In Defense of Corruption

Published 6:13 pm Tuesday, April 1, 2014

To the Editor:

Anyone who reads the Tryon Daily Bulletin or engages in conversations throughout Polk County should be outraged at the drumbeat of criticism leveled at the majority of our County Commissioners because they gave the returning veteran and now former County manager Ryan Whitson a “golden parachute” of $178, 590, have rapidly dismantled that “job and property rights killing” UDO, and have held secret meetings “to protect the people’s interests.” To that end, although unnecessary, let me give a defense of the actions, corruption, hypocrisy and secrecy among our majority commissioners that only helps Polk County.

First, well-intentioned corruption creates jobs, and, yes, Polk County needs them. For example, a new assistant county manger’s position pays almost $100,000 annually, comes with a brand new SUV, education benefits, and lots and lots of perks. Moreover, by “clarifying” the UDO and all its provisions, especially the ones on steep slopes, the county has been opened for development and jobs.

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Chocolate Drop mountain? All those cumbersome bureaucratic rules and state regulations caused the erosion problems, not sensitive developers. Clear cutting all those trees? They simply obstructed the view. Besides, who cares about the environment these days, and, by the way, “prosperity” today trumps “posterity” tomorrow anytime.

Now about that hypocrisy thing. First, hypocrisy, and secrecy are key components of a necessary corruption, all a part of another moral universe inhabited by politicians like Owens and Pack wholly separate from the rest of us. We don’t understand that universe. Only politicians like our majority commissioners do. Moreover, you can’t get things done efficiently without secrecy, hypocrisy, evasion and obfuscation, all in the good cause of helping folks.  Democracy, openness and public input simply are too messy and take too much time.

For example, majority commissioners did nothing wrong when they rewarded Polk’s returning veteran Ryan Whitson by giving him $178,590 for his service, all the while allowing him to take another job elsewhere. Using transparent obfuscation and straightforward evasion, Tom Pack explained that he and fellow commissioner Ted Owens “actually worked hard” to get Whitson hired in the first place but “As things move along there is change that comes about, things you learn about people and there’s issues you can’t discuss because we’re the employer.”  What could be clearer than that? More justifiable? That brings up that irritating “other” commissioner, Ray Gasperson.

Gasperson violated one of the principal playground rules we all knew as children, that of telling secrets. By being open and transparent, Gasperson clearly displayed a lack of ethical behavior that threatened the majority. In sum, he was a hypocrite. In a politician’s world, Pack or Owens would be morally irresponsible and reprehensible, a traitor to all, if they did not expose the hypocrisy of Gasperson while wrapping themselves in moral and righteous indignation. Got all this?

Lastly, Chair Ted Owens, with all the feigned tolerance and false sincerity required to silence ungrateful children, thanked “the Lord” for Gary Poague, Renee McDermott and John Marino as well as all the other blaspheming critics of the majority commissioners. They exercised their right, albeit a negative one, of speaking freely and taking up the commissioner’s valuable time. Owens tolerated them all because, as a patriot, he believed in the Constitution, the Bible and America. Still, a day of reckoning loomed for his critics.

Soon, he proclaimed, there will come a great and pious day “where we can go to the polls without being killed or shot or not allowed to go,” a time when righteous voters, those with proper ID’s and affiliations who mostly don’t live in Tryon, will once again endorse the majority commissioners and their agenda of corruption, secrecy, obfuscation and evasion that benefits everyone unequally. He’s probably right.


– Milton Ready,