I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Equivocation is Easy....

In a classic scene from the 1981 comedy "Vacation" --Rusty is being attacked viciously by his cousin's dog, and Rusty's mom glibly states "Rusty, stop playing with the dog"--insinuating Rusty is somehow to blame for the mauling while simultaneously downplaying the dog's role in the attack and the seriousness of the attack....the scene was so patently absurd that it produced bellicose laughter among the audience--because it was so ridiculous!

Sunday’s PNJ editorial encourages the Sheriff and the BOCC, as it relates to this year’s budget and subsequent appeal and response, to “Grow Up and Get Over It!” imploring us to solve the issue like “leaders.”

On its face, this editorial and it’s message seems reasonable and rational.  However, upon a more stringent, reasoned analysis—it seems like the author has taken the lazy, easy path—and equivocation in this instance is both convenient and expedient.  It is immediately apparent that whomever wrote this piece did not read the county’s response to the Sheriff’s budget appeal, because like a wrecking ball going through an abandoned building set for demolition, the BCC response cuts devastating swaths of destruction through the Sheriff’s argument(s).  Had the author read the response, he/she would have known this, and perhaps some intelligent themes could have been expounded upon/infused in the editorial, such as:

--The Sheriff has said on many occasions that his men “went7 years without a pay raise”..but wait---Attachment 13 of the ECSO’s own appeal clearly shows that ECSO employees have had raises in 7 of the last 11 years, and in 14 of the last 18 years!  Why the disconnect—in what 7-year period did the deputies not receive raises??

--The Sheriff has said our budgeting process this year has been “arbitrary and capricious”—but paragraph 1 of page 4 of our answer to his appeal succinctly vaporizes that claim.  Did PNJ read this paragraph and the case cited?

--The BCC’s public comments and statements, so far as the public record clearly indicates, have been professional, courteous, and respectful toward the sheriff and his officers.  The Sheriff, by contrast, has engaged in a summer of name calling, personal attacks, and ad hominem insults directed at individual commissioners and BCC staff. The sheriff has insinuated that the administrator is dishonest, he has referred to the BCC as out of touch, saying we “can’t read, can’t hear, can’t find the nose on our face.”  The Sheriff even called me a “Bullshit Artist” on WCOA radio. (he used a radio-

safe term to say it).  Although the editorial does briefly discuss the differences in language between the sheriff and the BCC through this year— the conclusion of the editorial remains that we BOTH must grow up.

Many other issues could have been explored.  Many other arguments in the sheriff’s appeal are addressed in a meaningful way in the county’s response—but sadly the facts were not put into the piece, only an emotional proclamation was sounded—that both parties “do better!”  Imagine a judge at ringside that would rate every fight a “draw”and say "fight better!"—would that be fair to a clearly victorious fighter in the main event?

Another apropos comparison could be made to the way public schools investigate fights these days.  In the old days, when I went to school,  a school would investigate to see who started a schoolyard fight, and the guilty student would be punished. The innocent student who was simply defending himself would be exonerated and sent back to class.  In today’s hyper-politically correct school world—both students get suspended for “fighting” and no thought is given to who the instigating party was.  (This is part of the “why” public school enrollments are declining locally…. But I digress.)

Whatever we are talking about--- whether it is mediating a dispute, judging a prize fight, or determining who started a school-yard fight-- It is always the difficult thing to do, the act of judging-using facts and discernment to decide on who is at fault for “X”.

In politics and in local journalism--It is difficult questioning those in power—and it is for this reason that some journalists will not question powerful, popular public officials and popular private-sector individuals and self-proclaimed community leaders.
But if credibility counts, the editorial page is the very place to call out those who create issues and problems---even if they are popular, powerful, locally-elected public figures or well-known, high profile citizens that are well-regarded.
The editorial in this case would have been much more well received by readers (instead of being eviscerated on PNJ's facebook page comments section by citizens) had it simply stated the obvious... However, sadly,  this piece simply meanders down the path of least resistance to instead categorize the dispute at issue a struggle to which “both parties share blame equally.”  Equivocation is easy --- judging is hard.


Anonymous said...

What is going to be done about not having enough sheriff deputies in Escambia County?

Jeff Bergosh said...

Anonymous: This question will be better addressed by the Sheriff and his department. I know that nationwide this is an issue (officer recruitment, retention); LEO's are unfortunately under-appreciated by a large segment of the people they serve in America, they are actually maligned and blamed for the dysfunction of many of the urban areas they patrol in large cities in America--and when something goes sideways, they are the first to get the blame. It is a really tough situation--when some groups are golf-clapped by the media and the establishment as these same "groups" torch cities and chant violent, anti-police rhetoric at large demonstrations yet they are not called to task. It is a very sad situation to witness....

Anonymous said...

Yes sir, the "blame game" is an inherit part of human interaction, it is how we access the situation and decide what course of action to take.

I think though after a while instead of focusing on who is the good guy, the bad guy, the rescuer etc, hopefully all that is put aside, the problem is identified then steps are taken to resolve it.

I personally agree the Sherrif initiated the drama conflict this go round, labeling the BOCC the bad guys, the sheriff the victim and that the citizens are to be the rescuers. Perhaps he is beyond frustrated, but also it took you a lot of work to hold the mirror of his budget to his face and for us to see also.

But we also see the BOCC budget, you know.

You understand the Karpman Drama triangle? If we remain in it, it is essentially unresolved conflict and dysfunction.

It is time to lay it to rest. Whether the sheriff will look in the mirror, or the deputies and/or the BOCC and do what is necessary to correct the situation than the street deputies and the citizens lose out (is the way I see it)

I get it though, if some one insults you, you want to prove them wrong and smash them decisively. The victor!

But, at the end of the day, we have a shortage of deputies in Escambia County.

We want to see all of our constitutional officers and staff to be taking care of the county and the citizens.

It takes a leader to see this and rise above.

So in a way, perhaps the PNJ got it right.