LET Mayor worked as leader, a common arrangement on trips
In politics, the saying goes, "Perception is reality." Because of this risk, those in elective office or official positions must be careful to avoid activities that create an impression of improper behavior. This is especially important where a gift may influence policy or decisions made by the office holder that would benefit the giver.
Mayor Brede was recently accused of improperly accepting a gift.
In the mayor's case, he accepted travel expenses in return for his work in planning, organizing and guiding a trip of more than two dozen people -- no small feat. This is common compensation for providing this type of leadership and isn't evidence of bribery that could have any benefit to the travel agency.
Even if there were any pending decisions before the city council, our city charter doesn't allow our mayor a vote.
Council members Carr and Blenker voted against the resolution approving the mayor's expenses having been paid, but for very different reasons. Blenker voted against adopting the resolution, after the fact, because it misrepresented the city's involvement in the mayor's trip. Also, if the mayor's expenses were covered because, as the resolution states, he was on official business, then perhaps council members Nowicki's and Means' expenses should have been paid, too.
Brede does a very fine job of being a goodwill ambassador for our city. Carr would do well to follow his example.
; 'Elected official' and 'gifts' don't go together
The impressive investigative reporting by Jeffery Pieters posed legitimate questions as well as an opportunity for those in position to make it clear what the city of Rochester stands for.
The solution offered by the city council (P-B Nov. 8) "Council OKs mayors trip retroactively" looks a lot like "taking care of one of our own" or "fixing it for a friend" and did nothing to swell the chests of Rochesterites with pride.
Elected officials and "gifts" simply don't go together. It's an age-old conflict and has been addressed repeatedly. At the very least, Brede should pay for his and his wife's trip and the city council should adopt a policy that avoids any doubts or questions in the future.
; A 'hint of impropriety' defined
Things most Rochester residents know as fact"
It's not all right to take a free trip from a constituent.
It is not all right to promote one travel agent over another travel agent if you were on city business.
We understand what "a hint of impropriety" means. (If you are on the front page of the paper you quite possibly have broken the rule.)
We also know it is wrong to fix the "hint of impropriety" after the fact.
Yes, mayor, we do hold you to a higher standard.
In my estimation, it looks like it is time to break up the members of the city council if only two of them were concerned with this problem.
Come on, Rochester, we can do better!
; A worthy purpose, without using tax money
I encourage Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede and future mayors to continue the precedent of inviting citizens to accompany them on partner city visits.
If they are able to earn a free ticket by their effort it is really a gift to the city, as well as themselves, because it encourages a worthy purpose without spending tax money.
It is good for our city and our country to build friendly relationships overseas. These opportunities would fade away if we viewed them as inappropriate in some way.
We should respect the job that our local paper does by taking extra steps to make sure that our activities are open and transparent. The P-B may help us alert people to join these visits.
It is a great honor to represent this much-admired city. The joy is multiplied when other citizens can share in the visit or as hosts in our city's service.
; Mayor chose not to disclose it was a free ride
My view? Ask, "Is it legal? Does it violate state law, city charter, or city's code of ethics?"
In the P-B's words, it was a "discovery" -- not a "full disclosure" by Mayor Brede -- that the Bredes' tickets/lodging (worth more than $4,600) were paid for by an area travel agency.
Brede had ample opportunity to give "full disclosure," on air (KROC) and in print (P-B). He was heard to say, "Each paid their own way." We read, "No tax dollars paid for his trip." He didn't disclose it was a free ride. That had to be discovered! He chose to not be open, above board, honest with taxpayers. Why?
For me, the city council passing a resolution, retroactively, declaring Mayor Brede's trip an "official" trip ... doesn't clarify things. Thank you, Pat Carr and Amy Blenker, for voting "no."
Now we know! Elected officials can break rules/laws. City Council can make it okay with a simple vote. Floodgates are opened. Break rules/laws, go to City Council, get that rule/law changed with a new resolution, then business as usual. Repeat this until all our money is taken from us.
Drafting a "new" travel policy won't be honored any more than was the present one when Brede chose to break it in September. Where, oh where, is government accountability?