You’re more likely to be “Crony-ed” in Eureka than……well…..anywhere!

tysonThe hits just keep on coming in Eureka. After an exhaustive nationwide search, Eureka is poised to hire the next City Manager. This position is arguably the most important and influential in city government. It has taken six months. The City has spared no expense. After rigorous vetting, Greg Sparks, former City Manager of West Des Moines, is slated to be given a contract after this next Tuesday’s City Council Meeting.

Examiner staff has to bow their hats to the diligence the city showed when completing the thorough background investigation of Sparks. He is exactly what Eureka wants…..a good ol’ boy who isn’t above giving favors to his cronies. The high levels of Cronyism achieved by decade long City Manager David Tyson is still the gold standard to which the City aspires.

Thank you City Council, great job! Especially coming on the heels of your disgraceful non-apology, once again showing whose pocket you’re are all in
marina center arkley cartoon


Check out Greg Sparks fine résumé;

Process for Picking West Des Moines Police Chief Criticized. Shaun LaDue, who worked with West Des Moines City Manager Greg Spark in Owatonna, MN, will start work next month as police chief.

UPDATE: West Des Moines Names New Police Chief Now an investigator for an insurance company, the city’s new police chief and its current city manager once worked for the same city.


16 thoughts on “You’re more likely to be “Crony-ed” in Eureka than……well…..anywhere!

  1. I’m surprised the TS or NCJ didn’t write about this guys past. The links in this post pop right up when you google this guys name.

    Oh wait, I forgot that there aren’t really any local journalists left who are willing to ask tough questions. More marijuana porn please.


  2. The king of cronies will soon be replaced. That is very good news. He has strangled this city for far too long. Nothing happens except what he has wanted to happen. He controls the council and department heads by in large. A few employees and council people didn’t kneel before him and they ended up in his office for a little talking to. Just ask Garr Neilson what that was like. Bad news: It looks like we get another city manager cut from the same cloth.Tyson’s finger print is all over this pick. How did that happen?


  3. What a way to end the weekend, in the spirit of the World Renewal Ceremony, you have trotted out the boogeyman David Tyson to frighten us all. You have also thrown in the even bigger boogeyman Rob Arkely, to truly make us all shiver in our boots.

    If you folks were really serious about a change in the current direction, you would come up with a real plan instead of throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks. The seats on the council are usually won by close votes, present a plan and get people who like the plan to vote. The methods you are currently using are old and stale.


  4. O.K. so the Patch articles state that Greg Sparks was chief administrator for the city of Owatonna when Shaun LaDue was police chief there, and that when Sparks became city manager for West Des Moines and there was an opening for chief of police in West Des Moines, Sparks’s former colleague LaDue applied for the position and Sparks hired him.

    I’m not seeing how that alone is evidence that LaDue was hired due to Sparks engaging in “cronyism” or that LaDue was Sparks’s “crony?” Isn’t it entirely possible that Sparks simply felt that LaDue had done a good job as police chief in Owatonna and therefore was glad to have the opportunity to hire him to do the same in West Des Moines?

    In other words, does being a former colleague automatically make you a “crony?” Or was there more to it — were they business associates or close personal friends, or something like that? Was LaDue a lousy, unqualified candidate and Sparks hired him anyway? If not, this story seems rather overblown, to say the least. Because to me, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with hiring a former colleague who you feel is a good candidate. Unless there was some other kind of corruption going on there, this seems like a pretty weak criticism of Mr. Sparks.


  5. Anonymous 6:53:

    I think what gathers my attention is that all the “search committees” did not rate this fellow’s selection for police chief at the top of their lists and yet he got the job anyway.

    I do take the point that each committee thought any of the four candidates would do a good job of being police chief. But the mandate was to pick the one who would do the BEST job. I can see why the search committee members would be annoyed.

    And you are right that we are talking about one incident. Perhaps that was the regular way our new City Manager operated, I don’t know. Perhaps the TE is going overboard about this incident. That I also don’t know.

    We don’t have the information our search committees had when they made the Eureka City Manager selection. Was this fellow at the top of their selection lists?

    Perhaps a “heads up” is warranted.


  6. “The ‘search committees’ did not rate this fellow’s selection for police chief at the top of their lists and yet he got the job anyway.I can see why the search committee members would be annoyed.”

    You make a valid point, and I can certainly see why the search committee members would be annoyed. But at the end of the day, it’s the city manager who has to actually work closely with the chief, supervise them, etc.

    But, again, you make a valid point that LaDue wasn’t the top candidate according to the search committee, but was hired by Sparks, who worked with him previously. So in that sense I suppose one could say it creates the “appearance of cronyism.” Whether is was actual cronyism or not, I don’t know.

