Editorial says brawling council members deserved criminal charges

In northwestern Minnesota, two Thief River Falls politicians get no sympathy from the Grand Forks Herald, which editorializes today that City Council members Josh Hagen, 38, and Jerald Brown, 73, deserved the criminal charges filed against them last week for a brawl at a subcommittee meeting earlier this month.

A discussion about a splash pad set the two to brawling.

Nice. And indicative, today’s editorial says.

It’s about respect, and the events that unfolded in that committee room in Thief River Falls showed little respect for fellow committee members or to the people they represent. Sure, it’s only a low-level committee meeting discussing—of all things—a splash park. But a meltdown of this proportion is indicative of a lack of understanding of the responsibilities these men have as public representatives.

Public office, we are certain, comes with no little amount of stress. For every happy photo-op at a ribbon-cutting or park-opening, members of boards and councils also must make difficult decisions that could hurt many people’s everyday lives and pocketbooks. It’s not an easy job.

But with election or selection to these boards comes responsibilities, the first and foremost of which is to act professionally, appropriately and respectfully.

One council member reportedly shoved the other, who picked up a chair as a weapon in his defense.

“Witnesses stated that both Hagen and Brown could have avoided this altercation and were acting like two children on a schoolyard,” the complaint said.