On the Nick situation

Earlier today a friend and I had a bit of a debate over the severity of Nick’s transgression, as well as what the proper response by Perdue would be. He was of the opinion that Perdue standing by his campaign manager showed loyalty, and said, “While this was stupid of Ayers, if this is the only issue, I don’t think that you fire him over it.”

I disagree. I tend to side with Andre in his opinion of DUI in the first place; I think that it’s one of the most severely underpunished common offenses we have — and I live in Athens, so it’s not exactly something I’m unfamiliar with.

In 2005, 545 people were killed by impaired drivers in Georgia — 31% of the 1,742 total motor vehicle fatalities, and far too often it was not the impaired driver, but innocent road-sharers who were killed. The Governor’s office of Highway Safety ran “Operation Zero Tolerance” in 2006 (we’ve all seen the commercials ad nauseum). Regarding the program, GOHS Director Bob Dallas said, “This year…the public will begin hearing a new get-tough slogan for our law enforcement partners: “DRUNK DRIVING. OVER THE LIMIT. UNDER ARREST.” Drunk drivers need to remember, with so many lives at stake, Georgia’s ready to fight impaired driving with more than slogans.” Now that someone so close to the Governor has been caught violating this, all eyes are on him to see if “zero tolerance” actually means that, or if it was just a slogan and a rule for the rest of us.

Keeping Nick around may show loyalty, and may speak to second chances — but it also gives the impression that Governor Perdue takes this offense less than seriously, and that he is willing to continue to surround himself — at the highest levels of his campaign — with people who neither have regard for the law, nor for others’ safety.

Call it moralizing or preaching, but I think that “zero tolerance” has to mean just that — so I think that Nick has to go, both as a consequence of his actions, and as a means for Perdue to continue to be taken seriously on law enforcement, as well as — and perhaps more importantly — on values and morality. If Nick stays, I think he loses credibility on every one of these issues, big-time, and the term “zero tolerance” can be flushed along with that credibility.

But then again, I could be overreaching on this. What do you think?

35 comments

  1. LiveFreeOrDie says:

    I see your point, but…

    As far as I understand, Nick did receive “zero tolerance” as far as the law is concerned. Even though “Operation Zero Tolerance” was run by the Governor’s administration, that doesn’t mean that “standing by him” in regards to his job will show any tolerance as far as the law is concerned. Nick took a chance when he broke the law, we’ve all done it, whether it be speeding or running a red light or what have you, and he got caught. As long as he takes responsibility, owns up to his actions, and faces the consequences (although from what I’ve read he tried to evade this but that’s really moot now as far as I’m concerned) IN THE EYES OF THE LAW, I don’t really care if he keeps his job or not. I just think there’s a lot of jealous people out there who want to see him go down period and I’m not one of them. I only care that the law is upheld.

  2. atlantaman says:

    This is such an incredibly slippery slope for anyone who supports Mark Taylor to travel down, they better think long and hard about what their actual candidate has admitted to doing before they start calling for a campaign manager to resign.

    They ain’t dealing with Cathy Cox and Morton Brillant here.

  3. ugavi says:

    Jeff,
    My understanding of “zero tolerance” is that if you get catching drinking and driving you get arrested. Nick got arrested. I do not think Sonny should fire Nick. People get arrested for DUI everyday. They do not get fired from there jobs. Nick made a mistake, and he’ll have to pay for it.

    It should also be noted that he has not has his day in court yet, nor has he been convicted of anything.

  4. Mad Dog says:

    Jeff,

    I don’t think you’re over-reaching on this. Your position seems very reasonable given that you are:

    a) Living in Athens
    b) Decades younger than me
    c) Better in tune with “this generation” as a recent soldier and a current Senior in college

    I will not follow the logic of some others that “we’ve all done it” and gotten away with it. And, therefore, we should not stick it to Nick.

    I am trying to be as serious as possible on this topic in this post. As I’ve stated on this topic in another thread, I would not terminate a manager or employee for this at this stage of discovery.

    I would immediately suspend that manager or employee. I would ban him from the work area and contact with fellow employees. I’m just slightly more easy going than you would be by setting the stage for termination.

    No pay. No work. No quitting. No contact with the campaign. Hold him in limbo and let a few discovery type events bring things into focus.

    Even at that, I’m supporting your point of view. Based on an assumption that you see this issue far more often than I do.

    Current experience rules for this matter.

  5. defnotrep says:

    I think Jeff makes some good points but I have to agree with ugavi that this person has received zero tolerance under the law.

