Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hawkman Unmasked and Exlpained

Guest post by the Hawthorne Hawkman (Jeff Skrenes), image from

Earlier this year, I confronted a property owner who was doing illegal excavation. In the comment thread of that JNS post, someone called me the Hawthorne Hawkman for the very first time. I liked the sound of it, and the name stuck.

However, having a neighborhood as part of my nickname (especially the one I work for) poses some potential problems. This gets a little sticky when I wade into the political arena. So what follows is an explanation of how that works...

First off, although my Johnny Northside moniker has "Hawthorne" in it, my statements are not the official views of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, its residents, members, or staff, unless explicitly noted as such. This is especially true of my political statements.

Second, there is a difference between Jeff Skrenes, private citizen and Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Housing Director - just like there is a difference between what a candidate running for office does on the campaign trail and in their private or professional life. My critique of one candidate or endorsement of another as a private citizen in no way affects my willingness to work with that candidate in their professional capacity and in my actions as an employee of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council.

Furthermore, if as a private individual I have spoken out that I feel a certain candidate is not suitable for the office s/he seeks, that will not affect my willingness to work with that candidate in my professional capacity if they are elected. I expect that desire to work for the betterment of Hawthorne and north Minneapolis to go both ways. One hallmark of a good public servant is the ability to reach out to those who did not support that candidate during the campaign.

Where things get a little tricky is the possible perception that I may be writing political statements while "on the clock." My schedule, like many who work in neighborhood non-profits is extraordinarily fluid. I rarely work a traditional 9-5 workday. With comp time that accrues and is used, early morning, late evening, and weekend events, my workweek is difficult to pin down and is rarely the same twice.

Plus, I live in the Hawthorne neighborhood, which is great for when I need to "punch out," and run home for a bit to do personal things (like blogging about politics).

The end result is that some posts were done at a time when I was not working for Hawthorne, but were posted at a time in the day when many others are on the job. This action may unwittingly create the perception that I am making such statements in my capacity as the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director. I assure everyone that this is not the case.

However, perceptions can often trump reality and I must therefore make some adjustments. I vigorously stand by my right to make political speech as a private citizen, but I will post blog entries with political statements only in the late evenings. These will be times that I am not working nor can I be reasonably thought to be working. My ability to get information out quickly will be hampered somewhat, but my first responsibility is to protect the integrity of the neighborhood I work for.


Jeanie Hoholik said...

Very well, then. Carry on!

Johnny Northside said...

Yeah, Jeff, late in the evening you can make political statements about Al Flowers.

And late in the evening Al Flowers can smoke a big fat doobie.

But that odds you'd ever have to "work with" Al Flowers as a public official are about as remote as the odds a flyer saucer will crash in Farview Park.