Monday, September 10, 2012

Is the Democratic Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Candidate's Triple DUI Arrest Record a Legitimate Campaign Issue? (UPDATED: Rep. Rita Mayfield Won't Answer Arrest Question)

When should a political candidate's prior arrest record become an issue to be considered in the course of a campaign for public office?

That question is something the Daily Herald recently decided to confront, and their request to candidates to reveal any arrests is already bearing some interesting fruit.

While an arrest record might be seem to be per se relevant to a political candidate's credibility, I think the DH wrestled with that issue a bit, since an arrest just by itself obviously doesn't necessarily lead to a conviction. But sometimes it does, or it may lead to some admission of guilt, and the DH editorial board seemed to feel pretty strongly that such a record, if it exists for a candidate, is something the voters ought to know about.

Case in point: Rupam Davé, the Democratic candidate for Lake County Circuit Court Clerk (an office currently held by long-time Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt) was revealed by the Daily Herald to have not just one or two, but THREE arrests for DUI.  Davé offered a couple explanations for this, citing family issues and hardships, and asserted that if elected to office, she would make a point of trying to help others benefit by her mistakes.  While that all sounds like the politically-wise position to take, she went a bit too far, it seems, and also asserted that the only three times she ever drank alcohol in the past 20 years just happened to be the same three times she got busted for DUI.


That story really strains the bounds of credibility.  If I were Davé, I would think about trying to walk that one back, as no one with any brains is going to believe it.

Leaving aside her weak explanations for why she got arrested three times for DUI, another extremely serious issue is that one occurred while she was driving on a suspended license.

Just to ease your concerns, the Republican candidate, current Chief Deputy Circuit Court Clerk Keith Brin, told the DH he's never been arrested.

Other Lake County blogs and political blogs like Illinois Review are picking up on this story.  As most of you probably know, Davé was appointed to fill the Democratic nominee slot vacated by Cythia Pruim Haran, who left the race citing personal/family reasons.   I'm not sure if it's too late for Lake County Dem Chairman Terry Link to axe Davé and try to get yet another fill-in candidate, but if that's not an option, I think Link can kiss goodbye this chance to snap up a county-wide office.  However, Link told the DH, hey it's over, it's been a few years, move on, there's nothing to see here.  So maybe he really doesn't see an issue here.  I guess overall, that would not surprise me.

UPDATED 9/11/12 10:00 am:  What's the only thing worse than answering the "arrest question" with an affirmative response?  Perhaps refusing to answer it altogether.  This morning, the Daily Herald follows up its 'Quest for Arrests' with an article revealing that Democratic State Representative Rita Mayfield from the 60th Legislative District  won't answer the DH's question of whether she was ever arrested.  Her opponent, Jackie Burleson of Waukegan, told the DH he'd never been arrested.

Mayfield told the Herald, “I have an issue with the question itself.  I don’t feel that question is fair to the people of my district.”

Sorry, it's not fair to the PEOPLE of your district?  How is that not fair to let them know of anything in your past such as an arrest record?

Watching these politicians (all of whom are Democrats, so far, by the way) bob and weave over this question is really starting to be amusing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can Bill Clinton Make the Economic Case for Obama When Obama's Own Yardstick Indicates Failure? (UPDATED)

Tonight at the Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton is expected to try to make the economic case that we need to give President Obama four more years for his economic plan to work.  Leaving aside the fact that beyond a "soak the rich" mentality (which simple math shows will hardly put a dent in the national debt, now over $16 TRILLION), I'm not really sure what Obama's plan is.

The mantra we've been hearing at the DNC is that it took more than four years to get into this mess, Obama needs more time to get us out.  One of the more obvious problems I see is that the situation is getting worse, not better, by many yardsticks, the national debt and unemployment being a few.  But let's harken back to the standards Obama set for himself at the start:

“I will be held accountable,” Obama said. “I’ve got four years and … A year from now, I think people are going to see that we’re starting to make some progress, but there’s still going to be some pain out there … If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

That was then, this is now.

Clint Eastwood's speech at the RNC was wandering at best, but he had one point dead on:  If the guy you hired to do the job isn't doing it, you get someone else.

I'm sure I'm not the only person to wonder how many people will remember Obama's position on his own prospects for a second term some years ago.

I also wonder, though, if the Democrats choice of Bill Clinton to try to remind people of the 'good old days' under Democratic leadership may badly backfire, given the economic juxtaposition between the Clinton and Obama years.  It would be one thing if Obama was not running as a sitting president with almost four years under his belt.

UPDATED 9/6/12 7:00 am:  Well, former President Clinton went on for almost 50 minutes last night.  I presume they gave him 20 or 30.  But with Bill, it's always about him.  Clinton piled on Romney last night and made a lot of claims, both about his days as president, and what's happened under the current president.  How much of that was true?  Well, in some respects, not a whole lot.