Scott Tibbs
blog post
May 20th, 2005

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Stoops is doing nothing illegal or unethical

The Monroe County Chronicle takes Mark Stoops to task over his statements and actions regarding the proposal to increase the county Wheel Tax. Stoops is trying to use the potential for more revenue to encourage the County Commissioners to change policy.

The Chronicle has this to say about Stoops' actions:

  • "unethical, not mention unlawful,"
  • "improper activity"
  • "(Stoops) evidently believes he is above the law"
  • "Stoops obviously has a real bad case of Commissionerís envy, bad enough that he is willing to break the law"
  • The Commissioners "should be showing true leadership... by denouncing this illegal activity."
Those are some strong words.

While I have in the past praised the Chronicle, the author is wrong about this one. There is nothing illegal or unethical about what Stoops is doing. He is not trying to use the Council's authority to change county policy. He is simply using the matters the Council does have control over to leverage the Commissioners to implement the policy changes he thinks is appropriate.

Basically, what Stoops is doing is making a deal. He is proposing to give the County Commissioners something they want (or at least two of the three want) in exchange for something he wants. Stoops is not even offering this deal in a "smoke filled room"; he is openly offering this in front of 120,000 people.

Now, do I agree with the specific proposal Stoops wants, which is higher standards for roads that are to be built and that the roads be built with private funds? No, but that is another topic.

No, the County Council does not have direct regulatory authority over county planning policy. Yes, the primary focus of the County Council is fiscal matters. But when Stoops was elected by the voters of his (overwhelmingly Democratic) district, he was elected to do what he thinks is best for the county. I see nothing wrong with trying to achieve that goal.