Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How John Atkins Alienated his (Former) Colleagues

Celia Cohen summed up the emotions in Legislative Hall as John Atkins finally capitulated and resigned his seat:
“There did not seem to be a wet eye in the place.”
The unusually sharp News Journal account similarly reflects the lack of sympathy for Atkins:
By stepping down, Atkins ended the controversy over his conduct during and after an Oct. 29 traffic stop in Ocean City, Md. Some of his colleagues said the apologies in his speech came way too late, particularly when set against his combative attitude since the incident.

There was contrition, but contrition was what his colleagues had wanted to see months ago.
"If he'd done that at the beginning, he would have survived," said John Flaherty, lobbyist for Delaware Common Cause and a longtime legislative observer.
What I’ve heard from inside Leg Hall confirms the general impression that John Atkins had worn out his welcome. Legislators are like the rest of us; they don’t like being lied to.
John Atkins lied to his constituents days before the election. He lied to reporters. He lied to his colleagues. At one point he lied in a sworn affidavit. The last straw for some was the revelation that he coached the family babysitter in how to answer questions about the events of October 29. By then it was easy to assume that Mr. Atkins was asking her to lie.
His lies fit the dictionary meaning of “an intentional untruth.” He did not want voters, the media or his colleagues to know the truth of his tawdry conduct.
John Atkins further alienated his colleagues by seeming oblivious to the chaos he created around him. While complaining about how the scandal was affecting him, he seemed incapable of noticing the effect his conduct had on the institution in which he served. Business in the General Assembly had been brought to a halt, resulting in a backlog of bills more typical of June than March. The only work being done concerned Mr. Atkins.
At no point, I’m told, did he offer any contrition or sympathy to his colleagues for making their jobs so difficult. This in turn made it easier for them to conclude that it was time for John Atkins to step down.
Finally, the brave letter from Dave Burris is universally acknowledged as having a powerful effect on the members of the General Assembly. Dave deserves every bit of the praise he has received for stepping forward and saying what needed to be said.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Nancy Willing said...

Tom,
you are the kind of person we desparately need down in Dover working for us either as a people's lobbyist but preferably as a legislator.

There any chance of your running?

11:09 AM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

Thank you Nancy; you're too kind.

As it happens, I like my state representative, Gerald Brady; I worked to get him elected last November.

2:01 PM, March 29, 2007  

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