It was a photo opportunity that no self-respecting law enforcement K-9 publicity hound could pass up. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, surrounded by local media, showing leadership and strength by posting this notice at a hair salon at Clearwater Mall. The notice informs anyone entering that business about Pinellas County’s “Safer at Home” order that went in to effect Thursday.
However, Gualtieri did not post the notice in the way the order itself requires.
As seen from the image on the right, Gualtieri posted the notice with the text facing outward. whereas the county order on page 3 specifies that the order must be posted “clearly visible at all times to those present on the premises.“
Gualtieri thus posted it in a way where it is visible to those outside the premise, and not visible to those “present on the premises” as required by the order.
Someone could argue that the notice is “visible” although not readable, and that it doesn’t say in the order that it has to be readable by those “present on the premises.” Therefore, the requirement in the order is met.
However, that would mean that every notice required by local government agencies could be posted with the text facing the wall. It’s probably best for government agencies to not walk down that particular path of tortured notice posting logic.
The notice was not printed on both sides of the yellow paper, as can be seen in the image on the left where Gualtieri is holding an notice.
Perhaps none of the blame for this face palming faux pas should fall on Gualtieri. After all, he was accompanied by Pinellas County administrator Barry Burton, whose staff recommended the order and Burton argued for. Also present was county commission chairwoman Pat Gerard, who had voted to adopt the order just the day before. It appears that none of them spotted Gualtieri’s incorrect notice posting, or dared speaking up.
On Thursday evening, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) announced on its Facebook page that “as of this morning, over 200 deputies and officers began diligently working to post these notices on businesses throughout the county.” Thus hundreds of uniformed law enforcement officers systematically and incorrectly posted thousands of these notices.
In that same Facebook post, Gualtieri said that “there is absolutely room in this community for people to do more, and do it better.” If only he himself had focused on the “do better” part rather than the “do more” part. In other words: work smarter, not harder.
Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and Clearwater Police department chief Daniel Slaughter were also present at the event, along with an assortment of Clearwater police officers. Those police officers dutifully proceeded to systematically incorrectly post the notices, in the same fashion Gualtieri had done.
This social media post on the Clearwater PD’s Facebook page has the image shown on the right. The image shows a uniformed Clearwater Police Officer posting the notice incorrectly, just as Gualtieri did, while he is being watched by Cretekos. The sheen of legitimacy of the image is thus a mirage.
As law enforcement officers barge in to businesses to bungle the posting of notices and chase old ladies from condo pools, one should perhaps stop and ask: do we need to be micromanaged throughout this crisis? How competent are those who govern us? And why should we obey orders that provide a blanket exemption for government? Yes, the order does just that.
As Gualtieri correctly pointed out at 12:26 of the press conference that accompanied the posting fest pell-mell, “the order does not affect governmental entities.” Perhaps that’s why many top officials in the county, including the top health official, flagrantly ignored the CDC social distancing guidelines that they impose on non-governmental individuals on pain of imprisonment.
Incredibly, they did so in the meeting where that very order was passed. Perhaps they want to gain the limelight by being the center of an outbreak?
As Plato observed some 2,400 years ago: “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
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