I know my Law and Order.
As most any family member will attest I have likely seen every episode over the 20-year rein of that cops and lawyers procedural – at least 10 times apiece.
There are some episodes I could probably recite on the spot, line for line.
I can give you the timeline for every detective, every assistant district attorney and every district attorney on that show – from the original pilot episode.
I can pick out actors and, in a heartbeat, click off the general plotline and possibly year that they appeared in other episodes and what character they played and how many people they killed.
I have seen Jack McCoy’s eyebrows arch more times than I could count and watched Ben Stone – there is a time warp – hold his glasses while trapping some defendant with sheer indignation.
And I have heard plenty of speeches about the jobs of the police and the district attorneys about serving the public and holding that ideal up as paramount – what serves the people.
Dick Wolf, the creator of that show and its many spinoffs, is a spinner of myths.
Because if there is any way to explain how the public was served by a recently closed State Attorney investigation into the 2012 election campaign it sure hasn’t been speechified.
Where are you Jack when we need you?
The latest development arrived in the past couple of weeks as the matter of removing the president of Citizens Improving Gulf County, a political action committee established last year and with support throughout the county, was stopped.
Turned out that the Supervisor of Elections Office was not comfortable just taking the word of the State Attorney that Jim Garth should be removed from the voter rolls without any evidence.
And the state Division of Elections could not find a trail of a felony conviction – that according to Garth did not involve a court, jury, judge, jail or booking and could only date to more than four decades ago – or the need to restore civil, voting, rights.
The State Attorney’s Office communicated that the process of removing a voter from the rolls could stop at this time.
So either Garth did or did not have a felony conviction. Either he voted illegally for years or not. Either Garth was able to pass every background check, but one, over the span of 40 years or not.
This is the conclusion of an investigation into the alleged extortion of a county commission candidate?
I have seen enough Law and Order to wonder about that one.
This I do know and what is known should provide pause for every citizen of this county, every taxpayer.
What is known about this case should enrage all the Second Amendment stalwarts worried about gun control from Washington because this is about the amendment that came first and the threat is much closer to home.
What is known is that public money was used in this investigation.
That public money helped drive an investigation that started, based on the file released to the public, based on a passel of hearsay – I know my Law and Order as I said – that could fairly classified as the recitation of a sandbox schoolyard spat.
What is the old adage about sticks and stones and words?
This is all about words communicated through a phone chain that would rival any backroom game of Post Office.
Public money went into investigating and interviewing and putting a recording device on a sitting county commissioner in order to gather “evidence.”
Public money was devoted to investigating an organization and its president that had committed the crime, by all indications from the public file, of simply using politics to battle politics in a county election.
A group that dared to question leadership by, again, according to the final investigative file, sending a letter to said commissioner raising an issue that remains the core of an ongoing investigation by the Florida Commission on Ethics.
A group that exercised that fundamental right spelled out in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to assemble and protest government.
And public money was also used to gather less than flattering information on others, to even threaten them with possible indictment, as was spelled out in the letter that originally closed the case in October and did not reference Garth.
Finally, public money was expended in initially recommending the removal of a voter from the voter rolls and then when the rubber hit the road and evidence had to be provided, recommending stopping the process.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office are so rolling in public money they have sufficient resources to devote to this, what could be fairly described as an investigation into critics of Gulf County government?
This merits those resources over, say, the murder of Mary Thomas which remains unsolved more than six years after she was found brutally murdered in woods off Avenue A?
Now, if Commissioner Tan Smiley wants to grind an axe about investment in the white and minority communities, as he did at the end of the last Board of County Commissioners meeting, there is some genuine fuel.
So the real question I have, given my extensive background of viewing Law and Order, is how exactly did this investigation and devotion of public resources (read: other people’s money) serve the public?
From what is known, Jack McCoy’s eyebrows would be knitting a sweater by now.