Subject: In response to the Op-Ed published in Saturday April 29th, 2017, ‘Where’s the due process?’
After some careful reflection on the Op-Ed published last week by Hood County Commissioner Butch Barton in the HCN, I was compelled to pen a response. Several points troubled me about the perspective relayed to the public by Commissioner Barton. In fact, the very first line sets the stage for concern – that this Op-Ed is his very first ever. That should trouble Commissioner Barton’s constituents in Precinct 2. In today’s political environment, one might consider him a “Poster Child” who represents numerous local elected officials who live in their own little bubble, oblivious to their constituents.
How often have you seen communications from him or other elected officials informing the public about the actions they are taking to improve the ‘Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness’ of their constituents? In the rapidly expanding world of social media and electronic communications, one would think that it would be easier and easier for an elected official to communicate with his constituents. However, what you see is exactly what happens with Commissioner Barton – not much. Sure, he attends some selected social functions, but what effort does he make to truly communicate current issues with his constituents? Based on that alone, it is no wonder that there might be complaints lodged against the Hood County Commissioners related to open and transparent meetings.
The second thing that troubled me about the tenor of Commissioner Barton’s article is the perspective he exhibits as a “poor little innocent victim.” I am not a lawyer but I know some very good ones and I suspect that the first thing they would tell you is that if the Attorney General requests a Grand Jury it is not just a political witch hunt. The AG’s investigators would not have wasted their time and money if they thought there was nothing of concern there. Instead of decrying the perceived unfairness of it all, perhaps Commissioner Barton would be better served by reflecting inwardly why people in the county would think that he is not conducting himself in an open and transparent manner.
The last issue that is troubling goes to Mr. Barton’s insistence on discovering who made the allegations “against him.” It appears he is not really aware that in his role as an elected official, he is considered a government entity and as such there are specific reasons why certain ‘whistleblower’ laws were put in place. Among those reasons is to protect a concerned citizen’s identity and to encourage folks to come forward if they see wrongdoing. Whistleblower laws were also put into place to protect citizens from retaliation by an out of control government entity. Mr. Barton, if anyone, should be cognizant of the disproportionate power the government has when dealing with an individual.
At the end of the day, perhaps it would be better for Commissioner Barton to chalk this off as a learning opportunity to improve his relationship with his constituents.
Yours in Liberty,