Beauty and the Beast

Two stories this week have photos: the sexy mayor of Arlington, Ore., and the idiot robber using a bottle of cologne as a weapon.

First, the moron.

You knew I meant the robber, right? Yes, well. Here’s his story:

The Smell of Failure

An employee of a video store in Akron, Ohio, was standing outside talking with an employee of a nearby tanning salon when a man approached them. The man was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a scarf covering his face; he indicated he had a gun in his pocket and ordered the two men to go inside. When the video employee turned to go in, the tanning employee jumped the robber. In the resulting fight, the robber’s “gun” broke; it was a bottle of Stetson cologne, blackened with a permanent marker. The contents spilled all over the robber, who the two employees held until police arrived. Michael Kaminski, 41, was charged with aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon — a knife. (Akron Beacon Journal) …He’s not completely incompetent: he knew which weapon was more deadly.

I just love his mug shot, which demonstrates either what a classic moron looks like, or the beating he got from his victims — you decide:

Alleged robber Michael Kaminiski
Police mug shot of alleged robber Michael Kaminiski. It was probably the best he has smelled in years.

After the Beast, We Have Beauty

Expectation of Privacy

Carmen Kontur-Gronquist, the mayor of Arlington, Ore., was indignant that local residents found a photo she posted on her MySpace page. It shows the very fit politician wearing only a black bra and panties standing by one of the town’s fire trucks. Why did she expect privacy online? “That’s my space,” she said. “That’s why they call it MySpace.” Voters recalled her from office, 142 to 139, with virtually all of the town’s registered voters casting a vote. (Pendleton East Oregonian) …It’s not often that voters object to a politician proving she has nothing to hide.

The photo:

Oregon Mayor Carmen Kontur-Gronquist
The MySpace photo that was apparently the last straw for town citizens.

Reader Reaction

There was a bit of argument from readers over the story. Some of the bigger papers, up in Portland, reported that residents were upset with the mayor over other issues, involving her management of a municipal golf course, and allegedly ignoring open meeting laws when she conducted city business. The photo, they said, was beside the point. Also, they note she didn’t post the photo herself, that it was designed to attract men for dating, and thus she obviously didn’t have any “expectation of privacy.”

Well, the somewhat more local newspapers concentrated on the photo over the other issues, and her “That’s why they call it MySpace” statement didn’t accuse someone else posting it.

In any case, I do stand by my summary of the source article I identified — two, actually. Links removed, though: first, the stories were old enough to require payment to see them, and then the links went bad altogether. Certainly one does lose detail when reducing more than 700 words of news coverage to 80.

One of the details left out to save space included her quote, “Just because I have a political seat [doesn’t] mean I [don’t] have a private life.” — she indeed does address the privacy issue.

As to the exact reason(s) the townspeople (barely) recalled her, you’ll have to ask them. With a vote that close, there were obviously mixed feelings in town.

If I was voting, I certainly wouldn’t condemn her for a tasteful photo — would you? But I might give her the thumbs down if I thought she was a poor manager, since that does speak to the task she was hired for. The photo doesn’t.

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24 Comments on “Beauty and the Beast

  1. Actually, from the photo you can’t tell whether she has a political seat…

    True, but political muscle is more important anyway. -rc

  2. Have you considered they may have voted to recall her, not because of the skimpy-clothing pictures but because anybody dumb enough to think it’s private because it’s called “MySpace” doesn’t need to have any kind of job in government? That would have been why I’d have voted to recall her. She’s not exactly staggering under the weight of her outsized I.Q. if you ask me.

    Well, to be honest, no: that didn’t occur to me. But do you really think the voters are smart enough to have come to that conclusion? After all, we “get the politicians we deserve” and all…. -rc

  3. Unfortunately, one of the largest problems with the United States today is that the majority of the public judges our “leaders” based on their personal life and not on whether they can perform their job. Perhaps she was recalled because of something other than this photo but considering the timing, it is pretty suspicious.

    It is time that we, the people of the United States, stop our obsession with voyeurism and start worrying about the real problems with our society. Right now we have a president in office that has blatantly ignored the Constitution of the United States and yet the people are more concerned with a mayor that wears lingerie or which famous person is having sex with another.

