About the “Public” in Public Corruption

By David Karlsruher

This piece originally appreared in Newspaper Tree a couple of years ago. (http://www.newspapertree.com/opinion/2294-about-the-public-in-public-corruption)

Posted on April 7, 2008

“The question is, when it’s all over, will we really know what happened here, how it happened, how long it went on and how deep and how high it went?”

The answer is: It’s been going on since governments started awarding contracts and it’s still going on today. Those of us who have to work within the system know exactly how things are and always will be. We don’t dare blow the whistle because the cost would be too great if the Feds failed to hear it. Going broke versus doing the right thing is a hard decision to make, but in the end you have to feed your family.

The FBI, from what I see, is looking at elected and appointed officials and staying away from the bureaucrats that have worked in county and city government for years. They are the ones raking in the under-the-table dough. They control who gets what and when they get it. If you want contracts you have to give them a reason other than your performance to pick you.

We all seem to laugh about the time Larry Medina was found in the desert with a local Architect after a plane crash. But since Larry has aligned himself with the “right political network” we all forgive his indiscretions of the past and that is wrong.

Political networks in this city allow bureaucrats and politicians alike to be brazen with their behavior. All too often a person with a mind to do something illegal, like take a bribe in exchange for a set of ill prepared plans to pass through, is emboldened by their political connections and the confidence that their buddies would never come down on them. When you are friends with the prosecutor, judge and the jury you don’t have much to worry about.

If you don’t do business with local government you wouldn’t understand. Some local businesses have given up trying to obtain contracts from the local government because they aren’t willing to play the game. These businesses have either had to eek out a living in the private sector or go away all together. We all know that the government is a good client to have in El Paso — we’re just not ready to set our morals aside to get that money.

I’d rather be poor and honest rather than rich and a criminal. I wish more people in El Paso felt the same way.

So for me this whole story is a big nothing. Just like the mob back east — every 10 years since the 1940’s they’ve put a mob boss on trial and it was supposed to end organized crime. It never did there and it never will here.

We have to make an effort to systematically reduce our “LCS Index” — which is the amount of Lying, Cheating and Stealing per capita. You’ll find the best communities have a low LCS Index while the worst have the highest.

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