Mayor Won't Resign After Public Bender

The city council in Sheboygan, Wisconsin wants to remove the mayor from office because he's a self-proclaimed alcoholic who recently went on a three-day bender during which he got into a fight and passed out at some schlubby tavern that, from pictures, looks just like how stale Cheese Doodles smell.

Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan says his lost weekend began on a Friday at dinner, and ended three days later. "I'm not proud of it," he says. "That's not me, but that's the alcoholic within me." He's working with counselors, psychologists, and doctors, attending group meetings, and—in light of his latest stumble—says he's enrolling in an intensive outpatient program to supplement all those other sobriety-promoting activities. He's doing the best he can to beat his illness, it sounds, and his family's behind him.

Nevertheless, Sheboygan city council members seem to be quite ashamed of Ryan's personal struggles, and on Monday will consider a resolution to ask him for his resignation. To begin removal proceedings, the council would have to receive a formal complaint from someone in the community. Nobody in the community's stepped up to file, so council members are talking about filing the complaint on their own. As one councilmember told a reporter, "We'll lodge the formal complaint and do the judge and the jury all together."

And so this case pretty much exemplifies everything that's wrong with politics today:

  • You've got a mayor who's being honest about his personal failings, and who's therefore being shamed and punished for it;
  • You've got city council members who are talking about resorting to anti-democratic means to "do what is right for the community" by trying to kick the mayor out of office—even though many people in the community supposedly support him; and
  • You've got those same council members projecting and providing bullshit rationalizations to "explain" why ousting Ryan is necessary:

    Why I would support a move to have him resign has nothing to do with his alcoholism, which he admits is a disease. I would no more remove someone for the disease of alcoholism than I would for the disease of cancer," said [Alderman Eric] Rindfleisch, who couldn't be reached Saturday. "It's not the alcoholism, it's the embarrassment issue to the city."

Alcoholism tends to involve embarrassing behavior; it clearly does in Ryan's case. So I'm sorry but yes, you are trying to remove the mayor for his alcoholism.

In addition to the bender, Ryan's other displays of alleged bad behavior include making some sort of sex-comment about a relative and being accused of sexual harassment by a former female employee. So dude's got some behavioral problems. But let the voters decide to throw him out, if that's what they want to do.

Update: In Marinette, Wisconsin, city officials are trying to oust their mayor, Robert Harbick, following a July 2 incident in which Harbick crashed into a light pole while driving drunk. In this case, a citizen has filed a formal complaint. Just one more needed for a "drunken Wisconsin mayor facing problems at work" trend piece.

[TMJ 4, Journal-Sentinel, Image via TMJ 4]