Over the several years of rebukes for his public behavior, St. Francis City Council Member Leroy Schaffer has claimed he was the victim of political adversaries.
Last Friday, he reported a letter bomb as evidence, police say. But in the end, the "enemy" may have been himself.
Charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor, Schaffer resigned from his council seat Thursday afternoon. He did not return repeated phone calls.
An Anoka County Sheriff's release outlines perhaps the strangest chapter in his unusual political history.
According to the release, Schaffer called St. Francis police to his house at 5:30 p.m. last Friday, reporting a suspicious package. He showed the arriving officer a box, still in his mailbox, which had a Chicago postmark. Schaffer insisted that the officer open the package, the release said. When the officer refused, Schaffer opened it himself. Inside, the officer saw what appeared to be a hand grenade. Schaffer proclaimed it a "dud," the sheriff's office said, showing the officer a hole drilled in its bottom. There also was a note, "The next one will be real."
Investigators from the sheriff's office were called. They noted that the package was addressed with a preprinted label from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Inside Schaffer's house, investigators found a sheet of identical labels, minus one.
In an interview, the release said, Schaffer acknowledged to investigators that he had driven to Chicago and sent the package to himself from a post office there. He told them he had done it "for sympathy from the public, claiming, 'There's a lot of people out there that want to kill me, that's why I sent it to myself.'"
Schaffer, 72, who was issued a citation, is not in custody.
A trail of controversy
His 4 1/2-year tenure has been marked by controversy. He was censured three times by the City Council, twice for conduct around women and once over a confrontation with the city's public works director. A fourth censure resolution had been on Tuesday's council agenda, after Schaffer asked Metropolitan Council representative Edward Reynoso if he was Latino and low income, and over complaints from two women who claimed that he repeatedly asked them to go out with him, which he denied. The resolution was tabled indefinitely after Friday's incident.
Schaffer also has drawn fire for his public comments about women, Hispanics and blacks in the town. City staff members complained that his mailings to residents cost the city in staff time and postage as they sought to correct sometimes erroneous or misleading information that the mailings contained.
Still, he has supporters. He was in his second term, initially winning his seat in 2006. He survived a recall attempt in 2008 and was the top vote-getter in a field of six candidates for two seats when he was reelected last fall.
According to Mayor Jerry Tveit, Schaffer went to City Hall on Thursday afternoon and signed a simply worded letter, ending his term immediately.
Tveit said the interaction was cordial.
"I'm hopeful that we can get back to work doing the people's business if we're not focused on the negative issues," he said. "We can present St. Francis in a more positive light."
The mayor has called a special meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday to accept Schaffer's resignation, declare a vacancy on the council, and decide upon the process to appoint a successor.
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409