“Politicians need summer school….”

I have a friend who ran for a position as a district judge. He won.

He told me that after he was elected, one of the first defendants that had to be sentenced had a range of prison time from five years to life. My friend tells me there were not any guidelines or books to help him figure out what was proper in this case. As a result he went back and studied books, case law and prison conditions to find out for himself what was the right thing to do. He wanted to know how to be fair in his elected position. He is a good man.

In the past several months we have seen a number of elected officials who apparently missed their opportunity to learn what was appropriate as well as what was expected of them for their positions.

A Texas legislator was in the news a couple of weeks ago, after it was discovered that he was billing both the State as well as his campaign funds for the same travel expenses. His defense was that ‘he didn’t know it wasn’t the right thing to do’. He’ll probably blame on some poor second grade teacher who failed to stress honesty and integrity to him when he was seven years old. Poor baby.

Another Texas congressional representative has been accused of using funds given to her for scholarships and then awarding them to family members and close friends. Under the anti-nepotism rules of the scholarship program, Representative Bernice Johnson of Dallas was prohibited from giving out scholarship monies to her relatives or children of her staff. Ms. Johnson stated that she had indeed violated the rules, but had done so … ‘unknowingly’. She also stated that she just wasn’t ‘fully aware’ of the program rules. Of course….knowing the ‘rules’ doesn’t seem to be of much interest to many law makers such as Ms. Johnson. According to the news report, these scholarships were to be given to needy students in her district. None of the recipients lived or attended school in her district. Ms. Johnson just wasn’t aware of this small requirement.

The left leaning media is quick to point out that representative Charlie Rangel of New York merely missed several items when it came to ethics. One pundit says that Rangel’s ‘overlooking’ of the taxable income from property in the Dominican Republic couldn’t have been much since the property only cost $82,750. In the writers mind, this meant that the house was not a ‘villa’ and couldn’t have been very ‘palatial.’ I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that the IRS doesn’t cut anyone any slack just because the property isn’t worth millions of dollars. Rangel also seems to have allegedly abused his office by using his elected position to raise funds for some ‘learning center’. Oh, wait there’s more. Add his lack of candor in filling out some financial disclosure forms as well as perhaps using a rent controlled apartment in New York for a campaign office. Several of Rangel’s defenders took the position that Rangel was hardly the first person in New York to do this, so what’s the big deal’If we all took that line of thinking, then I suppose since Cain killed Able that gives me the right to gun down my neighbor with the barking dog since ‘everyone’ has been doing it for a long period of time.

Last but not least is Representative Maxine Waters. Mrs. Waters is being investigated by the House ethics committee who alleges that Waters’s office improperly worked in September 2008 to press for aid to prevent the failure of Boston-based OneUnited Bank. This bank eventually stayed afloat with the help of money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Waters’s husband, Sidney Williams, had served on the bank’s board. He owned stock in OneUnited that had declined in value from $350,000 in June 2008 to $175,000 two months later and would have been “worthless” without the bailout funds, according to the ethics committee. Mrs. Waters has defended her position by stating that she was pressing for aid for all minority banks. Apparently the only bank discussed in her meeting was OneUnited, but this seems to not be of any concern to Rep. Waters.

Well, this is all I have time for this week. I’m certain there are others which I could discuss, but four is quite enough for the time being. I guess my point here is that adult people who manage to get themselves elected to a public office should have some level of intelligence, honesty and integrity. They should not use or abuse their elected positions and then blame it off on stupidity or a lack of information about the rules.

If you and I are expected to live and abide by the rules, shouldn’t those who are in our government required to do the same’Perhaps we need some sort of school to train these poorly educated folks who have chosen to represent us in the nation’s governments, after all it doesn’t seem to be their fault if they can’t figure out the difference between right and wrong.