I am writing this letter to you, and subsequently to the readers of your paper, so that I may wonder aloud whether or not Mr. Jeff Handley, east ward alderman of Seligman, Missouri, is grateful that the city council took no action on his recent resignation. Are you grateful for that, sir?
It occurs to me that the citizens of Seligman should be dismayed at such inaction since it seems so clear that Mr. Handley has no knowledge of, or is it respect for, due process. One would think that a person who holds the promise of the people via the responsibility of representation would have at least a passing understanding of the right of due process: the promise that all persons are innocent until proven guilty. I realize that there are many citizens of this country who have little to no experience with the tenets of the Bill of Rights, but we should all be surprised at such myopia in an elected official such as Mr. Handley.
Mr. Handley's recent comments made a tangential reference to Congressman Delay of Texas and his recent decisions to step down from his leadership role and resign from Congress. I believe Mr. Handley was suggesting that Congressman Delay was acting ethically when he resigned from these positions. I wonder if it really is ethical to wait until the last possible moment, after many of the dominoes had already begun to fall (i.e. the convictions of his lobbyist associates), to finally resign a position of such awesome power as the Majority Leader of the United States Congress. Indeed, it would seem that Mr. Delay waited until he could no longer avoid the unfortunate scarlet letter of guilt by association before he had the strength to act ethically.
Since the purpose of Mr. Handley's comments was to find congruency between the Delay case and the case of his fellow alderperson, let me be among those who cry foul and take umbrage with his comments. There is no congruency.
What seems clear now is that Mr. Handley's comments and his resignation were at best premature, at worst they demonstrate a false ethic: in truth they demonstrate a counterfeit righteousness. We know that Mr. Handley's comments were false, because due process has proven that the charges against his fellow alderperson were so baseless that the prosecuting attorney had no case to argue.
Mr. Handley's prognostication that the investigation leading to these fruitless charges could not be far off the mark yields additional corroboration of his lack of respect for due process. Of course the most obvious difference here is the fortitude of Mr. Handley's fellow alderperson, who never once backed away from her responsibilities as a voice for the people of Seligman.
It takes great courage to weather the slings and arrows of your peers, knowing all along of your own innocence, and to do so with modesty and silence.
Mr. Handley, you admonished the people of your city by crying out against your fellow alderperson, saying, "This person helps [sic] make LAWS for the citizens of this city." At this point it seems you should be admonished because YOU have demonstrated a weakness in your knowledge of law and because you lack the courage to serve the people of Seligman with patience and reason. Furthermore, you would do well to satisfy your ignorance with an elementary introduction to the Bill of Rights. May I suggest, especially, that you read completely the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution? That amendment happens to be the one that provides all citizens with the right of innocence. Mr. Handley, leave the burden of proof to the experts.
To the citizens, and the city council of Seligman, I hope you will accept Mr. Handley's resignation. You could do much better.