We sure do like the occasional story where people Do the Right Thing and there’s actually a win for the little guy. And here’s one right now: You might remember our April story about Crystal Moore, the former police chief of the town of Latta, South Carolina. She was fired by the town’s doodyhead mayor, Earl Bullard, as part of a good-old-boy vendetta because — he said — she went beyond her authority in questioning the appropriateness of Bullard’s decision to hire a Parks and Rec director whose qualifications were iffy. Not because she’s openly gay, no, not at all. And never mind the recording of Bullard saying he’d rather have a dead drunk watch his children than a gay person (the police chief job, incidentally, does not include providing babysitting services). As often happens with small-town politics, things got nasty, fast, and Moore was quickly fired, without following normal procedures.
And now we get to the nice-time part. After a special election to change the city’s form of government from a “weak council” to a “strong council,” the town council, which can now overrule the mayor, is planning to hire Chief Moore back. The moral arc of the universe is long, and points away from power-mad jerk babies.
Explain this turn of events to us, SCNow.com!
All municipal governments in South Carolina operate under one of three forms of government: mayor-council, council or council-manager. Latta has operated under strong mayor-weak council, which gave Bullard the authority to hire and fire at will. But not after Tuesday’s vote, [Councilwoman Lutherine] Williams said. In fact, she said the council’s first order of business will be to rehire Moore.
“Every council member supports Crystal 100 percent. If we could put her back to work tonight, we would, but we’ll have to wait until the vote’s certified. But after that, yes ma’am,” Williams said. “We’ve just taken all the clothes off the mayor. He’s naked. Once this vote is certified, he has no power. We getting ready to make him raise his hand and maybe we’ll give him three minutes like he’s done the citizens of Latta.”
Bullard was at town hall Tuesday afternoon but was not at the polls when the results were announced. The mayor did not respond to phone messages left by the Morning News.
Seriously, the local reportage makes it sound like some kind of John Sayles movie, only one where the townspeople actually win and drive the horrible mean Boss Hogg guy out of town forever. Let’s close with a close-up of the hero as she prepares to once more put on her uniform, pin on her badge, and strap on her gun so she can go out and keep the peace. Go ahead and cue up some appropriate music while you’re at it:
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Moore said the support has been overwhelming and has kept her going through this difficult time.
“Words cannot describe how I feel,” Moore said. “I am so excited. The town came out and spoke up for what was right, not just for me, but for the whole town. They’ve seen what’s been going on for the six months he’s been here as mayor. The council has really been trying hard to do what’s right for the town so this is a blessing. Thank you to everyone who came and voted. It took us all. Now, I’m ready to go back to work.”
And that’s why, in spite of all the terrible people that so often end up in office, we sometimes manage to think that democracy works.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. He’s unashamed that the end of The Natural can do what it does to him, even if it ruined the novel.