The deaths of nine Charleston firefighters shocked the country. The events certainly shocked this author. Five of the men were co-workers at one point in my career. Losing nine firefighters in a tightknit community is a tremendous blow. The community is not just Charleston, South Carolina, but firefighters and their families from coast to coast.
Few professions mourn their fallen like the fire service. From deeply felt memorials to the long parades and the abundance of pins, stickers, and tattoos honoring the fallen, the grief is universal. It is at ones own peril to inject politics into the equation.
The current Mayor of Charleston is seeking his ninth term in office and it's likely he will get a ninth term because he is, in a word, unbeatable. This leads to otherwise talented people, eager to introduce new ideas, avoiding running against him lest they end up embarrassed. However, a slight misstep may have hurt his legacy.
One day after the fire that killed nine brave souls, the mayor made a point of backing his fire chief come hell or high water. This proved to be a mistake for many look at the chief as a dinosaur. Further, the Mayor ridiculed national standards in use by most fire departments only to clumsily attempt to gloss his comments over. No one bought his explanations but it hardly matters.
The firefighters are reeling from the death of nine men and the political hay being made. The mayor may have to sacrifice the fire chief but longtime observers think he will stand by him because Joe Riley is unbeatable. Mayor Joe Riley is a political survivor and opportunist. One feels certain he will turn nine tragic deaths of firefighters into a political weapon for his own use.
At what point does decency come into play? In national politics, decency appears on occasion but in local politics, it is practically non-existent.