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MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 1996 THE SAUNA JOURNAL. George B. Pyle fililtti'ial imge ctlitor Opinions expressed on this page are those of (he identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SalJournal ©aol.com Quote of the day "I u 'i is Yasser Arafat, joking after winning the Palestinian election with 88 |.)(>M:eiit ul 'he vote By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal It's a wonderful fund TMBIK The Municipal Investment Pool THE ARGUMENT Attacks on treasurer are partisan nastiness . T he surest way to get a bank to collapse — if that's your idea of a good time — is to go around spreading talk that the bank is about to collapse. Say it often, and with due gravity, • and enough frightened depositors will withdraw their money and the bank will, indeed, collapse'. That is exactly what Kansas House Speaker Tim Shallenburger is trying to do by worrying publicly last week that the state's Municipal Investment Pool is. in danger of caving in. Shallenburger, and just about every other Republican in Topeka, has a problem with the MIP because it stands as an example of somethirig that government can do better than the private sector. And, of course, because it is being done by a Democrat — a Democrat with political ambitions. State Treasurer Sally Thompson Convinced the Legislature to create the MIP in 1992 as a way for cities, counties and school districts to pool their idle funds and earn more interest income than they could acting alone. She has been in charge of the pool ever since, netting local governments millions of extra dollars they could spend on public services, without raising taxes. Of course, in so doing, Thompson ended the sweet deal many Kansas banks had, paying cities and counties a pittance of interest on their deposits because there wasn't any competition for the business. So she made ertemies. In 1994, when Thompson and every other portfolio manager in America was caught by an unexpected change in interest rates, the fund's value took a $2d million hit, and she has been scram* bling ever since to make it Up. Surely the Republicans, and their banker friends, are smart enough to know that every investment goes down from time to time. But to hear them talk about Thompson and the MIP, any dip in a mutual fund is some kind of crime. Now there are bills to take the MIP away from Thompson and give it to a new, supposedly independent bureaucracy. No one has offered a shred of evidence that such a body — an expansion of government at a time when we are all supposed to be against that — would somehow be immune frotti the business cycle and never lose mongy. These attacks on Thompson attd her investment pool are simply malicious. It is just like the old film "It's a Wonderful Life," where the mean old banker wants . to crush the small businessman, not because he's a real threat, but just because the little guy offends the banker's need to control everything. And now that Thompson is eyeing a run for the U.S. Senate, daring to challenge heir apparent Pat Roberts, the long knives will be coming out for sure. Thompson, like the movie's George Bailey, deserves a guardian angel to step in for her. The only ones who can play that role are the voters of Kansas, who can tell their legislators that the Municipal Investment Pool belongs to us, not the bankers. T CAN SHE SAY THAT? Just what is Hillary accused of? MOLLY IVINS Fort Worth Star-Telegram Vlrs. Clinton's chief accuser, 'Sen. Al D'Amato, has a few skeletons in his own closet well-informed woman, interested in politics, inquired a few days ago: "I keep trying to follow this, but I still lon't Understand: Just what is it Hillary linton is accused of?" I Beats me. I keep listening to Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, a punishing assignment in itself, ijmd 1 don't get-it either. Of ^ Bourse, having D'Amato conduct an ethics investigation is like watching Mike Tyson run a sensitivity training semi- ar. As I understand it, D'Am- to — by straining at gnats and putting on a display of prbsecutorial innuendo unri- yaled since the days of Joe Mc- parthy — hopes to make the ^ase that the first lady personally ordered the firings of Everyone who worked for the White House travel office when Clinton first came in, * jvhich, were it the case, would not b6 illegal, immoral or unethical. j He has further sought, with great fervor, to £rove that Hillary Clinton did some legal work for James McDougal's long-since-failed savings and loan, which we know to be true because (A) she told us so years ago and (B) fill the papers turned over to D'Amato's committee bear her out. That she did so is also hot illegal, immoral or unethical. I For some reason, all of this inspires D'Amato — who always has been easily excited — to wander around talking about "bombshells" and "smoking guns." D'Amato claims that there are "tremendous discrepancies" in fvhat the first lady has said. She said that the work she did for Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan was "minimal." The billing