Is it really the job of the General Assembly to keep Chester, the Child Molester, from public office? Does the electorate have any responsibility anymore?

Senate Bill 14, which was read and referred to committee on January 12, would seek to ensure that “[n]o person who is on the National Sex Offender Registry or the state sexual offender registry shall be eligible for election to or service on a local board of education.”

None of us are “pro child molester” and I’m in favor of current prohibitions on where they can live, but is this legislation really necessary? What county is going to elect someone on the sex offender registry anyway, since to be on that registry requires a criminal conviction? And, even if a county did want to elect someone who falls into this category to the board of education…isn’t that their prerogative? They could hold office without meeting with children…couldn’t they?

This is equivalent to legislation banning war criminals from being Mayor. Who’d vote for “Himmler for Mayor” in the first place? To be sure, I’m not really moved either way on this issue but it just leaves me with a question as to if this is even needed in the first place. Thoughts?

66 comments

  1. AubieTurtle says:

    It’s obvious pandering. Anyone who votes against it is labeled as pro-sex offender and those who vote for it can claim they did something to punish child molestors when they actually haven’t done anything at all. Seems to be a lot of that kind of junk these days.

  2. Icarus says:

    I think I’ve called BS on GA’s interpretation of “sex offender” as much as anyone around here, and I agree that the voters in at least 158 of Georgia’s counties probably wouldn’t elect someone with a known record of these offenses.

    That said, the state does set standards for most offices, and I think being a child predator should specifically exclude you from office.

    Though a remote possibility, consider if only one candidate qualifies for an election to a school board, and that his/her past is not publicly known at the time of qualifying. (Believe it or not, a lot of school board races around the state only have one candidate.) Without some sort of specific standard spelled out for disqualification, this candidate is the only one that will appear on the ballot.

    I wish the legislature would spend more time making a legal distinction between a sex offender (someone who may have given a BJ to a 15 year old as an 18 year old) and a predator (someone who has done wrong and is likely to again).

  3. Rogue109 says:

    Though a remote possibility, consider if only one candidate qualifies for an election to a school board, and that his/her past is not publicly known at the time of qualifying. (Believe it or not, a lot of school board races around the state only have one candidate.) Without some sort of specific standard spelled out for disqualification, this candidate is the only one that will appear on the ballot.

    An excellent point, amigo, which I had not considered. You and my girlfriend are in lock step agreement on this issue, which is HIGHLY disturbing.

    I wish the legislature would spend more time making a legal distinction between a sex offender (someone who may have given a BJ to a 15 year old as an 18 year old) and a predator (someone who has done wrong and is likely to again).

    No doubt. Although I was pilloried for my position on Genarlow Wilson many months ago, I was simply defending the rule of law. I agree that a distinction needs to be made but, for now, the law as written is what must control (not that you are saying anything different, mind you).

  4. atlantaman says:

    Or you could have a situation were there are a number of candidates on the ballot, but the child molester gets everyone else thrown off the ballot from technicalities – like how Obama won his first State Senate race.

  5. atlantaman says:

    There does need to be a distinction, perhaps some sort of age difference. For instance a year or two would exempt you from the child molester laws.

  6. DaleC says:

    I think it’s goofy, simply because of the 18 and 15 year old problem and the ease of obtaining that information.

    How many of us turned 18 with a 17 year old g/f or b/f and would have subsequently been unable to run for office? 🙂

  7. Dash Riptide says:

    None of us are “pro child molester”

    Well, except Jim Martin. It was in a campaign ad so it must be true.

  8. Jason Pye says:

    I wish the legislature would spend more time making a legal distinction between a sex offender (someone who may have given a BJ to a 15 year old as an 18 year old) and a predator (someone who has done wrong and is likely to again).

    AMEN!!!

  9. I too think more distinction needs to be made between offender and predator.

    Lock up the predators and throw away the key – once convicted in a court of law.

    No restrictions at all on the generic offenders once their sentence has been served.

