Serving the High Plains

Editorial: Tenth Circuit model of fiscal responsibility

Shame on the Department of Veterans Affairs for drawing a cloud of suspicion over what should be an honored organization that serves our military men and women.

And kudos to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals for restoring a fiscal measure of confidence in the judiciary.

The VA is under investigation for possibly squandering $9 million on exorbitant human-resources training conferences last year and violating ethics rules by taking booze, concert tickets and spa treatments from vendors.

Contrast that with the Tenth Circuit — including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and parts of Montana and Idaho — which last month voluntarily canceled its 2012 Bench & Bar Conference in Colorado "due to anticipated further reductions to the budget for the judiciary."

Unfortunately, to date there have been more VA-like approaches than Tenth Circuit.

In April there was a resignation as well as firings at the General Services Administration over an $823,000 training conference in Las Vegas featuring jumbo shrimp and a mind reader. Last month, around the same time the Tenth Circuit was acknowledging the state of the economy and its fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers, the Ninth Circuit Court was defending this year's trip to Maui — complete with sport fishing, yoga, surfing lessons, tennis, Zumba, luau and hula dancing.

The brief announcement on the Tenth Circuit's website is circumspect about future conferences, emphasizing their value but stating simply that "we hope to resume holding these meetings when the judiciary's funding situation improves."

That stance serves the mission of the courts and the public that funds them.

Clearly, other government organizations and bureaucrats could benefit from a little continuing education from the Tenth Circuit.

— Albuquerque Journal

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