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The Tentacle


March 29, 2005

Mike Cady and the Schiavo Case

Roy Meachum

Mike Cady attracts such a virulent reaction that I am led to believe he must be doing something right. We now have every right to expect the orchestrated campaign of venom will somehow attach blame on him for the Schiavo case.

What truly sets the ex-Marine and Olympic weightlifting coach aside from most other politicians is his adherence to principles, especially when his is the only voice raised in their support. His grave and serious demeanor, however, negates attempts to call him "goody two shoes."

In a casual Sunday encounter on Market Street, while accompanying Pushkin on his daily round, Mike told me he planned to apologize the next day, saying he had overreacted to new hire Westley Etters' provocative and atrocious manners. And, as you know, the commissioner made a public statement that promised he would not again try to impose his standards on anyone else.

In his apology, Mr. Cady went too far. Public officials have every right to expect employees to accord them respect. The fact that taxpayers provide the money to pay salaries gives no one the right to insulting behavior. As various folks have pointed out, Westley Etters' deliberately insolent performance would have quickly cost his job in the private sector.

And like it or not: Common courtesy, not ex-Marine Cady or ex-Navy pilot John Lovell, dictates hats off in affairs like introducing new workers to their bosses. If you reject that argument, then try "common sense." Until and unless voters decide they want to change the lady and gentlemen who run the county, including the budget, no one on the public payroll should go out his way to deliberately provoke them.

Of course, the provocation should not be acted upon, not publicly; that gives the gesture an importance it does not deserve.

But the commissioner's breast beating was right on the point; he should not have pushed to cut money from the parks and recreation budget over the young man's stupid arrogance. His motion to restore $35,000 should have been accompanied, however, by a request to know the action department head Paul Dial took against Randy Davis, the parks and recreation official in Winchester Hall that day. Neither Mr. Cady nor Mr. Lovell should have been involved in chastising the employee who was being paid for his appearance. That was Mr. Davis' role.

Mr. Etters was on the public clock at that moment. Mr. Davis was grossly negligent in failing to ensure the new boy met the routine protocol that applies in that situation. Would the supervisor approve, by his silence, a worker's use of foul language? The principle is exactly the same. Mr. Dial should have, at least, a "come to Jesus" session with Randy Davis.

Having laid out my understanding of the incident, then I am left with the vitriol that splashed Mike Cady's way. On that Sunday morning encounter, he also said he had received violent emails from around the country, including death threats, which he had turned over to Sheriff Jim Hagy.

Two weeks after the event the innuendos, lies and flagrant insults continue to fly. Obviously, the public apology was less than Mike's personal furies expected; they want his head. That was what was really behind the racket raised over Mr. Cady's success in bringing an Olympic event to the county.

One constant critic told a Gazette reporter how disappointed he was that the Ethics Commission had not punished the commissioner over the weightlifting championship. In fact, the commission's findings were more than simply suspect, they were downright ridiculous.

The single fault they charged against Mike Cady was based on his willingness to lose money if the Olympic committee didn't meet the final expenses for the championship. They did. He was still out of pocket for an event that should have been saluted for its contribution to county's reputation.

Of course, this is the same Ethics Commission that demanded Mr. Cady take back weightlifting equipment he had loaned to Frederick County Public Schools for use in a weightlifting program that he would run on his own time, as a volunteer.

If you've never heard that fact before, then blame your ignorance on the local daily newspaper's editors who have failed to curb a reporter's flagrant and continuing abuse of the truth, where the commissioner is concerned.

As I said, the wonder is the same crew of harpies, including the newspaper reporter, haven't found a way to hook Mike Cady into the Schiavo story. I can only conclude it was an opportunity they had not figured out for themselves.

For my part, I would think the furious harpies would have better things to do with their lives than pursue a man who painfully insists on principles, including some I strongly disagree with.

And on that preposition, I'll move on.



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