records Show that she did 60 hours of work for the S&L over 15 months — less than an hour a j/veek. Quel tremendous discrepancy. i The funniest day so far in D'Amato's Fun House was when a fellow whom Hillary Clinton had described as a "young lawyer" who originally brought the McDougal business to her firm came to testify. D'Amato had promised the press, per usual, that his testimony would be "a bombshell." The press duly reported the night before that "a bombshell" was expected at the hearing. The '[young lawyer," now bald as a billiard ball ^nd distinctly middle-aged, shows up, reminding all hands that we are now trying to get people to remember, in excruciating detail, what happened 15 years ago. \ SO, this middle-aged bald guy tells the committee, yeah, you could say he brought in the business. But, cries D'Amato, you didn't bring in McDougal with a signed contract in hand, did you? No, says the bald guy, 1 didn't bring in McDougal with a signed contract in hand. Aha! cries D'Amato. And all the television networks duly run a clip of the bald guy saying, "I did not bring in McDougal with a signed contract in hand." Well! We've certainly proved that, haven't we, Al? (I call him Al because I first knew him when he was a squirrelly pol in Long Island, N.Y., who used to go around saying, "Call me Al.") Al & Co. demand documents. Hillary provides documents. Al & Co. demand more documents. Hillary provides more documents. Aha! cries Al (he was al- T IN KANSAS CAN EKPUV/V. Who would worry about 15 years ago, when Al testified as a ... character witness for a Mafia goon? Who cares about that old stuff like D'Amato and S&U D'Amato and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, D'Amato and Roy Cohn, D'Amato and Wedtech, D'Amato and Joe Margiotta, D'Amato and junk bonds? What are you, a historian? ways given to crying "Aha!"). Why didn't you provide these documents earlier? This is sinister; there must be a plot here. (Quick, where are your records from 15 years ago, and why can't you produce them all now?) Al says, "These actions raise questions about the appearance of possible improprieties." Don't you just hate that — when questions are raised about the appearance of possible improprieties? Al has now spent about $6 million of our taxpayer dollars raising questions about the appearance of possible improprieties, but it's been worth every penny because polls now show that 51 percent of the American people have doubts about Hillary Clinton. Good work, Al. Personally, I'm a lot less worried about questions of the first lady's appearance of possible improprieties than I am about D'Amato's. Hey, forget the old stuff — I mean the stuff that goes back 15 years. Who would worry about 15 years ago, when Al testified as a character witness for a Mafia goon?.' (Philip Basile, described by Al as "an honest,' truthful, hardworking man, a man of integrity." Al then kissed him on both cheeks, arid' the jury convicted him of conspiracy- to de-. fraud and lying to the federal government.) Hey, who cares about that old stuff like D'Arii-' ato and S&Ls, D'Amato and the Department b'f" Housing and Urban Development, D'Amato- and Roy Cohn, D'Amato and Wedtech, D'Airr-" ato and Joe Margiotta, D'Amato and junk' bonds? What are you, a historian? I'm talking about the nifty new stuff, like June 1993. Al made $37,125 in a single day on' an initial stock offering made possible by a;; Long Island brokerage firm that, at the time,; had serious Securities and Exchange Coin- mission fraud charges pending against it and' has since been heavily fined and sanctioned. Al was then the ranking Republican on the'- Banking Committee, which oversees the SEC-.' Al's broker at the firm bought 4,500 shares of, the new stock for Al at $4 a share and sold- them the same day for $12.25 a share — a deal not available to ordinary investors. , r I'm talking about Al and his brother, Armand. Forget Armand and the race-track interests and all that old stuff; let's talk Ar-.- mand and Unisys in the late 1980s. Unisys, a Long Island defense contractor;,' hires Armand and pays him $120,000 to lobby for Pentagon contract business. The checks are made out to a law partner of Armand's-. Armand gets Al's office to send the Navy two' letters on Al's stationery, both ghostwritten • by Unisys employees and with Al's signature on them. Al is on the Defense Appropriations Committee, and the Pentagon gives Unisys'a- . $100 million contract. Armand gets convicted of mail fraud, is sentenced to five months and is out on appeal; Al gets a rebuke from th^. Senate Ethics Committee and never releases the documents. . :. Appearance of possible impropriety, anyone? Magazine discovers old Dole scandal New Yorker article revives stories of old Dole-Owens real estate deals li LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL P.O. BOX 740, SALINA, KANSAS 67402 Sand pit approval leaves many questions 1 am a very confused voter trying to understand why a new sand pit was approved against the wishes of (lie Hty engineer, various board members imd more than 200 voters iii (he area in question. Our (ax dollars