Friday, February 04, 2011

McLeod County Chronicle Op Ed on the Newman Debacle

The opinion of a center-right newspaper in our district.  The same newspaper that didn't endorse Newman.
State Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, got off to a rocky start in his new job at the state Legislature when an e-mail from his office indicated he would not be meeting with individuals or groups that supported his opponents during the last election.

While the aim of Newman's e-mail may have been to minimize his availability to lobbyists, the strategy boomeranged.

Whether it was an error by a staffer, which Newman claimed, or an error of judgment on his part is still being debated. But make no mistake, it was an error.

His apology and taking responsibility was a start, but was the content of the e-mail his own philosophy? In his initial statement, Newman said, "I want to be clear, that is not my policy to reject meeting requests on a political or partisan basis. I look forward to continuing to serve all constituents of Senate District 18 as the legislative session continues."

We will give him the benefit of the doubt. His future actions will be a better indicator.

The real question is who wrote the e-mail?

Newman did not help his cause by "tossing his aide under the bus" when the initial allegation came out. If the aide took the initiative, wrote the e-mail and sent it out, then the aide should be fired.

If Newman wrote the e-mail for his staffers and not for general consumption, shame on him for even thinking that way.

Needless to say, the whole mess has been disappointing. Newman gave us high hopes that things would change at the Capitol this session. We did not expect this, however.

The Newman e-mail is a major distraction that takes the focus off what is really important - addressing the state's $6.2 billion budget shortfall.

DFLers have jumped on Newman by seeking an ethics hearing on his conduct. Republicans have countered the DFLers are being hypocritical by ignoring past indiscretions by Democrats. It seems to be politics-as-usual in St. Paul.

Let us get past this distraction and get on with the important business at the Legislature.

Let's get some "adult" leadership for once so we can all get out from under this budget mess we are mired in.

- R.G.

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