Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ethics Question No. Two: The Clerk & the Cop

Before we examine our ethics question for today, we have a final rebuttal in the Singleton-Hendershot contest. Even though it was sent after the election, we believe it is worthwhile:

Mr. Redmon, Thank you for sharing your perspective. And, while I recognize the points that you attempted to illustrate, I think you may have missed my broader concept. Yes, those with medical degrees are technically doctors” (once they pass their state’s licensing boards) as are psychologists, lawyers, educators with an EdS degree and anyone with a PhD.

However, most hospital administrators are in fact not doctors.  They are CEO’s with MBA’s and strong backgrounds in finance and marketing.  Rather, I think the term you were searching for is “Chief Of Staff”.  These positions have a medical and/or surgical background, but perform as administrators and not practicing medical health professionals.  There is a reason they no longer treat patients or perform surgeries – because such work requires the use of “perishable skills” that must be practiced (“practicing medicine”) constantly or they will quickly deteriorate. I ask you sir, and I hope you have the intelligence to answer in the affirmative, wouldn’t you prefer to have a practicing surgeon performing your open heart surgery as opposed to the administrative chief of staff?

And as to educators, I agree that yes, a principal or a superintendent in most cases begins their career as an educator (even though the State of Alabama has no such requirements for an elected superintendent.  Coincidentally, the State doesn’t require Sheriff’s to have a law enforcement background or pass an academy, as well as our Coroner’s are not required to have any medical background or training.  Interesting, yes?).  However, having many friends and family members who are also educators, I would venture to say that many classroom teachers feel that their administrators are at best “out of touch” with classroom dynamics as well as the demands placed on our most successful teachers.  In support of this, let’s compare how many teachers retire from teaching and come back as substitute teachers.  I challenge you to find a principal or superintendent that does likewise.

And, while I would agree with you that in most instances a superintendent or principal has a background in education, this is generally not the same in our institutions of higher education, as evidenced right here at the University of North Alabama where former President (who was also a “doctor”) Robert Potts was not an educator, but in fact, an attorney.

Yes, Sir, you are correct.  History IS full of examples of great leaders that had inept staff beneath them, and yet they still managed to do their jobs.  Speaking as a veteran and with Veteran’s Day upon us, military leaders George S. Patton and Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller in particular come to mind.  And why is that?  Why were they able to overcome adversity? Why did they persevere? Why did they have the unquestionable respect and loyalty of their troops?

Because they progressed through the ranks, they knew the mission as well as the job of those above and below them, AND they served on the front lines - alongside those they led.

Semper Fidelis.


Earlier in the election season, we were asked if the town of Lexington was operating in violation of the ethics law by having a chief of police and magistrate who are married to each other (they call themselves the Clerk & the Cop). Our original thought was that it was not, but we promised to look into it for our reader.

First, just what does a municipal magistrate do in the state of Alabama? Here are a few duties taken from the state's site (Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration):

* Issuing Arrest Warrants for misdemeanors

*Allowing release on personal recognizance

* Allowing a continuance of trials

It would seem much more than we knew, and certainly some would be prejudiced by a family association. If any feel they have been a victim of some sort of conspiracy between the "clerk an the cop," it's best to present such information to the Ethics Commission rather than debating it here.

We did find that this connection is not allowed in West Virginia, since it offers the "appearance of impropriety." In other words, a good attorney could possibly bankrupt Lexington if the right victim chose to sue.


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