Friday, January 8, 2010

Integrity Lapses End Badly

The Baltimore Mayor is resigning. Despite how she may believe, she committed a crime.

Here's the rub--she gets to keep her pension in excess of $83,000 per year!

I wrote about this in my blog in December in an article titled "Me First -- Of Mayors and Travel. I wrote about the "me first" mentality and the problem associated with our society.

It was reported that when the judge asked Mayor Dixon if she agreed to the guilty plea she responded--"basically." A classic "me first" approach. I am convinced that the mayor believes that the only thing she did wrong, was to get caught! And she's not sorry for the indiscretion. She has totally lost respect for her position and the people of Baltimore, by whom she was elected to serve as their mayor.

Dan Rodericks, in an Op-Ed piece for the Baltimore Sun made the following observation:

And there you are, my fellow citizens - resignation by the mayor of Baltimore, and without a formal apology. But you can't always get what you want. Sheila Dixon was not about to say she was sorry for anything. If you were thinking that might happen, you need to see a doctor; your expectations are too high and you probably need to go on a reduced-Pollyanna diet.

I believe this case highlights the end result of integrity loss. The results, as in this case, are tragic. A competent public official becomes an bad example for others NOT to emulate.

Integrity is something to be valued and protected. It also protects us. Each small integrity lapse begins a journey that can ultimately end in disgrace or compromise.

It can be argued that an $83,000 per year pension is not much punishment for a series of integrity shortcomings (she could of and arguably should have been sent to jail.) However, Mayor Dixon was one of the most powerful political figures in the State of Maryland--and that is lost. Her loss of integrity and the resultant "me first" attitude demonstrate in clear terms the value of protecting integrity and not succumbing to the little indiscretions which make the slide to full integrity loss possible.

Leaders--take heed. Integrity is required for us to be effective. Without integrity, there can be no true leadership.

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