It is increasingly clear that unions and public institutions have gotten too big for their britches when they can blatantly work against the public interest and arrogantly dismiss the needs of their communities. The Kitsap Sun reported on two stories Tuesday that epitomize the conflict. As we approach November elections, voters should energize themselves to demand change from those who would claim to serve. Ask your elected officials why this has to occur.
In the first story, the firing of a Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff for losing his driver’s license after failing to take a breath test was finally upheld after the Sheriff’s Guild fought the decision through arbitration. The off duty Deputy was stopped by a Washington State Trooper for suspicion of drunk driving and made the affirmative decision to not take a breath test knowing his driver’s license would be automatically revoked. The Trooper reported that the Deputy was “obviously intoxicated” but the charge was eventually plea-bargained to negligent driving. Attorney Reba Weiss, on behalf of the Deputy and Sheriff’s Guild, argued that the Sheriff should have taken advantage of a legal loophole and “waived” the license revocation so the Deputy could drive a county vehicle and keep his job. She called the firing an “overreach” and an “overreaction.” I call the firing a good practice in public ethics.
Sheriff Steve Boyer, running uncontested in the November election, is to be commended for his leadership requiring strong ethics in his department. The Sheriff’s Guild, on the other hand, should be embarrassed for defending an obvious violation of trust with those they allegedly serve. Without further clarification, every Deputy belonging to the Guild remains tainted through their complicit protection of a Deputy gone bad. How is it possible that any person subject to their power and authority can trust their actions to be fair when they are unwilling to police their own?
A less subtle form of institutional malfeasance is manifested in the case of a 56 year old male schoolteacher in Morton, Washington who was arrested and plead guilty for inappropriate touching of young female students. Regardless of prior written reprimands and a 16 day stint in the Lewis County Jail, this teacher has been allowed to return to the classroom because a hearing officer found the teacher had already been punished by suspension and therefore could not be fired. Are you kidding me? You can imagine the disgust of students and anger of parents as the bonds of trust between the community and those who are supposed to serve is torn. It is simply mental abuse to suggest young girls could be compelled to be near this man, arguably a sexual predator, at an institution that should be a safe haven. Common sense is utterly lost as the bureaucracy, teacher’s union, and school authorities stand by in collective defense of a failed process.
Where is the outrage when public service organizations and institutions forget whom they are serving only to serve themselves. Pay attention in November to those who would tolerate this kind of behavior in our public trust.