Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dragging Us All Down With Them

I was horrified and appalled by what I read in today's newspaper. Out of the $125,000 of state campaign fund money received by Waterbury's Independent party, more than $17,000 was pocketed by the Independents and their extended families. Waterbury's Independents have used their political position for personal financial gain. While they may not have done anything illegal, it certainly seems unethical. At the very least, it is self-serving and sets a terrible example.

The Independents have spent years insisting that they are Waterbury's watchdogs, always looking for political corruption on the part of the Democrats (they even requested that the FBI investigate Mayor Jarjura's activities), and insisting that they are the only ones who care about saving money for the city's taxpayers.

In 2007, they finally were able to get five members of their party elected to the Board of Aldermen. A short time later, they started campaigning for every state legislative office they could, which struck me as a disservice to the city residents who voted for them as Aldermen--shouldn't they have been focused on their municipal responsibilities, rather than immediately reaching for something else? Their campaign seemed particularly questionable considering that their chances of winning were incredibly low--it seemed like they were campaigning just for the sake of campaigning.

Now we learn that the campaign was an opportunity for them to take taxpayers' money for themselves. Again, while apparently not illegal, it was a really bad decision. Waterbury has an ugly reputation for political corruption. The last thing we need are politicians profiting from their campaigns.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats pay to have supporters stand outside the polling locations, but the Independents paid their families to do so, using taxpayers' money. Mike Telesca gave himself $6,000 of taxpayers' money as compensation for filming his fellow Independent's commercials--this might actually be okay, assuming that the money simply covered his costs and didn't involve a significant profit (but if he didn't have to buy new equipment, then that's pretty much all profit).

The worst expenditure was $11,000 paid to Larry DePillo for "consulting" as the campaign treasurer. He claims this was acceptable, as the work involved made it a full-time task. This is just plain repugnant. There are hundreds of Waterbury residents who volunteer thousands of hours of their time without ever expecting financial compensation, who work more than full time on charity events because they want to make a difference. DePillo is a founder of Waterbury's Independent Party, this is what he supposedly believes in, why is he entitled to profit financially when no one else does?

Their actions and decisions have further tarnished Waterbury's reputation. Their profit makes us all look bad.

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