So many fish in the barrel ... so little column space
Memo to Sen. Steve King: It’s not about $90. It’s more than a “bump in the road.”
It’s about patterns and intent. It demands more than a delayed mea culpa and a hastily written reimbursement check.
We’ve seen this before.
The latest incident involving jimmied timecards resulting in dismissal from the department he seeks to lead is just the latest go-round in a continuing ethical rodeo.
A few years back, King was the subject of a legislative ethics probe regarding use of campaign funds for, among other things, car repairs and personal toiletries, some purchased out of state. As I recall, there were apologies and offers of reimbursement back then.
Some of this is our collective fault. Our choices have consequences.
We elect Jared Wright after he’s dismissed from the Fruita Police Department for fiddling with the time clock. Some of us continued to support an admitted perpetrator of domestic violence before he resigned as a newly elected member of the Grand Junction City Council. Now King is our presumed next sheriff.
What’s with our ability to misplace our trust in candidates like these? What’s happened to any desire to have people we can be proud of, who are effective in their jobs, for whom we can vote without holding our noses?
I don’t know Rebecca Spiess. From what I’ve read and seen she handled a very difficult situation, one likely to guarantee her own dismissal from a post-election sheriff’s department, as well as it could have been handled.
I do know Stan Hilkey. I haven’t always agreed with some of his actions, but he’s about as straight a shooter and as professional a lawman as you could ever hope to find. Gov. John Hickenlooper is lucky to have him in his cabinet. We’re better for his service to us as our sheriff.
I, too, was initially suspicious about the timing of news of King’s dismissal. Reading through all the posted documents, it’s obvious to me the delay reflects a serious effort to thoroughly vet an obviously explosive situation.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation review has been requested. That’s good, though the conspiracy theorists will be grumpy about Hilkey now overseeing that agency. (Oh, if only we lived in a perfect world where “constitutional sheriffs” and those who claim government is the enemy were in charge.)
CBI investigators would relieve county commissioners, present and potential, from having to break their silence, even perhaps fund the investigation. District Attorney Pete Hautzinger’s whining about his budget precluding a probe won’t prompt questions about his decision to elevate the ability to prosecute over the ability to first determine facts.
Will the local GOP once again bunker up in support of a flawed candidate? Will King himself do any self-evaluation and — don’t hold your breath too long — the right thing?
How can you command respect, the first prerequisite of leadership, in a law enforcement organization or in those you’ve sworn to protect, when you’ve permanently tarnished yourself by demonstrating an ongoing proclivity to smudge ethical lines?
Character, many have said, is what you do when no one is looking. Smarts, I’d add, is what you demonstrate when you’re pretty certain someone will look.
This latest incident demonstrates Steve King falls short on both counts.
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Perhaps Hickenlooper and Colorado National Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert, subjects of last week’s column, have a few leftover “aim for both feet” bullets to make available to the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
Unless, of course, there’s an even cheaper but more distant source.
The recently reported purchase of Ohio website design services is the latest Chamber faux pas (that’s out-of town wording for “screw up”). Or, as others have pointed out in the case of meetings, travel arrangements, etc., still another example of chamber “Do as I say, not as I do” policies.
This is the same organization that argues periodically for a local preference (and extra expense) in bidding for taxpayer-funded construction and other purchases and proudly and loudly runs the Blue Band “Buy Local” campaign.
The design was a “bargain,” an unapologetic Diane Schwenke averred.
Should we now expect her recommendation to order our books from Amazon and buy our cars in Denver or Salt Lake City?