Last week, Councilman Ruben Wills pleaded guilty to a 15-year-old misdemeanor charge. It is a story worth discussing, especially since Wills apparently knew that he committed a crime and put off dealing with his warrant, even while seeking office.
Wills is 41 years old, putting his age at approximately 26 at the time of the crime. The voters may want to consider this an issue when he runs for re-election, but crimes committed outside of office (which are never good) are still not as bad as unethical activity while in office. The public’s trust is sacred, and even in today’s ethically muddy climate, it matters.
Steve Kroft of CBS News and 60 Minutes explored how members of Congress are free to trade stocks in industries on which they have influence. This is totally legal, but it is not right.
What makes the situation worse is that even though there is no law restricting members of Congress from trading stocks and being given sweet initial public offerings (IPOs), this is the type of thing that every member of Congress should shy away from if only because it can compromise the public trust.
The report singles out Nancy Pelosi, who was offered IPO stock from the Visa credit card company while credit card legislation was being considered by the House, where she was the Speaker at the time. Audacity outweighs guilt here.
Whether or not Wills’ past should keep him from serving in the City Council is something his district will have to decide. Unethical activity when one is in office, however, is bigger than the concerns of one district.
What is happening in Congress is not acceptable. The ethical risks that the country takes in every legislative session by allowing members of Congress to trade stocks and receive benefits from companies affected by legislation is a much bigger threat.
There should not need to be a law telling members of Congress to avoid what looks a lot like insider trading if you are on Wall Street, but leaving Congress to regulate itself on this matter is no longer wise.
Ethics and Football
Baseball is the game that reflects the thinking men that started our great republic. Football might be closer to the types of men we are today - image driven, loud, and obsessed with winning. With all of the ethical problems in professional (and college) sports, why is the sports world so hostile toward Denver quarterback Tim Tebow?
Tebow came into the league as a celebrated quarterback from the University of Florida. He also brought with him an unapologetic religious allegiance and opinions on issues such as abortion.
Tebow gets grilled by football critics because he was a good quarterback in a select type of football system. This is typical, because college teams have quarterbacks operate in the system that best helps them win. Colleges are not concerned with grooming a guy for the National Football League - they are interested in winning championships.
Four weeks ago, sportswriters considered Tebow a member of the infamous scrap heap of quarterbacks that never panned out (e.g. Matt Leinart, Joey Harrington, and Tim Couch). And why wouldn’t they call for Tebow’s head so early? After all, football is a game that is built around the phrase “what have you done for me lately?” But Denver showed a little faith in Tebow, and now he has won two games in a row and Denver has a 4-5 record.
A year ago, I wrote that the Steelers should have traded Ben Roethlisberger for a number one draft choice. Big Ben was just coming off of embarrassing incident number three in his short career. Hall of Famer that he is, Roethlisberger does not fit into the Steeler legacy of a family-owned team with values and tradition.
His off-the-field behavior should have cost him more than four starts in the regular season. Again, like what I said about politicians, not being guilty of breaking the law does not equal proper behavior. He should not have been protected while former Steeler-turned-Jet Santonio Holmes, another star with off-the-field issues, was exiled.
There are some of us who believe in Tebow, if only because he is the antithesis to what we are seeing all around us. At the very least, he deserves more respect than some of his contemporaries, even if they are headed for the Hall of Fame.