The Cost of Being Governor
“What?” asked Teri, standing in the kitchen doorway, her hands on her hips.
It was moving day. Teri was making sandwiches for the road and finishing up the rest of everything we had for lunch. After which we would get into our respective cars and drive to Washington, where we would be staying with Eva at her house in Georgetown. We had stayed there before. It was a nice place. But my mind was on other things.
I had just turned off the television and thrown the remote on the chair in anger. I was pissed!
“The former state governor admitted to filing a false campaign report, a felony. The investigation lasted two years. He's the first NC State Governor to admit to a felony. Two years! The public has been paying for an investigation into this guy for two years!”
“And now they have him,” said Teri, shaking her head. “You're making too much of this.”
“That's the point, if we get used to this, the criminals win. Guess what! He entered an Alford plea, which means that while he did not admit guilt, he acknowledged there was sufficient evidence to convict him of a crime. He'll pay a fine of $1,000, plus $153 in court costs. He'll pay a thousand friggin' dollars! That's less than a helicopter ride he took at taxpayer expense.”
“OK, so that's not much,” admitted Teri.
“He's quoted that he has to take responsibility for the campaign and that the buck stops with him.”
“So, good. He's taking responsibility.”
“No! He's not! He created a position for his wife at N.C. State at an enormous salary. According to the local paper, he got a $137,000 discount on a lot at a coastal development. He's fined $1000 and he got a kickback of 137 times that on a single land deal.”
“You want ham or turkey?” asked Teri, changing the subject.
“No prison time, no jail time, no time-out in the corner. He has to pay a hundred and fifty-three dollars in court costs. That's criminal! You want to cut costs in government? Have the felon you just convicted pay for the investigation. Two years to investigate his felonious actions? He might have to sell that seaside lot he bought.”
“You can't do anything about it. Ham or turkey?” said Teri, pointedly. She was raising her voice.
“The current governor is also coming under fire for possible misuse of funds. They'll spend two years investigating that one and then the fine will be whatever is in the lawyer's pocket at the time.”
“Stop it, Jack. Yes, it's criminal. Yes, it's wrong. It's a windmill with which you cannot tilt at this time. I'm giving you turkey, you need a nap.”
“Fined a thousand dollars!”
“Come in and get some of this soup while it's hot.”
“$153 in court costs!”
“Jack!” yelled Teri. I stopped and looked at her. It took a few seconds for the room to stop spinning. I took a deep breath, feeling sheepish.
“What's that thing,” said Teri, “about changing the things you can and putting up with the things you can't and having the wisdom to know the difference? You need to recognize when you can't do anything about a thing. Next time, see it coming and be in the courtroom. Write an article or be in a position to make a statement on television.”
She stood there in the kitchen, a stack of wrapped sandwiches on the side counter and a pan of hot soup on the table, ready to pour into waiting bowls.
“Right now, my knight, you can do something about lunch. Come and eat soup, then we'll go.”
I nodded and walked into the kitchen to get my soup.
She was right. She was usually right. Teri was my gyro, keeping me on course, on message.
The prosecutor said he “believed that the plea deal best served the interests of justice.” How he didn't break into laughter as the words were coming out of his mouth is beyond me. How the newspapers reported it without bursting into flame is also a wonder.
The reason that the grand conspiracy continues is that it is in plain sight, that the perpetrators lie openly and the lies are usually obvious and yet we accept them.
Occasionally, a criminal comes along and uses up two years worth of resources that could have gone to schools or libraries or fire departments. He gets the proverbial slap-on-the-wrist and those in power think that's OK.
The only answer is for people to wake up; to realize that it's not OK and to replace those people as fast as possible; to demand good government on a large and small scale, and to be vigilant when it comes to expenditures.
Members of the modern day Tea Party are the closest thing we have to involved citizens and they are getting labeled by the media as a bunch of nut cases.
The Founding Fathers would storm the halls of government at the top of their lungs at what passes for governing today. It makes me want to stand up and scream, “Who's in charge here, anyway?”
Unfortunately, I know the answer to that question, and it chills me to the bone. I thought it was the Trilateral Commission. And to a certain extent, that's true. But it was Rutledge who said it, the Trilateral Commission doesn't run the world, the Council on Foreign Relations does that.