Wednesday, September 28, 2005

GREAT Government Group

I thought I blogged about this a while back, but I've not been able to locate such a post. So here goes.

Mick Barnes -- who I have mentioned in the past -- is a lawyer here in Key West. In fact, he's one of the lawyers representing John Murphy in the Ducks Tour case, he also represents the Rob Eggers in his newly-filed suit against the City, claiming that he too was run out of business by the City, and Mick is co-counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union in Dennis Reeves Cooper's pending suit against the City for his illegal arrest in 2002.

Mick is passionate about a lot of things. One of them is great government. "So what does it take to get GREAT government, anyway?", he says. First and most importantly, STOP ACCEPTING BAD GOVERNMENT !!!"

Mick was here in the Coffee Plantation a few days ago, and he once again brought up his idea for an organized "Good Government Group". Membership is voluntary, and free. To be a member, one only has to agree to vote, to vote for the most qualified to be an honest, capable official, and to vote against any candidate who uses and benefits from dirty campaign tactics.

Simple enough.

Here's an article that Mick had published in Key West the Newspaper in June, back at the beginning of this year's campaign.


What Does it Take to Get Good GREAT Government, Anyway?

Be warned. This is a "political" Q & A. You know the style of my work. I usually pose a question, the "Q." Then I provide an answer, the "A." Usually it's about law. Today it's about government. More accurately, it's about BAD GOVERNMENT.

Unless you've been away, you've noticed that somebody dropped a bill on the City's table for $13,467,395.00. The jury in the Ducks case presented it. Your elected officials expect you to pay for their mistakes.

So what does it take to get GREAT government, anyway? First and most importantly, STOP ACCEPTING BAD GOVERNMENT !!!

Before I go to far and too fast, I should slow down. I should get a psychiatrist. Anyone interested in money would tell me to sit down, shut-up, let the City continue to screw-up, while I continue to sue them. That way, we could each keep doing what we do best . . .

I have a problem with that. As a man who was "raised right," as a kid, BAD GOVERNMENT offends me. I can't help remembering that I'm also a citizen who shouldn't have to put up with the reckless acts and omissions of our elected officials.

It's past time for a complete political house cleaning. I mean everybody. Don't fall into the trap of all except "My Commissioner or My Mayor." They are the problem. If everybody tries to keep the Commissioner they have, then we all keep the same Commissioners. If that sounds good to you. Stop reading. You're done. BUT . . . if you're still reading . . .

Instead, repeat after me. "Yer outta there!" "Enough is enough!" "Take a hike." "Slip out the back, Jack! Bye! Don't call me, I'll call you! You're done! You're toast! Beat it! Don't let the door hit you on the way out! "The endomorphic soprano is singing. "

It's long past time for the Citizenry to make a statement. We're NOT talking political "Please and Thank You," here. We're NOT talking "Pardon me Mr. Mayor, but could I just have a small slice of good government for a change?"

Repeat after me. "You work for me!" "My taxes pay you!" " I hired you and I can fire you." Which is simply to say "I elected you - I can un-elect you!" Listen to me. This is not hard. As voters, we must stop rewarding bad behavior by leaving people in office, who prove over and over that they can't or won't take care of us - fairly, honestly, and ethically. Sadly, instead of demanding great government, most people just snivel, whimper and whine. It's easier to talk about doing something than doing it. The bad gets worse. The good gets trampled. Instead, as voters, we should be saying, "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" That's what my client and friend John Murphy said. Then more importantly, unlike most of us, he did something about it. So can you.

You DON'T have to say, "Oh well, that's just Key West . . . " You don't have to put up with it. Ask John Murphy. Take a position. Stand up.

As the poet Robert Service said, "You're sick of the Game! Well, now, that's a shame, you're young and you're brave and you're bright. You've had a raw deal! I know - but don't squeal. Buck up. Do your damnedest, and fight!"

Don't worry. Our elected officials are just as incompetent in a real fight as they are in real government. The only reason that they're still in office is that collectively, we're too stupid, too lazy or too incompetent to organize and throw them out. Get this straight. I'm not stupid, lazy or incompetent. More importantly, neither are you.

As of this writing, we're beginning to get some potential talent announcing for office. We need more. Admit the truth. You've been reading this saying, over and over, "He's right." "He's right." Stop talking to yourself and do something constructive. Here's the roadmap.

Be a candidate. Support a candidate. Contribute to a candidate. Vote. Vote for the most honest. Vote for the best qualified. Vote against the last minute lie and the 11th hour slander. Fight for GREAT GOVERNMENT - at the ballot box where it counts!

Mark your calendar. Primary: October 4, 2005. Runoff: November 1, 2005. That means YOU can change the political landscape. Five out of seven of the members of your City Commission are up for election or will not run. Your vote can put GREAT GOVERNMENT in the majority. You won't have this opportunity to make such a difference, with your vote, for years. Don't miss it.

With credible opponents and some credible campaign funds, no present commissioner, running for election or not, would see another campaign victory party. Nor should they. Call me up. I'll share with you how to put their record in front of a jury of voters. I'm in the book.

The Ducks jury verdict lit both the fuse and the light. Don't let either one go out. Most people enjoy fireworks. It's time to make sure that the BAD GOVERNMENT we've been getting blows up like it should - in the faces of those who give it to us.

Finally, smart money would bet that you haven't heard my last words on this subject nor seen my last action. I plan to follow my own advice. I'm going to work to improve the miserable government we've been handed - just in case you're too busy - doing something less important.


Michael R. Barnes practices law in Key West, Florida. His comments are provided as a pro bono community service.

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