Thursday, September 3, 2015

Clerks' duties are sacred, not holier-than-thou. They sometimes forget that

In the just-over-quarter century that I have written about government, I have found that clerks are the most important people.

Even these 'clerks' are more logical. And that's scary
They are the ones with access to information about many crucial services that government performs. They are the ones who are the only government officials most people even deal with.

CLERKS CAN MAKE access to government all-the-more easier to have, or as overly rigid and complex as they want to make it.

So I’m not the least bit surprised that the county clerk of Rowan County, Ky., is capable of stirring up a stink that has her rural county in the national news.

That clerk is Kim Davis, and she’s the one who in recent years has “found Jesus” and decided to live her life in an overly-religious manner. Which she now thinks she must apply to the way she does her job.

She is the one who says she doesn’t care what the Supreme Court of the United States says – non-heterosexual couples who try to get a marriage license from her office so they can be married in the eastern Kentucky county aren’t going to get it.

THE HIGH COURT specifically ordered her to comply on Monday, only to have her say “no” on Tuesday – offering an explanation that she thinks having her name on the marriage license will condemn her soul to eternal hellfire!

She’s going to have to appear before a federal judge on Thursday, and it will be interesting to see whether that judge has the nerve to lock her up for contempt – or merely impose a huge fine on her county until they put pressure on Davis to act appropriately.

Yes, I say appropriate. Because I don’t see how a government official ought to be imposing anything on the public because of their own personal religious beliefs. Just as I don’t think it appropriate to impose my own thoughts on spiritual matters on others.

Religion is a very personal matter. It ought to remain that way.

NOW I DON’T want her to get locked up in a jail cell. Personally, I think she’d take that as reinforcement – her being incarcerated for Jesus. I don’t want her to gain such personal satisfaction.

I’d rather see a judge impose some sort of daily fine against Rowan County – the entity that employs her as an elected official. Which means she cannot be fired – the people picked her.

And in all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if when she comes up for re-election, a majority of residents in that isolated Kentucky county probably would vote “yes” to retain her. That is probably why local county government officials haven’t been quick to condemn her. They don’t want the backlash.

But a fine from a federal judge – something in the way of an amount that would drive the county broke rather quickly – is something that would get government attention.

PARTICULARLY IF IT is one of those fines that accumulates on a daily basis for every day that Davis continues to refuse to enforce the law – as interpreted by the high court itself.

Do that, and we’ll all be surprised by how quickly the Rowan County officials convene in a special meeting and find reason to pressure Davis to resign – then replace her with a person who will enforce the law without believing they’re on their way to Hell for it.

All I know is that learning of Davis makes me all the more appreciative of one now-former clerk I used to deal with. She was a stickler for the “letter of the law” and liked the idea that she could force people to file formal Freedom of Information Act requests for even routine details.

But that “letter of the law” attitude also made her feel that she was obligated to fulfill every request possible – she’d usually hand over the requested information the moment she got the FOIA forms.


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