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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Dave Hafner Writes Letters

Over a two year period from mid-2006 to mid-2008, city council candidate Dave Hafner was a somewhat prolific writer of letters to the editor concerning Maplewood politics. A look at these letters may give us an unfiltered impression of his personality and political leanings.

For example, in a Pioneer Press letter published July 28, 2006, Hafner blamed "endless gridlock in Maplewood" government on councilmembers Juenemann and Rossbach. A couple months later, the September 27, 2006 Maplewood Review included Hafner's complaint that "the Lillie News has published 0 articles supporting the new Council members" (Cave, Hjelle, Longrie), thus doing a disservice to the "good, decent, honest citizens of Maplewood."

In another Pioneer Press letter to the editor, published January 1, 2007, Hafner attacked previous letter writers (including yours truly) who had criticized the 2 AM hiring of Greg Copeland. Hafner said that if Will Rossbach had wanted to be present for that vote, he could have had the agenda item held for a later meeting. Of course, that would have required Rossbach to know in advance that Erik Hjelle planned, under the agenda item "Selection of Firm to Coordinate the City Manager Hiring Process," to throw that process away and simply hire Copeland permanently.

In the February 4, 2007, Pioneer Press, Hafner accused the newspaper of publishing "slanted, unfounded propaganda," and complained of the paper's treatment of Mayor Longrie: "After giving our mayor the only truthful interview she's had in 14 months and giving us hope, you ripped her apart the very next day."

An April 4, 2007 letter from Hafner in the Maplewood Review defended Erik Hjelle from the "angry, hostile" letters of Christine M. Stone (a Maplewood senior citizen who Mr. Hafner has often singled out).

Hafner's efforts to support Mayor Longrie's coalition came to naught in the 2007 election results. After I joined the city council I can only think of one Hafner letter I've seen: In the April 8, 2008 Maplewood Review, Hafner suggested that the newspaper could increase its circulation by stopping its reporting on Maplewood politics, which he characterized as "inaccurate + irresponsible."

Besides his printed letters, you can also find Hafner's comments on various media stories around the internet. On one Maplewood Review story online in February 2008, for example, he defended former city manager Greg Copeland, and claimed that “Slick Willie” (as he called Councilmember Rossbach) "instigated" previous media coverage of the city and “incessantly contrived 'huge issues' over the last two years.”

Hafner's letters display some recurrent themes (already familiar from his appearances before the city council and at the mayor's forum):
  • Attacks on Will Rossbach and Kathy Juenemann
  • Lavish praise for Diana Longrie, Erik Hjelle, Rebecca Cave, and Greg Copeland
  • Attacks on critics of the Copeland-Longrie regime, singling out individual residents by name
  • Complaints about what he sees as media bias
Given Hafner's record as an outspoken supporter of Mayor Longrie and former Councilmember Cave, it is striking that this year he is running as a slate with two different candidates, DelRay Rokke and Ken Smart. I have the impression he still seethes with hatred for Rossbach, Juenemann, and me, but I'm not really sure how his thinking evolved to apparently place Longrie and perhaps Cave on his enemies list as well.

In his candidate profile submitted to the Maplewood Review, Hafner states that "We have not been proud of our government for the last eighteen years," now suggesting his resentments go much further back in time. I leave it to the reader to decide if his profile reflects disingenuousness in his previous letters and public statements (if he was never really "proud" of Longrie and her regime, while he was vocally defending them), or simply an effort to rewrite history and hope voters don't associate him with the disastrous period of city governance that he so publicly supported.

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