You know what’s depressing? Reading the newspaper. And I know, because I write for a newspaper.
I’m serious. In the last week, it seems that every time I open a paper or check my Google News Reader, I read some downer of a story that forces me to ask why we even bother to have laws and constitutions and things.
Case in point is state Representative Mele Carroll (D-East Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe) and her seemingly complete inability to file a campaign finance report on time. She was busted for five violations last time around, and it cost her $2,608 in fines from the state Campaign Spending Commission (though complex, these reports are not impossible–the rest of Maui’s delegation to the state House apparently managed to get their reports in by the deadline and, well, you get the idea).
Anyway, if you thought that would teach her to put campaign reports on the very top of her To Do list, you’d be wrong. On Thursday, July 26, The Maui News ran a story saying Carroll had, yet again, missed the filing deadline. But a mere 24 hours later–surprise! The News has a follow-up article saying Carroll had finally gotten her paperwork completed (and just two weeks late!). Why it took so long for the representative to file her reelection committee’s campaign finance report is difficult to say–Carroll’s explanation in the paper was a jumble of words like “misplaced” and “forgot” and “a friend in Honolulu had my file in her bag.”
Look, Carroll isn’t a bad person. She isn’t even a bad legislator. But clearly, more than $2,000 in fines slapped against her last year didn’t convince Carroll that getting a proper accounting of the money her campaign committee is taking in and dishing out to the commission so they can disseminate it to the public was all that important.
Me? I want nearly everything done by public officials disclosed to the public. This is about as realistic as getting state officials to make clear that zoning designations like “residential” and “light industrial” mean exactly what they say, and prohibit land developers from, say, loading tens of thousands of square feet of commercial retail businesses into land zoned “light industrial.” Or requiring the Obama Administration to explain exactly how the National Security Agency allegedly conducted “unconstitutional” spying on Americans.
We can all dream, right?