An Aug. 28 police report filed against Craig Hedquist was only the latest in a string of complaints lodged against the Casper city councilman before and after he took office in January.

In emailed complaints and handwritten reports provided at the request of the Star-Tribune, city employees describe Hedquist as hot-tempered, degrading and having an unchecked conflict of interest.

Hedquist was elected to his council seat in November. He owns Hedquist Construction, a non-building construction contractor that often performs work for the city. City employees — mostly those in the public services department — say Hedquist has repeatedly abused his elected position to bully on behalf of his company. The complaints claim Hedquist attempted on many occasions to disconnect his roles as a contractor and a city councilman.

Five separate instances prompted the documented complaints provided to the Star-Tribune. Most stemmed from meetings that dealt with construction projects Hedquist Construction was handling.

City employees say Hedquist complained about the scope of a street project on Indian Paintbrush, about a rival construction company working near one of his contracted areas, about a change in a street-striping plan and about not being paid on time.

The complaints detail Hedquist’s alleged profanity-laced insults against City Engineer Andrew Beamer and Assistant Public Servicers Director Pete Meyers, among others. On one instance, Hedquist reportedly told Beamer and city employee Scott Baxter “city staff didn’t know what they were doing and we should have the f------ Street Department fix these areas.”

In another instance where Meyers attempted to address Hedquist’s issues, Hedquist reportedly said Meyers “doesn’t know s---,” and that he should “step up if he wants to be a big public works guy.”

In the most recent incident, at a progress meeting about the Zone II/III Waterline Project, Hedquist allegedly challenged Beamer with: “are you going to f------ stand up, b----?” The complaint resulted in a filed, and then dropped, police report.

Hedquist apologized to Beamer in an email written by one of his employees.

“Craig apologizes for the inappropriate language,” the email states. “Although he was ‘speaking as a contractor’, he realizes that it was uncalled for and will refrain from using unsuitable language.”

One specific issue that arose on Aug. 20 involved the city charging Hedquist Construction for liquidated damages for not meeting a project’s deadline.

“Craig said that the city of Casper has traditionally enforced deadlines in a certain (lenient) way, without charging LD’s as soon as they could be incurred,” the complaint reads. “He said that since we hadn’t charged them in the past, we can’t be charging them now.”

Public Services Director Rick Harrah summed up these and other incidents in an Aug. 29 letter to City Manager John Patterson.  

“Any reasonable person would fire such a contractor immediately,” Harrah wrote. “Yet all of this is overshadowed by the fact that Craig Hedquist is a city councilman.”

The City Council oversees city employees, but city employees oversee contractors. Harrah wrote to Patterson that he knew Hedquist had repeatedly been counseled on how to serve in both of his positions in a professional manner.

“This circular system of authority might have been manageable if he had chosen to be careful to not abuse his authority as a council member,” Harrah wrote in the letter. “Instead, he has done exactly the opposite.”

Harrah requested that Hedquist be instructed that he may no longer speak with any staff member of the Public Services Department.

Hedquist declined to comment on this story when approached at Tuesday’s city council meeting.  

Hedquist’s attorney, Michael Lansing, said his client was acting on behalf of the construction company he owns in regard to all of the matters that have come forth.

“There’s two sides of the story,” Lansing said. “There’s specific knowledge that the city staff has overstepped their contractual obligations or roles.”

Lansing said there were breaches of contract with Hedquist construction that have created tension with the city and the company.

“Craig Hedquist has done the majority of city projects for years, and is not treating city staff or third-party engineers any different than he did before he was a councilman,” he said. Lansing added that he wasn't familiar with the internal emails and thus couldn't comment specifically on their content.

Patterson said there is an ongoing investigation about the issues involving Hedquist, but declined to discuss details. He said the topic was discussed in executive session Tuesday night and the council will consider further action next week.

Reach crime reporter Megan Cassidy at 307-266-0534 or megan.cassidy@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @meganrcassidy.

(15) comments

thehousemouse
thehousemouse

well you cna look at this two ways, headquest wont go along with the other elite who all seem to have some finger in the pie of some project or group. and this is retaliation as political assasination. or this is the reality of what it means to be thin skined. either way when your in the public eye critisems are all over. the proof is in the pudding.

Radio
Radio

I simply cannot fathom how this guy got elected, or how his supporters could not foresee conflicts of interest.

If it were up to me, I would recall him out of there. The idea that a company owner and major city contractor can be elected as a city official is absolutely mind boggling.

Tammany Hall, Welcome to Casper!!

My 2 Sense
My 2 Sense

There are no recall laws for city council or county commissioners. Maybe this will prompt WY to finally get with the program and start protecting the citizens that put these guys in based on a name and not character.

This is what happens when people elect a name and not a person or position.

