Horgan has violated pact of trust with voters

Tue, 06/16/2009 - 3:44pm
By: Letters to the ...

Commissioner Horgan, you have built your reputation over a lifetime, and it can never be questioned lightly. I’m addressing you publicly with a profound awareness of the vital importance of your character and reputation.

As a former member of the federal government, I am also keenly aware of our public servants’ vulnerability to criticism, and the public service demands placed on you, your business career, and on your family.

I am also keenly aware, however, that public service carries a responsibility to consistently exercise a higher degree of conduct and judgment, which is always in the public’s best interest, and that avoids even the appearance of impropriety. Anything less serves to undermine public confidence that you commissioners must hold to govern effectively.

Through our ballots, we elected you to the county’s highest office, with a presumption of integrity, competence, and moral character, empowering you with authority to exercise judgment on multi-million dollar issues, our business futures, and our very families.

We assumed that you would serve with maturity and wisdom, and in so doing, build trust in the authority of the board. That was the fundamental pact we voters had with you.

Based on interviews reported in the news and the sheriff’s report of your apprehension on May 29, it is clear that my prior confidence in your judgment was misplaced.

Your actions were much more than a simple mistake, and if you believe it is only a personal matter for you and your family to deal with, you simply don’t understand the significance of a Fayette County commissioner’s arrest on drug charges.

If the report is true, which I believe it is, you repeatedly exercised the irresponsible judgment of a delinquent teen, which is clearly incompatible with your commission responsibilities.

You made individual, conscious decisions to obtain an unlawful substance, bring it with you, prepare and smoke it, initially lie to a deputy about marijuana in your truck, and suggested the possibility of a bribe to a sheriff’s deputy, or, at the very least, put your personal interest in keeping embarrassing information secret, ahead of the public’s right to know.

Having served in overseas counter-narcotics operations, I am also very mindful that your demand for illegal drugs helps fuel an immense array of foreign and domestic youth, adult, law enforcement, political, and judicial activities that destroy individuals and societies — from Mexico’s 5,000-plus annual drug war-related deaths to problems within our neighborhoods and communities.

Your actions also raise additional questions:

• Did you consider how distorted perception and impaired coordination threatened other Fayette citizens’ lives on the road?

• How many other times did you obtain and use unlawful substances?

• Did you use other illegal drugs?

• Have you reported the name of your supplier(s)?

• Did anyone who knew about past possession/use influence your commission responsibilities?

• Do you have the wisdom and good sense to effectively research and debate complex issues leading up to critical commission votes?

How far do these infectious suspicions go? I don’t know, and having compromised your integrity, you have lost my confidence in whatever response you may provide.

Your commissioner’s seat, sir, for as long as you occupy it, is a casualty of your poor judgment.

Therefore, I ask you to take the serious, but necessary, step of resigning your office to restore trust in Fayette County government.

Like you, Commissioner Horgan, I regret the need for this public comment, but it is urgent and vital to our county.

My final comment is directed to our four commissioners. We now look to you to salvage and strengthen the trust necessary for this board to govern with citizen confidence and support.

The counsel of a senior officer at the beginning of my military service seems appropriate: “Whenever you pass by a problem and don’t correct it, you’ve just established the new standard.”

Do not let this become the new standard for Fayette County commissioners.

Robert J. Ross

Fayette County, Ga.

login to post comments