Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Bad Sheriff, Bad Electorate
Sheriff Gerald McFaul will enter pleas of guilty to theft in office and other criminal nepotism charges according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer website. The McFaul scandal parallel identically my experiences with the local OurTown sheriff so deserve some scrutiny as an example of local law enforcement distortions and disgrace on the public dime. Many of the themes of this blawg are patent in the underlying narrative of the rise and reign of an incompetent ethnic pol to the position of chief "law enforcement" officer of Ohio's largest county.
McFaul, is according to sources supplied to Bad Lawyer, a former pipe fitter and Cleveland City Councilman. He had no law enforcement aptitude or background, but as they say why let a little thing like competence get in the way of a job that was really about patronage, and apparently McFaul knew how to dole out patronage. In exchange he routinely was re-elected to this highly paid almost untouchable position. His department ran the jails, the court house, served warrants, and did some minor police work. McFaul, an alcoholic, and sex harasser kept a low profile and purportedly did little or no work for the County for the last decade. His son a young lawyer repeatedly found himself in trouble over drugs and alcohol, while other relatives of the Sheriff found themselves full public employment if not for the Sheriff, directly, for other county officials. In exchange the offspring of other county officials found themselves working for the sheriff's department in one capacity or another.
Oh, Justice Center scuffles--apparently many lawyers (like my example detailed at the link and in the early days of this Blawg) and others routinely found themselves in on the other end of pepper spray, deprivations of civil rights, or beatings by the Sheriff's men for objecting to disgraceful behavior by the Sheriff's security monitors. You see to be a Sheriff's deputy your required qualifications--at least until recent years, were let's see, do you know the Sheriff. That's right, you needed no experience, like the old pipe fitter (and believe me, I know some brilliant guys who are pipe fitters, McFaul was not one of them)--your qualifications were simply that the sheriff named you a deputy. Hell, according to the Cleveland.com story, McFaul named his son a "special deputy" so the incompetent punk could get private security work. Want to butter up the Sheriff, hire the son--bet, the boy made some serious squeak!
But for a long time, Sheriff McFaul--like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in Maricopa County, Arizona was untouchable. The Cleveland City Council named a downtown street bordering Cleveland Public Square in McFauls's honor, all the while City Council was fully cognizant of the nepotism, scandalous birthday parties capped by the exchange of fat envelopes stuffed with cash, public drunkenness, and sexual harassment allegations. Oblivious or arrogant, does it matter?
Where does this leave the voters of Cuyahoga County? If McFaul ran for office, today these dopes would probably reflexively re-elect him! As with OurCounty, Cuyahoga County is in the midst of a massive public corruption scandal. Whole sectors of the County, City, School Boards, and other other Political Sub-divisions like the Sewer district and port authorities have been indicted or have entered guilty pleas. Similar sorts of doings are ongoing in Chicago and in NYC and throughout the country. The lesson, obviously, is that democracy is not a cure for corruption--if the citizens cast uninformed votes based on an analytical framework that probes no further than the name on the ballot. The voters need to stop sending crooks, and incompetents, and mental defectives into well-paid public positions. This can be done, but it requires inquiry.
Sheriff Gerald McFaul collected a check from the citizens of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County for 43 years, according to my sources, McFaul was a crook for most of those years. Who's to blame? I nominate the voters, paradoxically the citizens neither deserved Sheriff McFaul and at the same time they deserved everyday of his tenure.