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‘Headline risk,’ not good sense, hit Hawaii junket

May 31, 2013
Salem News

After a public outcry when the news media reported some members of the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio were planning to attend a conference in Hawaii - on the public's dime - those officials canceled their plans. So have public pension officials from other states, according to organizers of the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems.

The reason many decided to cancel plans for the trip is troubling, however.

Hank Kim, executive director of the NCPERS, told a reporter "headline risk" prompted scores of pension system officials to decide against going to Hawaii. In other words, he elaborated, they were concerned about the public's perception they were wasting money.

Note it was not the unnecessary expense of holding a conference in Hawaii, but, in effect, worry the public would find out that was involved.

Apparently, it has not occurred to Kim or others that taxpayers are right to insist our money be spent as frugally as possible.

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Clearly, the U.S. armed forces approach to preventing sexual assaults is not working. A year ago, the Pentagon estimated about 19,000 members of the military had been sexually assaulted in 2011. Now the estimate for 2012 has been released: 26,000.

That has infuriated both President Barack Obama and many members of Congress. Still, some armed forces leaders urge moving slowly to address the problem.

Lawmakers are right to insist on action to address the problem. Members of a House of Representatives committee are pushing for a bill that would rescind the longstanding authority of military commanding officers to alter or dismiss court-martial convictions in rape and assault cases.

Obviously, that change should be made. So should others intended to curb what appears to be an epidemic of sexual assault in the military.

 
 

 

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