  10. AubieTurtle says:

    Good point Icarus but I have to wonder about two things:

    1) For those districts with partisan school boards, the local party should be doing the job of vetting the candidates so as to avoid the being labeled the party of child molesters. The party giving their blessing to someone who turns out to be a child molester will surely endure a high cost for that mistake. Imagine how bad it would have looked for the Republicans in Newton County if Gresham had been put on the ballot with an R next to his name.

    2) Does being on a school board give such a person extra access to school children? On the surface I would think the answer is yes but is that really the case? Do school board members have unrestricted access to the schools in their district? My guess is yes but I’d like to know for sure.

    Perhaps the bill does have some merit but I still suspect that the motivation is pandering. I guess it can’t hurt for it to pass except for the time spent on the issue that could have been used for something else that is more likely to happen. In the case of Newton County, the sex offender was exposed (oh my, how I’d like avoid that pun) so the system seems to have worked.

    What troubles me is that like so many judgeships, there are many school board positions being filled unopposed. No matter how good a person is, it is best for democracy for there to be an opponent, even if they never win. It reminds the incumbents that their position is not a birthright and that they are answerable to the public. Plus if there is anything unseemly going on, it is much more likely to come to light when there is ballot opposition.

  11. Icarus says:

    Aubie,

    Most local parties rules actually prohibit them from doing much in the way of vetting candidates. I’ll let those with more experience in that area comment further.

    And yes, a school board member pretty much has unlimited access. They are restricted by accredidation rules as to what kind of influence they can have directly on a school, but board members can and frequently do “drop in” on schools while they are in session.

    As for the Newton County situation, I believe I remember that there were 3 candidates in the primary. Had the member in question (oh how I didn’t try to avoid that pun) not withdrawn (there we go again), he would have been on the ballot. Had he been unopposed, he would be on the school board.

  12. Game Fan says:

    Meanwhile we just elected a President who was probably born in Kenya. So ya want more laws? How ’bout we enforce the existing ones once in a while?

  13. atlantaman says:

    “the local party should be doing the job of vetting the candidates”

    I think this is a lot to ask of the local parties. Take Keith Gross for instance, the local Democrats were holding fundraisers for him in his bid to unseat Mike Jacobs and didn’t even realize he lived with him Mom in Florida.

  14. bowersville says:

    GF, Icarus has an open thread going. File your brief over there. You’ve been wanting to talk about O-crimes for quite a while, so howl away…on the open thread please. Get it out of your system.

  15. shep1975 says:

    Should the state set standards for elected offices within the state? Does the Constitution set the standards for the federal legislature? Of course. What’s more, the US Constitution allows each chamber to the the judge of the qualifications of its own members.

    What if someone was elected who had been a molester, but that was unknown on election day? Is there any other way to get them out of office?

  16. shep:

    Using the Constitution as the guide, in that it sets the qualifications for all federal offices, I can agree that the State Constitution should set the qualifications for all state wide offices.

    Where my objection comes in is when the state tries to tell a local community what the qualifications for its own local offices should be, and removing the people from the office if the state doesn’t like them – as has been proposed for BOEs.

  17. shep1975 says:

    Okay, if the local community refuses all state funds, then they can make their own decisions.

    More than that, there is no local government entity that is not created by the state, except the city of Savannah, the charter of which obviously predates the state.

  18. shep1975 says:

    By the way, the call of the debate is not specifically regarding BOEs, but the idea that the legislature should not impose rules on local elections (i.e. the “Himmler for Mayor” analogy).

  19. shep:

    Did those communities exist because of the people there, or did they not exist at all until the State said they did?

    In fact, wasn’t it the community itself that had to fight the State?

  20. Jason Pye says:

    So you’re saying the local community doesn’t exist without the blessing of the State?

    The legislature can revoke or alter a city’s charter at anytime.

  21. shep:

    Granted. But the State IS attempting to impose rules on local elections, not just with the sex offender statute in question, but also with other ideas being considered concerning BOEs.

  22. shep1975 says:

    The community may have existed, but they had no power to elect officials. I lived in the unincorporated portion of N. Fulton that was called “Alpharetta” but is now the city of Johns Creek. I never thought of myself as part of the “Johns Creek Community.”