    Personally I wouldn’t suspend or fire an employee for this if this is the first time. It’s a tougher call for the Governor though because of his position. It’s certainly a slippery slope for Sonny.

    It was an incredibly stupid thing to do. I think it should go through the legal course. Hopefully this young man has learned from this.

  6. Bull Moose says:

    On one hand, you show that there are second chances and display loyalty.

    On the other hand you demonstrate there is a different standard for the Governor’s inner circle.

    Either way, someone is going to find something wrong with both situations…

    Let the kid get what’s due and no one step in and make this easy on him…

    For the record though, I support very stiff penalties for FIRST time offenders of drunk driving, like loss of license for up to 2 years, 500 hours community service, at least 1 month in jail, and a minimum $25,000 fine (everything triples if there is an accident involved).

    Get tough on first time offenders and we won’t have repeat offender problems…

  7. defnotrep says:

    I don’t personally think there’s a different standard for the Governor’s inner circle….what I was trying to say is that politics can make it that way.

    I totally agree with you on tough penalites for first time offenders.

    I have a 22 year old son and I have consistently talked to him about drinking and driving. Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with this situation personally.

    Interestingly, the other night I locked my keys in my car…duh. I called my son b/c he lived relatively close by. He said to me that he had a couple of drinks and he didn’t think he should drive. I said I totally agree.

    Some young people just don’t hear or remember the messages they’ve been taught. They have to learn the hard way. Thankfully noone was hurt. I hope this is a one time occurence for this young man and he learns this time.

  8. John Konop says:

    Bottom line this issue should have nothing to do with your support for Perdue, Taylor or Hayes! I am 44 years old, and I would not my life summarized by mistakes I made as a kid and now. I hope and pray Nick learns from his mistake. BTW Nick it was not your first or will not be your last mistake.

    Nick,

    The key is take responsibility for the mistake and please do not the typical blame everyone and play a victim. If you do that I think most of us will respect you more.

  9. Fogle says:

    “It should also be noted that he has not has his day in court yet, nor has he been convicted of anything.”

    ugavi,

    You make a great point here. Regardless of what your thoughts are on Nick, the situation, or DUI, everyone seems to have already convicted the guy.

    He has only been arrested for a crime and has the full, legal right to a trial. There is no way that Gov. Perdue should do anything until the trial is over.

    If Nick decides to resign or make a move in any way, that’s his choice. Granted, he refused the breathalyser – which is a stupid legal move – but don’t convict him just yet.

    The trial and subsequent decision determine his legal fate before you determine what should happen to his professional fate.

    I don’t in any way condone DUI, but I do condone the constitutional right to fair trial BEFORE a conviction.

  10. Fogle says:

    “It should also be noted that he has not has his day in court yet, nor has he been convicted of anything.”

    ugavi,

    You make a great point here. Regardless of what your thoughts are on Nick, the situation, or DUI, everyone seems to have already convicted the guy.

    He has only been arrested for a crime and has the full, legal right to a trial. There is no way that Gov. Perdue should do anything until the trial is over.

    If Nick decides to resign or make a move in any way, that’s his choice. Granted, he refused the breathalyser – which is a stupid legal move – but don’t convict him just yet.

    Let the trial and subsequent decision determine his legal fate before you determine what should happen to his professional fate.

    I don’t in any way condone DUI, but I do condone the constitutional right to fair trial BEFORE a conviction.

  11. debbie0040 says:

    I do agree that refusing to take a breathalyzer is not smart, even though some lawyers tell you that you should do so. Your license is automatically suspended until your trial.

    If Nick had taken the breathalyzer, he would have kept his license until his trial and probably been able to reach a plea bargain and not have his license suspended at all.

    I have to disagree with Bull Moose about the penalties for first offense. I have never had a DUI, but know people that have. What if they are the breadwinner for a family or responsible for paying child support? No license would make it difficult to work. There should be provisions in suspending the license for work, church, etc.

    You can be legally intoxicated, but still be able to drive.

    A 25,000 fine for first offense is way too much. The penalites you mentioned would completely destroy a person’s life for one mistake.

    I would support your penalties for second offense.

    I actually was involved in accident some years back with a habitual drunk driver, so I have no sympathy for drunk drivers. I just feel for a first offense, there should be some type of leniency, unless a serious accident is involved.

  12. atlantaman says:

    “There should be provisions in suspending the license for work, church, etc.”

    No an expert here, but believe you’re still allowed to travel to work.

