Saturday, May 20, 2006

CASE IN POINT By Joe Koester, Councilman Ward 9

Men of integrity, by their very existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community.

John W. Gardner

A Culture of Corruption:
Scooter Libby helped secure no-bid contracts for Halliburton; Duke Cunningham resigned from Congress after admitting taking bribes for legislation to the tune of $2.4M; Rush Limbaugh after spouting for so many years about drug abusers is himself is convicted for prescription drug abuse; Tom Delay resigns from Congress for money laundering; Karl Rove along with Dick Cheney himself is accused of leaking the identity of a CIA agent who didn’t tow the Party line on Iraq; the list goes on and on…. Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and President G.W. Bush too are all linked to unethical and illegal activities. In ten years the GOP has tainted the political system up and down the spectrum far beyond anything ever seen in fifty years of Democratic leadership.

The Party isn’t new to corruption – in our times, Nixon comes to mind, however, more officials in the Reagan administration (138) were convicted or indicted of crime than any other administration.

In keeping with GOP dogma, this fount of corruption has trickled down to the relatively little guys of state government. Saint Charles County can boast at least three guys in Jefferson City who believe that state government is there to help feather their own nests: Gross, Dempsey, and Bearden.
Each lawmaker has fought for legislation that applies only to our city; Gross with regards to casinos; Dempsey with regards to developers; and Bearden has decided that ethics is for the birds by pushing legislation that would benefit one of his employers – Lindenwood University. Carl Bearden, while drawing a salary as chief fundraiser for Lindenwood University, has attempted to redirect public tax dollars for scholarships to be used at L.U.

Sadly, these powerful, local politicians have spent their days in our state capitol fighting hard….. for interests that do nothing for their constituents and much for their own prestige and influence.
They would have a developer, and university benefit on the taxpayer’s dime while our school funding foundation is left under funded and convoluted. Locally, Saint Charles School District has slated schools for closure and our local emperors fiddle while Rome burns. When I hear that Saint Charles Schools receive the same amount of money as they did ten years ago – I think our state lawmakers have lost their priorities.

Why does an older school district with a relatively old infrastructure receive hundreds of dollars less per pupil per year than Fort Zumwalt and Francis Howell Districts? Where is the emergency law to help save our schools? We know from the recent past that only a few hours are needed to push through legislation to benefit large donors! Our public schools cannot pay the price for such privileged, special laws.

In November we need to put at least one house in Jefferson City and one house in Congress into the hands of the opposition Party so that checks and balances can begin to work again. Right now one Party has become drunk on power and these guys feel that they answer to no one. Until we expunge the overwhelming influence of money from government and hold Republicans accountable for their lack of leadership, we citizens can expect to play second fiddle to the interests of those who can buy the laws they want.

“House for Sale” … and if the price is right, we’ll throw the Senate in too!