If you have any interest at politics, it won’t be long before
you run into the Latin phrase,
quid pro quo.
The literal meaning is,
something for something
one thing for another.
In other words, a party is promised or receives something in
return for something they do, give or promise – it’s a deal. Deals
are fine when they are public and transparent, but they are poison
when they are made under the table.
If you have any interest at politics, it won’t be long before you run into the Latin phrase, “quid pro quo.” The literal meaning is, “something for something” or “one thing for another.” In other words, a party is promised or receives something in return for something they do, give or promise – it’s a deal. Deals are fine when they are public and transparent, but they are poison when they are made under the table.
Admittedly, hidden quid pro quos are hard to prove legally; it’s rare that money changes hands or we get those great undercover tapes of the accused stuffing their pockets with bundles of bucks. Most hidden quid pro quos involve political support in exchange for some kind of benefit. More often than not, the deals are done with a wink and a nod. Each party understands their roll perfectly and there is a tacit agreement that both will play their part.
That’s what’s going on with General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union. Both those organizations were supposed to be in extreme financial difficulty, but they had no problems coming up with many millions in political contributions. Now they are joining forces to ask for $50 billion in government loan guarantees. The Congress is doing a lot of arm-flapping and shadowboxing, trying to look tough, but eventually, before or after bankruptcy, those political contributions will grease the skids. In other words, the fix is in.
You’ll be happy to know that the Hollister City Council is ready for the big time; they have this quid pro quo thing down pat. This week they delivered an early Christmas present to the balance of the city employees, most of which had received theirs earlier this year. It was an annualized 4 percent raise for 3 years with retroactive increases and special bonuses. I believe the wink-nod deal was that these raises were the result and reward for the employees’ support of Measure T, the city’s 1 percent sales tax increase. The raises were granted in spite of the fact that the city is currently operating at a deficit even after siphoning off significant Measure T funds to reduce those overdraws.
I’d like to be able to give you a detailed financial analysis of these and the other recent contracts, but I can’t because a detailed analysis does not exist on the public record; therefore, it’s impossible for any citizen to examine the assumptions concerning costs. Come to think of it, if no analysis exists, how could the council members perform their due diligence and fulfill their fiduciary responsibility? The answer is that they can’t and they didn’t – unless they are hiding critical documents. One way or the other they blew it; the financial crisis is anything but over, we have yet to see the worst of it and they are spending like there is no tomorrow.
The Hollister City Council has adopted a version of the Vallejo Plan, just keep buying votes and employee support until you run out of money, then raise the taxes and spend it all, then go bankrupt. I couldn’t even sit through it and I’m tired of hearing how badly our public employees are doing because it’s simply not true. Last year at this time, 16 city employees were on schedule to make more than $100,000 a year in salaries and overtime and their benefit and retirement plans are platinum plated. That does not sound like suffering to me. When’s the last time any member of the city council audited the overtime for the Hollister Police Department? The answer has to be never because there is no database to audit. That’s not management, that’s blind man’s bluff and the prize is the public’s money.
However, it’s only partially the council’s fault; the public rarely shows up at any of the meetings where these shenanigans go on. Naturally, it’s more difficult for the public to participate because there’s an excess of special meetings that are not on the regular schedule; it’s just a little trick you learn in government. Perhaps the change in members will also effect a change in attitude – there is always hope.