South Carolina Mayor Fires Police Chief As Part Of Perfectly Ordinary Vendetta, Not Because She's Gay, No Sir
Just to confirm that small-town politics can be every bit as fierce and sleazy as anything in your big cities, the mayor of Latta, South Carolina, Earl Bullard (really!),fired the town's police chief, Crystal Moore -- who is also an out lesbian -- with what looks like a flimsy excuse. Much temper and bitterness, and also blatant homophobia, caught on tape. And don't worry too much about subtle, Rashomonesque shades of interpretation -- unless you happen to be Mayor Bullard, it's pretty clear who the jerk is in this story.
Moore, a 23-year veteran of the town's police force and its first female chief, was fired Tuesday by Bullard after he handed her a stack of seven reprimands -- the first she'd ever received in over 20 years as a police officer. She must have done something pretty darn bad! And she did -- she investigated Bullard's hiring of the town's Parks and Rec director, Vontray Sellers, and arrested Sellers for driving a city-owned vehicle even though his license was suspended. Also, she was openly gay. The only real mystery here is whether Moore got canned because Bullard is a petty vindictive asshole who didn't like being questioned, or because Bullard is a petty homophobic asshole. Then again, it could be both.
The case for "petty vindictive asshole" is quite strong indeed, and is supported by the content of the reprimands, which were dumped on Moore all at once Tuesday, without a verbal or written warning, immediately prior to her dismissal. Her supposed offenses include:
1. Running background checks without properly signed authorization
2. Failure to report to supervisor about problems in other departments
3. Using office/position to seek revenge against another for personal affront
4. Questioning authority of supervisor
5. Questioning authority of mayor to look at job applications for potential employees
6. Failure to maintain order, contributing to disorder at council meetings
7. Contacting news media to help bring about disorder and disruption to the town of Latta
Well those sure look like the kind of things that couldn't possibly be contested, now don't they? We really would like to see where in the town charter the police chief is forbidden from "questioning the authority" of their supervisor -- which would appear to be the mayor.
And then there's the evidence for the "Raging Homophobic asshole" interpretation: an anti-gay harangue over the phone by the mayor, caught on tape before Moore arrested Sellers. It is not pretty:
"I would much rather have.. and I will say this to anybody's face... somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.
"Because that ain't the damn way it's supposed to be. You know.. you got people out there -- I'm telling you buddy -- I don't agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don't say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around.
"I'm not going to let 2 women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I'm not going to see them do it with 2 men neither.
"I'm not going to do it. Because that ain't the way the world works.
"Now, all these people showering down and saying 'Oh it's a different lifestyle they can have it.' Ok, fine and dandy, but I don't have to look at it and I don't want my child around it."
Here's another fun bit of trivia -- if Moore decides to dispute her firing, she'd be on much firmer ground contesting it on the basis of Bullard not following proper procedure, since South Carolina doesn't have a problem with firing people for being gay.
Now, here's the part where you can start feeling a bit less stabby: A lot of people in Latta really like (ex-) Chief Moore, and at a standing-room-only town council meeting Thursday, the council's consensus was that they would vote to reinstate her if they could, but they can't, because the city government is set up to give the mayor more power than the council. And so the council did vote to schedule an election for June 24, so voters can decide whether to adopt a strong-council weak-mayor form of town government. We'd call that a pretty encouraging step, yes?
Hey, City of Toronto -- You may want to look into this, eh?
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.