Estonia’s Lennart Meri cleaned house in the foreign ministry, and that’s why brooms will be so important for New Albany on January 1, 2020.


It’s been just shy of three years since we visited Estonia, and I think about it all the time.

All the Estonia links are here, in one place.

Since our trip I’ve been following Estonian World on Facebook, finding something fascinating on an almost weekly basis. This story about Lennart Meri offers lots of chewable thought morsels.

Lennart Meri, the president many loved, and everybody respected, by Sten Hankewitz (Estonian World)

… “When he became foreign minister, the most important thing he did, which was something that other countries didn’t do, was get rid of all the commies,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who himself was foreign minister when Lennart Meri was president, explains. “Because the so-called ESSR (the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic – editor), the ministry of foreign affairs was just a KGB outfit. That was a policy later followed by other Estonian ministries. Not all of them, but the ones who were successful, (cleaned) house.”

I found myself thinking about the transition soon to come here in New Albany. One of the first things mayoral candidate David White did when announcing his campaign was to assure rank and file city employees that they needn’t fear losing their jobs — but ranking Gahanite appointees and a department heads might be wise to peruse the want ads at our captive “local” newspaper.

That’s as it should be. As Meri did with the Estonian foreign ministry, those currently helping Gahan to administer his system of pay-to-play political patronage need to be swept clean. What’s more, we all know a Mayor Seabrook or Mayor Coffey would do exactly the same. I can think of one, maybe two potential exceptions, but starting from scratch remains the optimum result.

There is no more reason to defend the current occupants of the third floor in New Albany than Meri had to condone former Communist seat holders. To cite just one example, the flood control department’s workers already know how to do the job. The point of a clean sweep is to de-politicize the $60k-yearly job of managing the department.

There are plenty of talented people in this community, and many of them have spent the past eight years stifled by Gahan’s control-first insularity. Give them an opportunity to step forward and participate — and listen to them, this being something White is particularly adept at doing — then get out of the way and watch the results.

I recommend a vote for White in the Democratic Party primary. We can take back this thing, and put New Albany’s people first, as opposed to an engineering company from Indianapolis.