  13. Jeff Emanuel says:

    Debbie, I disagree for the most part — consequences follow decisions and actions. If you’re the breadwinner, have to travel to work, etc., then you damn sure shouldn’t be driving after drinking. If you do, and you’re caught, then you pay the piper; having a job can’t be a “get out of jail free” card.

    When you or anybody else is on the road, your life is not only in your own hands, but in the hands of all of the drivers around you. If one of them is impaired, then your life is in a danger not of your own making, and your life is in the hands of a person not in possession of his or her full faculties. To me, choosing to get behind the wheel in such a state and choosing to endanger all of your innocent fellow motorists (and passengers) is automatically an attempt at assault — or even manslaughter.

    It’s the same as playing Russian roulette with somebody else’s life. Do you think that there should be leniency or exceptions for that?

  14. atlantaman says:

    Jeff-

    I don’t think driving to your job is a “get out of jail” free card. I agree with you 100% that a DUI is serious business, but a first time offense shouldn’t mean you lose your job and possibly your career. I believe on first time offenses you are still allowed to drive to work. That means if you work a 9 to 5 job in Lawerenceville and a cop catches you driving in buckhead at 10:30 at night, you’re in big trouble – even if it’s for a minor traffic violation.

    Yes, DUI’s kill lots of people every year, but many of those are second and third time offenders.

  15. Donkey Kong says:

    Instead of legislating against a purely individual act (drinking, even driving to an extent), I think we should legislate much more heavily against the real crime–the wreck. Driving under the influence is dangerous, stupid, and sometimes deadly. But in and of itself, it is not immoral. It becomes wrong when the individual loses control of the vehicle and in some way infringes on someone else’s rights because of the alcohol. Instead of making harsher DUI penalties, we should pass a strict law that considers any act performed while intoxicated as intentional. Therefore, if you kill someone under the influence, the law considers it murder. If you injure someone under the influence, it’s considered battery and most likely assault. This cracks at the actual crime. Simply put, DUI is the government trying to enact a “social good.” Punishing crimes performed under the influence is social protection, the primary and most legitimate focus of the government. DUI, while having social protection intentions, crosses the line to a form of reasonably popular social engineering.

    Assuming we still believe in natural rights, I think we still need to think through the justification of each law that is passed in regards to those rights.

    Nick was stupid, not only for the DUI, but to get it as the governor’s campaign manager so close to the election. But thankfully he didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t think he should be fired. Hopefully, Gov. Perdue chewed him out big-time and banned him from a couple parties and from drinking until after the election. Beyond that, stick buy your guy, even when he makes a mistake. Nick knows he messed up, and I doubt he’ll do it again.

  16. Emerald Isle says:

    As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility and I think Nick has demonstrated he is not responsible enough to hold the position of campaign manager for the Governor. Part of the job description is to always be on your best behavior and, more importantly, to follow the law. Nick failed on both counts.

    If the Governor is truly a proponent of Operation Zero Tolerance, it will be interesting to see whether or not his campaign manager gets off the hook for his offense.

  17. LiveFreeOrDie says:

    Donkey Kong,

    You bring up good points and good ideas. It’s interesting how most poeple today do act as though drinking and driving is immoral, while people that are my parents’ age (50 – 60) remember when everyone and their brother would bar hop – drink at one bar then drive to another to drink. Whoever was the least drunk would drive. I am in no way condoning that but let’s face it, most people can’t even drive sober! There are many people out there that can have one or two beers and be perfectly capable of driving without harming anyone. It’s just another way for the Nanny State to slowly gain control of every aspect of our lives.

  18. memberg says:

    According to DK, intoxication is a defense to murder and battery. I don’t think so, homey. Also, not to be a grammar dork, but the way he/she wrote it, the crime is killing a drunk person, not killing a person while you are drunk.

    Regardless, the libertarians do not have it right here. Liberty is not injured by the legal limit.

  19. LiveFreeOrDie says:

    memberg,

    DK never said that intoxication is a defense to murder and battery. He said that crime should be punished by law, not potential crime. Driving under the influence does not automatically = harming someone, it simply has the potential. If we’re going to follow the State’s logic then we ought to make it illegal to listen to the radio while driving, eat while driving, talking on the cellphone while driving, talking to your passenger while driving, and most importantly, have children in the vehicle while driving, those freaking things are distracting and will most likely cause the driver to not pay attention and hit an innocent person.

    Liberty is ALWAYS injured when rights are infringed upon. As long as I am not harming another soul then I, according to the original Consitution and accoriding to everything our forefathers stood for, have the right to do as I please.

