of action isn't exclusive to the enforcers, and there is something we
can do about it.
I've filed many formal complaints over the years, and I'm not
talking about gripes over cable television, bad service or decrepit
rental cars. I've complained about those things, sure, and I've
written thousands of columns packed with complaints. But what I'm
talking about now are those complaints that are painstakingly crafted
with care, bound in reams of documentation, and solemnly sent off to
some enforcement agency, usually a government panel, in hopes
wrongdoers will suffer the crushing blow of law enforcers outraged on
behalf of aggrieved citizens.
Unfortunately, the responses usually begin and end with a form
letter acknowledging the complaint has been received.
I can think of rare exceptions that weren't my own efforts, but
none were wild successes. In his pre-council life, former councilman
Ted McConkey complained to the D.A. about an issue I'd written about
extensively; airport commissioners splashing through taxpayer cash so
they and their families could travel in the lap of luxury. A D.A.'s
investigation nipped the tradition in the bud, but the perpetrators
dodged any penalty beyond suffering an end to their gravy train.
It's believed a local citizen's complaint about letters sent by a
previous city council led to findings the city broke a rule related
to using taxpayer funds for mass mailings. Officials were cleared of
serious charges, but because they signed the con- troversial letter
instead of having their names typed, they ran afoul of a state law.
Rather than billing those who were extremely well paid to study the
relevant plain-language law, and who then approved the signatures,
you and I paid the resulting fine leveled by the state.
Whether we're talking about complaints I've made to district
attorneys, the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, the
Secretary of State, or even the State Contractor's Licensing Board,
responses have typically resembled that sound heard from a seashell
held to your ear. That's why the D.A.'s recent letter to the BUSD was