    If I was in the position of hiring someone for a very important job, someone whose performance I would be held accountable for and with whom I would need to work closely and effectively, I can see how I might pick someone that I knew, from personal experience, was excellent at their job and that I knew I could work well with, over someone who looked good on paper and did well in interviews, but was still a somewhat unknown quantity to me. Is that an unfair advantage for that candidate? I suppose so. But short of automatically disqualifying anyone that the decision-maker has had any direct experience with, I don’t see a way around it.


  7. Except for the NCJ on occasion, we never see this kind of reporting in this county. Few local “journalists” are known to take the time to be…journalists. Who would have thought to check the newspapers from where our new leaders are imported?

    It’s far easier to conceal embarrassing and incompetent imbroglios, large or small, when public employees are allowed to practice favoritism and its evil twin nepotism, both are well-known to produce fertile ground for corruption.

    Nothing new to Eureka…


  8. Favoritism and nepotism are bad. The demagoguery involved in accusing someone of “cronyism” on as flimsy a basis as we see in this post is also bad, and of course doing so from behind the veil of anonymity makes it even more repugnant.


  9. Anon Green Bat:

    Favoritism, nepotism, demagoguery, no, its Cronyism dip shit.
    Cronyism is partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy.

    Cronyism exists when the appointer and the beneficiary are in social contact; often, the appointer is inadequate to hold his or her own job or position of authority, and for this reason the appointer appoints individuals who will not try to weaken him or her, or express views contrary to those of the appointer. Politically, “cronyism” is derogatorily used.


  10. “Cronyism is partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. ”

    That seems like a pretty good definition of cronyism. And, by that definition, there’s no real evidence that Sparks was actually engaging in cronyism when he hired LaDue. The patch article doesn’t say that Sparks and LaDue were “longtime friends,” it just says they were former colleagues. Also, LaDue was well-qualified for the job Sparks hired him for, so that part of your definition doesn’t fit either.

    This piece is just another one of the TE’s hyperventilating hatchet jobs.

    Welcome to Eureka Mr. Sparks. Don’t mind the haters, they can’t help themselves.


  11. Why not just look at the local HumCo Clerk Recorder ‘election’? The incumbent announced she wouldn’t run right before the filing date(OK it gets slightly extended) And guess what, her deputy had filed for the office. The position is being steered through an unopposed election.

    And this is very well paying, by HumCo standards. So could it be the most qualified person is being anointed? Not by a long shot. The deputy is the sister of a former long term supervisor with no advanced educational or prior work credentials. But the deputy married into one of the local family dynasties. And how did the deputy get into the position? Hired with zero experience qualifications and groomed until the the ouster of the former elections officer. The former elections officer was an ‘outsider’, though well qualified in public records having been a journalist, he knew he wouldn’t be allowed to succeed the incumbent.


  12. After a long legacy of favoritism in government offices and university campuses is was finally realized that cronyism placed national security at risk by undermining access by the best and brightest, especially, excluding high achievers from working class backgrounds, (“outsiders”).

    In HSU’s infamous $15 million fraud perpetrated by executive John Sterns, investigators blamed employee’s fear of becoming disliked if they complained. HSU offers a wealth of examples of the public costs of blatant cronyism. To this day, not one executive, including the new HSU president, hold advanced degrees in their field.

    I suspect the same is true for local municipal governments, if any media bothered to look.

    Didn’t the city of Eureka contract-out Old Town policing to a relative of Virginia Bass while she was mayor?


  13. Anonymous 10:19-

    The city did contract with Gene Bass, owner of Pacific Coast Security, to provide security services for the old town area. Mike Jones, at Virginia’s request, pushed this contract in the council. The definition of cronyism for sure.

    Worse yet, PCS and especially Gene Bass were abusive and heavy handed. If you thought EPD was bad, those guys took abuse of authority to a new level. Of course, they had no real authority (powers of arrest) so there was no real accountability. They beat up homeless people who wouldn’t (or couldn’t) complain. You can thank Garr Nielsen for getting rid of that crony contract.

    On a side note, many people have forgotten or didn’t know that Bass was fired from the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office due to some very wrongful actions. But of course, one’s prior history of abuse and poor judgement doesn’t matter when Cronyism is the name of the game.


    • Why was Gene Fired from the Humboldt County Sheriffs office? Can you provide links to articles please? Thank You!


  14. If there are any journalists reading this. Here are the breadcrumbs on this story……..

    Rose’s Billiards. The Alibi. Aunty Mos. The Club Indigo. The Club West.

    Lots of bank ($) invested in nice location. Someone shot to death on sidewalk outside Club West. Seemingly very bad ju-ju since.

    Rose’s is very nice btw if you like shooting pool.

    Like the TE “Staff” always suggests, draw your own conclusions!


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