  4. Call me naive, but I think someone’s personal life is just that…their personal life.

    I thought the media dogfighting over Elliot Spitzer was in very bad taste…his real crime wasn’t in messing around with hookers, it was for committing perjury. But the media sort of downplayed that…they made it look like he was being busted from office for soliciting prostitutes.

    My opinion is…so what? As long as he wasn’t playing hide and seek in his office with a subordinate, or using our tax dollars (neither of which I believe were the case), I don’t care if any politician messes around with another consenting adult, or group of adults.

    By the way, lying to the media isn’t perjury…it’s not even a crime. In my case, I consider it a valid means of amusement…especially when I consider their questions to be nobody’s business.

    I think there must be a lot more to the story regarding Ms Kontur-Gronquist than the racy picture. But since the good citizens recalled her, she no longer has to worry about what they think. She already knows.

    I’m with you almost 100%, but you got Spitzer’s real crime wrong. He made a name of himself by busting prostitution rings. He got elected by promising to “clean up” New York from such “criminal” enterprises. And at the same time he was making it possible for them to flourish (by paying them huge sums of money). Either you’re for this, or against it; you can’t say one and do the other. That’s hypocrisy, and to me, that’s a social (and political) felony. Spitzer deserved to lose his office. But then, so do a lot of politicians…. -rc

  5. I have been trying to figure out for years why underwear is so objectional when bikinis usually show more skin. Maybe my age (63) is befuddling me.

    No, I’m with you. While I don’t like to see guys with baggy pants, I think it’s stupid to try to make it illegal. They’re showing far less than at the community swimming pool. -rc

  6. Just a thought: What was she doing in her bra and Panties in what looks like a Fire Department? Public funds pay for the photo and internet? Just a thought.

    I never saw an allegation that she did any of this on city time or with city funds. -rc

  7. Personally, I would vote to keep her based on that photo. We need more politicians who take care of themselves physically, and maybe that’s why the vote ended up being so close. Sure, she might be a little airheaded for not understanding the privacy (or lack thereof) of MySpace, but let’s put things in perspective here. She’s the mayor of a small town with apparently less than 300 registered voters. Her duties as mayor probably take up one day every week. It’s not as if she has keys to the nuclear arsenal.

    It could be that some people really were upset with her management of a golf course, but think about it for a second. In this day and age, which is going to motivate voters to come to the polls: a golf course or a skimpy lingerie photo?

  8. I am unable to find the source for her statement about MySpace and My Space. The links you provided go to a password-protected site. All I find is a lot of blogs quoting one another.

    Looks like they’ve pulled the stories into the paid archive area. Sorry! -rc

  9. WOW! I wonder if she’s still single? Whoops, wrong topic, given her ‘equipment’ I guess the folks are just a little jealous! LOL!

    Well, I suppose if you’re in Milwaukee, Oregon, you can pop down and check her out! -rc

  10. I’d love to have a mayor in my city that was so beautiful and not ashamed to show it.

    But…if she couldn’t hack the job, I don’t care how good she looks in lingere. It seems the truth to this story lies in the lesser known details and not just the sensationalism the mainstream media wants to capitalize on.

  11. As has become clear, this may or may not be what this case is really about. However, a couple of years ago, I read an article (which, I am ashamed to admit, I can’t find the source for) which reported that people that people were complaining that the use of statements they voluntarily posted to MySpace as evidence against them was a violation of their constitutional protection against being compelled to testify against themselves. It was pointed out, inter alia, that people who wish to exercise their right not to incriminate themselves have to do so by actually not incriminating themselves.

  12. It’s obvious that the reason for the recall of Carman Kontur is more demographic than political. The close vote of 142 to 139 is just a reflection of the Ratio of Jealous Women voters to Red blooded men voters in town.

    Sometimes A PIG is just A PIG, Nothing more, and it controls the way we vote. 😉

    • Ed: You’re automatically presuming that only men were attracted to her. Remember that there are also women who are attracted to women (and guys attracted to guys).

  13. While we’re all congratulating ourselves on not being bothered by the mayor’s clothing or lack thereof perhaps it might be worthwhile to think about the dignity of any public office.

    I think citizens have a right to expect their public officials to make some effort to maintain the dignity of their office.

