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Readers respond to council benefits report

Council members should give money back to taxpayers

Not since the the public double-dealing during the Warren G. Harding administration known as the Teapot Dome scandal, have we heard of such rampant self-dealing, if we discount no-bid, sweetheart deals to Haliburton. That brings me to the point: Something's rotten, but not in Denmark. A malodorous emanation wafts from City Hall.

I thought double-dealing, secret-keeping, elected officials were only in the White House, but it appears our City Council behaved more as good old boys rather than City Fathers ("Council wrongly received hundreds of thousands in benefits, report says," June 30).

I take offense to the bufoonish comment by one of them who said, "Why should I give it back?" He, and the others, should "give it back" because it was taxpayers' funds, which were earned by the sweat and labor of taxpayers who weren't expecting it to be an improper fund for officials whom the public formerly had reason to trust. Those who truly didn't know that receiving the funds violated the Government Code should break down the door of the Auditor's Office to return the unearned and undeserved windfall funds. I bet that won't happen.

How could council members not know that the annuities were illegal? Their lame excuse doesn't ring true because they at all times were being advised by a city attorney. The resolution that "allowed" the illegal funds to council members should be published in this paper.

The council can't be expected to sue itself or request that its advising attorney, the city attorney, do so. Thus, if they don't refund the misappropriated funds immediately to the taxpayers, they should be recalled so a new, untainted City Council can hire independent counsel to sue those who were unjustly enriched. Every day that no suit is filed, the statute of limitations is running on such a taxpayers' suit precluding reimbursement for part of the funds, so time is of the essence.

A further potential source of recoupment of public funds would be the malpractice insurance policy of any attorney responsible for misleading the council, if that be what happened. Taxpayers are potential third party beneficiaries of that policy. Indeed, tax funds paid the premiums on that policy.

Kudos to present City Auditor Deb Snodgrass and City Attorney Thomas French for discovering the error and putting a stop to it. It must be highly stressful for French to have been ethically compelled to order his employers, the City Council, to cease receiving illegal payments above what they deserved and in excess of what the law allowed. No other city employees, office workers, repair crews or police had similar benefits.

Shame on the good old boys who cry innocence – only when they are caught.

Jim Fallman

attorney

Crescent City

Council members not wrong if they end payments now

Uncle Sam reimbursed me when I paid towards my first maternity because I didn't know they would pay and had been paying it myself. But I don't remember where the money came from. They were government checks. I don't feel anyone is doing anything wrong and should not have to pay anything back if they change it now ("Council wrongly received hundreds of thousands in benefits, report says," June 30). I feel it would be a financial hardship to our City Council.

Sandra Elaine Lerin-Tudy-Orton-Bolen-Wier

Crescent City

Legal analysis shows council members' lack of ethics

Regarding the June 30's "Council wrongly received hundreds of thousands in benefits, report says," I can guarantee you these congressmen – I mean council members – knew exactly what they were doing when they put that money in their pockets. So much for ethics, so much for morality.

Randy Shull

Crescent City

 

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