We get a drunk Mayor since her last name is Schlagger, we get a Vice Mayor who threatens a neighbor and now we get a "bully" as a contractor.

Flint
Flint

Radio said: "I simply cannot fathom how this guy got elected, or how his supporters could not foresee conflicts of interest."

Last November, the Casper-Star actually endorsed him. In the article "A mix of new faces and incumbents will serve Casper best" the CST board stated:
"More than a couple critics have pointed out his construction company benefits from city contracts. Yet in response to those people, Hedquist has stated rightly the city is committed to a low-bid process that helps eliminate the possibility of favoritism. Moreover when asked, Hedquist said his campaign has been supported by many other contractors who compete with him. He believes his knowledge of construction will help add scrutiny to city projects and we believe his perspective might indeed add a fresh viewpoint. If elected, we would urge Hedquist to make sure he is transparent and open about potential conflicts of interest."

From these statements, the CST board recognized the concerns/conflicts of interest, and was willing to accept it. Perhaps the CST could have vetted their candidate endorsements better, but more than likely the voters would have voted the same way regardless. Typically, Wyoming voters have one issue they care about, and turn a blind eye to all others.

Curious ... Was Hedquist supported or pandering to the Tea Party group?

http://trib.com/opinion/a-mix-of-new-faces-and-incumbents-will-serve-casper/article_6c5b1f58-b719-586f-9c08-dae46cdb92d7.html

HarlyD
HarlyD

I said right from the get go that electing this man to the city council was very bad idea, Hedquist has always been a self centered, arrogant, ego driven hothead that thinks he knows all, and everyone else is stupid.

Sassy
Sassy

Hedquist is right- Pete Meyers is incompetent.

2cents
2cents

I think Pete is a pretty sharp guy.

Sassy
Sassy

Did you follow his comments regarding the horse pooh on the parade route?? I stand by my comment

jmurkowsky
jmurkowsky

It seems that the CST is having themselves a bit of a political smear party. Perhaps they should read a book or two on journalistic integrity. But then again, the Star has not been known for checking facts or researching stories before they publish.

Sappho
Sappho

The article is true when it says that Hedquist treated all the members of the city the same before as he does now; he was abusive and profane before and is abusive and profane after. Now he just gets to abuse his position while being abusive and profane.

My 2 Sense
My 2 Sense

Sappho, why is it that nobody stopped Hedquist from running for office with his conflict of interest? Is it because Paul Meyer also gets money from the city? How many conflicts do we have on council? We all know Meyer does business with the city.

I am wondering why it is that nobody investigated Paul Meyer when he ADMITTED to going to a neighbor's house to cuss him out and threaten him over the smoking ban. This can be found from the very first public hearing when SFNC was trying to get a smoking ban. Look back at the video of the council meeting. Is it only bad behavior when it is done against a city employee? Doesn't anyone give a darn when it's a neighbor of one of the councilmen?

Come on Patterson, stop going after Hedquist when you turned a blind eye to Meyer. Either it's bad behavior or it's not. This just proves that you are doing this as a political smear of Hedquist because he bucks your authority and doesn't go along like the rest of council.

sober21
sober21

This newspaper has had the golden opportunity to tell the truth about the McDowell / Opella corruption, but chose not to. Selective news reporting?

Frito
Frito

The mayor and the remainder of the City Council members should be put to task on the conduct and actions of one of their own. They should vote on whether Hedquist Construction should be able to continue to bid City work. If you are unhappy with this situation, contact your council persons and complain.

Comment deleted.
2cents
2cents

I defjnitely agree that no one wants to get toyed with on pay. And I agree that City employees need a boss. He's called the City Manager. The Council is his boss. The Council cannot hire or fire employees except for appointees like the City Manager. That's why this whole situation is a bit strange. Who *IS* Mr. Hedquist acting as when he has these contracts? Same would apply for anyone who is on the Council who may get a city contract.

thehousemouse
thehousemouse

i was not going to comment again but i just had one more thing to add. Myres is also associated with wmc hes doing their adds all the time., And so are a few outher council members as well as a few County commissioners. Remember who obstained on the vote for new platt of new hospital there are your conflicts of interest. Everyone will have these because we are small commmunity and very few activlty persue office. Only the ones who are retired, or rich or semi rich can afford to spend the average of 5k or more to run, then take the time away from their businesses to attend keep up to date and actually investigate what they are being force feed by so called professional, consultants, contractors, Non Govermental groups, planners, code enforcement, ect. That actually know less then you.
So My point is like my old ,man usta say " Your opinion is worth nothing at the bar but its worth millions at the polls. and second, god does this town love to talk. but the truth always comes out eventually. " so casper star had a good story two months ago about opella and mcdowll being buddy buddy and give his buddy a job, and nothing was said. but this is nothing compaired to charges that wont be heard, and tales that keep growing without proof.

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