You know what’s ‘not what elected office should look like?’ Coronor, that’s what

Probably the dumbest headline I’ve seen this week was this one: “House panel moves to scrap education, experience requirements for coroners.”

Riiihhhgt… because that’s just what we need in the official who investigates unattended deaths in our counties — less expertise.

And the body of the story didn’t make a better impression than the headline:

Todd Rutherford

Todd Rutherford

An S.C. House panel Wednesday unanimously OK’d a proposal to scrap state laws requiring that county coroners meet education and experience standards.

State Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, says his bill strips “onerous” state laws that ensure only a handful of people in each county can run for the position.

“That’s not what elected office should look like,” Rutherford said, adding more qualifications are required of county coroners than U.S. presidents….

Let’s set aside the fact that this moment, when we’ve just elected the most outrageously unfit president in history, is not the best moment to tout the presidency’s lack of prerequisites… and move on to my point.

Which is this: The office of coroner is itself precisely “not what elected office should look like.” Coroner, a strictly technical, magisterial position that has nothing to do with politics, is precisely the kind of office that it is idiotic to fill by popular election.

If you want the job done right, you have the county administrator interview qualified candidates, and hire the person with the best experience and credentials.

You want to amend the law in a way that makes sense? Don’t dumb down the office in some misguided nod to democracy. Go the other way. Start by taking “coroner” off the ballot.

18 thoughts on “You know what’s ‘not what elected office should look like?’ Coronor, that’s what

  1. Claus

    Brad just can’t help himself, the story is about county coroners… but he felt it was needed to bring in his opinion on Trumpj for some reason. Classic case of obsessive compulsive disorder, poor thing probably doesn’t even know he’s doing it at this point.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, yes, I absolutely do. It’s entirely intentional.

      And it’s going to continue, in case you’d like to go out and find a blog that will bore you less….

      1. Claus

        Well I am reading FitsNews more and more…

        Did you ever hear the story of the boy who cried”wolf”?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Wolf! Just as I’ve been saying for the past year. There it is, with bizarre hair and orange skin…

          And you’ve always been a fan of Will’s haven’t you?

    2. Scout

      “Classic case of obsessive compulsive disorder”

      Actually no. OCD is a real thing that causes real suffering in real people and bears no resemblance to what is described by comments like this one that have become common in popular culture. Comments like this are disrespectful to people that actually have the disorder.

  2. Harry Harris

    And why do we elect law enforcement (sheriff) as well as administrative. Clerk of court, Secretary of Agriculture, State Supt of Education, Attorney General, etc. We’re stuck in the 18th century or earlier. Unfortunately many of the boards that should hire and fire these individuals are ill equipped to their (policy) job very well and get involved in the weeds of administration (and favoritism) or are so busy schmoozing with their hired hand that they don’t learn the basics of governance and don’t oversee worth a whit.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, I agree. The High Sheriff should be appointed by the Crown — but not by Prince John. We should wait until King Richard returns from the Crusades.

      You know, the way it was when my 17th-great grandfather Sir Richard Wydeville was sheriff of Kent. Or when my 15th-great grandfather Sir Richard Wyatt was High Sheriff of London.

      Sorry, I can’t resist making those family tree references.

      To get serious…

      I’m torn about sheriff. As y’all know I’m a traditionalist, and near as I can tell, electing sheriffs has been the norm in this country ever since the office made its way over from England.

      On the other hand, you’re perfectly right: Why shouldn’t the sheriff be hired by the county just as police chiefs are hired by the city? Maybe the idea is to make the sheriff politically independent from other local officials.

      Sometimes it works well — I think Leon Lott is a fine exemplar of this system — and sometimes it doesn’t.

      The former mayor of Jackson, Tenn., was an avid student of the history of local government, and he had this great lecture about the office of sheriff and how it developed. I wish I could remember some of it; I might have a better-formed opinion on the subject now.

      But you’re right on all the others. There’s NO reason to elect those other offices, with the possible exception of attorney general…

      1. Richard

        You should do a reverse tree… take one of those ancestors and figure out how many descendants they have. I believe the only true ancestory is to take the male route… your father, his father, his father, his father, his father, etc… blood lines get diluted quickly after a couple generations.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And what’s your family name?

          My purely paternal line goes back to a 9th-great grandfather who lived in Bristol, England starting in the 1500s. His son came over to America and we’ve been here ever since.

          The sixteenth century is a fair-to-middling distance back. I have quite a few lines that don’t go back nearly that far. For instance, there’s my great-great grandfather who died at the siege of Petersburg when my great-grandmother was a baby, and she never knew him — which is probably why I have NO idea who his ancestors were. She didn’t know it to pass it on. That’s my shortest line.

          Then I have others — some of the lines that go back to Charlemagne — that go back centuries before that, because the Holy Roman Emperor’s ancestors tend to be known.

          Of course, as I’ve said before, there’s nothing special about being descended from Charlemagne. If you’re of mostly European parentage, you’re descended from him, too — and all his ancestors. The fun is in tracing it, in making the connections.

          And it works the other way — 20 or 30 generations from now, a huge portion of the human race will be descended from each of us.

          Because math…

          1. Richard

            Currently Peterson. My family name changed a coupe times because of land purchases… for some reason in Scandinavian countries when you acquired a piece of property your took on the name of the property and dropped your surname. Before Peterson it was Gillerud (rud apparently has something to do with land or farm ownership), before that it was Foster. That make researching even more frustrating. I too can trace my father’s direct line to the late 1600’s, and others several generations further if you trust some of the genealogy online sites where others with common ancestors have already done the research. I get interested and get focused and then get frustrated and don’t look at it again for sometimes years. But I really don’t have much real interest in it past the great-grandfather/mother level.

          2. Richard

            What doesn’t make sense to me is how one person can end up with thousands of descendants. I can on paper, but in my head I don’t see how say 30% of the people in this country can be tied back to one person.

        2. Lynn Teague

          And how, pray tell, do you justify considering only the “male route?” The genetic inheritance is equal from mother and father. The impact of cultural factors transmitted through the mother is at least as great, often greater, than that through the father. However, it is true that blood lines are “diluted” quickly with successive generations. All blood lines are, even the “male route.”

          1. Richard

            I figured that’d come up. Just simplifying things… rather than going up the tree with father, mother, mother, mother, father, father, mother, father, mother, mother, father and saying you’re a true descendant of that family line. I’m looking at what the royal families use.

          2. Mark Stewart

            The social insecurity and lack of self-esteem just reek in comments such as these. I would prefer to feel more empathetic; however, the belligerence of these comments is underserving of even pity.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    “Coroner, a strictly technical, magisterial position that has nothing to do with politics…”

    Magisterial? You mean ministerial, right?

  4. Karen Pearson

    Male line? We cannot guarantee who the father is of each child, but we can guarantee who the mother is.

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