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Bankrupting the County

by pete on January 12, 2011


                                                                     Bankrupting the County

     The January 7th issue of Belgrade News had an article about the pay scandal involving law enforcement personnel and the lawsuit they won in district court and how it will be paid.

     This article claimed that the estimated cost could be as high as 10 million dollars.  It went on to say the county’s insurance will not cover the debt.  I suspect that like most insurance policies it does not cover negligence.  Webster’s dictionary defines negligence as: marked by neglect; remiss, delinquent, derelict.  In other words negligence means knowing what you are doing is wrong but doing it anyway.

    As was reported earlier, the contract with law enforcement personnel very clearly spelled out how they would be paid for overtime, etc. in relation to the sheriff’s salary.  It was clearly spelled out and the commissioners knew it.  They simply CHOSE to break the terms of the contract!  I suspect, much like their repeated attempts at zoning, they thought they were untouchable and could get away with bullying the law enforcement personnel the same as they bully the citizens of this county with their unconstitutional, unjust and abusive attempts at imposing their Ruler’s Law style zoning.  This was not a mistake on their part or an accounting error or anything close to it.  Make no mistake; this was a deliberate CHOICE by the commissioners, without the knowledge or approval of the citizens, to dishonor the terms of the contract with law enforcement personnel.  The insurance company, obviously, recognized the fact that this was blatant negligence on the part of the commissioners and therefore they were legally justified in denying coverage. In the real world those whose liability insurance will not cover them due to negligence, if found guilty, are subject to judgments against their wages and/or personal property, real estate, etc. 

     The article went on to say that the county has the ability to levy taxes without a vote of the people to pay off court judgments and this was the suggestion of Sheriff Cashell.  The citizens of Gallatin County did not CHOOSE to dishonor the contract with law enforcement personnel.  Given the history with these commissioners it does not surprise me that THEY would choose to simply abuse the citizens some more, but why does Sheriff Cashell think that the citizens should have to pay for the deliberately dishonest and dishonorable actions of the county bureaucrats.  Just because they can do it does not make it right.  What Sheriff Cashell is suggesting is that the commissioners should do to the citizens just what they did to his personnel.  In other words, in effect, what he is saying is – you cheated us and we won, now cheat them to pay us.

     Now, in my mind, you have to ask yourself how did this problem get to be so big?  Why wasn’t it resolved at the first breach of contract by the commissioners?  Why didn’t Sheriff Cashell manage his personnel within the budget or speak up sooner before the numbers got so big?  Where was Marty Lambert during all this?  Does he not understand contract law?  Was he aware and/or counseling the commissioners in their arrogant abuse of the contract?  (We know he fully supported their unconstitutional attempts at top-down zoning.)  It is clear to me that there were many more bureaucrats to blame for this scandal.  It is also extremely clear to me that the citizens of this county are in no way to blame for the dishonest and dishonorable way this whole matter has been handled by all these bureaucrats.  

      The article said county officials considered selling off assets like property … reducing services … and/or taking a percentage of employee’s wages.  Sheriff Cashell was quoted as saying “the feeling I get is the deputies did something wrong.”  Stop and think about this.  All these suggestions and/or ideas involve punishing one or more groups of people WHO DID NOTHING WRONG!  This debt should be paid but it should be paid, as in the real world, by those who were responsible for the negligence.  The deputies did nothing wrong, the other county employees did nothing wrong, most certainly the citizens did nothing wrong which just leaves the bureaucrats; all 3 commissioners, Marty Lambert and Sheriff Cashell.  As in the real world, those responsible for the negligence should be the ones responsible for making restitution.  Their land and assets should be frozen until such time as the courts can make a full assessment of the damages for the judgment.  The court should evaluate and assess, as in the real world, the proportion of each person’s liability in negligence and then sell or appropriate the assets of each person in accordance with that assessment of liability.  Personally, I think prison time is called for here also.

     Look at the real world:  Enron, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff, etc.  What punishment did they get for deliberately and negligently crashing their companies and destroying the lives of their stockholders and investors.  We, the citizens of Gallatin County, are but stockholders in this county government.  We, like the investors in the real world, entrusted the care of our county operations to these officials.  They CHOSE to deliberately and negligently betray that trust.  Now they seek to further dishonor that trust by imposing the cost of their deceitful negligence on the innocent victims of their scandalous abuse of power.  We know what the punishment is, in the real world, for the negligent mismanagement of the stockholders’ trust.  Should the negligent destruction of a county government be considered less  horrendous?  Should the bureaucrats found guilty of this deliberate and negligent betrayal of the trust of the people be allowed to walk free or, even worse, further abuse the innocent victims of their dishonorable lack of integrity. 

      We are at a crossroad here people.  We have elected and entrusted our government to dishonest and dishonorable people.  They do not represent me or my views and I doubt that there are many of the good hard-working honest and honorable citizens of this county that would think that it is fine to punish the taxpayers for the dishonorable actions of these county bureaucrats.  They say history repeats itself; if the history of this county holds true, with the exception of the zoning fight, most people will be apathetically silent on this issue and in the end “We the People” will end up footing the bill for the arrogance of Gallatin County’s self-proclaimed ruling class.

     If you disagree with the court and you think that dishonoring the contract with our law enforcement personnel was “honorable” and “just” then you will be satisfied bearing the burden of that dishonesty for the commissioners.  If you are as tired as I am of their dishonest, dishonorable and despicable abuse of power I hope you will take the time to tell them so.

     As I stated, we are at a crossroads – either we make them work for US or we can continue to suffer whatever abuses THEY choose to inflict upon us.

                                                                                               Pete Rothing

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