On Tuesday, Mankato Mayor John Brady said he will not resign after being arrested on Aug. 21 for driving while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration level of 0.24 — three times the legal limit. Brady was also arrested for an alleged hit-and-run accident, an open bottle violation and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.
Mayor Brady also admitted he’s been an alcoholic for “18 years or so,” though he’s had stretches of sobriety lasting up to three years. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “he cited the death of his son last November and a 2007 tragedy in rural Waseca. His stepdaughter is Hilary Kruger, who was severely wounded when a gunman entered her home and killed her husband and son.”
Mayor Brady still plans on running for re-election in November, where he’ll face the court of public opinion. Fortunately for him, Brady seems to have the Mankato Free Press on his side. On Aug. 27, managing editor Joe Spear wrote:
Now, the argument goes, people are really going to believe Mankato is all about excessive drinking. The mayor was caught driving drunk, a mayor who has been involved in efforts to curb excessive alcohol use. That’s certainly going to be a factor in how the community can measure Brady’s ability to be a leader going forward.
Things are not looking good for the mayor, but we’re obligated by our ethics and our sense of fairness to hear the whole story before passing judgment.
I’ve only read the online version of today’s Mankato Free Press, but Spear & Co. continued to avoid judgment and instead wrote an editorial about 2010 congressional elections. The paper’s silence speaks volumes.
Robb Murray, an education reporter at the Mankato Free Press, got some great quotes from city council members who expected Brady’s resignation. From Robb’s story – the best coverage I’ve read so far:
“I came here hoping he would step down,” said Vance Stuehrenberg, a council member who is currently running for a seat on the Blue Earth County Board. “I honestly think the mayor needs to recover, but I don’t think he should be doing it on city time.”
“John’s a good guy and an effective mayor,” council member Mark Frost said. “But this is a breach of public trust that cannot be tolerated.”
In an editorial published Jan. 21, 2006, the Mankato Free Press endorsed Brady’s initial mayoral campaign: “Brady brings the most to the table in terms of knowledge, people skills and most importantly an ability to rally the council to work together to bring the city to the next level.” It seems that ability is lost now, so it’s puzzling the Mankato Free Press wouldn’t be as willing to call for his resignation.
If I was Spear and had any desire to maintain the integrity of my newspaper, I would assign at least two reporters from my severely understaffed newsroom to blow this story apart today and be sure tomorrow’s edition included response from community members, political advisers, lawyers, law enforcement, former mayors and drug and alcohol counselors. This is the biggest story of the year in Mankato and it’s being painfully underplayed. When a story is the talk of the town on its own, you, as managing editor, have the responsibility to provide the facts and details your readers deserve.
Back to Mayor Brady: I can’t say I’m surprised he’s relinquished his grip on the mayorship. Thomas Jefferson said “Power is not alluring to pure minds,” By yesterday’s admission, the Mankato community has every right to be skeptical of Brady’s abilities and motives. If he’s truly committed to seeking assistance for his illness, he must admit he’s not fit to run a city at the same time. He can either face the levity of his situation and go on his own terms or wait until November and see if the community is then more forgiving.
(Thanks to Nate Brennan and the MSU Reporter for the above video of Mayor Brady’s press conference.)