Saturday, March 25, 2023

Slippery slope gets slicker with resignation

| February 25, 2022 1:00 AM

Moments before Tuesday’s bizarre final chapter that led to Mayor Steve Griffitts’ decision to resign rather than fight on, a Hayden resident named Lynda Putz addressed the council and assembled citizens.

Putz, who said she’s lived here three and a half years, rebuked a previous speaker who had asked the council to make a formal statement against the planned March 12 gathering of white supremacists at Hayden Lake.

Putz not only defended what she repeatedly called “white supremists,” but admitted she’s one — a sign-carrying "white supremist," at that. She described all "white supremists" as patriots.

Putz didn't push Griffitts over the edge, but the battle against that kind of blatant ignorance has suddenly become even more difficult because of a good man's resignation.

Griffitts’ once overflowing tank of patience and perseverance came up bone dry Tuesday night. There was nothing left in reserve after the two newcomers to the council refused to follow legal advice and, in the mayor’s view, put every Hayden taxpayer at risk as a result.

Did he have to quit? In Griffitts’ mind, the usual diplomacy, consideration for disparate viewpoints and respectful discourse had run into their final brick wall. Resigning was something of a nuclear solution — a complete rearrangement of the playing field in hopes that the audience will become aware that the game has gone haywire.

Hayden city leadership now looks disturbingly like North Idaho College’s. At NIC, three candidates backed by an insidious political group gained control of the Board of Trustees, and in short order they have brought the college to its knees.

Last fall, Hayden City Council challengers Ed DePriest and Sandra White took on longtime incumbents Jeri DeLange and Dick Panabaker and beat them soundly, running on a platform of stemming growth in the community. They were both backed by a Political Action Committee formed by sitting Councilman Matt Roetter, an extraordinary development giving those three control of the city.

Warning: Look out below.

Time will tell if Griffitts’ concerns are borne out, but one thing is crystal clear. To the many of us who have known Steve as the longtime leader of economic development in the region and a dedicated servant to the citizens of Hayden the past six years, the city is losing one of its most honest, hardworking and selfless officials.

Show us anyone who questions Griffitts’ integrity and we will point out someone who should instead be looking in a mirror.

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