Palm Bay: Draining Or Adding To The Swamp?

As we get closer to election day, things are getting more and more heated and perhaps not in a good way.

After last week’s mess over a racial slur spray painted on a candidate’s sign for the Palm Bay City Council Seat 5, that same candidate is embroiled in another controversy that is more like rain on a summer afternoon in Florida – it is covering everyone.

People posting in various forums claim that candidate Kenny Johnson has an arrest record from an incident that occurred in 2015. We will not get into the charges as they don’t seem relevant to us, but as of this writing, there doesn’t seem to be a conviction. Even if there were a conviction as some have suggested, the sentence seems to have been community service.

By the lack of a conviction or even a conviction with community service as a sentence, it seems somewhat obvious to us that the infraction was either not proved, or minor.

Which leads to the next question: “how long do we, as voters hold someone accountable for their past actions and statements?”

Before you answer that, some statistics may be in order:

A 2017 study shows that 8% of all US citizens has a felony conviction. That’s 1 person in every 12. For black males, the rate is higher at 33% or 1 in 3.

(We can never figure out the disparity between the rates for black males and non black males. Do black males commit more crimes? Are “targeted” for more law enforcement? More likely to be arrested and charged (as opposed to being released?) More likely to be convicted because of a variety of factors? We don’t know and there are studies that “prove” all of the above which leads us to believe it is more likely a combination of reasons, rather then just one single issue.)

With rates that high, it is not hard to assume that people with arrests, convictions (much less felony convictions) are a segment of the population that cannot be ignored.

Don’t get us wrong. We are not trying to say that people who commit a crime are perfect. Rather, our question is “how long do they pay for that conviction?”

Assume for a moment that a candidate has a conviction in their past. The State of Florida says they have served their time, done their probation or other penalties and sends them out into the world.

To our thinking, what happens next is what matters.

If the person commits another crime, then we can talk about many things. However, if the arrest and conviction was a shock to their system and they turn their life around, isn’t that what we want from the justice system? That people repent and go a different direction? That people reflect on their past and don’t do anything like that again?

So why do we penalize them if they want to run for office?

With the large number of people who have convictions, why use that conviction as something to continue to beat a person who has changed their life around?

Certainly we are not arguing absolutes here. We aren’t saying that every felon should have their conviction erased from the collective memory of the public. What we are saying is that with the number of laws expanding and the number of people being convicted for things, we could be talking about you. (Or, since 1 out of 12 people have a felony conviction, if you aren’t a felon, statistically one of your 11 friends is a felon. Are you going to abandon them for their past mistakes or stick with them because of what they have done with their lives since that point?)

The bottom line is that the only perfect candidate is the one you see in mirror. That person in the mirror is the only person who if they ran for office, would agree with you on every issue. Because the vast majority of people aren’t running, voters are required to make value judgments as to what issues are important to them. They are going to have to decide how much a candidate represents their values and beliefs. They are also going to have to decide how much the past history – both good and bad – of a candidate matters to them.

We here at Raised on Hoecakes believe that to some extent, focusing on the past of candidates drives good people away from ever running for office. There is not a single person out (including us) that has not done something that we are not proud of and would not like blasted out to the world. In this day and age, the ability to dig into someone’s past is both a both a blessing and a fault. Too many times we drive people out of running for public office simply because they don’t want their lives – even lives they have walked away from – exposed to the mob.

We would rather have people running and elected that have learned from their mistakes. That’s the way to “drain the swamp.” Instead, we think that because those decent people who have learned are driven away, elections are filled and won by people who often have no conscience, who often don’t care about their past, and continue to lie, cheat, steal and be hypocrites. Those folks are the ones that add to the swamp and make life worse for the average citizen.

(It goes without saying that there are still good people who run and win, but even they are beaten around by the mob.)

We know that we probably have stated a very nuanced position badly. It would be easy if this were a black and white issue, but it is not. It’s an issue full of grays.

Perhaps the best way we can describe it is in Biblical terms.

Years ago we learned that the Greek word for “repent” literally meant “turn around, go in the opposite direction.”

If a person has repented, they are not traveling down the same moral and ethical path they were. They’ve made a “u-turn” and headed the other way.

People who have made that u-turn – people that have truly repented – and demonstrated that they are headed in the opposite direction are those we can and should forgive.

We would rather vote for someone who has made that turn and shown they have made that turn then someone who has not made the turn or only says they have made the turn.

But that’s us.

Your mileage may vary.

5 Responses to “Palm Bay: Draining Or Adding To The Swamp?”

  1. Thomas Gaume says:

    Excellent points. I agree, and wish we could just focus on issues and what solutions we can bring to the table.

  2. Third Dimension says:

    This has to be about TRUST.
    Can you trust an individual who will represent you when making law, or be taxing your home and goods?

    No law enforcement agency does a six-month investigation, concludes with an arrest and charging document, because it was a mistake in identification or circumstances.

    What have we seen?

    The day after I saw a post, I stated I would look into was this verifiable. That post was taken down.
    I responded that the next day, it was true, and arrest was made on a city council candidate. (never once used any names) I verified that the claim was factual.
    That is all I did.

    Since then, wow, people defending, people questioning, personal attacks, name-calling, you name it……….except the one thing that makes sense….. Where was the candidate?

    Here we are four days later, still nothing.
    Do you know why?

    Now we all know the facts. But not one person has thanked me, or the original poster for the education, and the heads up.