    And this doesn’t even include the use of city equipment for personal use.

  14. I suspect that the photo issue was thrown out there by the people upset with her performance in office so they could gain a bit more support in the recall effort (and it seems that they needed every bit of it). And the photo is actually less revealing than what you would see on a beach or at the city swimming pool. But I think there’s one aspect of it that IS important. She “improperly” used city property (the fire truck) to take her picture. I’ve read about numerous police and fire department employees over the years that have been fired for taking risque photos with their “equipment”.

  15. I did a bit of research on this after reading it last week and there are actually plenty of other articles that have not been moved to paid archive areas.

    There are two things I’d like to point out.

    Point one, the photo taken on the fire truck was taken three years before she was elected mayor when she was the fire department’s executive secretary. The photo was intended to be submitted for a fitness contest sponsored by Sports Illustrated magazine which she decided not to enter because she didn’t think the photos were good enough. So as Mayor there was no issue of misuse of city equipment.

    Second, It was a relative who thought the single mother of three needed help with her social life and chose the photo, among others, for her MySpace page. I doubt Carmen is so dumb as to think that MySpace is private. The problem is that her opponents, by making an issue of photos taken from her private MySpace page (private as opposed to a public government page for the mayor) were not respecting her right as a public official to have a private life.

  16. While we discuss such issues of vital national importance, we have a man in the White House who seems bent upon destroying our Constitutional Government, and is apparently succeeding.

    Obviously, when it comes to politics in America, sex is the most important factor to many of us.

    We nearly impeached Mr. Clinton over a blow-job (and his lying about it,) but most people appear ho-hum over Mr. Bush’s blatant disregard for the very basis of our society, and whose lies have killed 10’s of thousands of people, ruined our currency and economy, gutted the Bill of Rights and made it ‘legal’ for him to declare anyone he wants to be an enemy not entitled to any rights whom he is permitted to torture (himself, if desired.)

    Perhaps, when he starts selecting young cheerleaders from our communities, having them “legally” abducted and brought to him for personal “interrogation,” people may give a damn.

    But only if he gets caught.

    In this case, whatever reasons the voters individually had for voting the way they did; either the picture, (I’d certainly be interested in dating her!) her management or the fact that they woke up on the wrong side of the bed, those reasons are perfectly valid. Democracy does not insist that people make reasonable choice or have reasonable basis for those choices–it doesn’t even insist that they MAKE a choice.

    Our founders feared straight democracy nearly as much as any individual tyrant–a tyranny by the majority is still a tyranny to those living under it, and mob rule is a very fickle tyrant.

    Note that a simple majority rules democratic process means that up to 49.99999…% of those voting are subject to decisions that they disagree with…and we generally do not get the near 100% turnout that this little town got.
    The only way your vote doesn’t count is if you refuse to cast one.

    You get the government you deserve.

    Clinton was indeed impeached for his crimes & misdemeanors; he “just” wasn’t removed from office. -rc

  17. The gal sure did show a major lack of knowledge regarding MySpace, of course, and seriously poor political judgment.

    If, as seems to be the case, she did this (1) while working at the fire department (and thus with legitimate access), (2) did so on her own time, and (3) entirely at her own expense — so what?

    The charges she mismanaged a golf course and violated open-meeting laws — those are more important, especially the latter (since poor management isn’t itself against the law, while ignoring meeting requirements is).

    BTW, while I don’t care for President Bush myself, what’s he got to do with this story? We’re talking a small-town mayor clear across the country, not some senior Administration official with strong influence in the Oval Office. (I even read a similar blast in a discussion forum in which people were discussing the results of a *sporting* event, one not at all controversial or involving allegations of anything. Sigh.)

  18. His point regarding the president is that nowadays, in our society sex is seen as something bad and a reason to impeach someone from public office but blatantly ignoring the constitution and sending thousands of young people to pointless deaths is perfectly acceptable.

    The point is that the citizens of this country are a bunch of misguided idiots and we get what we deserve.

  19. I lived in the Washington DC Area for over 20 years. My house was blocks away from the DC Maryland line so naturally our neighborhood was full of politicians, professional lobbyists, and lots of government workers. And not just Federal government, but state and local employees as well. That said, I’ve observed time and time again that if someone is a schnook in his or her public life, they are pretty much the same thing in their personal lives as well and vice versa.

