Who hasn't longed to attend their own funeral? To hear the eulogies, to see who says what, to learn what people really think about, and are willing to say in public about your life's legacy. For the past week or two, it's as if I have been at my own funeral, and I have to say, it's not exactly the stuff of dreams. To be honest, my legacy isn't either.
When I resigned from public office I apologized to my fellow commissioners and the other public employees with whom I've worked for 18 years. Now it's time for me to speak to those I was elected to serve—the citizens of Palm Beach County.
It's taken me a while, but I get it. I'm a hypocrite. For years, I prided myself in holding public officials to an impossible standard. If they stepped even an inch out of line—I let them have it. I realize that I failed to hold myself to that same high standard. That's hard for me to say, believe me. But this is a process, and I'm coming around to the harsh reality that I have not lived up to the morals and standards I always held so high.
The crimes that I committed hurt my family and me. They brought a harsh and undue scrutiny to city and county employees who did nothing but what was best for their communities. The crimes that I committed have caused the government to scrutinize every opinion that I have voiced, vote that I have cast and bond issue that I have been associated with. I own that, and deserve it. But the problem I have is that good city and county employees who have never done anything wrong are assumed guilty of something simply through their association with me. It hurts to see the damage I have brought to the people and communities I love with all my heart. I know that, upon review, these people will be vindicated because, unlike me, they honored their obligations to the public.
I get it. By accepting free hotel rooms, rooms in hotels that many of my constituents could never afford to visit, I hurt people. By voting on bond issues that benefited my husband's employers, I hurt people. By violating my oath of office and failing to provide the honest services due each and every County resident, I hurt people.
Here I sit, in the corner, observing my own funeral, sickened by the fact that I should have gotten it a lot sooner. What can I do—what amends can I make? Unfortunately—my options are limited. All I can say is I'm sorry. From the bottom of my heart—I'm sorry.
Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty emailed this letter to The Coastal Star.