Vavricek Says Lesson Learned on Drinking and Driving
By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
Jay Vavricek says he's learned his lesson, with a conviction to a reduced charge after a drunk driving arrest. But community leaders question if Grand Island has passed the point of no return, because of what has been called a downward spiral of self destruction.
"A lot of things I'll do so I won't put myself in a position of compromise," he told NTV is his first television interview following his arrest and court hearing.
He said public officials are rightly held to a higher standard.
"I think when you look at elected officials in terms of alcohol consumption, you need to be very mindful of that setting. I don't need alcohol going forward in social settings. When you do go to Fonner Park, learn this lesson -- go with a designated driver or don't drive."
"Grand Island Emergency Center," the dispatcher is heard saying.
"I'd like to report a drunk driver," a man responds. The caller tells 9-1-1 a man stumbled from his SUV outside a liquor store.
"Drunker than hell, drove here, buying a whole bunch more booze," the call continues.
Dispatchers say they've been told about Vavricek, in recordings NTV obtained through a public records request, following the latest controversy in a tumultuous term.
City Council President Bob Niemann said, "In many ways I feel sorry for the mayor. I think he's a good man who's trying to do the best job he can and got caught in a whirlwind."
Vavricek says he wants to move on in a positive manner, which won't be easy.
Niemann said, "Have we passed the point of no return with Mayor Vavricek? I don't know."
Council members have explored the possibility of removing Vavricek from office. City code allows for a "legislative trial" as Niemann called it, where misconduct charges could be brought in a public hearing.
But Niemann cautioned they do not consider such a possibility lightly.
"That's going to be messy and is it good for the city? I don't know," the council president said.
Vavricek said such a procedure would leave the city in "peril."
"Could leave a path of negativity with scars that would be very long," the mayor said.
Council members say they have tired of the negative attention.
Niemann said, "It's not good PR for the city."
Vavricek said he wants to set a positive tone for the future and calls this latest challenge a personal one where he learned he can't put himself in positions of compromise.
He said, "Good comes of tough times and those that meet adversity and rise above it are stronger than ever before. Those are convictions that take me forward in concert with faith, also my family and my community and look positively to the future."
Vavricek says he will be a better man and better mayor.
City council members say they want to hear specifics of what he'll do to turn things around, saying he's accomplished good things in the past, but they're not sure if he can salvage things now.
In response to rumors that Vavricek is no longer living in the city, he assured NTV he is still at the home he has shared with his wife for 30 years.