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From the Back Nine

McDuffie County commissioner Paul McCorkle has recently been questioned about the business deal involving a bulldozer. Current Georgia law prohibits elected officials from conducting business with the county they represent.

Mr. McCorkle serves the county so it is against the law to sell the bulldozer to the county due to a conflict of interest.

So he sells it to an auction company who then sells it to the county for the same price as offered before. Was anything done illegally here? Probably not. Is there a perception of some shenanigans going on? Probably so, at least on the surface. Once the issue was brought to the commissioner's attention, I felt he handled it well.

The issue I have more of a problem with is why the heck can't an elected official do business with whomever they serve. Most items that are purchased have to be put out for bid. As long as they abstain from voting on the same they would have no real advantage over any other bid. If something illegal were to happen I think you would have to look at the entire board or council that is serving at that time. For example, in Union, SC just a couple of years ago, the sheriff, the mayor and several other officials were arrested and thrown in jail for accepting kickbacks from some companies they were awarding contracts to. So an entire group was corrupt not just one individual.

I guess I am one of those naïve individuals who believe if someone is breaking the law, eventually they will get caught. That philosophy applies to drug use, theft, violence, etc.

If the laws concerning elected officials are written clear enough it would be hard for someone to circumvent the law. It would also be the responsibility of the individual boards/council to police themselves.

The reason I think this particular law should be changed is we already discourage good people from running for elected office so we elect others less qualified.

Before too long the public starts complaining about their actions. Then we threaten them with, "just wait until the next election, we'll get someone who knows what they are doing." Is this not a vicious cycle?

We already spend most of our life being told what we can't do. Drive into most any town and you will see all kinds of signs telling you what you can't do and very few that say, "Welcome."

Web posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010

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