Commentary: Dereliction of Duty
By: Keith Allison, D.Dn.
©31 March 2003 – All Rights Reserved
At the 27 March 2003 meeting of the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries, opponents of the wage increase for elected officials spoke eloquently and emotionally about their opposition to pay raises for officials at this time. They were, however, limited by the Chairperson to speaking about complicated formula’s showing how to compare officials jobs to private industry for pay purposes. They were forbidden to discuss officials “job performance,” because that was beyond the commission’s authority to consider.
I’ll admit that when I approached the dais to speak to the commission members, I violated the chairperson’s prohibition on bringing up job performance. For my indiscretion, I was asked to surrender the dais; I did, however, manage to tell them much of what I had on my mind.
I told the commission that as a freelance writer and paralegal, I am in touch with attorneys all over the state; and as a result, I have an unparalleled opportunity to converse with them about the quality of justice in Washington State. Many attorneys have told me that in their opinion, the judicial system in this state is so corrupt, lady justice is not only blindfolded, she’s often muted. I also informed them of attorneys I know who refuse to have a case adjudicated in Yakima County, because of the depth of corruption in our local courts.
Next, I told them of my recent conversation with our local sheriff about his duty to protect the citizens of this county. I told him that along with protecting the public from the criminal element, it was also is responsibility to protect the public from being prosecuted by the state through the use of unconstitutional statutes. He told me, “I don’t believe that is my responsibility.”
The chairperson asked me to surrender the dais when I began telling the commission about contacting Governor Gary Locke, Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire,
Representatives James Clements and Mary Skinner, Senator Alex Deccio and each of our other state politicians about it being their duty to guarantee that our State Statutes and Administrative Codes pass constitutional muster. The vast majority of them did not bother to reply, but of the few who did, the most memorable comment went something like “the wheel that squeaks the loudest gets oiled.”
I also wasn’t allowed to tell the commission how our County Prosecutor’s Office has refused to investigate or look into evidence in my possession showing how state officials are aiding and abetting fraud, extortion, conspiracy, restraint of trade, civil rights violations and racketeering.
Be they state, county, or city officials, activity such as I have listed above is as unacceptable there, as it is in the private sector. Naturally, the commissions position that they may not consider job performance in determining whether our elected officials deserve a raise, troubles me greatly. The commission is striving to compare government official’s jobs to those in private industry, but they are denying themselves an important tool in reaching that decision. In all managerial or executive positions I’m aware of, job performance is of utmost concern when it comes to granting or denying an increase in pay.
As I told Sheriff Irwin, Oran’s Dictionary of Law defines dereliction of duty as, “A refusal or failure to perform a public office or duty.” Dereliction of duty is often considered a crime, and when public officials refuse to perform their duty, I see no justification for allowing them to stay in office, let alone granting them pay raises based solely upon some complicated formula comparing private and public sector jobs.
Keith Allison, D.Dn.
Post Office Box 8052
Yakima, Washington 98908
(509) 966-4039 Fax
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