Thursday, February 08, 2007


“Most news isn’t,” Pud always says, “and that’s a good thing.”

A politician paying anything out of their own pocket qualifies as real news.

Newsom’s offer (Chron story) to pay Alex Tourk $15,000 per month until Tourk finds a new job was the minimally decent thing to do. And continuing to pay him out of campaign funds made sense as a kind of severance package.
Then questions arose about the propriety of using campaign donations to paper over the candidate’s sexual indiscretions.

Newsom’s decision to pay Tourk out of Newsom’s own pocket looked like an easy solution at first glance, but it has two negatives.

First the math. By my calc Newsom will be turning over his entire mayoral paycheck to Mr Tourk, every month. The below math assumes that Newsom pays Tourk with after-tax dollars (payoffs to betrayed husbands are not deductible), and that Newsom has at least 25% of his net pay withheld for taxes and social security etc.

It turns out Newsom will lose a couple hundred a month until Tourk gets a job. What if Mr Tourk gets all depressed and spends the next five years in his bathrobe and slippers?

Second the precedent. Newsom’s action sets a highly undesirable precedent for other politicians. For a politician to pay the damages of their own misbehavior is a betrayal of the profession. It’s like omerta. Wise guys don’t talk. Politicians don’t pay.

This gal, Mimi, can’t she talk to him?

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