    How could you trust this man, to make law? To draw a paycheck off taxpayers knowing he WILL RUN AND HIDE when controversy hits him in his chest, over his actions.

    Well, to the righteous, correct, moral, ethical people here,

    This is all about character judgment.
    Who will represent you, me, us in times of trouble?

    We need to trust in our Government.
    “Of the people, by the people, for the people” ~Abe Lincoln

    It’s been four days! Even the die-hard supporters are quiet.

    To all who hated me, attacked me mercilessly, viciously, maliciously, with vitriol and venom …..

    You’re welcome.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Third Dimension,

      As always, thank you for your comment.

      There is a lot that we want to say and could say, but we don’t see the benefit of that.

      We have had City Council members nod as we here on this little blog have been labeled terrorists (actual terrorists) by people who disagree with us. Here in Palm Bay, Councilman Holton followed our mouthpiece through City Halls, making snide comments to every person our rep talked to. We get it. It’s tough out there sometimes. It’s hard not to laugh and convince yourself to “consider the source” and move on. We think there were better ways that you could have disseminated the information you felt was important to the election, but that’s a choice you made.

      No law enforcement agency does a six-month investigation, concludes with an arrest and charging document, because it was a mistake in identification or circumstances.

      We disagree. Please take the time to look at groups like The Innocence Project which gets men and people who were wrongfully investigated, charged, went to trial, were convicted and served time because of faulty, corrupt investigations, prosecutors, politicians, etc. (See also the National Registry of Exonerations.) Even the Florida Today has been documenting people who were wrongfully convicted, which is way beyond just being arrested and charged.

      As we have said and will continue to maintain, if the incident at hand matters to a voter, they should vote their conscience on it. That’s all that anyone can do.

      A. Afterwit.

  3. Paul Valeriani says:

    The recidivism rate for certain crimes, such as sex offenses, is higher than for some other low level misdemeanor crimes.
    It’s true, some people are able to learn from their mistakes, and their crimes, move on, and make incredible achievements in their lives. Yet others are destined to continue making bad decisions and errors, over and over again, throughout their lives. But the most unmistakable part of all of this is TRUST. Can you ever really trust certain people, who have made bad decisions and mistakes, especially if those bad decisions and mistakes are criminal in nature?
    You are judged by the company you keep, and your character. If you have shown yourself to be untrustworthy, and keep company with others who are untrustworthy, then can anyone really trust you?
    It seems the current cast of characters at 120 Malabar Rd. are birds of a feather, and keep company with other people, who have shown they are untrustworthy. It’s almost a criminal conspiracy, constructed of people who have abused the public trust, played fast and loose with taxpayer money, increasing taxes and fees to give them a bigger slush fund to access through their public officials ATM machine, located in the Executive Suite of 120 Malabar Rd., to pay for home Air Conditioner repairs, dinners, drinks, and cigars at the Broken Barrel Saloon, and the other alleged abuses of the public trust and money that are said to have occurred.
    They are married to, and friends with others of a similar mindset, who hold the door, and the coats of those other friends and family, who are in elected or appointed positions in City and County government, who create positions for each other, after they have hit term limits in their previous or current positions.
    And around and round it goes. It’s time to break the cycle, and bring honesty, integrity, and trust into local government once again.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Paul Valeriani,

      Thank you for your comment. We would like to address some things that you have said.

      The recidivism rate for certain crimes, such as sex offenses, is higher than for some other low level misdemeanor crimes.

      True. But’s let’s compare apples to apples. Re recidivism rates for sexual crimes (felonies) is less than that of felonies overall.

      But the most unmistakable part of all of this is TRUST. Can you ever really trust certain people, who have made bad decisions and mistakes, especially if those bad decisions and mistakes are criminal in nature?

      That’s an interesting question. We know people who have been convicted of crimes that we trust implicitly. But as you bring up 120 Malabar Road, (home of the Palm Bay City Hall) we would ask “how many people there, especially those who sit on the dais during City Council meetings, have been convicted of a crime? How many of those folks do you trust? How many of them should the people of Palm Bay trust? Our points that character and trustworthiness is definitely a “what have you done lately” issue for us.

      Growing up, one of our neighbors had been convicted of a DUI and lost his license. He was one of the greatest neighbors we ever have experienced. If he told you something, it was going to happen. We would have trusted him with our lives.

      On the other side of us was a Captain in the Fire Department. He was known to have played politics to get his promotions and seldom did the truth ever come out of his mouth. He was, and remains, in our book an untrustworthy person.

      Personally, I would rather have had the DUI guy on any City Council rather than the Captain in the Fire Department. The one man had changed his life. The other man was still rockin’ the lies.

      Ultimately, as we said, what each voter is going to have to do is decide how much this incident matters to them. That’s the point we were trying to make. To some it is a “no go” from the start. For others, it is a “it’s in the past” type of thing.

      We wrote to post because in this day and age of 15 second sound bites, 7 minute segments on “critical issues” and “social media,” we have become a very black and white society (as in good and bad) looking for single silver bullets to solve everything. Real life isn’t like that. Real life is more nuanced with shades of gray and numerous plans to solve problems and issues.

      It just seemed to us that blanket statements in this case were taking away from what really matters – the issues within the City of Palm Nay.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      A. Afterwit.

  4. […] Johnson campaign has released a statement in response to the information that we talked about the other day in a post. At the time, we said that as there was not much known about the alleged incident, people would […]