With the arrest of Joe Hyer, and his subsequent admission of guilt today there is a proliferation of pontificating, proselytizing and politicizing in town and in the blogosphere.
However, the important issue is not the motivation of any “informant”, the political intentions of the sheriff and prosecutor, nor the potential damage to Joe Hyer's political ambitions or career. The real issues are the sustained damage to the fragile relationship between voters and our elected civic leaders and the violation and loss of expectations and trust.
Our community's stability depends not on the veneration of our elected officials but on the bond that develops when citizens give support to other citizens to represent and act on their civic interests. This lamentable situation, like so many others involving political leaders, undermines that special relationship and jeopardizes the commitment and hope of creating a more respected government and prosperous community. It's the voters and the community who suffer from the incredible lack of judgment of a person who had been a respected political figure.
When a public official makes many contributions to his/her community and brings intelligence and foresight to public debates the situation may be emotionally harder but no more ethically complex.
A criminal violation is the ultimate act of selfishness in that one’s lack of discipline and self control results in the chasm that already exists between the public and their representatives growing even larger.
It should not be lost that for progressives who believe in a vibrant and active government, who will not see many electoral or policy successes without INCREASED public trust and confidence in their government, suffer perhaps the greatest impact from the damage done by another failed public official. Conservatives actually work to achieve reduced trust and confidence in our public institutions.
“Public trust is built on an assumption that public officials, and respected public figures, can be believed — that you can trust that they are who they say they are,” said Rev. Gary Dorrien, a professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan in yesterday’s NY Times. “When public figures are revealed to be other than who they claimed — and follow up with apologies that betray them as having immature personalities, unfamiliar with the rigors of honest self-assessment — the fabric of social trust suffers, he said. But incrementally, the accumulation of little tears in the fabric “makes it harder and harder to talk about the ethical underpinning of any public policy issues, harder to mobilize people,” Mr. Dorrien said. My name is Russ Lehman