Yes, it’s been weeks, centuries, and even years since I’ve written here at JustNashville, but the juices are flowing again, and it’s time to offer my take on issues facing our fair city of Nashville with a dash of faith, a glob of justice, and the belief that communities CAN really come together to do great things.
And what has prompted this sudden infusion of energy? The saga of our recently elected District Attorney, Glenn Funk.
I first came upon Glenn at one of those typical local chamber of commerce gatherings of candidates out here in Old Hickory. Someone introduced us and I remember meeting him, but I didn’t walk away with major thoughts about his personality, character, or even about what he would bring to the table. Later on though, I began to become concerned when I heard career prosecutors bemoaning the possibility of his election, feeling that bad things were in the horizon under a Funk administration (a Funky administration perhaps?) I knew some folks supporting Glenn and they were generally part of the old-time political operative class that runs around out in our neck of the woods, but I knew them and trusted them that Funk couldn’t be THAT bad.
I became worried when Funk was elected and there was a rash of resignations from the DA’s office . . . resignations from folks that had been successful prosecutors and really saw dealing the crime from their end as a calling. Warning bells really went off when Funk arrived and immediately fired other career prosecutors who had served with excellence and were willing to work under Funk’s leadership because of their belief in what they were doing. It was clear that Funk was getting rid of the institutional memory of the organization, something that is sometimes necessary should always be done with forethought and care. In the firings an arrogance began to show, and it was clear that our city had elected a leader with an attitude and an agenda.
Of course, leave it to Phil Williams to pop the cork and let the Genie out of the bottle. Good old Phil opened our eyes to a whole underground system of good old boy back scratching that allowed DA Funk to find some loopholes to line insure his family and boost his pension at the government’s expense. Apparently the $12,000 a month that Funk mad as the DA wasn’t adequate to his lifestyle.
When confronted was Glenn sorry or tried to hide the fact of what he had done?
He admitted it fully, suggesting that he was just taking advantage of certain loopholes in the system to his benefit. Of course, the state DA’s conference apparently thought those loopholes were obscure enough that they fired Glenn’s friend Wally Kirby, the longtime executive director of the DA’s conference, for his part in helping his friend.
Today Funk admitted that the perception probably looks bad, and so he’s agreed to refund the money and give up the pension benefits. Of course he doesn’t admit wrong doing — just that it appears funny and in the interest of keeping the peace he will fall on his sword.
I’m sorry Mr. Funk that isn’t enough.
You see it’s a problem that you are unable to recognize the impropriety of what you’ve done. It demonstrates a dependence on a good old boy ethic of political dealing that is totally inappropriate when the lives of both victims and accused are on the line. For some reason I feel like the top law enforcement agent of our city (the person who is responsible for prosecuting crimes in our city) should be an exemplar of ethical conduct, demonstrating living within the intention of the law, not skirting the edges of it.
What you have demonstrated instead is an attitude of arrogance that is willing to subjugate propriety to the margins in the pursuit of your particular goals. Your example suggests that in your world ignoring proper procedures is justified when it meets your desires. You are the man charged with pursuing justice in our state, but the very values you have demonstrated fly in the face of the pursuit of justice.
I have little faith at this point that you would be willing or able to resign, although given the cloud you have left over your administration, I think it would be best for all.
What do you think? Is Mr. Funk’s mea culpa adequate, or is it time for Glenn to go?