have been spent to install a new sewer line in the area in anliupal ion of residential building potential. Are our tax dollais foiiie, to waste on that project' We already liave more truck trail k in this south residential area than we need. Alsop Sand says it won (increase. Why start a business il you don't expect to grow? Also ! would like to say that we all know how l>ig heavy trucks tear up roads. Whose dollars are going to repair the roads? Furthermore, state Sen. Ben Vidrkkseii is using his political clout (o help a "personal friend" in this mailer. In a recent radio talk show on KSAL, he stated his relationship with Sherry Caywood is nohody's business. I feel it is the public's business to know just what his relationship is with fyer thai he would use his political cjfii e to help hei with her person- al business on taxpayer's time. It seems like he would represent the wishes of the voters, who put him in office, and not one "personal friend" whose relationship is nobody's business. I would like the voters to write to their representatives and board members and letters to the editor on this issue. I am not against competition in business.' 1 just disagree with the location and the tactics used and why Mr. Vidrick- sen is so involved in a community issue. — KENNY BAKER Salina Journal isn't worth it Your newspaper is not worth the subscription it costs. Your opinions are biased, the cartoons are ridiculous and often sacreli- gious and obscene. Doonesbury is nothing but a space-filler. What happened to Mike Royko? He had it all together. He is a good columnist and is missed. Are you afraid he is too smart and tells it like it is? We are renewing otir subscription for three more months, but that may be the last. 4 - ARNOLIJ J. PERRY Scandia : n December 1987, Harris News Service published the first in a succession of articles that exposed a seamy underside of Republican campaign finance in Kansas. The stories, published long into the next year, told of shell corporations that were used to launder questionable campaign contributions, i They explained the siphoning of multi-million dollar government contracts to favored party loyalists. They exposed the lucrative ties among powerful politicians and the insurance industry. Over the months the articles became an accounting of false and gentle promises, of the seduction of wisdom and articulateness. They laid bare pev- erse lives in an artificial land of milk and honey. As the stories unfolded, the principle characters denounced them or fled from comment or condemned as liars the people who wrote and edited and published them. Some of the characters were convicted of JOHN MARSHALL Harris News Service If Whitewater can incubate a furious examination into the past of a president and his wife, what about the curious scandals that loom, unresolved, in the history of the Doles, who aspire to the White House? crimes and paid fines, or went to prison, or both. Mostly, these stories have all been forgotten, or dismissed, as little annoyances to a proud political history. Now they have returned. • <- ; In the Jan. 22 issue of The New Yorker Magazine, these accounts are woven into a fresh and vivid chronicle by reporter Jane Mayer. It is entitled "Blind Trust," and begins with Elizabeth Dole, wife of Sen. Bob Dole. A premise of this article embraces the controversy swirling about Hillary Clinton: If Whitewater can incubate a furious examination — including congressional hearings — into the past of a president and his wife, what about the curious scandals that loom, unresolved, in the history of the Doles, who aspire DOONESBURY to the White House? '•; Mayer's account begins with the small office building that Mrs. Dole owns in Overland Park. The building was once headquarters for David Owen, Sen. Dole's longtime consultant; and political operative, and who was finance • chairman for Dole's 1988 presidential cariv-' paign. Owen, a former state Republican chafr-,'. man and Kansas lieutenant governor, was later convicted of violating state campaign 'finance laws and served a year in prison on conviction of federal tax fraud. The story connects and retells the stories from Owen's headquarters in Mrs. Dole'-s'" building, the management of her finances, her • blind trust, its profit by new tax laws written"' and championed by her powerful husband. If tells of Owen's close personal, financial and' political ties to the Doles, their role in raising • money for Republicans and goverririteni mon-' ey for their friends. It is now a new story because after all these years, Mr. Owen speaks openly and alarming-. ly, with nothing to gain, no one to protect. ' At some point the press, its packs of puritan • wolves, may stumble onto Mayer's compelling. piece of journalism and start asking more • questions. If that happens, the Doles can thank Hillary Clinton and her prosecutor, Sen. Al D'Amato.,' and invite them both to the first news conference. By G.B. TRUDEAU PEAK. MIK£: IWAWYOU& BABY.'" YOU eoriT, BI66UY! IT5 FKOM J.J. \ TIMBA6AINTD VISfTTHBOLP MAIL SILO! OOPS... CUSTOPY FI6HJ? IT, ZONK! OUTA15T7BR.AT PAHPOM, OKAY?