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August 5, 2008

One’s Inexperience and Immaturity

Joan Marie Aquilino

Those aspiring to elected office need to learn before applying that it's a tough job and requires an equally tough skin. Do you question why I use the phase "applying?"


I do so because that is exactly what you are doing and your interviewer is every taxpaying/voting citizen in this county. Sometimes we make mistakes.


If people hurt your feelings and make you angry, deal with that in private, don't discuss it on forums. And don't develop forums just to discuss and control it. The public doesn't want to hear excuses, what ifs, maybes and possibilities. They don't care that your feelings got hurt, or if someone said you were wrong. Have a stiff drink, play basketball, turn your compost heap, whatever you need to do, but get over it.


Commissioner Kai Hagen has not learned to rise above the public conversations and behave in a manner becoming an elected official. He is unequipped to be in a place of authority that controls the use of our tax dollars. This isn't high school; it's the real world and real dollars. Leaving Mr. Hagen in control is like the parent who gives his paycheck to the teenager. He takes it too much to heart and – personally – is in a constant state of finger pointing and excusing himself. The controlled maturity is missing.


My first year on the Planning Commission used to leave me in shock when I'd be personally attacked. I stopped my children from getting messages off our answering machine because some few were vile. I talked to other experienced planning commissioners and they gave me suggestions on how to handle it. Experience did help and I did listen.


I didn't let others see me upset and I didn't respond. By doing those two things, it stopped. I got past it and realized very quickly they were frustrated and venting, plain and simple.


So be it. It wasn't exactly what I thought I was signing on for when I volunteered for the Planning Commission, but I adjusted. That is part of what you sign on for as a county commissioner though; it's part of your job.


I'd be surprised if Commissioner Hagen didn't know what he was getting himself into, especially considering he was one of the ones doling it out prior to his own election. He can give criticism with reckless abandon but hasn't learned the fine art of accepting it.


So many people, myself included, have suggested that Commissioner Hagen learn how to – and then – take the high road. He refuses, instead going tit-for-tat with anyone that dares to disagree or call him out.


The mere thought of him seeing fault or accepting blame in any discussion no matter the topic, I'm afraid will never happen. It's not confidence, but rather a self-conscious arrogance that shows and is his predominate character flaw.


An old family term for that behavior was getting “all puffed up.” Because of a blindness to see or admit any flaws that arrogance of his renders others blind and deaf when he's talking or typing. If no one is hearing you, you become ineffective.


When running for office Mr. Hagen offered a seemingly reasonable persona of someone that, while differing in opinions, could still handle himself in a respectful and mature fashion. I didn't want him in office, but I certainly didn't fear him in office.


Commissioner Hagen seems overwhelmed, unprepared and unable to move from local activist into the responsible position of county leader. Because of these inabilities, I now fear him in office.


Mr. Hagen is condescending and can't seem to rise above criticism. Instead of stating his facts clear and concise and letting them fall or rise on their own merit, he overwhelms with excessive dribble all the while thumping his chest.


At the same time he calls any in the general public, who dare to disagree, unintelligent, dishonest, and wrong. The list goes on. His words get extremely personal. Top it all off with his defense of those outside our county who lie and put down our county and its other officials.


When he can't get his way, he accuses others of being angry, petty and mean, etc. It can be excused on rare occasions. Everyone has slip ups when their emotions get the best of them. Commissioner Hagen has turned this from the rare exception to constant behavior.


He has a job the voters entrusted to him; and that job is to manage, guard and protect this county to the best of his ability with all citizens of this county as his only concern. This county is not run by private committee approval, or one of his activist groups dictating his moves, or his garnering enough support before bringing issues to the table. I've never witnessed such a dramatic a personal agenda.


Whenever Commissioner Hagen has an issue he's not rehearsed, he plays the transparency/good process card by wanting to take it to public hearing. By doing this he has the time to rally the troops and get the teleprompter ready. It has nothing to do with "the process."


His speeches are almost robotic in nature. That is evident in his manner of speaking, taking no breath, no break-in opportunities for others. Maybe Mr. Hagen isn't the leader; maybe he's actually the puppet for others.


At best we can hope he's immature and inexperienced; at worse he'll open the portal to eco-terrorist. Yes, I realize that was a bit dramatic, but that's how he addresses those who differ from him many times. Lots of drama.


The latest example of this behavior was when a news release was discussed to correct false information put out by CWA. The vote was 4/1(Hagen) for approval. The news release was needed to correct false information put out by a national lobbying group Commissioner Hagen once worked for and now supports. He immediately jumped to their defense, suggesting a public hearing in the name of transparency. He wanted the draft of the news release to go to public hearing before it was released to the news media.


What the heck would that accomplish?


He wanted public input on a county news release? ? ? That makes no sense whatsoever, and for once I would love to hear what he expected a public hearing to accomplish on a news release to correct inaccurate information.


He defends people and groups that lie to and about our county. Why?


In all fairness to Commissioner Hagen's efforts, maybe this job was a bit much and he just needs to relax a little and seriously take a deep breath. He shouldn't try to make every issue a war between himself and "us" that he must win at all costs.


There is a confidence that comes with experience and time in office, and there is arrogance that comes from inexperience.


Commissioner Hagen's inexperience is showing. He should learn to balance better for all our well beings.


...'til next time!

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