DC’s “Ethics Subway Train Wreck,” A Tragedy In Six Acts

…or, “A Streetcar Named Stupid”…

This is a Nation’s Capital, drama my friends…an ugly ethics mess, in

ACT I

Eating on a Metro train is a criminal violation in Washington, D.C., but the transit authority seems to think that enforcing laws is icky, or something, so Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik sent out an order on May 8, telling officers to “cease and desist from issuing criminal citations in the District of Columbia for fare evasion;  eating; drinking; spitting, and playing musical instruments without headphones until further advised.”

Telling officers not to enforce laws is per se incompetent and irresponsible. If you want to repeal the law, fine. An unenforced law, however, is an invitation to chaos. If the directive to ignore it is secret, then the public that sees scofflaws unimpeded assumes that law enforcement isn’t doing its job. If the public knows that the law won’t be enforced as a policy, then it will begin engaging in the conduct the law was made to prevent.

This is idiotic.

ACT II

Local author Natasha Tynes saw a Metro employee eating on a train,  and reported the woman to transit officials by tweeting a photo of the woman, in uniform, eating on the Red Line. She also tweeted that when she confronted the woman for breaking Metro rules, the woman replied, “Worry about yourself.” “When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train,” Tynes tweeted. “I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable.”

She’s right. It’s unacceptable. Telling Metro officials that they should not ticket violators of the law does not mean that Metro employees are free to violate the law. This is a predictable result of Pavlik’s unethical order. Tynes, however, was engaging in responsible citizenship.

ACT III

In response to the tweet, the head of the MTA workers’ union stated that the employee had “done nothing wrong.”

This is ethics ignorance. There is a law against what the worker did, and the fact that violations (stupidly) weren’t being enforced doesn’t alter the wrongness of the conduct one iota. This is Ethics 101. Teach ethics in school!

Morons. Continue reading