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Editorial: Mr. Hjelle's nose

In the Lillie Newspapers review of the Sherrie Le decision, Mr. Hjelle was quoted:

The link of Patty Gearin's arrest occurring in Maplewood was enough for Council Member Hjelle to say that Judge Gearin should have recused herself from the case. "This just screams mistrial to me," he says. "If the judge is to be assumed to be beyond impartial, the mere fact that her sister got arrested should disqualify her. You have to have faith that she's honest, but God does it stink like hell." [emphasis added]

That's Judge Kathleen Gearin, Assistant Chief Judge among the well over 20 judges serving the Ramsey County District Court, who found that the City of Maplewood violated the Whistleblower statute when it fired Sherrie Le, and at the same time committed an unfair labor act by firing her in retaliation for union organizing.

In the Pioneer Press article reviewing the case, Hjelle had a different charge:
"This judge was simply lied to ... I'm sorry that a judge was stupid enough to believe (Le). But I guarantee you no one will hold (Le) accountable (for alleged perjury), because that's how things work around here," he said. [emphasis added]
From the minutes of 2/24/06 we learn that it is Mr. Hjelle having trouble with the truth, but that is not the point here.

The Judge's sister, Patti Gearin, was indeed arrested on 2/15/08 for obstructing a legal process in connection with a certificate of occupancy violation at Wipers Recycling. Mr. Hjelle suggests this negative relationship between the City and Patti Gearin influenced the judge to rule against the City.

Does Mr. Hjelle believe a positive relationship between the City and Patti Gearin would influence the judge to rule in favor of the City?

Let's review what was happening since the fall of 2006, during the time Judge Gearin was handling the Le lawsuit.

The Copeland Council and Patti Gearin

We could search through DVD's of council meetings and workshops from many months ago when we began to hear from Ms. Cave and Ms. Longrie about some mysterious new business that had a newly patented product, one that the inventor was willing to test on a Gladstone Savanna cleanup. But there is no need. We can rely on readily available archives of the Maplewood City News.

Here is Ms Cave in the June 2007 City News, around the time she filed for reelection:
I am proud to announce that I have been instrumental in bringing a new business to Maplewood. Wipers Recycling, an environmental manufacturing business has made a move to Maplewood and will be hiring around 300+ people in the next couple of years. The owner, Patti Gearin, holds a patent on a product used to absorb chemical/oil spills. This product is also used for cleaning ground contamination and she has generously offered to use the Gladstone Savannah as a clean-up test site. Her patented material will be mixed into the soil to absorb the contamination and then biodegrades and restores the earth to its natural state. This kind of initiative is one of the actions needed to; improve housing sales, stimulate economic growth, and boost the tax revenue for the City of Maplewood.

In the next issue, the July 07 City News, we heard about Wipers Reclying again. This time it was from Mr. Hjelle. It was the month after Ms. Cave filed for reelection:
I would like to continue on the theme started last issue by Councilmember Cave’s wonderful announcement that Wipers Recycling is relocating to Maplewood. Wipers Recycling plans to hire 300 employees.

And then we heard about it again from Ms. Cave in the October 07 City News, just before the election:
…be harder as our economy slows, but I have focused my energy and time on bringing new businesses and jobs to Maplewood. I personally worked with Wipers Recycling’s owner to relocate that business from St. Paul Park to Maplewood to the former Northern Tool building.

And then we heard about it again from Ms. Longrie in the January 2008 City News as part of her list of accomplishments:
Wipers Recycling, an innovative company (recently featured on KARE 11 News) relocated to Maplewood from St. Paul Park;

This, by the way, is the same Ms. Longrie who is shocked that residents might think the City News has been used politically, but that is not my point here.

My point is there appears to have been a cozy relationship between the Copeland Council and Judge Gearin's sister during the election, the proceedings leading to the Le trial, and during the trial itself.

My point is to ask: "why doesn't Mr. Hjelle think this relationship stinks like hell?"


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