Let me tell you about my town’s mayor Thomas Banke. The first time I met Thomas Banke was at a Sankt Hans bonfire. I was out with my friend, her (a bit dodgy) ex and their child. Thomas came over to say hello to the (a bit dodgy) ex. The ex made the introductions and Thomas did not look at me once. I thought ‘that’s a bit off’. He was some big shot politician with an election coming up and they tend to schmooze with new people. For some reason, he did not feel he needed to schmooze me. Or even show basic human courtesy.
He was elected onto the borough council and for really crazy, stupid but overall BORING reasons, was given the position of mayor by the committee. He was the youngest mayor ever. He is younger than I am. The press would interview him and say “Oh wow, you’re young for a mayor” and he would snap “I HARDLY SEE WHAT RELEVANCE THAT HAS” sort of retorts.
Evidence of narcissism came early. There was a project to get us to turn off our lights and equipment when we were not using it. Instead of illustrating this initiative with a light bulb or the earth, his face was chosen. A photo with the cold dead eyes of a killer. (He is not a killer, I presume but if he wanted to branch out, he has the eyes already)His face illustrated the borough’s website. In the first few months, his face was everywhere. He was like ceiling cat in 2006.
The second time I met him, he was visiting the school with a youth politician. I made a point of greeting the youth politician very warmly and praising him for a recent television debate performance I happened to have seen. I blanked Banke, except for to make brief eye contact to acknowledge he was there. Also, so I could see how pissed off he was to be blanked whilst some punk kid was praised. Thomas likes being on tv, I have seen him a few times.
A student of mine told me that a while back there had been a scandal because he had admitted that he had used illegal drugs whilst he was the leader of Venstre Youth. This admission, it must be noted, contained no apology for this behaviour. Just the statement that he had tried speed, cocaine, cannabis and that “everyone is doing it”.
He mayor’d and moonlighted writing a (unfortunately titled in retrospect) blog called “Away from Reality” about centre-right economic policies in Jyllands Posten. He made statements about how we needed to make huge cuts because there was no money and then statements about how the town had turned a profit. And also made no attempt to limit his expenses. (on the contrary)
Rumours started flying about how he was using again. I am not the most well connected person in this town, if it was reaching my ears then these rumours were going crazy.
The controversy was a slow burner. His colleagues complained about how he did not turn up to represent our town in committees. Committees, remember, he is paid to attend. He was supposed to come to a meeting at our school about shutting it down and he did not. He was supposed to meet the children when they delivered their petition and he didn’t. He was supposed to go to a lot of events but he seemed only to have time for glamorous ones.
His argumentation was becoming increasingly erratic. One reason given for closing my school was “We did not commission an expensive consultation exercise only to close one school.” One answer given to “If you close that school, there won’t be anywhere local for the children in town.” was “There are private schools in that area, though.” (Let them eat cake, much?) The budget was rejected in the first round. Unheard of in the history of history.
Eventually, one of the council members made it come to a head. Part political wrangling, part genuine concern.
The question, why does Thomas Banke look drugged at meetings sometimes? and why does he miss so many meetings? was raised and the answer was
“After some dental surgery a year ago, I needed morphine and I am currently addicted.”
Remember, this is Denmark. If you borrow a library book*, it is recorded on the same file as your medical notes, as your mobile phone subscription, as your tax details. How on earth could that have gone on so long without a dentist or pharmacist getting in trouble? My guess was his supply was a little “under the counter” or “informal”. But god knows.
His skin is really bad and it used to be really good. He must be using a lot. A lot a lot.
A month after this revelation, it turns out he has not been doing a good job of providing evidence for his expenses. Indeed, a civil servant at the borough had to recommend that Thomas Banke should buy stuff with his own money and claim it back if he had proof of purchase. (Interestingly, when he has to stay overnight somewhere, he stays 4 star. So much for needing to make savings.) His expenses forms are a mess. A real mess. The sort of mess you might expect an addict to make of expenses forms. He is being investigated to see if it was a dishonest mess or more chaotic.
He has now gone on sick leave, citing the pressure on his family. He has two months to get his shit together or he must be replaced.
I have a few conflicting emotions. I feel sad for him. Drug addiction is the worst and it looks like it has fucked his political ambitions. He may even face criminal charges, if dishonesty can be proven. He is unwell, this is a mental health issue. But. I also feel like his personal problems were causing issues for the town and so I am pleased he is not in charge anymore. I also do not like him as a person and while I would not rejoice in his downfall, I am pleased with myself for being so RIGHT about him all this time.
EDIT: Apparently library book borrowing habits are NOT recorded. Everything else in this is true!