Opinion » Shredder

Creative accounting

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It’s always bothered me that schools do a better job teaching students to take standardized tests than performing real-world tasks like managing their finances. Not being the type of person who spends my days at furniture stores counting the number of couches I can imprint my ass onto—actually, that’s the exact type of person I am, but my business is no longer welcome most places.

In any case, I recently and unexpectedly found myself with some spare time to kill so I made a pitch to the principal at the elementary school near my hovel. I offered to teach a class called “Creative Accounting,” which would essentially instill our children with the most American of financial principles: finding loopholes, and looking out for No. 1. My curriculum will include examples from one questionably successful local politician and a businessman who successfully avoided a handful of misdemeanors and felonies.

Alright kiddos, Exhibit A is Abel Maldonado, who is presently running for a seat in the House of Representatives against Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps. Now, Abel is somewhat strapped for cash, which is going to make it difficult for him to buy the seat he wants. If you haven’t yet gotten to the course in politics where you learn that money buys political seats just like it buys candy and toys, well, sorry to burst your bubble. Not being a man who wants Capps to strut about with more money than he does, Maldonado has resorted to creative accounting. Which really means that he’s lying with his money, but only in a way that’s dishonest and slimy.

A cursory glance at Maldonado’s 2011 campaign would seem to reveal that he racked up $1.2 million to Capps’ $1.05 million. What those numbers don’t show is that, over the course of the year, Maldonado loaned his campaign $250,000 on three occasions, and all right before he was supposed to report his campaign funds to the FEC. The day after the report was made, he returned the money to his personal account.

Maldonado is hardly the first politician to engage in a round—or three—of musical bank accounts, but it doesn’t say much about his character that he felt compelled to artificially inflate his numbers in order to better compete with Capps. Clearly, these financial reports are made for a reason, the idea being that the public deserves to know who is bankrolling their candidate. So when Maldonado blatantly shuffles money back and forth, he’s essentially brandishing the middle finger at what I would contend is a legitimate desire on the public’s part to understand who’s pulling the strings on their puppet of choice. In this case, the puppet can’t even seem to scrape together enough pocket change to buy the strings.

Exhibit B: William McBurney, patriarch of the All That Glitters gang, managed to evade two misdemeanors and two felonies after the truly stellar District Attorney and gaggle of cops failed to check business records to confirm whether he was, in fact, the business owner. They were busy chasing around medical marijuana growers, of course, and letting statutes of limitations expire.

This all shovels some additional dirt on the sizeable mound of doubt about the competency of the District Attorney’s Office. McBurney bought merchandise that anyone with a measurable IQ would assume was stolen—and, in point of fact, K Jon’s Jewelry in Atascadero should be applauded for not buying what the clerk clearly realized was stolen jewelry. Two punk kids show up at a jewelry store with a 2.5 carat diamond ring valued at more than $20,000 and no credible explanation for how it came to be in their possession, and McBurney doesn’t bat an eye. In fact, he gives them a paltry $204, locks away the ring, and everyone goes on their merry way: The kids with $204 in ill-gotten gains and McBurney with a VERY valuable ring that he conveniently forgot to ask some very important questions about.

And, in case McBurney wants to say that the entire incident was an honest mistake as opposed to a case of a jeweler profiting off someone else’s misfortune, when the cops come a-ringin’ he insists that he has no memory of the transaction and that he would never buy a 2.5-carat diamond ring for $204. He maintains this story right up until the cops get a search warrant, find the ring and receipts at the store, and arrest him. Oops.

This is where the DA really screwed the pooch. McBurney didn’t have the proper licensing to buy second-hand merchandise, but the DA’s charges don’t stick because McBurney’s technically not the owner of All That Glitters. His son, Travis, owns the joint, and as such, was responsible for licensing. Regardless that he bought second-hand stolen merchandise without the proper license, the DA managed to flub a key fact and McBurney winds up getting out of pretty much everything.

Personally, I’d be embarrassed to admit that I’d been in the jewelry industry for 30 years and couldn’t recognize a 2.5-carat diamond ring when I saw it.

It really is too bad all this is coming out right before Valentine’s Day, when people turn out in hordes to buy love, affection, and sex with expensive jewelry. But hey, if he managed to successfully argue that he couldn’t recognize a 2.5-carat diamond ring, maybe he’ll somehow manage to swing this in his favor.

Shredder manages to go without love, affection, and sex. Send chocolate to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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