Editorial: Red all over
July 18, 2012
Our View …
Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray burning trash at his home while a burn ban he signed was in effect was a prime example of government hypocrisy. However, his public apology acknowledges his lapse in good judgment, and expresses genuine regret about the incident. Gray has taken his lumps about the incident, and rightfully so. Now it’s time to move on.
It was an act that was, quite simply, what it appeared to be — a Moffat County public official embodying hypocrisy by violating a law he not only approved, but signed.
A story in Monday's Craig Daily Press outlined a July 5 incident in which Moffat County Commiss-
ioner Tom Gray was found to have been burning trash at his home on North Colorado Highway 13.
In late June, Gray helped approve a measure that banned all open flames in Moffat County, a move made in response to rampant wildfires in the county and across the state.
Gray's comments in the news story explaining his sidestep of the fire ban seemed to be what's best described as a non-apology apology.
He seemingly missed what drew the ire of many Craig and Moffat County residents: the burn was a public official acting contrary to a law he helped implement.
It wasn't the crime of the century, no, but it sent a terrible message to residents who've seen a summer's worth of wildfires consume thousands of acres by acts of recklessness.
It also didn't help matters that Gray was not cited for the illegal burn.
On Monday, a contrite Gray issued a letter of apology (see letters to the editor) to the public and met with Craig Daily Press staffers to discuss the incident.
He explained that he didn't use good judgment, made a mistake and doesn't believe himself to be someone above the law.
He also said he understood why people in the community were upset, and he would have felt the same had he read a news story about a different official exhibiting similar behavior.
Gray sounded genuine in his apology, like a guy who screwed up in a very public way. Mistakes happen, and there isn't one among us who doesn't make them.
Gray's remorse certainly doesn't excuse the burn, the potential danger his fire could have caused, or the perception of elected leaders being disconnected from the public they serve.
If he's criticized over the incident, so be it.
It's the situation he created.
But there's not much reason to linger over it more than we have to.
He made a boneheaded mistake, but hopefully can regain the public's trust with exceptional service in this, his last few months in office.
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