Small Town Councilman Refuses to Take Oath

Out of protest against President Bush’s Battle in Iraq in the War on Terror, Korean War Veteran and Councilman-elect Basil Dalack, 76 has refused to take the traditional and required oath of office in the small village of Tequesta, in Southeastern Florida. Mr. Dalack said he believes the U.S. war in Iraq is unjust and ”an abomination.” He has said he would not be able to sleep at night if he took a pledge implying blanket support for the U.S. government. “Those dead kids in Iraq, American kids and Iraqi kids, would haunt me,”


Any public official taking office must take an oath wherein they swear to ”support, protect and defend” the government. Since Mr. Dalack is in opposition to President Bush and appears to feel he should not have to take that same oath. He has sued the village of Tequesta, asking U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks for an emergency order to reword the oath of office. Judge Middlebrooks has refused to issue an emergency order, saying he feels Mr. Dalacks suit has little chance to succeed. He has, however, given both sides 25 days to present written arguments.


According to Village Manager Mike Cuozzo, the oath is in the City Charter and can only be modified or changed through a voter referendum. The oath is nearly verbatim to those used widely for state, county and local office holders, according to Mayor Jim Humpage.


The Village of Tequesta has a population of approximately 5,800, mostly middle-aged conservatives. Given that, it would appear there is very little chance for the oath to be changed to suit Mr. Dalack. Others have said that Mr. Dalack has chosen the wrong forum for his anti-war protest.


One thing that Mr. Dalack is apparently not taking into consideration is that he already took that oath. As a Korean Veteran, Mr. Dalack had to take an oath entering whatever branch of the U.S. Military he served in. At that time, he swore to, “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”


Granted, Mr. Dalack somewhere left the Military Service, but even leaving the service, that oath is not recanted. Nowhere after your enlistment ends does that oath simply cease to exist. There is no clause in the oath we all swore that it ends when we disagree with the sitting government, no matter who is in office. If there was, you can bet a lot of the Military serving when Presidents Carter and Clinton were holding office were doing so in protest.


However, the oath does not give one taking it that option. If Mr. Dalack has personally recanted that oath, then he has no business running for election to any office, especially knowing he will be required to retake an oath similar to that one he already swore to.


No matter how small, holding public office is a position for only those seriously inclined to serve the people. Public office is not a soapbox to air personal grievances that may be in strong opposition to the people that elected you to serve them.


Although originally from South Florida, I am no longer a resident there. If I were, I would be leading a campaign to dissolve the election of Mr. Dalack and either revote for people that are serious about being a city councilman or award the election to runner-up.


In my opinion, Mr. Dalack has negated his own election and should step aside. He has every right to protest, but getting elected to any public office merely to use it a soapbox to oppose President Bush is just wrong.






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