Tim Steller: Cunningham aide Katie Bolger might not deserve another second chance

2013-04-10T00:00:00Z 2013-04-10T17:06:30Z Tim Steller: Cunningham aide Katie Bolger might not deserve another second chanceTim Steller Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

On Sept. 15, 2006, Katie Bolger promised her boss, Tucson Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, that she would do better if she could have her job back.

"I am willing to improve professionally and personally to enhance my job performance, and am open to take direction on how best to do that," she wrote. "I value my job in your office more than anything."

Uhlich rejected the request. Today she won't say why.

Six and a half years later, Bolger is asking another Tucson council member, Paul Cunningham, for a second chance after a drunken run-in with Tucson police. He said he's willing to give it, in part because he's also on his own do-over, having drunkenly embarrassed himself - and Tucson - last May in an incident that launched him into sobriety.

"I believe in second chances. I got one 10 months ago," Cunningham said Tuesday.

While Bolger's employment is in Cunningham's hands, she does ultimately work for the people of Tucson. We ought to be able to ask whether she's worth the $50,000 plus benefits we're giving her, considering her actions March 22.

Late that Friday night, Bolger, 44, walked across East Speedway at North Fifth Avenue, forcing a Tucson police officer to swerve to avoid hitting her.

What followed, as told in Tucson police reports, will go down as an act of classic drunken stupidity in the annals of intoxicated Tucson public officials.

Bolger, Cunningham's chief of staff, at first refused to stop walking, then berated the four officers who ended up there as a result of her belligerence, dropping numerous F-bombs in the process, reports say.

In a quintessential example of drunken logic, the report says she told officers they were wasting resources by sending so many officers to deal with her, which, of course, they wouldn't have done if she hadn't been so confrontational.

That's not the important part, though.

Upon being handcuffed, one block north of Speedway at East Helen Street, Bolger deployed the textbook phrase, "Do you know who I am?" and informed them of her job in Cunningham's office, one police report says.

She went on to suggest the officers call Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor ("just for the f*** of it") and declined their offer of a ride home, it says.

When Ted Prezelski, a fellow aide to Cunningham, arrived to give her a ride, the reports say, she grabbed him and commanded him to take video of the scene, reminding him, "You work for me."

That makes three attempts to abuse her position in one police stop. And that is the real issue.

Officer Bill Bonanno, president of the Tucson Police Officer's Association, called Friday for Bolger to resign because she hadn't apologized publicly two weeks after the incident.

"It is obvious that Katie has a problem and I sincerely hope that she gets the help that she so desperately needs," Bonanno said in a written statement Friday.

Bolger finally did issue a full public apology Tuesday: "I write this letter not only as an apology to the officers who were witness and subject to my unbecoming conduct, but to the residents of the City of Tucson," she wrote.

Seeing that, Bonanno said Tuesday he's willing to give her a chance to show she can do better.

Clearly, her apology means there's hope she will prove Cunningham's decision to keep her is worthwhile.

But looking back at Bolger's pitiful 2006 letter attempting to rescind her resignation from Uhlich's office makes me wonder: Why are we taxpayers giving a second chance to someone who seems to be on one already?

Contact columnist Tim Steller at tsteller@azstarnet.com or 807-8427 On Twitter @senyorreporter

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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