This is just a naked little note about my feelings regarding Sandra Downs’ recent accusations of unethical behavior at MCSO. You may remember me as the petite, dark-haired librarian with the office in the far corner of the Public Library in Key West.
As a librarian, I’m an active supporter of First Amendment rights. I am proud that these rights are a core value of my profession. Free speech must extend to all, even though we might ardently disagree.
What is causing me great pain is Ms. Downs’ accusations against my husband, Mike Rice. Mike and I met just a few days after my arrival in Key West. I was smitten by his deep sense of integrity, stellar work ethic and darling dimples. That was 10 years ago and I remain in awe of his strong character and abiding sensitivity. I grieve to hear these very qualities impugned by Ms. Downs.
Ms. Downs recent complaint to the State Ethics Commission is akin to throwing noodles at the cupboard and hoping some will stick. Her accusations are not based on fact. For example, Mike’s father did not perform his son’s psychological test for employment. That would be wrong. Ms. Downs has no information in this matter and is merely HOPING that something will stick.
Our local print and radio media reported on the complaint with utter disregard to journalistic integrity. Was there any attempt at investigative reporting? No, the stories were just meant to be tantalizing. (On your website, you even characterize Ms. Downs as “colorful” and her stories as “yarns”.) The truth is utterly boring in this case. And when the State Ethics Commission releases its findings on Ms. Downs’ complaint, will that story receive play in the local media? Sigh, I expect not.
During this sad time, I meditate on God’s words: “Be still and know that I am God.” I’m trying to shut out this distracting chatter of utter meanness that surrounds my family and to treasure what I know is Truth.
So, yes, the First Amendment protects our freedom to vilify someone’s character with all manners of nasty lies. And with the Internet, it is available for all to read anywhere/anytime. But I will continue to champion Ms. Downs’ rights to free speech and your rights to print her colorful yarns.
In my job, I’m constantly reminding our customers, especially senior citizens and children, that just because something appears on the ‘net doesn’t mean it’s fact. Now I have a very apt and personal example.
Anne Layton Rice
Thanks for writing, Anne.
Did you send Sandy a copy? I ask, because she’s the one airing the MSCO issues, some already published, some to come.
However the local press reports the Ethics Commission’s findings, I will report if I’m still on this planet.
Sandy asked me to ask you who did the psychological evaluation on Mike, if it wasn’t his father? Such evaluations were then and still are required for all MSCO new hires.
You don’t see anything cozy with Mike sending MSCO applicants and employees to the Guidance Clinc, while his father owned it and was a County Commissioner? While his father also had a contract with MSCO, to do psychological evaluations of all MSCO employment applicants? A contract he still has, under Mike’s oversight and approval, even as he has a consulting contract with the Guidance Clinic? With Mike being head of MSCO personnel? With MSCO’s #2, Colonel Ramsay, being on the Guidance Clinic’s Board? With no bid contracts?
Sandy tells me Mike’s rise to #3 at MSCO was metoric, and was not hurt by his father being a county commissioner and his mother Chair of the Aqueduct Authority, under whom Mike worked before going over to MSCO. Do you really think Mike would be #3 in MSCO but for his parents’ influence?
You don’t know me, Anne. So I will tell you that when I ran against George Neugent in 2006, I saw David Rice at many of the candidate forums. One forum night we had dinner on Key Largo. I tried to talk him out of using attack ads against Ron Saunders, and to focus on the issues. David said it wasn’t him but was the State Republican Party doing it. I said he could stop it if he wanted to. Just threaten to quit being their candidate should take care of it, if they didn’t stop the ads. Some time later I got a chance to ask David again, in a public forrm, to stop the attack ads. No dice again.
I never saw a dirtier political compaign than David’s. When his campaign began, I was in his camp. I felt he would make a good state representative. I did not want to believe what I started hearing about him and the Guidance Clininic and MSCO. It took Sandy Downs to get through to me.
What I’m saying, Anne, because you come across as a nice person, is I’m encouraging you to step back and try to be more objective. Your allegiance to Mile is understandable and admirable, but you don’t want it to be blind allegiance. Consider what happened recently to that poor woman who is married to the now former Governor of New York.
Were I in your shoes, I be urging Mike to get MSCO to stop doing business with his father, and to get Colonel Ramsay off the Guidance Clinic Board immediately. And stop giving out no-bid contracts. And stop sending MSCO employees to the Guidance Clinic on the Shierff’s dime. Because it all needs to be done at arm’s length.