As the Republican National Convention draws ever closer to convening in St. Paul, these two will be trying to prove who’s really in charge of law, order and press conferences.
Ideally, what we’d see is a match race with a television camera serving as the finish line. Given the size of the egos of these two, this event could be this century’s Seabiscuit versus War Admiral.
Both men have similar backgrounds. Stanek is a former state legislator and former Minneapolis cop. Fletcher is a former St. Paul City Council member and St. Paul cop. Both are said to have dark sides. Neither is saddled with any troublesome humility.
Both men have built-in strengths for the race. Stanek, who has designed a dress uniform fit for a Latin dictator, heads an office nearly twice as large as Fletcher, 800 employees to 400. But Fletcher has the home-field advantage, given that the convention — Minneapolis views to the contrary — is a St. Paul event.
Drop the name Fletcher around St. Paul police officials, or drop the name Stanek around Minneapolis police officials, and eyes roll — and sometimes neck veins pop.
A few months ago, Fletcher’s office announced it would need money to build outdoor detention pens for the 3,000 protesters it expected would be arrested during the convention. This plan was announced without bothering to confer with St. Paul police, the agency charged with convention security.
Police were furious because this so-called plan undermined their efforts to build a relationship of trust among activists who plan to be in the city for the convention. The Fletcher pen plan has been scratched, but at any moment, St. Paul cops know the sheriff will try to show who’s really the boss.
Stanek has shown his look-at-me! personality with the release of a so-called training video, “Twenty Days in August,” which is supposed to be about how the sheriff’s office responded to the collapse of the I-35W bridge.” The Star Tribune’s Mike Kaszuba noted that the $30,000 video does not bother to mention the work of Minneapolis police or firefighters, though those two groups had primary responsibilities for heading law enforcement operations at the bridge.
Stanek versus Fletcher. It promises to be the most entertaining event of the summer. But a warning to all Minnesotans: Under no circumstances get between either of these men and a television camera.