So the Bemidji Alliance wants to get rid of our City Manager. Since the accusations against him, along with the meetings, minutes, and emails behind them are all secret, we residents are left to scrutinize a few vague, selectively disclosed complaints.

There are insinuations of insulting emails, of city management run amok and of “non-cooperation” with Sanford Health’s “Wellness Center” project. Wait, what? A sports complex? Again? Who would own it? Who would build it? Do they want tax dollars for this? What happened to the YMCA? Reminder: The rush to build the Event Center is fresh in residents’ minds and if anyone thinks a second sports complex is going to be built without following every law, without public disclosure, discussion, and debate, they are sorely mistaken.

This is what happened last time around. If it falls to Nate Mathews to safeguard our tax dollars and ensure that the will of city residents (and Minnesota law) is being followed, then we should vigorously support him. I know and appreciate a number of people on the Bemidji Alliance board. Political give-and-take between the city and any interest group is fine and good. Secret meetings, non-disclosure agreements and insulting and berating our elected leaders and city staff is not.

The irony that this mega sports center complex would bear the name of the same clinic as the previous mega sports center is almost too much to bear. There is a metric ton I could say about Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, but for the moment I will say only this: If Sanford administrators were half as interested in nuts-and-bolts primary care, in treating their patients and staff with decency and respect as they are in slapping their names on sports venues, then health care in northwest Minnesota would look vastly different.

I’ve known Nate Mathews since he moved to Bemidji. Mostly, we cross paths over a beer at public gatherings or on the ski trails. It takes all of two minutes to realize that Nate is decent and thoughtful manager. He and I don’t agree on every policy subject but I never had the slightest doubt about his integrity or his huge affection for this city. I am thankful Nate is here, working hard on behalf of all city residents. The City Council is right to support him. And Bemidji is lucky to have him.

Robert Saxton

Bemidji