A couple of articles that might be pertinent to this topic appeared in our local paper this morning. One had to do with rules for filling seats on the Board of Trustees of our local community college. The county appoints half the trustees, the state the other half, and the conflict of interest rules for trustees appointed at these two levels are not the same. The county executive is trying to patch up a mess that resulted earlier this year when, contrary to the law, the county appointed a politician to the Board. The law was hastily changed, and the nominee resigned his political post. The fear is that decisions affecting the college might be political. My question is – why appoint a politician in the first place? It is manifest that there is an opportunity to influence the course of events, either inside or outside the college, by seeking a certain kind of influential person. Even if he resigns his post as in this case the influence persists.

The other story was about a local official who bought property from a farmer for $250,000, then had it re-zoned residential. (The farmer thought the land was going to stay a farm). Then this official turned around and made a profit of three-quarters of a million dollars selling the property to a home building firm.

The essence of corruption is the exploitation of public goods for private ends. Did that happen here? One wonders.

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