on board the U.S.S. Klakring and other commands T.D.Y. throughout my time. With my occupation as a CTT3, I have had “experience … negotiating with federal bureaucrats to use common sense when they apply the rules.” I did have to work the Federal bureaucracies, mostly intelligence agencies, during my time in the service. This was due to my involvement in the U.S. Intelligence Community during my service. As to the federal grants and funding, no I have not. Lastly, it is ironic that it was a U.S. federal agency (e.g., Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, a/k/a DARPA) that invented the internet for the exact reason I am talking about. Years later, the U.S. Military developed a more secure internet called the SIPRNET, in order to cut-down travel costs and increase communications efficiency within the U.S. military. This is a trend, this isn’t a radical, new idea; but to people like you, writing on a blog over the internet to chastise someone, maybe it is to you.

I want change, I want things to be different, and you are absolutely right when you say “only someone who has never done any of those things would think you could do it.” Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a famous speech entitled, I Have A Dream in 1963, that impacted the world. He ventured to believe in something that was unheard of, unthinkable, and previously ineffable. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream” that we don’t have to be subject to the whims and caprices of a bureaucrat to control our lives. The Wright brothers surely wouldn’t have flown had they believed that man wasn’t made to fly, and that it would be impious of them to think that they could. But they didn’t and today we fly around the world.

“It's OK” that you’re just not willing to try something new or think out of the box. But “the problem is, as evidenced by your attitude, you don’t have any clue about how much you don’t know.” The fact is, that this country changed by young, men that believed they could take on the British Empire, and they won; that two brothers from North Carolina believed they could fly, and they did; that a man named Bill Gates could drop out of an Ivy League College, because he thought he could change the industry, and he did; that a group of people can come together and change things, is the American spirit and we have been doing it for over 200 years now. Unfortunately, it is people like you who have “a real bad attitude” and are not even willing to try, is the apathy that has continued to let our government get by with swindling the people for generations. And “it’s very expensive for taxpayers” that have “a real bad attitude” to continue to sit back and complacently let the status quo continue to pilfer away our money and corrupt the ideals that millions have laid down their life for.

Lastly, “it’s okay” that you want to chastise me and imply that “[I] think [I] already know everything,” (Note: Which I don’t, never presumed I did, and is exactly why I am forking out thousands going to school today.) because people like myself will continue to fight for your right to have your Freedom of Speech without having your municipal, county, or State governments’ impose on that right. I would ask that when you criticize a person’s service, you think about what they have sacrificed, while you at home “phone[d] … in” to your Congressman complaining about the people that were away from their loved ones and losing their friends in battle. While you continued to kavetch “via email” and blogs, many of us continued to get letters from home informing us that another of our friends wouldn’t be home to greet us when we returned, because they had laid down their lives for your right to continue to criticize us. Maybe next time, take a moment to reflect before you criticize us so quickly.

Bill Fleming said...

Let's be clear, Jordon, I made no criticism whatsoever of your military service. In fact, I salute you and thank you for it.

My critique of you is your notion that you can conduct the business of City Hall via the internet.

If that's so, then so can we all and we don't need to elect anyone to office to represent us. We can just do it ourselves, via email.

I would be especially hesitant to trust someone so obviously inexperienced, defensive and hotheaded as you seem to be to do any emailing and teleconferencing on my behalf.

Good thing you're not running in my ward.

Jordan Mason said...

Mr. Fleming,

I hope that you have a wonderful birthday tomorrow.

I will be attending school tomorrow during the morning to continue learn those things that, presumably you think I already know. Too bad I don't, because then I would save the thousands that I am paying for my education currently. :)

I hope you have a wonderful day and take the day to relax.

Wishing you the best.

Jordan Mason

Bill Fleming said...

Thank you Jordon. I hope you enjoy your classes.