He seeks treatment after DUI arrest. Trouble is, he didn't tell anyone.
His job as an elected leader in Carlton County includes prosecuting drunken drivers. But last week Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler was the one arrested on suspicion of being under the influence while being behind the wheel.
The State Patrol trooper who arrested him after other motorists called in to report erratic driving said Pertler tried to hide a nearly empty bottle of vodka under his car seat, refused to complete a Breathalyzer test and thought he was driving to the Menards store in Hermantown on Highway 53. He was arrested at 61st Avenue East and London Road during the noon hour.
A breath test completed a short time later indicated Pertler had a blood-alcohol content of 0.234 percent, nearly three times the legal limit to drive. He was charged with seven crimes.
Pertler's arrest came five months after he resigned as an adjunct instructor at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. He stepped aside because he was embarrassed by his inability to communicate with students when he came to class after drinking at a bar with a boyhood friend.
To his credit, Pertler checked himself into the Hazelden alcohol and drug addiction treatment center in Center City, Minn., on Saturday.
But to his discredit, he did so apparently without telling anyone he works with. As far as County Auditor Paul Gassert knows, Pertler hasn't been in contact with anyone with the county since his arrest, according to a News Tribune story yesterday.
Are Carlton County commissioners concerned he hasn't been in his office?
"That's a fair statement," Gassert said in the story.
All of Carlton County can share that concern.
In March when he told the News Tribune he had resigned as a college instructor a month earlier, Pertler said, "Anybody who says they don't make mistakes, they're just telling you a bunch of B.S. . I think a person, in my opinion, is better off by owning up to your stuff. . The thing I'd like to try to convey is that in both my professional and personal life, I try to do things right."
Everyone does make mistakes, as Pertler pointed out. But not everyone does things right.
Pertler can do right by the people of Carlton County, the people who elected him in 2005 and entrusted him to work for them and to work for justice, by stepping down as county attorney and by getting the help he apparently needs and already is seeking. He can go back to his job as an attorney when he's better - even if he's no longer the elected county attorney.
This Duluth News Tribune editorial was distributed by MCT Information Services.
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