Press Talk: A look at situational ethics

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor.

Are you ready? Ready for the rocket’s red glare? Ready for the bombs bursting in air?

This Friday is July 4, and who doesn’t love a good parade and a few good fireworks?

A few good fireworks.

Unfortunately, if you’re opposed to the endless onslaught of fireworks, for days and days … and days, Clark County is not the place to be.

And that’s too bad, because county voters approved an advisory measure telling commissioners to stop the madness and limit fireworks.

So what happened?

Well, situational ethics is what happened. Let me explain.

Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke wanted oh-so-badly to prove that residents wanted some pie-in-the-sky, toll-free bridge out in east county someplace.

So they decided to put some east county bridge ideas up for an advisory vote.

Apparently they also had room on the ballot for a fireworks advisory vote, something then-county Commissioner Steve Stuart wanted.

So the vote happens, and the M&M boys liked what they saw on the bridge stuff. Madore was all like, “The people have spoken, praise the people, let’s get started, praise the people, on that east county bridge ’cause, praise the people, I do what the people tell me to do! Praise the people!”

OK, well, I’m pretty sure that’s what Madore was thinking. Here’s what he really said at the State of the County several months ago:

“The proposal directed Clark County commissioners to provide leadership and champion the new proposed bridge.”

Hmmm. “Provide leadership?” “Champion” what the voters said?

So where’s the leadership on the fireworks vote? Who is championing the people’s voice on fireworks?

It sure ain’t the M&M boys.

If we were on the playground (and sometimes it feels like we’re on the playground when we’re dealing with Cheech and Chong), this would be called “two-faced.”

In the grown-up world, it’s called situational ethics.

You see, it’s full steam ahead on the east county bridge because the voters said so. But it’s put the brakes on that fireworks thing … despite what the voters said.

How does Madore explain this inconsistency?

“Ordinance changes ought to be thoughtful. There was zero thought put into this … We ought to hear from the citizens about the pluses and minuses of this.”

Dear residents (that’s me and you), I’d like to apologize on behalf of Commissioner Madore. I can’t imagine he’s telling us that we had “zero thought” when we voted to limit fireworks. That’s saying we were mindless when we voted.

Oh my!

And residents — that’s still me and you — when he says he now needs to “hear from the citizens” on the fireworks thing, I don’t get it. Was he simply not listening when we voted loud and clear to limit fireworks? Was that not hearing from the citizens?

So to summarize, when voters say something the M&M boys want to hear, they tell us they will follow us to the ends of the earth.

Voters cannot be wrong!

But when voters are saying something the M&M boys don’t want to hear … well, they kinda hope we just fall off the end of the earth.

By definition, that’s situational ethics.

To be fair, the M&M boys aren’t the only ones who practice this time-honored tradition. But they have honed this skill to a fine art.

I know, I know, this M&M gunk seems never-ending. I guess that’s because … it is never-ending! We’ll have Madore’s emotionless smile and Mielke’s emotion-filled confusion for several more years.

I’d like to say this toxic cocktail was doggone funny … if it wasn’t so doggone dangerous.

Oh my!