    Once again, the issue is elections. The state has to create the local entity before local elections can be held or, at the minimum, be legally recognized.

  23. Jason:

    Even you are missing my fundamental question:

    Does the community owe its existence to a State, or to the people that make up said community?

    Should said people have to ask the State how to govern themselves, or are they capable of making those decisions themselves?

  24. shep:

    An illustration of my point, using your own Johns Creek as an example:

    Why should my representative in Lee/Terrell counties have any say as to whether or not your town on the northern fringes of Atlanta can incorporate?

  25. shep1975 says:

    Does a state owe its existance to the federal government or is it the PEOPLE who make up the state. If so, then how can we say the federal government can charter states? More than that, what right does the federal government have to force any state to be part of the union?

    Back to the state, if Dade County wanted to join TN, should they be allowed?

  26. shep:

    The States predated the United States…

    As for your question, why not? And further more, why should someone from dang near the GA/AL/FL border be able to tell them they can’t?

  27. Jason:

    So, theoretically, the State could revoke all local charters and everyone in the State would be ruled by the same ‘local’ government.

    Hmmmm….

    Do I really need to blatantly state what I am thinking here, because it should be painfully obvious….

  28. shep1975 says:

    Only 13 states predate the United States Constitution. Those 13 MAY have an argument, but the other 36 were created out of lands that had belonged to the federal government and had petitioned Congress for Statehood. Texas was its own nation when it applied for statehood.

    So are you telling me you do not believe in the Constitution that since 1789 has governed this relationship between the states and the feds or the Georgia Constitution that governs the relationship between the local governments and state governments?

  29. shep:

    I’m saying that governmental power should rest as close to the individual as possible. It is THAT belief that drives my own calls for limited government at the State and Federal levels.

    As a nation, this is one of the things that we forgot a long time ago, and we’ve been paying for it in ever increasing amounts for quite a while now.

  30. Furthermore:

    Did the actual land exist before those States were ‘created’?

    Did people live in those lands?

    Or did people just magically appear when the State got approval for its existence?

  31. shep1975 says:

    After all the talk about following the Constitution, you’re now saying the constitution, both state and federal, are meaningless because you say so; that the constitutional system that have governed both our national government since 1789 and state government since 1776 (not withstanding revisions since 1776) should now be thrown out because you say so?

    Let’s not forget as well that these relationships have much older roots in common law, that the King granted charters to the towns.

    But let’s forget all of that and break up the borders at the sudden whim of those that make up the community. We can balkanize our own nation, states and even counties providing no structure of laws to rely on, no continutity of borders and no territorial integrity. Let’s weaken ourselves to the point that we become prey to stronger nations like history tell us could happen with no unity.

  32. shep1975 says:

    D.K.B., are you serious? All people came from somewhere else. The CONSTITUTION set out the process by which a geographic area became a state. Also, there are still borders around areas with little to know population. What about the native Americans who live here in Georgia before the Europeans?

  33. Jason Pye says:

    So, theoretically, the State could revoke all local charters and everyone in the State would be ruled by the same ‘local’ government.

    Not necessarily. The legislature can only grant municipal charters. The state is constitutionally bound at 159 counties, so barring an amendment (which would require voter approval) that wouldn’t change.

  34. shep:

    All I’m saying is that people shouldn’t be forced into something they don’t agree with, just because their forefathers liked it.

    The Constitution was founded on the principle of ‘For the People, By the People’. It doesn’t state “We, the Government…”.

    Freedom. Liberty.

    It really is something worth fighting for.

  35. shep1975 says:

    Still though Jason, despite the fact the Constitution sets the number of counties, at 159, I would guess that DKB thinks that the folks in North Fulton should be able to form Milton County, regardless of what that pesky Constitution says.

  36. shep1975 says:

    Because their forefathers liked it? Well dang, I guess cities like Atlanta should be allowed to ban all guns, because, after all, it was just something their forefathers liked.

  37. shep1975 says:

    DKB, what you are describing is a system of anarchy, not government and no laws. Any law forces people to do something they may not agree with. Ultimate liberty is a complete state of nature. It doesn’t work because there will always be someone who will enforce their liberty at the expense of others.

