Service to God?
On reading about Jerry Falwell Jr. (originally reported in Politico), I considered how archetypal or expected his behavior has been. Yes, I thought about Richard Roberts and how he used what his father (and I was not a fan of his father — a bit of megalomania may be genetic) had built up for his own gain.
Being raised in privilege led to the junior Falwell’s sense not only of entitlement, but of his being above reproach. Without the intervention of David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, Liberty University would have gone belly up. As a student of the Old Testament, I know of another example.
In I Samuel, the prophet Samuel informs Saul that he has been rejected for another who is a man after God’s own heart. David is considered the king par excellence; his son not so. Though Solomon is connected with the wisdom tradition, his reign was anything but wise. He put the kingdom deep in debt and welcomed religious syncretism with its idolatry so that the religion of Israel was compromised.
Now, Jerry Falwell Jr. has joined those ranks. Perhaps that is the natural consequence of being raised in a privileged situation, one that believes it is more right, more righteous, more blessed by God than the rest of us. So whatever they do is, by their definition, service to God.
Help improve Denton’s ethics code
For too many years, Denton residents watched silently as city officials took advantage of their elected office — either by contracting directly with the city for professional services, receiving favored zoning or trading on inside information. Strong ethics codes elsewhere, nationally and across Texas, prohibit such activity.
Efforts have been ongoing since city elections in 2012 to enact a more comprehensive, enforceable code for Denton. In 2016, a charter review committee studied the matter, and voters overwhelmingly supported a new ethics code in the citywide charter election in 2017.
All good so far? Well, not so fast.
After the election, an ethics consultant was retained to help Denton residents draft their new code. Against his advice, our mayor banned residents from a seat at the drafting table, with council members only in charge. From that point on, it was clear Mayor Chris Watts and certain insiders would stop at nothing to prevent Denton from having a meaningful ordinance.
Available model codes were ignored completely in favor of a “local” process. The end result was a code barely recognizable by national standards — from ambiguous definitions to narrowly drawn, dysfunctional conflict-of interest provisions. The year since 2018 passage has been little more than damage control by a well-intended Board of Ethics.
The good news?
A citizen-drafted comprehensive ethics code has already been written and part of an initiative petition to circulate from October 2018 through city elections 2019. If you would like help with this petition drive, simply contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.