April 19, 2007

An uncivil and dishonest attack on Chris Gaal

From the Monroe County Chronicle regarding Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal:

By letting Nelson go free Gaal has managed to keep one of his campaign promises of reducing the jail population, unfortunately I donít think this is what the citizens of Monroe County had in mind. Gaal had promised to be tough on serious crimes and find ways to reduce recidivism with counseling and rehabilitating on crimes that he deemed less serious. Hopefully Mr. Gaal doesnít consider heinous actions like child molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor to be categorized as non-serious offenses worthy of counseling and rehabilitation?

Prior to the above hyper-partisan rant, the author of MCC admits that Terry Nelson was acquitted by a jury.

Nelson was accused of molesting a ten year old child. If Nelson is guilty of the crime he was accused of, he should be executed. If he is guilty, the world would be a better place without him in it. A jury, however, either decided he was not guilty or that there was not enough evidence to convict him.

Even if one assumes Nelson is guilty, the statement that Gaal “let him go” is asinine. Gaal’s office tried to get a conviction and was not successful. There is a big difference between that and intentionally letting a criminal go free.

I am not a fan of Chris Gaal. I voted against him in 2003 when he ran for City Council at-large and I voted against him again last year. If I had lived in his district in 1999, I would have voted against him then too. (His district began literally on the other side of the street from my house.) I do, however, think that the Chronicle’s attack on him - that Gaal intentionally allowed a child molester to go free - represents the absolute worst of gutter politics.

I’ve often complained about the lack of civility in modern politics. Whatever can be said about Democrats at the local, state and national level, there was no call for this kind of attack on Chris Gaal. The MCC did nothing to advance a conservative or Republican agenda, nor did he do any damage to Chris Gaal other than in the minds of other hyper-partisan political hacks. What the author did manage to do, however, was discredit himself by making himself appear both dishonest and extreme.

There are legitimate areas where Republicans can criticize Chris Gaal. The failure to get a conviction in this case might be one of them. Suggesting that Gaal did this on purpose, however, is far beyond the bounds of reasonable and civil political discourse. As a Republican and a former candidate for elective office, I denounce the Monroe County Chronicle and call for much more civil discourse on all sides.