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Mar 19, 2008

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Ed

For the record, I used to be a Coast Guard officer myself... abeit... of a different nationality. I have resigned from my vocation several years ago, due to the same circumstances where direct superiors and higher authorities operate under the reign of professionalism and impartiality. That's of course, when placed under the microscope, is all nothing but the facade of a smoke canister.

My comfort and sympathy goes out to Mike McGrath for the loss of his son. It is a plight that no parents should be allowed to suffer, and be further tortured with non-closure with investigations. Prolonged investigations in my experiences, is also extending the pain and sorrow of the deceased family. I have participated in numerous ship collision Search & Rescue operations, the sheer knowledge of not being able to even locate the corpse is a heart-wrenching experience for a bystander like me on the job. For the family of a deceased, it is beyond our imagination.

I often asked myself, whatever happens to the creed I recite upon my commissioning? In a vocation that preaches the highest discipline and requires the utmost impartiality, are the upscale chokers living up to the creed? Or the creed of the bank account? While I have no liberties to discuss about US political influence since I am a foreigner, I always feel law enforcement units and military forces should be freed from the political games going on in the boardroom. Such actions requires the sacrifice of sweat and blood, and war is fought with guns... not mouths & pens in the boardroom.

Definitely I would agree that this is a virus spreading across many governments and law enforcement units all over the world. Employees in the lower scale has nowhere to turn to, when their lips are sealed by legislative laws and ignored by the higher boards. And it is unfortunate to the high ladders that "free speech" encompasses the exposure of their dictatorship & incompetency. The success of one man's career, is often built on the efforts of others' below him.

Transparency? Respect? Professionalism? Conscience? Faith? Democracy?

Where art' thou?

M

Thanks for bringing this up folks - In order to maintain accuracy I would like to correct the following information - if you don't mind, just want to be careful to keep my record straight - transparency you know...

I have been with the CG since 1981, off and on, meaning I had a gap in my relationship with the CG - between my various roles, its adds up to a total of about 20 or so total - there were a few gaps there in actual employment, but I've always been connected via relationships, etc...

My son was not permanently brain damaged - he ended up dead. The incident killed him much to my grief.

The other point that I would like to make - I believe that generally people do go to their supervisors and leaders - in my experience many times ( not always) folks don't feel like anybody is listening so they turn to other venues to express their frustrations - its not that they don't like their organizations or jobs, they feel a strong loyalty basically - the very thing that leaders are hoping to build - its a strange dynamic actually - as a leader you get what you wanted, but now you don't want it - sounds like bi-polar behavior to me... MM

Beth Daley

Re: question above, excerpts from this article from ABA (http://www.abanet.org/labor/hot_topic_garcetti.html) discuss this:

"...In sum, the Court sought to establish a rule that provides a broad range to government entities' right to regulate their workforces, and insulates public agencies from litigation over decisions restricting their employees' speech made pursuant to their official duties. However, two major areas of uncertainty remain: First, when is speech made "pursuant to official duties"? Even the majority anticipated such litigation, acknowledging that they did not provide "a comprehensive framework" for identifying the scope of an employee's duties."

And so does the First Amendment Center (http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/analysis.aspx?id=16956):

"...In its 5-4 ruling yesterday in Garcetti v. Ceballos, the Court seemed definitively to place an entire category of speech outside the protection of the First Amendment: statements made by government employees in the course of their official duties.

But by also stating that government employees retain free-speech rights as citizens, and by giving a favorable nod to whistleblower-protection laws, the Court seemed to raise new questions and guarantee that this nettlesome area of law is far from settled, spawning a new generation of litigation.

“Refusing to recognize First Amendment claims based on government employees’ work product does not prevent them from participating in public debate,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.

Among the questions the ruling leaves open: Will government employees be better off taking their complaints public first, instead of voicing their concerns to superiors? Did the Court really intend to embrace the notion that government workers should be protected least when they are speaking out about what they know the most, namely their own jobs? And should First Amendment protections turn on how a government job has been defined on paper, often a long-forgotten fiction?..."

Marcus Woodelu


The Supreme Court (Ceballos vs Garcetti) ruling deals with statements made specifically "pursuant to his duties a public employee", rather than as a private citizen, his speech had no First Amendment protection.

So what happens when a public employee makes a public criticism during his non-employment time about a government program or decision? Specifically how does the legal community apply this "pursuant to his duties as a public employee" test? What does "pursuant to his duties as a public employee" exactly mean?

Here is one scenario: one of the bloggers at that Coast Guard blogging website made a statement critical of the Coast Guard Marine Safety program to the public and/or media, and the blogger is not assigned to this program. Then does this test of "pursuant to his duties as a public employee" apply since this public employee's duties do not involve the Coast Guard Marine Safety program?

I would think the Bush Administration and the Coast Guard leadership would desperately want to cast a wide enough net so that the "duties of a public employee" is to not go directly to the public and/or media (i.e. blogging), even during the off duty hours. Hence the concept of "duties of a public employee" is a very inclusive in order to censor any free speech?

Thomas Jackson

The hyperlink to CoastGuardReport.org is dead, however, you can find us and Mike's entire comment at CoastGuardReport.org

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