The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

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Shrimp 'n Grits

Riley’s policy on city personnel accountability – Loose as a Goose
Lee Walton

What is the rationale behind the City administration’s profoundly inconsistent responses to the killing of a single goose and the death of nine firefighters? In response to the former, the city terminated a personnel contract with a local employment agency that provided dozens of temporary employees to the City for over nine years because one of their workers killed a Canada goose at a City park. In response to the latter, Mayor Riley continues to extol his confidence and unwavering defense for an unqualified, uneducated fire chief whose gross incompetence resulted in the unnecessary and tragic death of nine city firefighters? How can a reasonable person reconcile the City administration’s divergent responses to these two events without drawing a comparison between them?

Three temporary Mexican workers received swift summary justice from their employer, Staffing 2000, after one wrung the neck of a goose at the City’s West Ashley Park. As reported in the April 10th Palter and Chatter, that employment agency “…terminated all three on the spot.” The City’s director of Parks and Recreation echoed similar harsh condemnation of this fowl tragedy and was quoted in the same article confirming that the three temporary workers “will never work for the City again.” As it turned out, the City subsequently fired Staffing 2000 as well.

Where were the city administration’s swift justice, condemnation, and intolerance of the inappropriate behavior and incompetent leadership by the City’s fire chief on the morning of June 19, 2007? Why didn’t Mayor Riley immediately relieve Fire Chief Rusty Thomas of command and, at an absolute minimum, place him on administrative leave until the ensuing investigations into the June 18th tragedy were allowed to run their unfettered courses? Such administrative responses are commonplace reactions to such high-profile public tragedies, regardless of the relative competence and actions of the leadership in responsible charge at the time.

A senior Palter and Chatter editor recently got all “wound-up and wrapped around an axle” over the actions of a few state highway patrolmen who were caught on their own video cameras treating several good state citizens with far less than the professionalism expected of the state’s Public Safety Division. In an April 8th editorial, “More public safety accountability”, this lofty-minded editor even took Governor Sanford to task for being “…caught by surprise…” by the actions of his nominee who still heads the Public Safety Division. Why didn’t’ this same editor offer similar condemnation of Riley following the June 18th Super Sofa Store tragedy for being “…caught by surprise…” by the utter incompetence and gross negligence of his nominee and lap-dog lackey fire chief?

Why the blatant hypocritical inconsistency on the part of that renowned watchdog of the free press and responsible government in the Lowcountry? Maybe the editorial staff of the Palter and Chatter is more lapdog than watchdog when it comes to protecting the public image of their legendary protector and benefactor, Charleston’s own version of the Eveready Bunny- Joe Riley.

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