The Black Politico

Orlando politics and more -- from a black perspective

Fallout over new hire at Clerk’s office

Fallout over controversial hiring at Orange County Clerk’s Office
By Rhetta Peoples

Orange county voters leaned in to listen to a recent story that aired last week about Orange County Clerk of Courts, Tiffany Moore Russell’s decision to hire her former aide, Attorney Roberta Walton as Self-Help Division Manager.

While the meat of the story is not new news, the story attacked Walton and assumed she was receiving preferential treatment because she is a close friend, sorority sister and formerly worked for Russell. Some Orange county residents sounded off on social media saying the news report neglected to mention Walton is highly-qualified, professionally and ethically, for the role.

We did more digging into this story and Walton has a long history of professional success in Orlando.

Attorney Walton admits she made a crucial mistake years ago, while in college in Tallahassee, and pled guilty to charges when she cashed a check for a friend while working as a bank teller over 15 years ago.

Since then, Walton finished her undergraduate degree in Social Work, was accepted and graduated from law school, passed the Florida Bar, practiced law in Orlando with a primary focus on serving low income families who could not afford legal representation.

In addition, Walton served as Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell’s aide in District 6 and worked at a thriving law firm in Orlando while raising two young boys as a single parent.

Walton admits she regrets her decision in college to cash the check and paid restitution. Walton told us, “There were a total of 11 people on my docket. The restitution was a combined amount between us. It was joint and severelly liable. I paid the whole amount because I needed to start anew.”

Russell was elected by voters of Orange county last November which tells some, her choice for a candidate for this position is trusted, vetted and will ultimately serve the needs of the community.

Yet, it does not come without some resistance from the community.

Russell made history twice already by winning a campaign with far fewer campaign dollars than her opponent and by helping to lead the way to  legalize same-sex marriage in Orange county even before the ban was lifted nationally last month.

The Orange County Clerk of Courts office has met more controversy under past leadership. After former Orange county Clerk of Courts Lydia Gardner died, two members of her staff wrote themselves more than $271,000 in severance. Their actions made headlines as they never “severed” themselves from working at the clerk’s office. They continued to work while receiving regular payroll in addition to the $271,000. Although there was more than enough evidence to terminate the two employees and press charges, they were allowed to much later resign.

What in the world just happened to America?

Photo courtesy of O. Levard Photography studios

Photo courtesy of O. Levard Photography studios

By Rhetta Peoples

The President is singing Amazing Grace and discussing hard-core race issues in a black church on television under the microscopic lens of the world’s eye.The Supreme Court of the United States just lifted the ban on same-sex marriage and made the union legal in all 50 states. Families of hostages in other countries are able to try to negotiate the safe return of their loved ones without the government stopping them. President Obama’s trade bill passes, the confederate flag is ordered down from state grounds and Obamacare is upheld nationwide.

Whew! Holy Moses, POTUS and SCOTUS, take a bow!

If we ever questioned why Americans felt Barack Obama’s rockstar presence when he entered a room to speak while running for office, or if America ever doubted why they loved him in the first place, that community-organizing, law student turned Senator from Chicago turned, President-squared of these United States of America, reminded America of why they fell in love with him on both campaign trails last week.
The fruit of his labor showed last week and the explanation is simple. He did what he said he would do. And, he did it with mad opposition from not just Republicans but his own party of Democrats as well.

If I utter the words, “I told you so,” that would be quite childish, so instead I will have you recall this. Remember, when I, and probably the rest of the political world, said Barack Obama’s appointments to the Supreme Court would be a big deal? Well, here you have it. The appointment of some of the justices that currently sit on the court finally have the support and power to approve the peoples’ business. Ah, a sigh of relief from those who have held their breath for so long to get the SCOTUS to side with the people. Having a savvy attorney for President doesn’t hurt either.

Government, whether you see it as large or small, must be always about the business of the people in which it governs and for a long time, this nation has not felt any earth-shattering changes of many presidents past. Last week, this country prayed in a multitude of different directions, for a host of different political issues, to God knows how many Gods, for what we the people believe is best for our nation.

And to many, the answer has arrived in the form of affordable healthcare, marriage equality, independence and justice for all.

Now, read this part aloud very carefully. America’s next POTUS, after Obama leaves office, will choose four, count them, four justices to serve on the Supreme Court. That is a huge undertaking. Clearly, this means the 2016 election is so important it may blow the hair back on the heads of Americans until the next generation. Which means, you, me and everyone in our households had better be at the polls in 2016 voting our beliefs.

The work that went into each victory last week is worthy of praise. What may have sounded like a deafening silence for some time now was truly the innards of a well-oiled machine moving to create not only marriage equality but mic-dropping, unafraid push-backs on symbolizing in America that celebrates slavery, the most negative historical decision made ever in America, to be ordered down from government grounds.

In one of the most historic weeks in presidential history, what just happened to America was bold, it was right and it was overdue. As the week closed, pride celebrations all over the country began while the president, who remains opposed in almost everything he does, celebrated amazing wins toward the legacy he is determined to make for himself and this country.