The day’s best story

With all due respect to the major winter storm paralyzing South Dakota (in APRIL), to turkey vultures falling frozen from the sky, to Tim Johnson explaining his gay marriage switch and state Rep. Scott Munsterman’s chiropractic company settling with the feds, my favorite news of the day comes from the west of the state, in the Rapid City Journal.

Reporter Joe O’Sullivan attended a remarkable meeting of the Box Elder City Council, which directed that town’s mayor to seek a psychological evaluation.

Box Elder is a fast-growing town of around 8,000 near Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base. Since Mayor Bill Griffiths unseated incumbent Al Dial in a contentious election last year, and has continued to make waves — he fired the city’s police chief immediately after taking office, then later got rid of the city’s finance officer.

Now other city employees have filed complaints against Griffiths, and the council last month took dramatic action.

Some choice quotes from O’Sullivan’s article:

The investigator found that the complaints against Griffiths by city workers were sustained and that “corrective action is warranted,” according to a reading of the investigative findings by City Council President Mark Coatney at that meeting.

"The mayor shall undergo a psychological evaluation to determine what counseling is necessary to take corrective action,” according to Coatney’s reading. The counseling will be paid for by the mayor, Coatney added.

Griffiths, who is in his 70s, did not return calls from the Journal on Monday and Tuesday seeking comment. When asked about the harassment allegations last week, Griffiths declined to comment and added, “There’s nothing on harassment.”

But Council Vice President Terry Wenrick told the Journal last week that both complaints involved harassment and one of them was sexual in nature.

“If they could afford not to work here, they’d be quitting,” Wenrick told the Journal last week.

The findings also direct Griffiths to apologize to the complainants and “refrain from making verbal comments that are offensive.” He also must attend a mediation session with the complainants. The entire city staff, including the mayor, must also undergo training on discrimination and harassment.

Read the full article here.