Monday, June 01, 2009

Nothing to see here. Move along.

The mayor-elect came. The mayor-elect blathered. The mayor-elect hauled ass.


Omaha's incoming chief executive, Jim Suttle, called a press conference to say his "community chief of staff" is out amid allegations the aide had a homosexual affair with an underage boy in the 1990s.

"I have asked Matt Samp to separate himself from my administration," Suttle said. "He will not be my community chief of staff; he will not serve in my administration."

Suttle spent the next couple of minutes saying a criminal background check wouldn't have uncovered the allegations against Samp, that too many challenges face Omaha to worry about a single blah blah blah, blahblah, blah, blah blah blah blah, blahblahblah, blah.

Nothing to see here. Move along. No questions. I'm out of here.

And then Suttle was gone.

THE QUESTIONS about the mayor-elect's intelligence and judgment remained, however, along with an angry press corps and a besieged Suttle press aide, Ron Gerard.

During his no-questions "press conference," Suttle spoke about trust and how it's "important to maintain faith among our citizens that we will not be deterred from the mission we have in the Mayor’s office." The first "mission" for any public official, though, is not to squander the people's trust by acting in a recklessly stupid manner.

Jim Suttle's first big test came before he even has taken office, and the result was an epic fail.

The mayor-elect is being disingenuous in saying no background check would have turned up problems with his prospective co-chief of staff; Suttle didn't need a criminal-records check to unveil what was stinking to high heaven right under his nose.

FOR EXAMPLE, one commenter on
an earlier post maintains Samp's practice of "'mentoring' male teenagers" is no secret in local Democratic circles. I don't find that hard to believe, being that Omaha is the big-city version of a small town -- everybody knows everybody else, and people talk.

And mayors-to-be don't have the luxury of dismissing scandalous gossip when it comes to hiring a staff to do the public's business, as opposed to pubic business. Suttle had a duty -- an obligation of trust, as it were -- to get to the bottom of those "ugly rumors." That probably would have required one phone call from the mayor-elect to the police chief.

Furthermore, it wasn't just talk. Democrats
had been warned about Samp by Nebraska's attorney general. From Monday's Omaha World-Herald story:
Nebraska attorney General Jon Bruning wants Suttle to rescind his offer to hire Samp.

"We can't have someone like that working in government," he said of Samp.

Bruning said an Omaha father contacted him earlier this year, concerned about e-mails and other communication that his 16-year-old son recently had been receiving from Samp. Although the interaction was not criminal, Bruning, a Republican, said he notified two Democratic leaders about the complaint.

When Bruning heard about Samp's city job last month, "I was sick to my stomach and angry," Bruning said. "The citizens of Omaha deserve better."
BRUNING WAS even more explicit today with KETV television:
Bruning said he thought Samp's relationship with the teen was immoral, but there was no evidence of criminal conduct. [The age of consent in Nebraska is 16 -- R21.]

"If Matt Samp can explain why he's calling a 16-year old at 1:30 in the morning and e-mailing him sexually explicit emails, then I'd like to see that explanation. But I can't imagine there's anything that I or the citizens of Nebraska are going to buy," Bruning told KETV.

He said the latest complaint doesn't warrant criminal charges but he will investigate any further allegations that may come to his attention.
CRIMINAL-BACKGROUND check, my eye. The whole stinking heap . . . right under Jim Suttle's nose. But he couldn't be bothered with such unpleasantness.

There's a word for that kind of indifference. It's negligence. Just the thing we're looking for in a mayor. Especially now.

"The mission of the next administration is important and the challenges facing city government are too numerous to focus our energies on one news story," Suttle said before fleeing from the assembled news media. In other words, having demonstrated his incompetence and negligence in the little things, Suttle wants us to "move on" and not worry that he's now in charge of the Really Big Things.

The mayor-elect is not only stupid, he thinks we're nuts.

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