Editor's note: Mike Lovelady has filed a lawsuit against the City of LaFayette; LaFayette tavern owner continues battle against city officials
Nobody wakes up one day and says to themselves, “I want to become a corrupt elected official.” This applies to all levels of government from city to federal.
The human body is often under assault by outside influences whether it be the flu or the common cold. One of the most insidious of assaults does not come from the outside but from within. This assault occurs from within when the processes of a normally healthy cell goes awry and a mutation occurs. Sometimes it just happens and then again it can be triggered by an outside influence.
Corruption, like cancer, begins slowly within a governmental body. It starts perhaps by not performing the duties as is prescribed or simply violating one of the rules of conduct. Even worse, it could be the violation of a local, state or federal code or law. Unchecked, this hideous disease grows and spreads until eventually the governmental body begins to fail just like its human counterpart. It ceases to be able to perform its purpose and serve the public and instead begins to serve only itself.
Just as in the human body, it is the older as well as the younger components which become more susceptible to the disease. The older become more callused and complacent, perhaps just tired and begin to simply ignore the warning signs. The younger cells like the freshman elected officials are more vulnerable due to inexperience and aggressiveness. In the case of the freshman elected official, there is a period of delusions of power and being untouchable. A virtual Petri dish just waiting for the first spore of corruption to be planted. Once the spore is planted, the prognosis is grim.
There are rules in place to prevent corruption ranging from city codes, state laws and even the United States Constitution. Some governments such as our city even adopt a “Code of Ethics” for added protection. For the most part, however, these rules and codes are meaningless unless they are enforced. The phrase “Physician heal thyself” comes to mind as the body that is the most susceptible to corruption is the first line of defense against corruption. Occasionally, just as in the human body, a surgeon must be called in to remove the diseased component. In the case of a governmental body, the most powerful surgeon is that of the electorate. It more often than not falls upon them to carve out corruption either by recall petition or an election. While the process is bloody, brutal and unpleasant, it is the only course prescribed, not only for survival but also for healthy growth.
Mike Lovelady, LaFayette