If only politicians 'owed' taxpayers for their faults
If politicians were to be held financially responsible for their "own ego and need for attention," there would be a plethora of poor politicians.
Rick Shoch is arguing as much in the case of fellow Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi, and "demands" Clausi pay back and put in escrow a combined $6.7 million that he "cost" or may cost the county.
While we appreciate Shoch's frustration, he'd have a difficult time proving that Clausi is financially responsible based on the claims he laid out last week.
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In the case where the county may have to pay back $200,000 to $250,000 to the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for inadequate distribution of grant money, he says Clausi didn't act in time to address the problem and kept the issue a secret. He is demanding Clausi put $200,000 in escrow with the county "to cover its losses."
In the case of the deputy sheriffs' lawsuit against Clausi and the county, Shoch says Clausi acted against the "warning" of then-commissioner Frank Sawicki in mentioning the porn-viewing allegation at a public meeting because it would subject the county to a lawsuit. He's to pay back $57,390 in legal fees and put another $1.5 million in escrow "to cover potential payouts to the claimants."
In the case of 911 center upgrades, Shoch claims Clausi should put $5 million in escrow because he didn't act in time to meet a federal mandate.
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So Clausi owes $6.7 million because he allegedly put off decisions, ignored advice from a fellow public official and kept information "secret" from colleagues? That's hardly a crime in politics, and he has no responsibility whatsoever to begin writing checks to Northumberland County.
That's not to say we think Clausi is off the hook in responsibility for his actions. He has some explaining to do, which he promises will happen at a press conference Wednesday. Clausi has admitted to being heavy handed and letting his temper get the best of him in the past, and now there's a fellow commissioner willing to call him out on it.
More than explanations and money, however, what taxpayers also want is better communication and congeniality among the commissioners. That is not too much to ask.
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Meanwhile, we are taken by this notion of public officials paying back taxpayers for their "indiscretions," and can't help but wonder what kind of long-range payment plan Allen Cwalina and Charles "Chap" Lewis would be on if they were subjected to such a policy.