Reading about all the back and forth in Washington, D.C. concerning Obamacare and the “Government Shutdown,” I’m struck by a couple of really strong feelings.
The first, of course, is how ridiculous it all is. These “shutdowns” are a joke and it wouldn’t surprise me if by the time this paper hits the streets the “crisis” will have been averted.
But I also think how great a government shutdown could be if actually caused some things to cease. For instance, I’d welcome a shutdown that would mean all our soldiers had to come home and stop fighting how ever many wars we’re fighting now for whatever reason we’re fighting them. That would be cool.
I could deal with a government shutdown that meant the feds would no longer have the money to listen to our phone calls or intercept our pornographic messages. I mean emails and texts.
What if a shutdown meant Sen. Richard Shelby was unable to name another building after himself somewhere in this lovely state? I’m in! Another benefit of a government shutdown would be not having to argue to the death about social issues while the idiots in DC spend us into oblivion.
It would be especially sweet if during the shutdown we didn’t have to pay the salaries of our elected representatives who are unable to come to some reasonable compromise. But that alone would mean we’d never have a shutdown again, and what fun is that?
Sure, there’d be some downside to a real shutdown. No more free phones would be a biggie. Overall, though, we might actually be better off.
The other major thought I have about all of this is wondering why in the world Bradley Byrne and Dean Young are scrapping it out to be part of such a mess. Other than the fact that most members of Congress seem to become wildly rich while there, I can’t really see why anyone would desire to play in the mudpit Washington has become. Maybe they hate themselves.
Or I could just be a cynic about our federal government. I find it irreparably broken. But at least things aren’t so wacky on the local level, right? Well… maybe not so much.
One of the hazards of working in the newspaper business it that you might actually learn too much about what’s going on. It certainly feels like I’m at that point lately.
Almost every day we’re presented with yet another ridiculous example of ineptitude and abuse of power, and that’s just among the Lagniappe ownership. You should see what’s going on in the nooks and crannies of our local government.
A great example appears in this very paper in the form of a story on an audit of the Mobile County Water, Sewer and Fire Protection Authority. This slop bucket organization is something we’ve been covering for a year now, and it has shown itself to be great pot of money for people interested in graft and corruption. Our look into this organization was prompted by former County Commissioner Mike Dean trying to snuffle out there to get some cash for himself after losing his last election, and the door he opened has revealed some ugly stuff.
If you haven’t yet read this issue’s story, do it now. I’ll wait. OK, can you believe all that? I know, it’s crazy.
We’ve already reported on employees at this water authority taking a backhoe for their personal use then just leaving it at an elementary school for five years to rust. And board members getting an unethical break on their water bills and being taken to dinner after every board meeting. Turns out that’s not even the best stuff.
The auditors claim an office manager overpaid her husband for outside work, intimidated other employees, destroyed records and used the water authority credit card to pay for a Gulf Shores vacation for her family. (It’s OK if you pay it back, right?)
She and her hubby were also responsible for taking the backhoe and leaving it to rust. Some of this was public a year ago, but the office manager finally got the axe recently.
Another audit finding was that ethically challenged former state senator George Callahan, now a board member, used his water authority credit card to buy a personal airline ticket for his wifey. It’s OK, though, he paid it back two years later, according to the audit. George always seems to be right on the edge when it comes to using public money for his own benefit.
But here’s the kicker, the yokels running this backwater (pun intended) outfit actually paid the college tuition for an employee who spent his time screwing off and making YouTube videos of himself hitting some other clown employee in the family jewels with a variety of objects, according to the audit. He was fired, BUT THEY REHIRED HIM!!! He must run their video department. Hopefully next time he can get George Callahan to star in one of those movies.
Joe Summersgill, the general manager overseeing all of this ridiculous behavior, also remains happily employed somehow. The place sounds like a reality TV show waiting to happen.
Again, while there is some interesting new information in this audit, it’s been apparent for more than a year this little water fiefdom is in need of a good roto rootering. But it’s almost as if no one in law enforcement cares if publicly owned backhoes are being destroyed or ethics laws are being violated.
Hell, maybe I’ll send my kids out there to drop cherry bombs in the commodes and get their college tuition paid. What happens at the water authority stays at the water authority, you know. Well, unless it’s rusting in a nearby playground or on YouTube, but you get my drift.
If our elected officials want to earn back trust and maybe have the cynicism meter dialed back a bit, making sure boards like the Mobile County Water, Sewer, Fire Protection and Video Production Authority aren’t just pass-throughs for the “right people” to get paid for nothing would be a good start.
Otherwise maybe a local government shutdown wouldn’t be so bad either.
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