Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr is once again in the media spotlight, and it’s shaping up to be one of her biggest missteps in what has become an alarmingly regular round of attention-seeking schemes.
Last Monday, Orr rushed to the nearest microphone to accuse Gov. Mark Gordon of “misogynist” behavior, alleging he lost his temper in a meeting the previous Friday, and acted in a threatening manner.
Now, to his credit, the governor quickly acknowledged using language in the meeting and apologized. But he also took strong exception to the way she portrayed him, emphatically denying he threatened her. It was an ugly start to the week, but with both sides telling their “side of the story” and with the governor’s appropriate apology, it seemingly should have ended right then and there.
But oh no, it did not. On Tuesday, Orr again rushed to the media to add to her “side of the story,” going so far as to call the governor (and, by default, all state officials in the room) childish by explaining she had been “the adult in the room.” If that wasn’t ugly enough, she also discerned the governor’s anger was actually because she had “upstaged” him. (No one could accuse Orr of being burdened with even a dusting of humility.)
So, what in the world is going on here? Do we have an out-of-control governor going around beating down women, cursing and throwing chairs? Or does Cheyenne have a real problem with a mayor who will do anything, say anything and use anyone to get the attention she craves to feed her political ambitions or to deflect from her mistakes? I will argue for the latter.
This latest affair is centered around a possible visit by the president of Taiwan. According to sources I spoke to close to the governor, his office began exploring a possible visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to Wyoming around mid-May, but it was decided the visit might not come together given the magnitude of the security required, as well as foreign policy and financial implications.
And here is where Orr interfered with what is correctly a state decision by calling for the infamous meeting with the governor to demand the visit go forward. And when the governor voiced legitimate concerns to her? She said, “I am fine to go it alone and not include you, your office, and your residents in the Capitol,” despite the fact there is absolutely no way she could do that. The state would have to be involved. Think about that.
She then came out of the meeting alleging she had been the one planning the visit all along (hence the “upstaging” comments) and that the visit was about the 150th anniversary of Wyoming women’s suffrage (because she’s a woman, in case you missed it).
With this latest incident, there emerges a clear and continual pattern of behavior from Orr.
Take as another example her dealings with City Councilman Dicky Shanor, which happened just prior to her meeting with the governor. Mayor Orr controls the city’s budget and the various city departments, including the Police Department. Recently, Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak decided to use the department’s official Facebook page during business hours to launch an attack against Shanor over a vote on the budget. The attack was unprecedented and vicious. (In state government, it is considered ethically questionable for agency heads like Kozak to use agency means to voice political opinions. They can do it on their own time and on their own dime.)
So, what did Orr do? Well, she supported the police chief, of course. In an email she wrote to City Council members, she stated her support of Kozak’s attack, essentially approving the weaponization of the police department against an elected official over a budgetary matter. Why? Because getting her way (or her revenge) is more important than doing the right thing.
This is a dangerous precedent for the city. And it is an ugly, unethical way to do the people’s business.
In reality, Orr is the textbook definition of a cry bully. You can’t be a cry bully without an audience, and she loves nothing else. She deploys gender politics in a state that prides itself on its no-bull, no-nonsense approach to governance. And she bullies anyone who gets in her way, a lesson learned by anyone who has done so.
According to sources, she herself has been similarly inappropriate by angrily using foul language in professional settings, but she sees no hypocrisy in rushing to the media to cry foul when it happens to her.
This is not how we do business in Wyoming. We can only hope this summer’s celebrations are not stained by her actions. We have a lot to celebrate – Orr’s behaviors are not one of them.