  38. shep1975 says:

    “Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt.” (dissent in Dredd Scott v. Sandford). That is what you are saying you want…a jurisprudence of doubt. Governments are formed to SECURE the blessings of liberty (paraphrasing the Dec. of Ind.). If you have no secure government, you cannot secure liberty.

  39. Chris says:

    To Answer Rouge’s questions:
    “Does the electorate have any responsibility anymore?”

    Hell no! Did you see what they did yesterday?

    “What county is going to elect someone on the sex offender registry?”

    I dunno, maybe Clayton? Hell child molesters would be better for the children of Clayton than the current batch of morons running that school system.

  40. Jason Pye says:

    I don’t think it’s anarchy. Laws would be created locally, rather than at the state level. But it’s about as close to anarchy as you can get while still having some semblance of government.

  41. After thinking on it a bit, I was off in my thinking – slightly – last night.

    I STILL hold that the LOCAL government should be the MOST powerful government in an individual’s life – not the State or Federal, as it is now.

    I was wrong in saying

    All I’m saying is that people shouldn’t be forced into something they don’t agree with, just because their forefathers liked it.

    While true on an individual level – parents should not be able to make a decision that is legally binding on their adult children, nor continues to be legally binding even after their minor children become adults – it is wrong on a governmental level, but even this requires a brief explanation:

    Changes in government should take action on the part of the People. If the People do not act, they are implicitly stating that they are perfectly fine with the way government works as is. There should not be a change or a limbo situation occur in government simply because some have died off or others have come of age.

    An example: A family owns a piece of land. Buyers approach the father trying to buy the land, but the father resists all offers for whatever reason. Upon his children becoming adults, he continues to resist all offers, even though they would like to sell. Upon his death, the property remains with the family (assuming such was his final instructions). If the family chooses not to act, the property will remain in their hands. If, however, they choose to change the situation, they can actively work to sell the land.

  42. rugby says:

    “I STILL hold that the LOCAL government should be the MOST powerful government in an individual’s life – not the State or Federal, as it is now.”

    Wow.

    I’m thinking of many things a government ought to do that would be impossible with a local government being the most powerful government in an individual’s life.

  43. Confession: I haven’t read the entire post or the thread comments.

    I would, however, I think its a good move. There ought to be some sort of restrictive measures to have one placed on the ballot. Our political process has evolved into a mere popularity contest. Intelligence, capability and integrity have been replaced with “feel good” rhetoric and empty promises. Heck, I would go so far as to say there ought to be an aptitude test for those seeking office and incumbents. We would probably lose half of those serving.

    Corruption, involving conflicts of interest and self service abound in virtually every community. Is it against the law to be a self serving legislator (federal, state or local)? Nope. Taking kick backs and bribes are, but what about all the under the table stuff?

    The electorate needs to understand their role and responsibility as a citizen in our form of government. Unfortunately, the vast majority don’t. Maybe this is pandering, but anything that restricts a buffoon from getting elected or holding on to a seat, I’m all for it.

    Heck, term limits would eliminate most of this, but you won’t find a legislator, local or in the statehouse, that will push that measure.

  44. Rugby, local government is powerful. However, local government politics isn’t nearly as sexy as statewide or especially federal. Your local government has far more power to impact your life by inept policies and corruption. They both abound. In many cases they don’t even try to hide it.

    I’ve been thinking about starting a website called “The Money Tree”, to present documentation of corruption and cronyism on the local level. I just don’t have the time. Once you begin to look into it, your eyes begin to burn simply because of the magnitude of the problem.

  45. Doug Deal says:

    rugby and Maurice,

    I think you both are using the terms in your own way and not recognizing the other’s. It is clear that Maurice means that local government should be the most influential, and rugby means it is the one the wields the biggest stick.

    Ultimately your local government should be the ones that have the most influence on your day to day life and the Federal government should really just be a government of governments with the power to keep runaway local and state power in check, but little authority over the individual citizen. Putting everything in the hands of a small group far away is a recipe for despotism.

