Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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Seminole School District Apologists Employ Twisted Logic In Tax Debacle

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Below is an op-ed from Ed Riordan, a Seminole County resident who led an undercover sting to expose school district employees who were promoting the recent penny sales tax increase during school hours.

 

By Ed Riordan

 

Merriam Webster dictionary defines public corruption as improper and usually unlawful conduct through the misuse of office or abuse of power. Public corruption can only exists where there is community indifference or a lack of enforcement policies. When we know of corruption in the far off federal government and are frustrated by being unable to affect it, we are hypocrites if we are indifferent to corruption at the local level in community government. The fiduciary duty of public officials and employees to the people is only secured by our oversight, and the enforcement of laws that are intended to prevent abuse of the public trust.

 

I believe that the right of the people to free and fair elections is sacrosanct, and that when government employees misuse their power to influence elections, the violation of trust is egregious. The Federal Hatch Act of 1939 forbids political campaign activities by on-the-job public employees and prohibits using any public funds (taxpayer owned property would apply) for electoral purposes. It provides that on duty employees of government must abstain from "any active part" in political campaigns. In Florida, we have a state statute (104.31) that is frequently referred to as the “Mini Hatch Act”, which also prohibits the activities forbidden by Federal law.

 

In this layman’s opinion, the recently completed investigation in to electioneering activities of Seminole County School District Senior administrators in the time leading up to the ballot referendum election on a sales tax increase, revealed willful, coordinated, and organized activities that abused the public trust, and consequently influenced that election. I’ve heard from many who believe that we should excuse the actions of the implicated personnel, because their end goal of securing revenue for the School District justified their unethical means. The apologists for the implicated parties have employed twisted logic to support giving these abusers a “pass”, because they rationalize that the guilty only breached the public trust in the interest of the public good.  Their hypocrisy is staggering.

 

It’s my hope that authorities like the State Attorney or Attorney General, who are also charged with preserving the public trust, take their responsibilities more seriously than those implicated in the scandalous investigation. I also hope that those people who might minimize the actions of the implicated parties can be intellectually honest enough to admit that we should not let this matter pass without applying the law, and applying penalties adequate enough to both punish and prevent recurrence. If the authorities fail to do their part, I think they may be derelict in their duty. If the people fail to call for prosecutorial action, they are derelict in their duty as well. The consequences would be that the people will get exactly the government they deserve - one no better than our far off D.C. (District of Corruption) government, which the clear majority of Americans mistrust.    

 

Ed Riordan is an ethical government lower tax advocate and Seminole County based political activist.

 

 

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