Dazed And Confused
A couple of udates.
First, for a good laugh, be sure to read the police report from B’ham City Councilman Joel Montgomery’s arrest (thanks John Archibald). Good stuff, especially Dr. No promising a female officer at the station that if she took off his handcuffs, he would “give her something good to look at.”
Whew, try not to think about that. Anyway, based on the report, we know for certain that Joel Montgomery is a jacka** when he’s drunk. But I still think he’s got a decent shot at beating the public intoxication charge. Yes, he cussed the officer and acted like a complete fool. Public intoxication, though, requires that he be a danger to himself or others, and there is nothing in the report that indicates how he was such a danger. All it contains is the officer’s conclusory statement that “Def. was clearly a danger to himself and others.” At trial, that will not do it; the arresting officer will have to produce some facts to support her conclusion.
And even if she does, the cross examination will point out: 1) police officer’s memories are not perfect; 2) reports are important to preserve what happened; 3) the report was written on the night of the incident; 4) the current testimony is several months after the incident; 5) the officer has arrested many other people in the meanwhile; 6) the new facts are not in the report.
Amazing, really. The release, as you recall, explained that Beth Chapman opposes a recent gambling bill and thinks the Alabama Christian Coalition is apostate. In the e-mail exchange with Dan, she admits that the Secretary of State’s office would not in any way be affected by the substance of the gambling bill and that the S-o-S office has no position on the Alabama Christian Coalition. In other words, she admits that she just used the resources of the office for no reason other than the expression of her own personal opinion. Then she says this:
Secretary of State Chapman will continue to express her views on those issues that affect the people of Alabama, as do most public officials. Secretary Chapman will continue her longstanding record, during her time in public service, of maintaining her reputation for honesty, integrity, and fairness.
She may have that reputation, but if this incident is any indication of how she normally acts, she does not deserve it. Public officials, including Beth Chapman, are perfectly free to express their opinions about anything, when they are using their own time and resources to do so. On the other hand, public officials, including Beth Chapman, must only use the state’s resources for the state’s business.
What she did in that press release is no different than, for example, a city employee using a city credit card to pay for a vacation at the beach. The employee has the card for city business and that’s all it can be used for. Ditto using a press release to spout off about an issue completely irrelevant to the office of Secretary of State. The office’s resources are not there to give Beth Chapman a state-wide soap box for her own views; they are there so that she can keep us up to date on issues related to the Secretary of State’s office.