The Dalack effect
TEQUESTA — Nearly a year after Basil Dalack refused to take the oath as a village councilman, his Tequesta Country Club neighborhood is abloom in red, white and blue signs.
It's the political season in town - Feb. 13 to March 13 - when front-yard political signs sprout legally, and this year, abundantly.
Arena, Mollengarden, Paterno, Okun and Amero - five candidates for two council seats on Tuesday's ballot.
They're part of the Dalack Effect.
"I've never seen so many political signs in my life," resident Pat Maria said. "Several years ago, I almost missed the election because there were so few signs. Not this year."
"We have Mr. Dalack, I think, to thank for everyone's awareness," said Seat 4 candidate Steve Okun.
Dalack, a retired appellate attorney, surprised his supporters and everyone else by refusing to take the oath last March after he was elected unopposed. He said he could not swear to "support, protect and defend" the federal government, arguing that meant he backed the Bush administration's Iraq war policies.
"Those kids in Iraq died only because of George Bush, and I will not swear to support a government with immoral and unlawful policies," Dalack said then.
The village council couldn't change the wording, even if it wanted to, without a town-wide vote, because the oath is in the village charter. Dalack - councilman-elect and councilman-unsworn - sued in federal court to have the oath declared unconstitutional.
His principled stand earned him face time on cable news channels, made him the subject of political Internet blogs and got him several radio interviews.
A federal judge ruled against Dalack in May. He appealed. Oral arguments before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals are set April 17 in Miami. Rumor is that Dalack will take it to the U.S. Supreme Court if he loses.
Left behind in the swirling political backwash, Tequesta suffers from the Dalack Effect: notoriety it didn't want, $102,017 in legal fees so far and, for lack of a fifth voting member, a tie vote on a half-dozen council issues including the annual budget and a union contract.
"He's gotten us a lot of publicity. Bad publicity," said Vice Mayor Tom Paterno, who is running for Seat 4. "Not very many people like him in this town."
I think Dalack has brought publicity to Tequesta, but most of the bad variety falls on Dalack himsef. The man is just simply a nut who is causing taxpayer money to be wasted. A thinking person will see this as the self serving stunt it is, and judge Basil Dalack accordingly.
At least the Knucklehead got people interested in running for the City Commission. Some Florida cities have see incumbents too often get re-elected without a vote being cast because no one will stand up and run for office.
Alex at SOTP is also discussing Dalack.
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