The perks of power

By JACK RYAN,

Whether or not Scott Pruitt keeps his job as director of the Environmental Protection Agency, his experience in Washington is a perfect example of how too many people let the perks of power go to their heads.

Pruitt should be making news because of his work to remove, change or delay various environmental regulations. Instead, he’s come under fire for smaller things that make it clear he’s got no concept of setting an example of good management.

It’s things like flying first-class on an airplane when the government pays for the ticket — but flying less-expensive coach when he’s paying.

Or doubling the number of security officers for him and his family, and using them so frequently that many of the guards’ annual pay hits a salary cap of $160,000.

Then there are actions like reassigning or demoting EPA officials who object to specific, and clearly needless, expenses — such as $100,000 a month for membership in a private jet association. In another instance of bizarre judgment, the former head of Pruitt’s security detail got demoted last year — after refusing the director’s demand to use his vehicle’s siren to get him through traffic to airports or dinner reservations.

Pruitt is far from the first Washington official to make ridiculously selfish decisions, and he will not be the last. But it truly is shameful that so many capable people become transformed once they get on the federal government’s payroll. They apparently feel entitled to special treatment, perhaps under the misguided idea that they’re making a sacrifice by coming to work in Washington.

Memo to anyone who’s considering a government job in Washington: If you think it’s all about you, it’s wiser to keep your current post.

 

Bernie Sanders’ unwise remarks

The reason Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is an independent was on fine display last week in Jackson, where he met with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a strong challenge for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — but he lacked the common sense to avoid criticizing the Democratic Party during an event observing the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s death.

Sanders said former President Barack Obama is a brilliant man, but added that “behind that reality,” Obama led a party whose business model has been a failure for more than a decade.

Political observers have said that if Sanders is going to run for president again in 2020, he needs more black support — most of which went to Clinton two years ago.

Let’s just leave it at this: Last week probably was not the time to bash the Democratic business model, no matter how many flaws it has.