It's not easy in the public eye

By Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

It's never easy being an elected official.

People who run for city councils, school boards, county boards or even the state legislature know all about that. No matter what they do, it seems that a good portion of the public is quick to criticize. Whenever spending is cut in one area, people who are affected by the cuts in programs accuse them of being uncaring or having no vision. Increase spending in one area, and you get accused of being reckless with tax dollars, playing favorites or pandering to special interests.

Elected officials also have a target on them in another way. People watch what they say and what they do. If they step out of line, people are quick to form judgements.

That, no doubt, has been the case with a member of the New Prague City Council. As reported in this newspaper last week, council member Ken Betterton was arrested, cited for disorderly conduct and taken to the detox center in New Ulm.

Mr. Betterton is likely not the first city council member to have had, in his words way too much to drink on occasion, nor is he the first to have made some stupid comments. If that was the extent of the story, most people would be quick to forgive.

But in reading the full police report, Betterton - a former law enforcement officer himself - swore at, insulted and belittled the officers who initially were just trying to help him by getting him home. When asked for his wife's phone number so she could come get him, he swore at them, and when he was being transported to the detox center, he threatened the officer's livelihood and the police department's budget.

When asked for a comment last week, Mr. Betterton said he would Make things right for the citizens of New Prague. On Friday, he submitted his resignation, which will be acted on at the August 2 meeting of the city council.

Elected officials and residents need to learn from this incident and move on. There is no need to persecute the man or his family and friends. What is done is done.

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