04/08/08 — Cleanup crew: After more than a year of scandal, its time for honesty

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Cleanup crew: After more than a year of scandal, its time for honesty

After weeks of wondering and news coverage, at long last yet another member of the North Carolina state government has been sentenced to prison time for unethical behavior.

And while former Rep. Thomas Wright is still proclaiming his innocence, there is a sense of relief about the end to these court proceedings.

It is awfully hard to concentrate on improving the future of a state when its elected representatives spend so much time defending themselves in hearings.

The decision in the Wright case was the correct one. What the lawmaker did was distasteful at best and criminal at its worst. That type of behavior has no business in the North Carolina legislature.

But Wright is just one of many long-time legislators with problems following the rules. And after a year or more of spending time listening to their stories and the amount of shenanigans going on in the state’s governing body, the rest of us are ready to get back to the business of making North Carolina a growing and thriving state. But to do that we have to send out yet another warning to those who think they are above the law and those who think that their associations will protect them from repercussions when they skirt the law.

It is time to expect more from our lawmakers.

And it is time to “throw the bums out” who spend their days in office looking for ways to line their own pockets. North Carolina voters should not have endure yet another ethics investigation and trial. If we do, we are going to have to build a wing on the state prison just for state lawmakers.

As we start to listen more closely to the ads for those running for governor, lieutenant governor and other state and federal posts, we are hearing lots of accusations about improper behavior by a couple of the leading candidates.

Before voters cast their ballots this spring and fall, we better make sure that we check out the claims. We want to make sure that the next round of leaders we put in charge of our state is not going to be answering questions in front of a judge in a few years.

There are some who say that our political system breeds this sort of behavior — that the good, old boy network is alive and well in many states.

Perhaps those who talk about radical change in politics are on to something. Makes you want to think long and hard about term limits, doesn’t it?

In the meantime, it is up to us to weed out the bad eggs, before they have time to hatch.

Published in Editorials on April 8, 2008 11:19 AM