Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Morals, Schmorals

First the Cassia County Clerk was accused of grabbing a female county employee by the wrists and was asked by the county commissioners to work from home. Then that clerk, Larry Mickelsen, announced he would not be seeking re-election and would retire June 1, 2010, giving him time to get the 2011 budget process underway. Under pressure from the county Republican party, Mickelsen moved up his retirement date to this Friday, February 26th. Now, another member of the county GOP, Burley City Councilman Dennis Curtis, has been served with a citizen complaint for misdemeanor battery and disturbing the peace.

The citizen's complaint, filed with the Minidoka County sheriff's office by John Walsh, accuses Councilman Curtis of pulling Walsh to the floor and uttering profanity at him in a Rupert eatery. Walsh states in his complaint, as outlined in the Times-News, that Curtis was provoked by Walsh's refusal to shake his hand. Walsh is a fairly well-known Mini-Cassian who has given the Burley Council grief in the past.

If it weren't for the mixed messages of Dennis Curtis and Larry Mickelsen, the altercation with Walsh may have been just another odd story out of the Magic Valley penned by the always entertaining Damon Hunzeker. However, both Curtis and Mickelsen have made their "morals" a key element of their politics.

When the news got out that there had been an incident between Mickelsen and a county employee, both Mickelsen and Commissioner Clay Handy confirmed that Mickelsen was working from his home in Oakley and only coming to the courthouse before or after hours. Working at home in Oakley, approximately twenty miles from the county courthouse in Burley, couldn't have been an ideal arrangement for Mickelsen or the county. Yet, it remained the arrangement for the county clerk from mid-August until this week.

When Mickelsen announced last month that he would not be seeking re-election and would retire in June, his reported reason for retiring was so he could spend time with family before he and his wife served a mission for their church. Yes, a mission. This from the man who allegedly grabbed a county employee by her wrists, was asked by the county commission to work from home, and was not allowed to work in the courthouse during business hours because of the alleged threat he posed. Working from home didn't afford him the time with family he needed? There may be more to the story now that the county GOP has determined that needed supervision of county employees is not happening with Mickelsen working from Oakley and have set out to find an interim replacement.

As for Curtis, remember back in October when former Senator Larry Craig's new consulting agency, New West Strategies, was brought in to discuss bringing a federal prison to Malta? It was Curtis who said in a Burley City Council meeting about the proposed prison that he had reservations about bringing Larry Craig in to consult because of "Craig's morality." Apparently, Councilman Curtis sees no problem with taking a man to the floor and uttering "f*** you then," in response to that man refusing to shake his hand. All in a high-traffic, family restaurant. Nothing immoral about that... Good grief!

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