Scandalous Behavior, of That I'm Positive
"Crotty and Demings dealt from the bottom of the deck, turning up the “denial” and “victim” cards, respectively, when they reacted to scandals involving them."
“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.”
—George Bernard Shaw
An Orlando magazine subscriber commented to me that she thought I was too negative in this column. “Why can’t you be more positive?” she asked.
Dear Reader, I replied, my columns are always “positive.” I’m positive, I told her, that the cynicism I voice here is just and well-deserved.
Just as I am positive the following opinion is spot on:
Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and Orlando Police Chief Val Demings recently demonstrated appallingly poor leadership when reacting to events of his and her own making.
Crotty and Demings dealt from the bottom of the deck, turning up the “denial” and “victim” cards, respectively, when they reacted to scandals involving them: in Crotty’s case, it was the “culture of corruption” label pinned on the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. Demings, meanwhile, waited a month to publicly fess up to the theft of a firearm she left in her police vehicle parked in her home’s driveway.
Crotty’s reaction to a grand jury probe of the Expressway Authority, on whose board he has sat since 2001, with the last two years as chairman, was too timid. He said he would form a committee that would recommend how to reform the agency.
That task force should begin with urging the ousters of Crotty and authority executive director Mike Snyder.
Crotty had the chance—and the mandate—to clean up the authority when he took over as chairman of its board. Instead, he became part of its legacy of cronyism and quid pro quo arrangements that are as good for vendors as they are for friendly politicians seeking campaign contributions—Crotty among them. The county mayor’s shock and denial over the corruption charge had a Rod Blagojevich feel to it. The difference between the two may be only a good head of hair.
To add insult to ignorance (the latter being Crotty’s lame defense that he was unaware of how the game was played at the Expressway Authority), Crotty backed a 25-cent increase that went into effect last month at various ramps and toll plazas.
You pay more while he plays up to political insiders who benefit from higher tolls and road construction. He knows the game.
City Police Chief Val Demings does, too. And, like Crotty, she doesn’t play by the rules.
She didn’t acknowledge the theft of a department-issued handgun and ammunition until a tipster ratted her out to the Orlando Sentinel. A month had passed between the firearm’s disappearance and her media event to discuss the incident. Only then did she take “full responsibility” for losing department equipment. Incredibly, Orlando’s top cop also claimed victim status (see Quote, page 23) while acting all in charge, saying she would review police policy on guns left in cars.
She originally reported the theft only to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, headed by her husband, and to Mayor Buddy Dyer. “I reported it to the persons that I felt needed to know it at the time,” she said at her news conference.
The persons who needed to know first and foremost were your neighbors, Chief. Someone had just stolen your 9mm semi-automatic handgun with 45 rounds of ammo, plus handcuffs and a police baton. The silence by you, the sheriff and the mayor showed a blatant disregard for the public’s safety.
Only after the theft became public knowledge did the chief show any concern for others: “I need to do everything possible to get my gun off the street,” she told the Sentinel.
For her failure to properly secure department-issued property, Demings got a “written censure” slipped into her personal file, compliments of her Internal Affairs Department. What? You expected her to lose a vacation day?
Crotty’s mild reaction to the “culture of corruption” disclosure and Demings’ delay in taking “full responsibility” fill me with dread and cynicism about them as leaders.
But my loyal reader knew this column would end on a negative note. Of that I’m positive.