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December 18, 2008

Commissioner Tarleton Blogs at NPI

Andrew at NPI has featured a blog post by Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton. The subject of the post is port reform, the bugaboo ever since former CEO Mic Dinsmore started treating the agency's intake of public tax dollars like his very own piggy bank. Tarleton outlines what is being done now to institute reforms -- unfortunately, the commenters seem rather non-plussed and Tarleton responds in the comment thread. But as Strother Martin would say, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." The problem is a difference in focus: Tarleton is touting the reform agenda (and there is a fairly good one being put in place) while the commenters are are expressing supreme displeasure with the "slaps on the wrist" given to port managers and staff who were found to be engaging in corrupt activities under Dinsmore. In other words, it's not just future transparency that the public craves, it's accountability for past transgressions as well.

Just to simplify matters, I think the hard feelings being expressed at NPI hinge on last week's quote by Tarleton to Kristin Millares Young: 


Tarleton said that, when she pushed for "zero tolerance" for fraud during public meetings and news interviews after the state audit, she "wasn't aware of civil fraud."

Like Yoshitani, who has likened violations of state law to "jaywalking," Tarleton compared civil fraud to parking violations.

"If I had been aware of the fact that there was civil fraud related to willful, deliberate misrepresentation in the oversight of leadership responsibilities, I would have been more cautious about using 'zero tolerance,' " Tarleton said. "There is a difference between civil and criminal -- a difference between getting a parking ticket and breaking into a bank."


Yep. I'm pretty sure that's the sticking point. Equating civil fraud worth $30 million to... a street parking infraction. Policy is one thing, politics is quite another. Public relations lies somewhere in between. 

Posted by shoephone on December 18, 2008 at 01:24 PM in Current Affairs, Policy, The Politics of Business, Washington Culture | Permalink


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