  46. Icarus says:

    “the Federal government should really just be a government of governments”

    Good lord Deal! Do you have to antagonize the NWO/NAFTA highway folks so much.

  47. Doug Deal says:

    So does this mean the rumor that you are a former notable Georgia politician of potentially Greek ancestry (one that you could say lacked scandal until he eventually didn’t) is officially out there?

    But, don’t let me be part of any rumor-mongering.

  48. Bill Simon says:

    ” There ought to be some sort of restrictive measures to have one placed on the ballot. “

    The problem is, Maurice, that unless they require the “qualifying entity” (like, SoS, or Board of Elections to run a background check) to verify that the person is up to snuff on this, it doesn’t matter.

    People ignore laws all the time, and then, when caught, spend great amounts of money and time fighting their prosecution.

  49. Georgia Legislators Are Criminals says:

    Georgia’s “sex offender” laws are not only worthless, they are much worse. I am confident that is a fact. I won’t even start getting into it. Many of the laws are not supported by a single expert in the entire United States. Not a single one. Georgia’s criminal legislators have been told repeatedly that their laws are counter-productive and ineffective. They don’t care as long as it makes people feel good.

    I have been a Registered Sex Offender for a very long time. Registration, and especially ALL of the illegal tag-along laws that it has enabled, has never and will never keep me (or anyone else) from committing any type of crime. Further, if I did decide to commit a crime, none of it would help law enforcement in any way. That is the reality of Registration.

    The only thing that Registration has accomplished is to piss me off to a level that I can’t explain and very effectively turn me into someone who cares little about the United States or any communities within it. A long time ago, prior to Registration, I was very patriotic and felt every citizen had a duty to serve the United States and local communities. Now I don’t care and I don’t feel I owe anyone anything. Now the United States, Georgia, local communities, and their citizens owe me and it is a debt that grows every day. Now I am a non-citizen.

    These laws are unacceptable. I don’t care if 300 million people say they are, they are not. And as long as they exist I will be retaliating against them and doing anything and everything that I think people who support these laws would like for me not to do (as long as it is legal). Of course, that includes being around hundreds of children all the time in many different situations. I don’t even particularly care for children, but I feel I now have a moral imperative to be around them. Whatever the people who support these laws do not like, that is what I will do.

    I’ll tell you just briefly only one of the things that helped fully transform me into a non-contributing, non-citizen. Quite a while ago, local law enforcement came to my house around midnight one week day and told me that they had “bad news”. They told me that my family must move out of the home that we own because it was “too close” to a swimming pool that was in a different neighborhood across a busy road and fence. I told them that they could “shove it up their ass” but had it not been for a court case decided by the Supreme Court of Georgia, my family would have had to move within the week. Of course, this happened many years after I had fully completed all the punishments to which I had been legally sentenced due to the actions that got me on the Sex Offender Registry in the first place. I thought that clearly the United States is not what it was. But it is. This country has a very long history of abusing people for illegitimate reasons.

    It has taken me a long time to get to where I am now and I hate that I can’t just ignore these laws and be a contributing citizen. But, I’m not going to sit around and just let these criminal politicians and the scumbags who support them do anything they like. What they have done is immoral, anti-factual, and completely un-American (e.g. applying more and more retroactive punishments to people with ZERO proof (less than zero, really) that it is needed or will do anything productive). It is unacceptable and now, unlike their invented, hysterical lies about me being a problem as a “sex offender”, now they have a REAL problem on their hands. A problem that actually exists and will have a real impact.

  50. Bill Simon says:

    It has taken me a long time to get to where I am now and I hate that I can’t just ignore these laws and be a contributing citizen. But, I’m not going to sit around and just let these criminal politicians and the scumbags who support them do anything they like. What they have done is immoral, anti-factual, and completely un-American (e.g. applying more and more retroactive punishments to people with ZERO proof (less than zero, really) that it is needed or will do anything productive). It is unacceptable and now, unlike their invented, hysterical lies about me being a problem as a “sex offender”, now they have a REAL problem on their hands. A problem that actually exists and will have a real impact.

    May I suggest you start a blog whereby you explain this in more detail?

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