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Mailbag: No more excuses from our leaders

April 11, 2012

The article "Water official targeted" (March 29) centers not only on alleged improprieties by John Foley, the board chairman of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, but also upon the broad topic of conflict of interest.

Merle Moshiri of Residents for Responsible Desalination was correct to bring these improprieties into question. Regardless of Foley's denials, the appearance of conflict is inescapable. Special-interest money and influence was in play, and favorable decisions for the special interest, in this case Poseidon Resources, were made. Citizens and taxpayers are entitled to their well-founded perceptions.

Too often, elected officials brush off aspersions of wrongdoing by claiming that their actions were not illegal or influenced by gain from special interests because their "principles" or ideology would have dictated their course of action. Maybe, but when you take money or support from special interests and do their bidding, that opens the door to perceptions of conflict.

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The same applies to council members making appointments to city boards and commissions from those who contribute to their campaigns. Using the "I did it on principle" defense, let alone the "It's not illegal" defense, is ethically weak and morally repugnant if a direct quid pro quo case is plausibly suggested.

It can be compounded by assertions from the officials in question that they didn't know what they were doing was wrong or that they made "honest mistakes" in their reportings. We have already seen recent examples of such lapses here in Huntington Beach, and we deserve better representation than we have been receiving.

It is time we demand more honesty and ethical behavior from our elected and appointed officials, especially with elections coming up this year. We should resist voting for any candidates that are clearly intent on doing the bidding of their monied special interest backers. We should applaud the efforts of civic watchdogs like Moshiri to keep our local officials honest.

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach

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Rohrabacher's character is clean

I highly disfavor Michael Miller's recent political hit-column on the character and reputation of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher ("Rep. defends money to wife," March 29).

As a World War II veteran and longtime resident of Orange County, I am deeply worried about the left-wing direction of our once-proud nation. I feel lucky to have a congressional representative of the character and stature of Rohrabacher in these troubled times.

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