Making the right choice

In an article that appeared on Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group yesterday, Historic City News takes note of a local government official in Vero Beach who had the moral courage, in the words of the late sheriff Neil Perry, “to make the right choice, at the right time, for the right reason”.

Although he could have collected half of his $116,853 annual salary, veteran Clerk of Court Jeff Barton retired early Tuesday — six months before his term ended.

When asked why he gave up the position, Barton said, “It’s called money”. The 69 year-old Barton said he retired early to save five employees from being laid off in a tightened budget.

“I’ve worked too hard in 23 1/2 years finding good people to see them go,” Barton told reporters. “So, in a sense, I fired myself instead.”

When the Legislature recently cut $29.5 million from the budgets for Florida’s 67 county clerks, the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corp., equally distributed a 7 percent cut among all counties.

Clerk-elect Jeff Smith, the previous chief deputy clerk, assumed Barton’s salary; however, he said the county would save when he does not replace himself as an $85,000-a-year chief deputy.

As St Johns County navigates through the budget process this year, will we find our own examples of elected political officials and highly-paid appointees with the same selflessness?

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