Commentary: Betty Jefferson Case Highlights Need for Transparency
The Jefferson political dynasty seems to have finally collapsed under its squalid foundation of greed and deceit. This week Betty Jefferson has resigned her post as the 4th district assessor following pressure from her fellow assessors.
The resignation follows her guilty plea to swindling money from both her office and from nonprofit groups funded by taxpayers. Apparently, her reported $90,000 a year salary wasn’t enough to satiate her greed. (For a powerful indictment of Betty Jefferson, read Jarvis DeBerry’s excoriation of her in the Times-Picayune).
Despite the black eye that this episode has left on the city, it seems the municipal government has learned a lesson. The seven assessor offices have been consolidated into one city-wide office, which Erroll Williams was elected to this past February.
Limiting the number of bureaucratic offices, such as consolidating 7 assessor offices into one, will both allow the municipal government to run more efficiently, as well as prevent abuse of office by allowing for more transparency and auditing. This case illustrates the need to eliminate superfluous government offices, which as the precedent shows, lead to wasteful spending and corruption.
Additionally, Betty Jefferson’s case serves to illuminate the troubles which inevitably follow government-subsidized non-profit organizations. As demonstrated by both Ms. Jefferson and ACORN, the usage of tax-payers money to subsidize non-profits which are then manipulated and exploited for political ends illustrates the need to decrease, or end, such practices altogether.
It is absolutely imperative that federal, state and local government implement more transparency. Taxpayers have a right to see how their money is being spent. How many more scandals will it take to elicit action from our elected officials?