  20. Donkey Kong says:

    Sorry for the lousy grammar, memberg, but I NEVER said that intoxication is a defense. I said that if while intoxicated you kill someone, it should be considered murder. I’m no attorney, but I don’t see how someone could use that as a defense to murder. If anything, by my rules, it would only further incriminate the perpetrator. Sorry if the grammar led to the misunderstanding.

  21. memberg says:

    “Instead of making harsher DUI penalties, we should pass a strict law that considers any act performed while intoxicated as intentional.”

    I think a fair reading of that is that the writer assumes that intoxication is a defense.

    LFOD, you seem to be using Libertarianism to side-step a key inquiry, i.e. at what point do one’s actions infringe upon another person’s rights? Also, who decides what the rights are in the first place? Clearly, driving on a public road while intoxicated infringes upon the other drivers’ rights not have to avoid drunk drivers. All those other distractions are just straw men.

    Oh, by the way, have you heard Libertarian champion Neal Boortz talk about bad drivers (especially teens). Ask him whether he thinks driving is a right that doesn’t infringe upon others. Plus, he advocates getting a Bluetooth headset for driving.

    I’ll close by listing things you can do with a car that don’t automatically harm anyone – feel free to respond and give some input on whether any of these should still be banned:
    Driving 150 mph on 285; Driving backwards on 285 at 40mph; Popping a wheelie on 285; Running a stop sign with no one around.

    (note: I apologize for the quasi-rambling nature of this comment – it’s hard to choose which of the myriad fallacies of Libertarianism to focus on, so it all ends up jumbled.)

  22. Donkey Kong says:

    “I think a fair reading of that is that the writer assumes that intoxication is a defense.”

    I don’t think so, though granted I’m the one that wrote it. My point is this–punish the actual wrongful action, not the DUI–DUI doesn’t kill, wrecks do. DUI simply increases the likelihood of a wreck probably 100 or 200 times. But DUI’s in and of themselves do not kill. An individual chooses to become intoxicated, and if that intoxication leads to a death, then the perpetrator should be held as if he/she acted towards that death intentionally.

    I don’t exactly consider Mr. Boortz the authority on Libertarianism. Well, at least, not my brand of it. I guess you could consider me a libertarian, but I tend to lump myself more in the Goldwater Conservative camp.

    Regardless, you bring up some good points. I would agree with you to a certain extent. If a city or county wants to enact DUI laws, go for it. My problem is where a state, but particularly the feds, legislate against it, and this applies to both DUI and speed limit. It all comes down to local control–the county or city knows better how to serve its constituents than Mr. Bridge-t0-nowhere on the hill. If a county wants to abolish speed limits and have no DUI law, fine. If it wants a DUI law, fine. The feds and the state should only step in when an actual infringement occurs–particularly when an injury or death occurs. So, theoretically, I’m not against either, but it all should happen locally instead of nationally. That’s my form of libertarianism–local control, national protection. Let each part do what it’s best at.

  23. memberg says:

    DK,
    In GA, voluntary intoxication already is not a defense to murder. Fann v. State, 254 Ga. 514, 331 S.E.2d 547 (1985).

    However, murder in GA requires malice aforethought. O.C.G.A. 16-5-1. In other words, the big bad State has to prove intent. They won’t even enter charges for murder if intent isn’t there.

    The way you would have it, the State could just slam the door right away on every drunk person who committed homicide and charge them with murder, not voluntary manslaughter, O.C.G.A. 16-5-2, which doesn’t have the intent requirement.

    What kind of Libertarian are you, advocating a law that would allow the State to remove intent as element of murder, just because someone was drunk at the time? For shame.

  24. LiveFreeOrDie says:

    memberg,

    To address your first question, “at what point does one’s actions infringe upon another person’s rights?”

    Easy. “every person has the right to live and responsibly act as he chooses, so long as he doesn’t interfere with the equal right of anyone else to live and responsibly act as he chooses.” -Michael Badnarik (sorry, couldn’t say it better myself!)

    Black’s Law Dictionary has defined rights as, “a power, privilege, faculty, or demand, inherent in one person and and incident upon another… the powers of free action.” Jefferson wrote that we had “certain unalienable Rights…” (Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, etc.) No one decides what our rights are, we were born with them, according to our Constitution and the men who wrote it.

    There is no such thing as a RIGHT to not have to avoid drunk drivers. That’s pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day. If that’s true then there’s also a right to not have to avoid slow drivers (the elderly and beginning drivers), the erratic and irrational drivers (uhh… women), and let’s not forget the right not to have to avoid other arbitrarily selected annoying drivers.

