Most of us have heard the famous words from Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” A few weeks ago, students in a Mercer County Community College (MCCC) political science class got their first lesson of Mercer County power abusing politicos. According to the MCCC school paper The College Voice, as Professor Michael Glass was giving a lecture on how to cut New Jersey’s budget shortfall, some students suggested cutting salaries of overpaid state employees. Glass gave them an example of such a case, the Mercer County Democratic Sheriff, Kevin C. Larkin.
According to a May 23, 2009, Trenton Times article, Larkin receives a $129,634 annual salary as sheriff and also collects an annual $85,000 pension. Students were astonished by his income. Glass remarked that it was not a lot of money for Larkin because he needs to pay for “child support and alimonies,” according to The College Voice.
Upon hearing these remarks via text from a student in the class, Larkin promptly made his way to the college to have it out with the professor. According to The College Voice, Larkin took Glass out of the classroom to have a talk with him. Reentering the class together, Glass apologized for his remarks and as Larkin made his exit he is reported to have told Glass, “This isn’t over.”
While I denounce Glass’s personal remarks about Larkin’s child support, the County Sheriff’s reaction reveals a man with a short temper and too much power. As if Larkin’s income, which is nearly double that of the average household in Mercer County, was not big enough of an injustice to the taxpayers, his direct intimidation of a professor harkens back to the police state of Nazi Germany.
A republic is only as good as the ethics of those in power, and this venal behavior cannot be tolerated. How can students at Rider, located in Mercer County, feel the quality of our education will not be filtered by similar political pressure? It is imperative that the student body pay close attention to the actions of their local politicians here in Mercer County. Residents on campus spend a majority of the year here and should be aware of local politicians’ actions, which greatly impact them, and hold their politicians responsible. Proverbs 29:2 says it best. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule the people mourn.”
Junior political science major