Monday, October 08, 2007

A Good Thing

A newcomer has to get the lay of the land. I’m still in the neophyte stage here in Springfield, but I was struck by the wisdom of two local legislators.

The Springfield News-Leader, our local Gannett-owned paper, had a Sunday front-page story about what gifts lobbyists had given to state legislators, their staffs or family. Now first off, I will say this. None of the gifts was extravagant or expensive. Most were food or tickets.

Several legislators felt the need to defend accepting the gifts. The gifts “don’t influence” votes and, “I’m going to vote my conscience, period,” said one. Another remarked that the lobbyists “can be useful sources of information about issues facing the legislature.”And according to the paper, the same legislator pointed out that group dinners are a good way for the lobbyists to have their say. I suppose that’s kind of like killing two birds with one stone (not that I’m advocating killing birds).

However, out of 13 legislators, two repaid all the freebies. The paper quotes one as saying, “If I’m going to be voting on something, I’d just as soon buy my own dinner and pay my own bills. That way, I don’t have to worry about where the line’s drawn.” The other fellow said, “I’m a big boy, and I can pay for my own meals.” Neither of these two, however, was critical of those legislators who did accept gifts and one defended lobbyists by saying, “They have a purpose, as long as you understand that purpose . . .”

Rep. Jay Wasson and Rep. Mick Cunningham deserve a pat on the back for their personal stance. But what do you suppose would happen if all of our state and federal representatives chose to turn away the free lunch? Perhaps, with apologies to Martha Stewart, it would be a good thing.


Sarge Charlie said...

grease on the spokes makes the wheel go around

Jay Croft said...

Sounds just like Alabama, except for the legislators paying for what they received.

But even those two guys waited until the story came out.

KJ said...

As a person who loves to give and get, I have often wondered where the line should be drawn when it comes to political figures receiving gifts. When I was reading your– once again– provoking piece, I was reminded of a true illustration that I observed for myself...

A gifted Pastor fell into adultery. The affair took place while his wife was pregnant and he chose to conceal the matter until someone threatened to expose it. He then made a public confession and elected to step down for 2 years in an effort to rehabilitate and mend. (Adultery is usually the symptom of a deeper issue...)

Well, a portion of the congregants– who generously wrote large checks and lavished the Pastor with gifts– would not leave him alone during this 2 year process. They fed his pocketbook, as well as his ego, to coax and enable him to return to California.

Their wish was granted and he is currently operating a church to rival his former ministry, stealing old members through lies, and smacking of arrogance.

Basically, he now has a congregation that desired to "buy" a Pastor, and they found one for sale. And, as Jay stated, he only came forward when the gag was up.

In the political arena, it's not much different. I guess the question is, who's for sale?


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Marion said...

Good post, Sheila...I would be a good thing!

Sheila said...

I'm not sure if it wasn't a case of paying after the fact--not necessarily just because the paper did a story. The lobbyists in Missouri are required to report what they spend.

I don't understand why people do as you reported about the pastor. Jim Bakker is on satellite TV in this area planning grand schemes like in the old days. I suppose he's collecting enough to support himself.

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