Pondering corruption

December 10, 2008
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Yet another Illinois governor is going down in legal flames, as Rod Blagojevich struggles to extricate himself from federal accusations that he brazenly tried to peddle Barack Obamaâ??s Senate seat to the highest bidder.

So, weâ??re reminded again that power corrupts. And that people corrupt power.

What is it about politics? Do you think the problem is mostly corrupt people coming into power, or power corrupting innocent people?
  • I think it's a little of both, but I really think it depends on which level of government we're talking about. I think at the national level you get more people who are in it for the power and the financial gain. We are far beyond our congress and president actually working for our benefit and most are just in it for themselves.

    At the local and state level I think it's more power corrupting those in office. My father-in-law was mayor of an Indiana city a while back. He said he could have made millions if he had been on the take - developers, businesses, etc. literally threw money at him (or rather tried to) to get contracts, zoning, etc. I imagine his situation was no different than any other mayor.
  • There has to be a compelling reason some people go into politics and put up with relentless media scrutiny of their private lives, some reason beyond wanting to serve. For some, I'm sure it's the payola.
  • At the risk of sounding like a naive pollyanna -- and I've been around politics and powerful people for most of my career -- for every idiot politician on-the-take there are thousands who enter government service because they truly want to serve.

    The good ones see the chuck holes that need filled; they see a vision of their community beyond the present obvious; they see the snow that needs to be plowed; the public art that enhances their community and the absolute necessity for improving their schools and the future lives of their communities' children.

    Regrettably it's a function of the news business that generally 'good' news isn't news so the jerks and the crooks make the headlines. But because they don't get recognized doesn't mean that men and women of integrity and goodwill aren't in government.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.