Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ethics Reform- Part Deux

Tomorrow begins the historic special session on Ethics Reform in Alabama's newly elected Republican Legislature. This will be Governor Riley's last hoorah and could likely determine how he will be remembered by generations of Alabamains.

We have gone from the depths of despair and what we hope will prove to be the bottom of the recession, to a hopeful moment in the history of our state that may represent the dawning of a new day in Alabama. After 136 years of Democrat control, beginning this week we will see if our newly elected legislature is serious about cleaning up corruption, or if they are just trying to bar the door on the Democrats now that they have gotten them out of town.

The burden rests squarely on the shoulders of the GOP Leadership of the Legislature and it will be these same legislators who pay the price of failure if the first act of the Republican legislature proves to be a political stunt.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that transparency in our government is a great step in the right direction. I have read the legislation and I agree that we need to eliminate gifts from lobbyists, PAC to PAC transfers and double dipping. But I am afraid these bills fall short when it comes to addressing corruption in Montgomery and local government(s) in Alabama.

The point I am getting at is this. Double dipping is being targetted in this ethics reform effort. Double dipping is when a state representative of senator collects two state salaries, one from thier elected position, and the other is from a state agency (historically these have often been no-show, two year college positions).

Now these douple dipping arrangements are being targetted by the Republicans because it has most often been the Democrats who have benefited from these double dipping arrangements. I agree double dipping needs to be addressed, but I think that the definition of double dipping is far too narrow.

The problem I have is this: Many Republicans are guilty of double dipping, but instead of taking a second state salaried position, they are often the beneficiaries of very lucrative tax payer funded contracts, which they win with limited to no competition. This should be a crime.

When our elected leaders grant themselves unfair advantage for The People's money, I can't think of any reason that this shouldn't be considered an Ethics Violation. Any time competition is limited or non existant, simple economics dictates that the tax payers are left paying more than they should be for the goods or services procured.


There is NO REASON a state legislator or any elected official should even come close to having this conflict. There are sacrifices that must be made when one chooses to serve in elected office and yes, this may be one of those sacrifices that needs to be made. "I am sorry, Mr. Elected, No, you may not have a million dollar contract on my dime just because you have duped the electorate into voting for you."

That is like buying a car without shopping the prices. Without shopping/competition the buyer will never get a good deal. Undermining competition not only takes money from the tax payers that they should never have to pay, but taking it one step further, this sort of corruption is largely to blame for our current recession. This sort of crony capitalism is running rampant in our government from Montgomery to Washington DC, the only difference is the number of zero's in the budgets and the number of victims of this behaviour. It is also a problem in county and municipal governments.

Without this sort of crony capitalist CORRUPTION, the necessary revenue for running our government could be reduced tremendously. This means the burden on every tax paying American could be lightened substantially, putting more money into all of our pockets, which we could all use.

If the appearance of impropriety becomes apparent, it will be amply clear that those involved did not run to serve. Or at the very best, they have chosen, after being elected, to pad their pockets at the expense of those they are sworn to represent. If that is not an ethical violation, I don't know what is.

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