There was a lot of tension in the air in the Willmar City Council Chambers Monday as a group made a presentation on their ideas on how to increase cooperation and lessen conflict between the city council, Mayor Frank Yanish, and city staff, particularly City Administrator Charlene Stevens. The spokesman for the group Moving Willmar Forward was Wayne Nelson, and in the end, he asked the council hire an outside group to do a study of the city government organizational structure. As expected, some city council members were somewhat defensive, and council member Ron Christianson said the situation was not as bad as the group portrayed. He accused the West Central Tribune of blowing any conflicts at city hall out of proportion, and said a member of the Moving Willmar Forward group had sent a very insulting e-mail, calling the city council "knuckle heads" and derisvely calling Christianson "King Ron." In fairness, the email was privately sent to Stevens, who did not respond, and was later discovered by the Mayor. I've been in the news business for 30 years now, beginning my career in August of 1982, and have covered many city councils, county boards, school boards, legislatures and such in 4 different states, and I guess I don't see the situation in Willmar as particularly toxic. True, they don't vote in unison, rubber stamping each ordinance while "Kumbaya" plays in the background, and some council members truly do not like each other. But I've yet to hear any insults, character assassinations or even shouted interruptions of each other during meetings. I am not accusing the paper of sensationalizing things, although the group Moving Willmar Forward started meeting after an article this fall in which they interviewed outgoing council member Doug Reese, who said the council needs to listen to their experts more. But I think it's healthy to have conflicting views on any governmental board, as long as the conflicts don't prevent compromise and progress, which is happening in Willmar. There's a new(er) mayor and a new(er) city administrator and will there soon be a new city council member, and there is jockeying for position to fill a power vacuum. Congress, on the other hand, is a different story. They truly appear incapable of getting anything done. Congress' ratings, before the election, were rock bottom, yet most incumbants won reelection...apparently people hate everyone else's congress member and not their own.
That is very well said. The west central tribune doesn't report news as it should, instead it tries to drum up more drama. Which is exactly why I stick to the radio station news rather then the tribune. I'd be delighted to see a second newspaper come back to Willmar!!