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Legally Right But Morally Wrong !

Legally Right But Morally Wrong !
October 11
11:22 2019

By: Major Lloyd Jones (Ret’d)

“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” – Mahatma Gandhi –

Mr. Justice Abel’s ruling on the Candice Miller suit against the Belize City Council gave Miller and former Mayor Bradley legal vindication, but his ruling did not and can never grant them moral vindication.

In September 2017 Miller was given a new four year contract by Mayor Darrel Bradley, pushing her departure date to 2022. Bradley at the time explained that he wanted to insulate the employees of the Council from partisan political vindictiveness. In reality, whether deliberately or not, he fettered his successor with his own personal choice of City Administrator.

The initiative that birthed Miller’s contract supposedly came from the Belize Association of Municipal Administrators. The difficulty here is that there has never been a culture of wholesale retrenchment of municipal workers after elections. That phenomenon started when both parties began treating the municipal bodies as political dumping grounds for party loyalists. Even the most menial jobs became about party!

Notwithstanding Bradley’s sudden bout of enlightenment, the Belizean people saw right through his paper thin BS. Bradley’s contract was meant to feather the nest of Miller, pure and simple. It was nothing more than a political gift that came at the expense of the taxpayers of the City.

Miller may very well have been a professional at the time of her hiring but she soon strayed into the realm of politics! It is not unreasonable to assume that Miller was at the time of her hiring a supporter of the UDP and if not, she became one shortly thereafter. In fact, Miller was actively working for the UDP during the last municipal elections. Miller, by her own conduct moved from the professional sphere to the political sphere, thus destroying Bradley’s nonsense about wanting to insulate “professionals” from the party political fray.

Miller was able to boldly do political work on behalf of the UDP during the last municipal elections precisely because she knew that she had a contract: a PUP Mayor could never touch her! In hindsight it almost appears as if Miller wanted to be fired so that she could cash in her contract and not have to work for Mayor Wagner. And it appears that Mayor Wagner and his advisors may have fallen for the trap.

How could any morally grounded person grant such a contract to a political supporter knowing full well that the term of the contract supersedes the life of his term in office? And how could any morally grounded person accept such a contract?! Bradley’s action wasn’t morally right in 2018 but as we found out in October of 2019, it was legally right! This, according to Miller is vindication, imagine that!

Miller’s case provides interesting insights into our collective psyche as it relates to public sector jobs. It appears that we have accepted as righteous the practice that public sector jobs belong to the party in power and so they are free to hand them out as they see fit. It is no longer about service to us.

We also seem to have accepted the false precept from our lawyer/politicians, that the only test against which we must measure their actions is the legal test. If it is legally right then why worry if it is morally wrong? It is this precept that has Penner walking free. It is this precept that gave rise to Sanctuary Bay, and it is this precept that gave us a Cabinet of “honourables” who continue to behave dishonourably.

Enlightened people all across the globe have come to realize that nations cannot rely on laws alone to guide the behaviour of their leaders; laws alone can never be enough. We therefore have to rely on the court of conscience that Gandhi spoke about.

You must remember that slavery was legal in its time and so was apartheid. It was only when men began to apply the moral test that these two horrible systems were destroyed. If it were up to the “law” they would probably still be in practice today.

It is my view that Bradley was morally wrong to have granted Miller that contract and it is also my view that Miller was just as morally deficient to have accepted it. In fact Bradley’s own father acted honourably by walking away from City Hall after the elections. He knew the role he played at City Hall and he knew that he could not dutifully serve a PUP council and so he did the right thing and moved on. If Bradley senior knew this, how come Miller had no such clarity of thought?

One cannot argue with Mr. Justice Abel’s ruling. Courts are the arenas where legal tests are applied. Justice Abel’s ruling was not a moral one. It was a strictly legal one. It is therefore up to us as people to apply the moral tests and to begin to compel our politicians to act in a manner that is morally right or pay the price. If we refuse to hold our leaders to a moral standard we will remain in this dark place of stagnation.

In 2017 Mayor Bradley was legally right but morally wrong; in 2018 Mayor Wagner was morally right but legally wrong. To whose wicked legacy does October 4th 2019 belong?

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