Honor in Office

DARE I SAY - One Can Only Hope and Persevere

By PETE STIGLICH

Publisher: Red Bluff Daily News
Date: 27 May 09

This Memorial Day weekend, Americans across the nation joined together to pay respects to their fallen military warriors. Warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the peace and freedoms we all enjoy today.

Families, friends, travelers, fellow veterans, the very young and very old and all those in between, gathered together to honor these great Americans who gave so much on behalf of the country they so loved.

And, as if that were not enough, the nation will come together once again on November 11, Veterans Day, to express her profound appreciation to all veterans for their faithful service to country.

As this year's Memorial Day observances drew to a close, I tried to recall other groups or individuals that have earned similar respect and honor, albeit perhaps without necessarily being designated a federal holiday. Police officers, firemen and teachers quickly came to mind. Notable civil rights and religious leaders as well.

There are others, I am sure.

But, conspicuously absent from my list, anyway, seemed to be America's elected leaders.

With the exception of Washington's birthday, a federal holiday celebrated in February, I struggled to recall any other outpouring of interest in honoring America's political leaders. Given their significant impact on the welfare of the nation and the rest of the world, that's a shame.

In these last few decades, have not our elected officials made accomplishments deserving of honor? Is there nothing about them deserving of honor? Have they not given unabashedly of themselves for the sake of others, expecting nothing in return? Have they not always put public interests ahead of their own? Have they not, time and time again, shown great integrity, common sense and service to others?

Have they not rightly earned a place at the table of honor? Jerrol LeBaron, executive director of Honor in Office doesn't think so. And, he's probably not alone. Too bad. Too bad for America. Too bad for California.

A former construction worker and entrepreneur, LeBaron's on a mission to bring "integrity, honor, honesty and common sense back into government."

And he plans to do it the old fashioned way by using the California initiative process.

According to LeBaron, "No matter the party or other affiliations, if the person in office is not honest, hardworking and result oriented for the people's best interest, it doesn't matter who is in office or what their affiliations are. This person can't be trusted."

He goes on to say, "The laws this person supports and passes will be those that serve his or her personal and vested interests, not the people's." So, what's LeBaron's plan you ask? How does he hope to restore honor and integrity to our political process which he feels is so badly lacking? Well, he's embarked on a well devised strategy to do just that. And, he's starting with the California Legislature.

LeBaron's non-partisan committee is working hard to qualify his Honor in Office initiative for the June 2010 primary ballot. If he gets his way, LeBaron wants to see some very specific language added to California law that's intended to restore honor to our Legislature.

If approved by voters, new statutory language would require California legislators to do a couple things most of us probably assume they're already doing or, at least, should be doing.

Legislators would be required to certify in writing under penalty of perjury they have read the bill they are about to vote on and understand its contents. A vote in favor of passage of a bill would not be counted unless such a certification had been executed. Legislators would also have to certify in writing they are in full compliance with the law and constitution and have not fallen prey to improper influence peddling, bribery and vote trading, all considered illegal under Section 86 of the California Penal Code. Specifically, Section 86 says the following: "Every Member of either house of the Legislature...

who asks, receives, or agrees to receive, any bribe, upon any understanding that his or her official vote, opinion, judgment, or action shall be influenced thereby...or offers or promises to give, any official vote in consideration that another Member of the Legislature shall give this vote either upon the same or another question...

is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years and, in cases in which no bribe has been actually received, by a restitution fine."

If he hopes to get his proposition on the June 2010 primary ballot, LeBaron will need to collect some 700,000 qualified signatures starting July 20. They're due to the Secretary of State's office by Nov. 15, giving him about 120 days to get the job done.

You can learn more about the Honor in Office initiative and how you can help by going to their website at www.honorinoffice.org . As for me, the Honor in Office initiative appears to be a good, logical first step towards returning honor, integrity, honesty and common sense back to government. I'll be keeping a close eye on this initiative as the official ballot language is finalized. Unless something of significance changes, I expect to be supporting this particular ballot measure and maybe even collecting signatures.

Perhaps one day in the future we'll feel obliged to publicly honor our elected leaders more than we do today.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that day won't come any time soon.

But, one can only hope and persevere.

--------- Col. Pete Stiglich, retired, served 26 years in the US Air Force and lives in Cottonwood. Write to him at [email protected] .

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