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Lake County Clerk Mike A. Brown

Lake County Clerk Mike A. Brown

Wasteful, audacious and self-entitled behavior of government officials erodes public confidence.

We've seen our fair share of such actions in the Region — and in our nation as a whole.

The latest example comes courtesy of elected Lake County Clerk Mike Brown, who attempted to convince county commissioners that he needed a brand new SUV, costing up to $61,000, as his office vehicle.

Thankfully, the county's three commissioners, also duly elected officials, put the brakes on Brown's request last week.

That was good government in action.

It's a miscarriage of government, however, that the commissioners had to consider the request at all.

Last Wednesday, Brown asked for approval to purchase a new vehicle for him and his staff to move court paperwork among his offices in Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary and Hammond.

That the county continues to maintain such far-flung satellite offices and courthouses, rather than one central location at the main courthouse in Crown Point, is wasteful government in and of itself.

But Brown's request for the commissioners to consider three vehicle quotes — a 2018 Dodge Durango for $36,888; a 2018 Ford Expedition for $58,084; and a GMC Yukon for $61,495 — added insult to injury.

An online search by Times reporter Bill Dolan revealed the Durango is a midsized SUV spacious enough for a three-zone climate control system.

The Expedition is a full-sized, eight-passenger SUV with up to 104 square feet of cargo space.

The Yukon can tow 8,500 pounds, and its fuel tank tops out at nearly 27 gallons. It gets 16 miles per gallon in city driving, according to www.fueleconomy.gov.

Brown argued the office's current vehicle, a 15-year-old former police cruiser, is nearing the end of its service life.

But that hardly means his office requires a massive, gas-guzzling SUV to replace it.

Brown is a perennial name in Lake County politics, and voters should keep this attempt at unnecessary taxpayer expense in mind on future voting ballots.

His term as clerk ends at the end of 2018, and he's barred by term limits from running again in the next election cycle. Brown also lost a recent primary bid for the Democratic Party's nomination for sheriff.

But that doesn't mean he won't seek future office. Voters should weigh his audacious vehicle request if he does.

Brown certainly isn't the first public official to push for such waste.

Our elected officials need to stop viewing their public offices as treasure troves.

Public trust is dying with every additional perk or unnecessary expense bled from taxpayers.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.