    All those “other distractions” are not just straw men. I drive a motorcycle and I am (just making up this statistic for the sake of argument, but it’s PROBABLY true, especially if there’s a RIGHT to not have to avoid drunk drivers) 500 times more likely to be hit by a soccer mom on her cell phone or a cute little old lady that changes lanes without checking her blind spot.

    Who hasn’t heard Neal Boortz rant about teen drivers? He loves to harp on things that get people worked up. I know several individuals who hate him for that fact alone, because he said some high school kid deserved what he got for his reckless driving (the kid had died). Have you ever heard of shock value? Also, Neal is not the spokeman for the party or the philosophy, although I do agree with him on a lot of things. Also, libertarianism is just like any other philosophy or party. Not everyone in it adheres to every single aspect of it. You can’t pigeonhole people like that.

    Driving 150 mph on 285, although not legal, is probably safer for me on my bike, it would allow me to avoid all the inattentive drivers out there, although I do not do that nor do I condone it. Driving backwards on 285 at 40 mph is a moronic thing to do and hopefully natrual selection kicks in but unless whatever moron does that doesn’t harm anyone else I don’t see the problem. The same goes for popping a wheelie (dumb and sophomoric) and running a stop sign when no one’s around. Yes people should obey traffic laws but the law isn’t designed to catch every law-breaker. It’s designed to catch enough to instill in every individual that if you do wrong there’s a strong chance you’ll be caught so just don’t take the chance. If you do and get caught, suffer the consequences.

  25. Donkey Kong says:

    “voluntary intoxication already is not a defense to murder.”

    Good.

    “murder in GA requires malice aforethought”

    Good point. I’m no attorney, and granted on second thought there should be some distinction between intentional murder (with malice) and intoxicated murder. The difference, however, should be slight. It should be considered sheer reckless disregard for human life. Now, this may display my ignorance of this, but aren’t there multiple degrees of murder? Perhaps a lesser degree could attributed to killing due to intoxication.

    I’d need a lawyer to sort through the legal aspect of this. The point is, though, criminilize the crime, not a reasonably legitimate (though unwise and completely stupid) action.

  26. memberg says:

    Would you not arrest someone for loading a gun and aiming it at a crowd, even if they don’t pull the trigger?

    As far as GA goes, there are no degrees of murder, per se, but we have voluntary/involuntary manslaughter.

    Also, reckless disregard with gross indifference to human life can be used to get someone from vol-man to murder.

  27. GAWire says:

    I think everyone is getting away from Jeff’s original – and very valid – point. The question or issue is why is that the Gov (or Gov supporters) would think he is being “loyal” by keeping Nick on staff? Meaning, he can be loyal by supporting Nick, teaching him, making sure he learns from his mistakes (which we all make of course). But, loyalty doesn’t mean keeping him on staff, when perhaps he shouldn’t be.

    This isn’t a political tactic or anything. Do you know what typically happens to people in private firms when they get arrested like this? They are typically either disciplined (i.e. demoted) or let go.

    Sure, a mistake is something we all do, but it wasn’t as if he had to do this. I’m not lecturing Nick, b/c he will get plenty of that, and I’m confident he will learn from his mistakes and move on – and hopefully ultimately be stronger for it in the long run.

    But, don’t be mistaken. This isn’t about loyalty or whatever. That’s a rediculous cop out.

    Ultimately I think Nick will be fine. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for him to take a step or two back and assess his future. He could go back to school or something and really get some good experience, education, etc that could prepare him to come back stronger than ever. I mean, this is the kid who’s supposed to be the future of the GAGOP or whatever? And why is that? Because he worked for Sonny? Again, let’s take a few steps back, and I think in the long run, Nick can take this and turn it into something positive, ultimately making him stronger than ever.

    On a lighter note, does anyone know if the Tahoe he was driving was the same one Sonny was driving in one of the Sonny Do spots?!? That has to take the award for the most obsurd thing I have seen in a political ad in a while! Why they thought a shot of the Governor driving an SUV with flashing lights would be helpful in any way, I will never ever know.

    I’ve just been waiting for a chance to make fun of that. Either way, it’s right on par with the rest of the Perdue’s media campaign.

  28. Bill Arp says:

    I know that there have been others at the Govs office that have been in substaintial trouble with the law while they have been working for the Gov. All seemed to get better treatment than the rest of society….. I wonder if I could put this on my Sonny do list, (i want a get out of trouble free card)

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