MARK KIESLING: Pols won't learn honesty until we do

2012-10-17T00:00:00Z 2012-12-20T21:25:33Z MARK KIESLING: Pols won't learn honesty until we do nwitimes.com
October 17, 2012 12:00 am

Imagine my shock when I came back to work after taking some time off for personal business and found five public officials had been indicted.

Here's the question for you: Was I shocked that public officials had been accused of corruption, or was I shocked it was only five?

It's been 27 years since I started with The Times, and the headlines then were of two parallel but unrelated federal investigations that ended up cleaning up the rat's nest that was Lake County government.

Another fellow who started at the same time in the U.S. attorney's office was Dave Capp, who is now the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.

So he and I have seen about the same things as far as public corruption prosecutions. I called him Tuesday and asked him why people apparently don't learn from the mistakes of their predecessors.

"I don't want to speculate," he said circumspectly. "Or I'm going to end up dealing with it in the courtroom."

Yep. Stuff like that has a way of coming back to bite you in the end, maybe even the rear end.

I wasn't wearing rose-colored glasses when I took this job, a job in what former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1962 said was the most corrupt per square mile of any county in America.

And here we are, 50 years after Kennedy's observations, listening to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels tell people in Lake County that they are scaring business away by the way they do business, but that the citizens "deserve all the corrupt government they vote for."

All of which brings me to ask whether Capp's job is not made more difficult by the fact that Lake County is a democracy, of sorts.

We do vote for these clowns. I've listened to pols joke about the fact that so-and-so has a do-nothing relative on the payroll or has both their wife and girlfriend in the same office.

As long as we keep re-electing substandard candidates, we will keep getting substandard results. And it doesn't show any promise of improvement.

They don't care because they know we don't care, at least not enough of us. We elect them even when they are under indictment, and when they return from Club Fed after doing time they get a lucrative government job.

The only one I can see who has shown any remorse is former East Chicago City Councilman Frank Kollintzas, who fled to Greece rather than do time.

It's not all baklava and Roditis in the arms of Aphrodite. Word is that he is homesick, that he misses his family, and he's doing the kind of time that probably hurts more than a jail term.

But he hadn't learned, either. Don't cry for those recently indicted, or anyone who hasn't been sent away for public corruption.

Cry instead for us because we are so stupid and sheeplike we pull the straight party ticket and, every four years, we send in the clowns.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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