Once again Councilwoman Catherine Moy is being sued for nonpayment by a credit card company. While supporters feel these stories aren’t newsworthy, your life is under a microscope when you’re a public servant and it should be. A politician’s personal dealings should be reported to the voters and the public can evaluate what weight to give it.
It should shock no one that Moy and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of political issues. When she used to be a columnist, I read many of her columns with the same eye rolling that surely happens when conservatives read mine. When she was appointed to the City Council in 2008, I was less than thrilled.
But Cat has surprised me. She hasn’t governed like a one-dimensional ideologue. She’s kept an eye on government spending but also supported Measure P, the 1 percent sales tax increase that saved the city from implosion. She took considerable heat from her fiscally conservative friends and I gained a new level of respect for her.
So when I look at her situation, I put it in context.
When the economy went belly up, lots of folks found themselves on hard times. Many people here in town lost their homes. I know more than one person who became homeless after the economic meltdown. And many of those who didn’t lose their homes had to use credit cards to pay household expenses just so they could continue paying the mortgage. Moy lost her job and her situation was no different than many of ours.
Then her husband became disabled and that obviously affected their ability to keep up with their bills.
In addition to the cancer she was battling for most of last year, a medical mishap resulted in her becoming septic and hospitalized for 2½ weeks. In October 2012, I was hospitalized with sepsis and I know how much that life-and-death condition takes out of you. I was fortunate to have someone to handle our affairs while I battled and recovered from sepsis.
And while I’m pretty sure Cat doesn’t support Obamacare, I think one thing the majority of us should be able to agree on is that no one should be financially ruined because they got sick.
Of course none of this is an excuse. The sheer amount of credit card debt points to financial trouble predating Moy and her husband’s health issues. But those issues obviously exacerbated the problem.
Living beyond one’s means is an American epidemic. Some folks feel that if a politician can’t keep his or her personal financial affairs in order, then how can they be trusted with the public’s purse strings? That’s a fair question. And its one Moy will have to answer to constituents. But people should also take the next step and look at the public record and see if Moy’s personal dealings have affected her public governance. I don’t think they have.
Those who oppose her will see the latest news as more reason to replace her on the council, while supporters see it as an irrelevant personal matter.
One thing is certain: As a result of the publicity of Moy’s financial dealings the pool of potential City Council candidates willing to undergo a public examination of their personal dealings is sure to shrink. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.