If the candidates answered truthfully...
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The political season is in full swing and the party primaries will be held this Saturday, Sept. 8. The number of candidates' forums and publications are increasing - so here are some answers that an experienced observer could imagine coming from candidates:
Question: If you knew a colleague was taking or soliciting a bribe or bribes or otherwise acting outside of the law, would you report him or her to the proper authorities?"
Answer: "Of course not! Unless he reported me first. But he wouldn't report me, why should I report him? I'm not a rat.
"Oh, you're writing this down? What I meant was, I would never condone anyone taking a bribe or breaking the law. Certainly not a public official. He would be violating the public trust."
Q: Should your public life be a reflection of your private life?
A: "Well, not exactly. I'm much more careful how I spend my own money. I don't have as much as the government does. I would never travel First Class on my own dime, but on the government's ticket, it's First Class all the way!)
"Oh, you're writing this down, too! In that case, what I meant was: "I'm proud of the way I've lived my life. I am an honest and moral person and, as a government official, I would act in the same manner. Anything else would be a violation of the trust and confidence that the voters have shown in me."
Q: Should government officials travel on public money? If yes, should the miles acquired belong to the public to be used for the public good, such as students' travel.
A: "Travel is an important part of conducting government business and the public money should be used for it. If the miles acquired during government travel were used for the public good, I'd have to pay for my own and my family's First Class tickets when we travel on vacation. I flew the miles; I should get to keep them. It's not a question of who paid for them.
"Oh, you're still writing this down? What I meant was, "While travel is often necessary to conduct government business, I believe we should make use of teleconferencing whenever possible. There are times when travel is essential and it is important to recognize that. However, we must be mindful that we are using public funds and should do whatever we can to reduce the expenses of government. The public expects no less. With regard to the miles, they should be in a central pool where they can be used for the public good to further reduce the cost of government. The miles are not an individual perk. We should use them for such purposes as sending students off-island for academic, artistic, athletic, and other competitions and for sending patients off-island for specialized medical care not available in the territory."
Q: Do you feel it is your responsibility as an elected official to show up for scheduled meetings on time and stay at the meetings for the duration? Will you pledge to do that without fail?
A: "Meetings never start on time and so many of them are just a waste. I have more important things to do during the day than sit around and listen to someone complain and yap.
"Oh, you're writing this down? What I meant was: Of course I'll attend meetings on time and remain at the meeting until it is over. The public expects no less. How could I possibly make decisions if I am not properly informed and have not listened to all the discussions and heard all the testimony?"
Q: Have you ever been arrested? If yes, please explain.
A: "Do you mean all arrests? Even misdemeanors? And even those when I was just a kid? Why should I have to tell you about those? They were just misunderstandings. I didn't do it and I told them that. And if you want to know about those, then you go find out. Me ain' tellin' you nothin'.
"Oh, you're writing this down? What I meant was, "No, I have never been arrested."
- Leonard Smollett, St. Thomas