    Very few people have what it takes to be more than one person for in public and another in private. I’ve known people (and politicians) who do play to whatever audience is handy but that sort of thing tends to break down over time. Or maybe the folks who can do that convincingly wind up working in the black world. Espionage, security, law enforcement and intelligence work employs a lot of people. In fact, I suspect there are more spooks than any other kind of government employee but demographic profiles don’t contain that information. Politics probably gets what’s left over.

    Now for Mayor Kontur-Gronquist posing in boy cut panties, six pack abs, and push-up bra in a municipal fire truck. Everything about that inept “portrait” (because it IS a portrait) makes a bold but unintentionally amusing statement about her fantasy life. It doesn’t matter that it may have happened several years ago. What we see is a wannabe superhero with a spray-on tan posing in her underwear. I suspect she naively expected it to speak powerfully to her leadership ability, resident sex symbol and advertisement about the benefits of a Gold’s Gym membership. Instead, we think she should have consulted a competent political advisor. He’d have advised her against posting this disastrous low budget beefcake/cheesecake photo. After he peed his pants laughing.

    As for who paid for the pictures and were public funds tapped for the bill: it doesn’t matter. Mayor Kontur-Gronquist probably paid for these amateur photos out of her own pocket. What matters is that she’s posing with something that belongs to the city. That plops the whole thing into a bad and possibly illegal judgment call UNLESS she consulted with the city legal advisor AND had written permission before she did it. It doesn’t really matter when the photo was taken.

    In essence, she appropriated public resources and took something that didn’t belong to her. Now as mayor, she represented the city in a way that at least part of the electorate finds objectionable and embarrassing. And she made that image available to anyone in the world with internet access. She was not merely representing herself in that picture, the fire truck prop made it a public statement made with public resources.

    Mayor Kontur-Gronquist should never have posted the photo on the web to start with, but she definitely should have yanked this off her web page before she even ran for mayor. These are some big mistakes, but she would probably have reduced the repercussions if she’d responded with humility and humor, admitted to making a ridiculous mistake and rode things out. Her “creative” defenses make her seem venal and stupid. It’s like Larry Craig trying to recall his guilty plea and rewrite the history of what really happened in that airport toilet. We the public know better and all the verbal puffery in the world just convinces us otherwise.

    Many public figures who’ve been caught in an embarrassing or compromising position declare he or she should be judged solely on performance as a public servant. However, when it comes to public office holders, poor judgment in one area invariably ripples out into other areas, plus the lapses in judgment continue getting worse. If Mayor Kontur-Gronquist can’t see how her conduct was inappropriate here, then there’s no way she’s going to be able to navigate the complexities of leadership required for city government.

  20. Barbara in Utah: I imagine you’re right, but couldn’t the photo have been just for FUN, with the real error being that the photo was published?

    What’s the difference between lingerie and swimwear? I wondered about this for a while (years ago). Then it clicked: it’s not (real estate) coverage, it’s TRANSPARENCY. Swimwear usually is designed to be opaque even when wet. Swimwear also is more substantial, and doesn’t describe body contours as much as lingerie.

    I don’t know: looking at the mayor’s photo, I don’t see much through the cloth. And transparency when wet isn’t relevant when it’s not wet…. -rc

    • rc: “I don’t know: looking at the mayor’s photo, I don’t see much through the cloth.”

      This calls for careful and thorough examination of the photo.

  21. “Either you’re for this, or against it; you can’t say one and do the other. That’s hypocrisy, and to me, that’s a social (and political) felony.”

    You don’t have to publish this, but most of us know that hypocrisy is what most politicians thrive on. They rely on saying one thing, which people pay attention to, and doing another, which the majority either don’t believe or don’t care about.

    Not publish it? But it’s the truth! -rc

  22. Use of public facilities by public officials for “less than public activities” seems to be a somewhat regular thing in Oregon. Some of the officers in the Clackamas County Sheriffs’ office have done similar — a risque photo shoot for a calendar for a retiring officer, after hours in the Courthouse.

    Well gee: that’s just a news report about the incident — not copies of the photos! -rc


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