A little sunshine, please?

A mid-level brouhaha is developing over at City Hall, as the Rivalry between Jay Rohe and Gary Van Eyll seems to be escalating over Rohe’s expected appointment to the Southwest Transit Commission.

Rohe was believed to be the only candidate applying for the position, and completed the necessary paperwork and interview with the City Council on January 5.  However, a decision was made not to fill the commission role that evening.

Rohe sent a letter to the Chaska Herald, detailing his conversations with Mayor Van Eyll.  Rohe indicates that his nomination was being held up because of Van Eyll’s desire to have former Chaska mayor Bob Roepke in the position.  Roepke, in addition to being a key Van Eyll backer, is also an investor in the EdCampus development that is slated to be built near a proposed SWTC station at Engler and 212.

In the comments on the Herald’s website, much more is alleged about the so-called “good old boys” network.  Namely, that:

  • Van Eyll now works for former City Administrator Dave Pokorney.
  • Pokorney also served as a consultant for the Goodman Group on the senior housing project recently approved to be built at 41 and Hazeltine Drive.

If true, that would raise serious questions about whether the Mayor should have participated in such a vote.

Combine that with the fact that newly elected Council Member Rick Ford also has a financial stake in the EdCampus project, we have a whole lot of potential conflict of interests floating around out there. 

The questions posed are good ones.  The Mayor and the Council Members should come clean about their associations and be willing to recuse themselves as necessary to preserve the integrity of Chaska’s city government.

I’m not one who believes that stoking the “old Chaska” versus “new Chaska” bit does a whole lot of good. We shouldn’t be looking to divide the community, but rather bring it together around the best ideas.  But one has to wonder if this alleged “good old boys” club is really interested in listening to ideas from folks who aren’t in the club.  If not, it may be time for “new Chaska” to get organized (after all, over 55% of the community could be classified as “new Chaska”) and send the good ol’ boys packing.

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