An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Pre-Paid Rides for Party-Time Pols

Friday, January 27, 2012

There's no reason to believe that politicians drink more or get into more trouble because of drinking than people in other lines of work. But when politicians-under-the-influence find themselves sideways with the law, they suffer more than the typical boozehound because of all the publicity. Witness the town administrator from a rural community in north-central Massachusetts community who recently had to admit to "sufficient facts" in a drunken driving case.

This man, age 33, was arrested one night in August of 2011 by Westboro police, who found him passed out on the hood of his car. He had miraculously pulled to a stop in the parking lot of a gas station on Route 9. One of the Boston TV stations heard about the story after the fact and had a camera crew on hand when the contrite offender, who has somehow managed to hold onto his town administrator's job, appeared in court to accept his punishment: one year of probation, alcohol education, fees totaling $1,380, and a restriction on nighttime driving.

In the course of the plea and sentencing, some rather embarassing details came out. For example, it was reported that the wayward town taskmaster had allegedly spent the hours prior to his arrest at a strip club in Worcester. (Way to complete the public official's perfect trifecta of danger, guy! Alcohol. Cars. Loose women.) Photos of the perpetrator, both before and after his snooze on the hood, were also released. There was no mistaking what had caused those stains on his untucked shirt and drooping drawers.

"I'm having a bad night," he supposedly told the police after failing his second field sobriety test, which would be like Gomez Addams saying his family was a little different.

In court, he told the judge, "I sincerely regret the events of the evening that led to my arrest. This lapse of judgment is very out of character for me. I have learned a lot from this incident." No doubt he has.

Will anyone else who holds a prominent position of public trust at the state or local levels learn anything from it? The obvious lesson: don't be your own chauffeur when you decide to go sight-seeing at your favorite strip club and drink like a former POW on his first toot.

When you think about it, the major political parties in this country could do the world a favor simply by setting up a transportation voucher system for office holders to utilize when they were incapable of driving safely due to alcohol consumption -- sort of Triple A for Party-Time Pols. The way it would work, a politician could dial up the service 24/7, get a ride all the way home, no matter how far it was, and pay the program back later.

For Mr. Town Administrator X, the cab fare from Worcester to his home in Danvers would have been a lot less than $1,380, and not one bit as regrettable as those photos that screamed, "Yes, I got really, really stupid."

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