Saturday, October 18, 2008
Preston's October Surprise
Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston is again the hot topic of local Anderson County politics. While we at VUI have openly disagreed with the policies of Mr. Preston and the involvement of his supporters in the political process, we have defended his family against personal attacks. Frankly, there is probably not one administrator at the city or county level in the Southeast who gets as much attention as Joey Preston.
Just as his name was out of the news for a while, Preston issues his own version of an October surprise. His attorneys wrote a letter to the council, a letter that can be found on the Anderson Independent Mail's website at http://media.independentmail.com/and/content/static/20081017164855.pdf.
People in Anderson County are scratching their heads over what the letter means. Did Preston resign? Did he say the county council is responsible for the rest of his contract? Is he going to sue the county? Will the county sue him? Who knows?
One thing that strikes me about the Preston letter is how it refers to how future acts by politicians not even officially elected yet will hamper his duties. While Preston allies did take a political beating in the June primaries, it is hardly automatic that the new council will act against him so. Just four years ago, Micheal Thompson and Bill McAbee went on to county council as skeptics of Preston's leadership. However, they ended up as allies of his. It is simply not logical to suppose that someone who has yet to be legally elected will act in one way or another, especially if you are a government official doing a solid job you can prove your worth about.
There is also another way the Preston letter comes across. Suppose some Bush appointee wrote a letter that stated that since it appears Obama will win the White House, come January 20th, 2009, that Bush appointee will not be able to do his job. To the public it would seem silly.
However, the Preston letter is not about the public or common sense. It is a legal maneuver. One that might be premature. But, it smacks as an opening salvo of a legal battle.
That said, there is another legal and ethical issue. The memo to the council was marked confidential. Further, all county personnel matters are supposed to be confidential. At least one council member leaked this memo to the press. Unless Preston or his legal team leaked the memo, (which I highly doubt), some member of council could face problems of his or her own.
As we at VUI have poked at Preston over his policies and the like, we defended his family, and on this very narrow point, we defend his right to privacy in his personnel dealings. Since the memo was made very public by the newspaper, we offered our take on what it meant. However, the memo should have never been made public at this point.
Since it has been made public, the chances of a quiet, sensible agreement to resolve the matter are far less likely. Par for the course in Anderson politics.