“Why are you doing this, you don’t even live in Great Bend?” is a very good question. I’ve spent as much time as I possibly can at my sister’s house painting signs to support Chief Couch, and anyone that knows me knows I have no idea which end of a paint brush to dip in the paint. Why? I care.
I care about something important to my family: a safer town to work in, for my child to go to school in, for my parents to retire in, for my nieces and nephews to grow up in. That’s why I painted.
There’s a sign somewhere in Great Bend that has some pretty silly looking stars on it, but when I turned to make fun of my own lack of painting skills someone had already snagged that sign with its silly stars and wet paint. They must have cared, too.
I care that a man who has serious concerns appears to have been shushed. I care that the Chief who is working to make things safer can’t get fully staffed. I care that the Chief was suspended in such a hasty fashion. Why so hasty? Why were the allegations of the workplace not investigated independently? Do we expect the alleged victim to investigate the alleged perpetrator of the harassment? How do we ensure no repercussions for those willing to speak up? How do those involved feel safe to speak freely to someone from the community or administration about the truth? Would we ask any other person being harassed to investigate their own complaint? I’m curious if the information currently in front of the council, which they had to use for decision-making, was balanced from both sides of this conflict? Why so hasty City Council and Mr. Mayor?
Now to ask, and what I ask is this: Thorough, thoughtful and factual information to be the basis of any decision. Dig for the truth and reason behind what appears on the surface. Seek balance in information sources then ponder. Be thoughtful. Reflect on the facts. Then, with balanced information, seek the solution. Is this misconduct or is this a whistle blower and a wake-up call? Is the issue based in someone else than the Chief? What remedy for that is available? How can this be resolved to achieve not only the safety, security, and stability of our community but also faith and trust in the system designed to resolve complaints and issues, not sweep those issues aside.
I beg all council members to take this approach. Be thoughtful and deliberate with truthful, balanced and factual information in front of you, and then do the right thing for a safe, stable community. The right thing is not always easy, but it is always right.