Take State Representative Tony Cornish, who has been putting in a cameo appearance as Chief of Police of sunny Lake Crystal for the past four years. As part of yesterday's evening news, KEYC-TV reported in Rep. Cornish Retires from Police Chief Position:
State Rep. Tony Cornish has announced he's retiring his post as an area police chief. . . .
Cornish says he's not running for Blue Earth County Sheriff as rumors have suggested. He says he's looking forward to more free time for hunting.
And those pesky rumors plaguing Tony? Wherever do the good citizens of Blue Earth County come up with this stuff?
It's certainly not from the mouth of babes.
Nope, these gems of wisdom dripped from the dewy lips of Representative Cornish himself, who told KEYC-TV that his career in law enforcement was "getting a little long in the tooth." (His self portrait, not Bluestem's choice.)
The day before the KEYC-TV story, Mankato Free Press political reporter Mark Fischenich reported in Cornish to resign as Lake Crystal police chief:
“I haven’t ruled out running for sheriff,” said Cornish, who has served in a variety of law enforcement jobs over 37 years. “That would be two years down the road.”
Cornish mulled a 2010 run for Blue Earth County sheriff but ultimately chose to seek re-election to the state House when incumbent Sheriff Brad Peterson decided to seek a fifth term. Cornish, 60, said he will consider running only if Peterson opts not to seek re-election.
“I wouldn’t run against Brad,” he said. “... I think he’s going to retire.”
Being a thorough reporter, Fischenich contacted the younger man to see if he planned to step aside as sheriff and let Corish indulge his Richard Stanek fantasies. But Cornish's rumor was news to the current Sheriff of Blue Earth County:
“It looks more like I would be running than not,” said Peterson, who hasn’t faced a challenger since toppling Sheriff LaRoy Wiebold in 1994. “... I still enjoy my job. I still enjoy going to work and working with the people.”
There’s a practical reason to seek another term, as well, he said. Although his 33 years in law enforcement qualifies him for a full pension, Peterson is just 55 years old and won’t qualify for Medicare for another decade.
The current cost of continuing his county health care coverage out-of-pocket would be approximately $25,000 annually.
“So that’s over $200,000 over 10 years,” he said. “I don’t think I can afford that.”
Fischenich reports that Cornish already retired from law enforcement in 2003, after a long career as a crappie cop for the DNR, and that provides for Cornish's living expenses once he retires again. And presumably, he's also racking up another nest egg via those per diem payments that are counted toward his legislative pension.
It's generous of him to now deny those rumors of a bid for sheriff, and Bluestem hopes that Cornish has a way to pay for his health insurance.
One more thing. A reader observes that Cornish came right out in the Mankato Free Press article and said:
“Just too busy,” Cornish said in explaining his decision [to retire as police chief]. “Not able to do justice to two jobs.”
Not that Minnesota has a fulltime legislature, but then, Cornish does head a committee. Reasonable people might wonder how he could be sheriff of a large rural county, put in a full day's work, and still find time to hunt.
Fortunately, Cornish has now denied the rumors he started, and the citizens of Blue Earth County can sleep soundly at night.
Photo: Representative Tony Cornish. His tiny handcuffs strike fear into the hearts of elves everywhere.