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?
It is not unlike the “Rusty-quit playing with the dog” scenefrom National Lampoon’s Vacation.
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.