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Friday, December 16, 2011

Op/Ed- Backhanded Resignation Behnke Style

An ROJS News Op/Ed

The Behnke saga continues.

When Mark Behnke announced he was running for the City Commission, while still having half of his term left on the County Board, many questions were raised if he could legally hold both offices.

The question I asked is, 'Why does he feel the need to hold two elected offices and if he left the County position for the City why would he do that?' It certainly wouldn't be for ethical reasons as Behnke has proven to be less than ethical. (Remember, this is the guy who as Mayor, "tweeted" on twitter 65 city employees social security numbers).

Shortly after questions were raised I was informed that Behnke was very bitter about not receiving the Chair position on the County Board of Commissioners like he expected (or felt entitled to) and that there may have been personality conflicts between Behnke and some of the other county commissioners. So Behnke decided to return to his old stomping grounds and ran for the Battle Creek City Commission....while still serving his position on the County Board.

In November 2011, Behnke was sworn in to office of his newly elected City Commission seat....while still serving on the County Board.

The fact that Behnke didn't immediately resign after winning the City Commission seat raised a red flag for me. It told me that he had no intention of following through with what he had told the people of the City and County. It also told me he was right where he wanted to be and this was his intent all along.

If he resigned his county position before the end of the year, it would mean that an election would take place and it would be up to the voters to select his successor. If he resigned after the end of the year, his successor would be appointed rather than elected. So after doing the political hokey-pokey and after a Battle Creek man filed a complaint with the ACLU claiming that Behnke is trying to deny voters the right to elect Behnke's successor, Behnke announced his resignation from the County Commission.

Well he sort of resigned.

At the end of the December 15th, 2011 Calhoun County Commission meeting, Behnke announced his resignation from that position. BUT in his official letter of resignation, the date his resignation becomes effective is January 5th, 2012. Meaning that his successor will be appointed, not elected. Just as Behnke had planned.

The reason many people are upset about this is because Behnke is intentionally subverting the electoral process. Over the past month while he was holding both offices, you could almost see the smoke rising from the shady backroom deals going on between Behnke and his cronies on the county board; planning who would be his successor.

With the electoral process having been successfully subverted by Behnke's backhanded resignation one can almost guarentee that whomever is appointed to Behnke's vaccant seat will be a political puppet and Behnke the puppet master.

Do not be surprised if recently defeated Ward 5 City Commissioner, and buddy of Behnke, Andy Yankama is appointed as Behnke's successor. Deals like this don't just happen overnight. They can take days or weeks, or in Behnke's case 37 days from election to resignation announcement to successfully pull off.

At the end of the day a few things are clear. Much of this fiasco can be blamed solely on Mark Behnke. This whole issue could have been prevented if:

A) He never ran for City while still serving on the county board.
B) He resigned before he ran for the city.
C) He resigned after he was elected to the city and before he took the oath of office for the City Commission.

The way our laws and protocols are written can be to blame also. A person who has been elected to a office that is incompatible with a current office they are holding, should not be allowed to be sworn in until the incompatibility issue is resolved.

One must then look at this whole situation and determine if Mark Behnke and his political three-ring circus is a person who best represents Battle Creek and truly deserves to be holding public office. If he is so willing to blatantly, arrogantly and purposefully subvert the electoral process, what makes you think Mark won't continue to subvert and not listen to his constituents in the City he now represents?

Best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

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