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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

No armor like ignorance   

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.
Laurence J. Peter

When friends no-bid. . . 

We've seen lots of articles and comments about the non-bid, “Evergreen” contract Costa Mesa’s Sanitation folks have endorsed. (Evergreen contracts are automatically renewed without review. The elected officials responsible for Costa Mesa’s money don’t have to bother to evaluate what Costa Mesa is getting for its money.) The Sanitation District’s Board is a model we’ll use for discussion of “legal vs. ethical and moral” issues.

Morals and Ethics

Webster’s Dictionary defines Moral as “relating to principles of right and wrong” and Ethical as “conforming to an accepted standard of conduct.” In other words, morals are what is right or wrong for an individual and ethics are what is considered right or wrong by the people surrounding the individual.

The United States was founded in part because of unethical special preferences. British citizens in Britain had more rights and privileges than those in the colonies. Even worse, Colonists faced “the king can break no law, the king is the law.” Part of the reason patriots bravely faced the ire of their “politically correct” neighbors and risked their lives fighting the Redcoats, was to have a home where the law applied equally to all, whether rich or poor, connected or outcast.

Like pre-Revolutionary times

Law, in California, is selectively applied, as it was in the colonies before the Revolutionary war. We have exemptions for those in power, and exemptions for those the present government wants to protect.

For example, legislators, police officers, and their spouses can double park, drive alone in the car pool lane, and take advantage of additional perks that  having “non-listed” license plates allows.

People who sneaked into the US illegally get free medical care and education, and get special treatment when they are stopped by traffic officers – essentially, they’re exempt from  some of the laws that govern the rest of us.

No-bid privileges and grudges        

Closer to home, PACs collect money from the trash hauler, CR&R, and distribute it to the candidates who will vote for the CR&R’s contract extension. The extension prevents subjecting the prices and services to scrutiny or to competitive pressure. According to board member Ferryman, the contract extensions “avoid the expense” of asking for competitive bids or RFPs (request for proposal).

The board is willing to spend money suing to remove member Fitzpatrick, though. What did Jim do to provoke the board to spend city money to get rid of him? He objected to rubber stamping the current contract, and asked for a competitive bid process. And:

Board President Bob Ooten said, "Fitzpatrick announced that he was going to get two more people elected in 2012 (to replace Director Art Perry and Director Jim Ferryman)" and "that's why the legal action started." Fitzpatrick wanted more votes on the Board to help get competitive bids.

(The surface excuse is Jim may or may not have held an incompatible position when he was elected to the board. He subsequently resigned that position, so it’s a moot point.)

As columnist Jack Wu said, “The board is unwilling to try to save the taxpayers' money by going out to bid, but have no problem spending it because of personal grudges.”

Legal but fails the smell test

The board’s action is apparently legal. And the senior VP of the CR&R said that their contributions were legal. That brings up ethical, pertaining to right and wrong conduct. One of the lobbyists who helped funnel the monies said he was comfortable with what he did. He didn't argue ethics or morality; he just acknowledged his “comfort.”

During the Costa Mesa election labor unions statewide and a small, local group protested the proposed charter because it “opens no-bid contracts and cronyism.” It happens that they were grossly, possibly knowingly, wrong about that matter. Nevertheless, they used the threat of no-bid contracts to conjure images of Costa Mesa falling into corruption like Bell and into financial failure like Sacramento and San Bernardino.

But the group, like their candidates, supports the no-bid trash contracts “approved” by the Sanitation Board. (See blog 5 Oct for the candidates’ excuses for their support of the No-Bid contracts and “no-bidding” Sanitation candidates.Here)

They grant exemptions from the evil of no-bids for their friends.  But the group remains silent as thugs throw bricks through an opposing candidate’s windows. They ignore videoed slashing of their opponents’ signs. They speak no evil of those who falsely report a candidate’s drunk driving, or of those who try to provoke a Council Member to violate his morals and ethics.

Does all of this ring a bell? Does it sound like something we studied in school?

History repeats

Yup, it’s a repeat, albeit on a small, local scale. Remember that many remained silent as Hitler took over Germany? Hitler had only a small group of very vocal supporters. Many Germans remained quiet – and granted him exemptions from law, and morals and ethics by their silence. 

Elliott Ness was maligned by enemies, shot at, suborned, and insulted even by supporters for being a camera hog. That sounds like what’s been and is being written about Jim Righeimer and Jim Fitzpatrick.

It's immoral but it's OK because

Two thousand years ago, how did the hypocrites rationalize their support of Pontius Pilot? Perhaps they said, “Yes, it’s bad to crucify (perceived) opponents, but in this case it’s OK. We’ll grant Pilot an exemption because we don’t like the man he crucified.” And, if asked, Pilot would probably have said he was comfortable with his decision, once he’d washed his hands.

Fortunately, 2000 years ago in the East, and early in the 20th Century throughout the US, and now in Costa Mesa, some folks stand up and insist on ethical and moral behavior. They persist even when thugs hate them and try to intimidate them. They “stay the course” when a small, local/vocal group supports the thugs and insults those who want ethical conduct.

And some Costa Mesans believe that the law should apply to everyone. They insist that government officials should use their power to help the City, not themselves and their cronies. They support “the Jim's;” Righeimer and Fitzpatrick.

 I’m one of them.

1 comment:

  1. Dennis, another excellent post. It should be published in other forums.

    There is a tremendous injustice you correctly point out. Soon we will see the same folks try to oust Mayor Righeimer via a recall. Their reasons are different but the underlining motivations are the same. They are obsessed with hate. They like their double standard, want their goodies and they feel both Jims are trying to take it away from them. Their hate blinds them and they only see conspiracy and scandal.

    Anyone that has met or worked with either Jim knows they are decent, honest hard workers trying to do what is right for the citizens of Costa Mesa.