Just Because Something Is Legal Doesn’t Make it Moral

By EGP Editorial

The citizens of California should loudly proclaim their disdain for State Legislators who repeatedly act for personal gain while pretending to be public servants.

The indictments and convictions of several public officials in the last year make us wonder why elected officials don’t wake up and smell the FBI. If nothing else, they should at least be worried that their public approvals ratings are in the tank, with many voters believing every elected official is more interested in what they can get rather than what they can do for their constituents.

Has the smoke from expensive cigars blinded them and addled their brains to the extent that they have no moral compass at all?

Just because something may be legal doesn’t make it moral, a notion that some elected officials seem to have forgotten.

State Senator Ron Calderon says he has done nothing wrong. He and his brother Tom, himself a former assemblyman, have pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from taking bribes to laundering money.

The 24-count indictment against Ron Calderon alleges he accepted bribes for his support, and effort to extend tax credits for the film industry, accepted money for helping to pass legislation that allowed a Long Beach hospital executive to conduct execute a massive health insurance fraud scheme.

Many parents have used their contacts to help a child get a job, and many others would have if they had connections to make it happen. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in Ron Calderon’s case, the job courting he did for his son and daughter was allegedly not really to get them work, but a ploy to try and hide ill-gotten gains from his pay-to-play activities.

Altogether Senator Calderon is charged with taking more than $100,000 in bribes.

Brother Tom is charged with money laundering of some of his brothers bribe money, with some of the funds ending up in his pocket.

While the Calderons have not been convicted of anything yet, we are convicting them of demonstrating a profound lack of ethics and morality.

Sadly, the Calderons are not the only officials who have lately come under scrutiny for immoral, if not illegal practices. Centinela Valley School District Superintendent Jose Fernandez is being paid more than $600,000 to run a school district of just 60,000 students and three high schools. His compensation includes other abnormally high perks compared to similar sized school districts — even several much larger like LAUSD, according to the Daily Breeze and the Los Angeles Daily News. While the superintendent’s pay scale may not be illegal, it’s hard for us to understand how the district’s school board could have approved such a contract.

Why is it that poor and working class communities are being targeted for exploitation, not only by elected and appointed officials, but also so-called community organizations hoping for huge contracts in return for contributions?

The lack of compassion towards these residents astonishes us. Little thought is given to the fact that property owners and other residents are being saddled with huge amounts of debt through the sale of millions of dollars in bond debt, pension and sales taxes so that lucrative contracts can be rolled out to a select few who form cliques of insiders.

Yes, some of these groups also provide community services and the contracts do create jobs, but they do so on the backs of taxpayers and often at the expense of other needed services and resources.

Of course, we as citizens are also guilty of being careless with our praise, our votes and our lack of attention.

How many of us attend city council or school board meetings? How many of us research the backgrounds of candidates for political office and how many of us even bother to vote? How many question or even read the terms of the multi-million/billion dollar bonds we are asked to approve?

Is it any wonder some of those is high places think they can act illegally or immorally and still get re-elected?

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February 27, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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