May 02, 2012 - "There was never, for any long time, a corrupt representative of a virtuous people; or a mean, sluggish, careless people that ever had a good government of any form." – Edmund Burke
This above quote from the father of modern conservatism has been on my mind a lot these days.
It especially kept rumbling through my head on Monday as a not-guilty verdict was reached in the Pat Paad embezzlement case (see story on Page 1).
I'm not going to use this space to debate or second-guess the jury's wisdom or the strength of the prosecution's case.
It is what it is. For better or for ill, that's our criminal justice system. Sometimes it's more criminal than just.
What I am going to do is take one final stab at chastising some of the other people in this case who, in my opinion, no longer deserve to hold public positions.
The first and most obvious choice is Oxford Village Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth. Either Helmuth was telling the truth and she helped cover up an alleged embezzlement – as she freely admitted and testified to on the witness stand – or she was lying (and perjured herself) about Paad's actions for some unknown reason.
Either way, Helmuth needs to go.
It's obvious she's a person who completely lacks a healthy sense of shame, so don't look for a resignation any time soon.
I keep waiting – and hoping – that some courageous and principled village resident (or residents) will finally stand up, say 'enough is enough' and begin a recall campaign to rip Helmuth from her seat.
Her continued service on council is not only embarrassing, insulting and downright disgusting, it's a perfect example of why most people – smart people, anyway – don't trust their government.
Then there's village Manager Joe Young.
Legend has it Emperor Nero fiddled while the city of Rome burned.
Well, Young's not fiddling, but he is busy running around town serving as Oxford's unofficial Goodwill Ambassador, while the village's finances have been in disarray.
(Yes, it's very nice that Young does so many extra things for the DDA, Chamber of Commerce, Youth Assistance, etc., but that's not his job. Managing the village is.)
Right now, the village still has approximately $20,000 in missing – excuse me, "unaccounted for" – property tax money from the July 2010 bill.
This $20,000, along with the previously alleged embezzlement of more than $3,300 in 2006 tax payments and nearly $600 in police funds from 2010, all happened on his watch, so in my mind, he's responsible.
Imagine this was a private company and it was discovered that $20,000 was simply missing from a division or a project. Whoever was in charge would most definitely be held accountable and nine times out of 10, heads would roll.
As a concerned taxpayer, I find it completely unacceptable that $20,000 is still missing, but I guess I'm alone in my outrage because I don't see a mob of angry villagers ready to storm 22 W. Burdick St.
Glad I don't operate a torch-and-pitchfork concession in this town . . . I'd starve.
Honestly, how does Young still have a job? Oh, that's right. It's because council is either too lazy to begin the process of searching for a new manager (something which should have happened about five or six years ago) or too blind to truly see just how unbelievably bad he is at his job.
Just ask Hazel Park how it liked Young's management of its finances.
My criticism of Young isn't personal, it's just business as my people say. He's a personable guy, but that doesn't alter the facts.
Given my current level of mistrust in the village's ability to properly manage my tax money, I would welcome a state-appointed Emergency Manager with open arms – if only to get someone down there who's competent, professional and completely independent of the local political scene.
I don't even know why I bothered to write this column because frankly, nothing's ever going to change as so many – not all – village residents have shown themselves to be either too apathetic, too busy or, frankly, too cowardly to speak out and attempt to reform things.
We are supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In the case of the village government, the people have been an absentee landlord as the vast majority of them don't vote in village elections, don't run for office and don't even pay attention to the meetings.
Sure, they work themselves into a lather over skateboarding and potential multiple family developments with potential poor people living in them, but they remain silent when it comes to cover-ups admitted by council members and missing public funds.
In the end, the village government is a reflection of village residents and what a sad, ugly image it is. But it doesn't matter because apparently, no one cares.
Helmuth will continue to serve on council. Young will continue to be employed as manager until he either retires or the village finally hits that financial iceberg.
The good news is I've got a couple of new slogans for Oxford to match the DDA's "Done Right" branding campaign, while capturing the true spirit of our so-called leadership.
Idea #1: "Oxford – Incompetence. Done Right."
Idea #2: "Oxford – Corruption. Done Right."
Idea #3: "Oxford – Negligence. Done Right."
Don't like any of those? How about this one: "Oxford – Nothing. Done Right."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.