(Community Matters) I’ve changed my mind – I thought Rosemary Lehmberg should resign as Travis County District Attorney. Her behavior while under arrest was deplorable and still makes me mad. Of course she should be punished for drunk driving. I think my initial reaction was fine, and I’m glad time allows us to consider matters more closely.
As I’ve continued thinking about this, Travis county citizens are rarely sentenced to jail for their first DWI. Rosemary immediately plead guilty and is serving 45 days in jail.. There’s a long list of elected officials and prominent citizens who have fought DWI charges and won on technicalities. Rosemary choose not to fight, delay, or cash in chits.
If other electeds were as quick to admit guilt and pay their penance, our state and our country would be a much better place. What example does this send to kids, to other citizens? . . . that even elected officials have to pay a price for their mistakes, that honorable ones do – and that once a citizen pays, they can be forgiven. It’s a better example than most send. I’m looking forward to a more humble, experienced district attorney. I’ve always thought Rosemary was among the best. We’ve enjoyed her 37 years of exemplary public service.
I have been unpersuaded by arguments that Rosemary can’t resign because Gov. Rick Perry would appoint her replacement. That has no bearing. And, I initially voiced that she should resign (after seeing the video tapes), imagining what I would have decided had it been an elected official who I do not support, perhaps even vehemently. But, as I’ve thought about this, I’d love to see more confess to their criminal acts, serve their time and return to public service with humility and compassion.
While there’s no way to know for sure, unless she were to admit it, this very likely was not her first time to be intoxicated while driving. Given her position and the risk involved that she apparently was willing to take, the possibility of her having an issue with substance abuse has to be considered. So rather than just look at this as a political or legal issue, it might be better to consider whether she has a need for treatment. That would, in the end, be best for her and for the community. Everything else is secondary. There are plenty of qualified people to hold the position. While 45 days in jail is noble, it’s not the same as getting the help she may need.
Ms Lehmberg’s possible need for treatment is IMO irrelevant to whether she should remain in office. (If she needs substance abuse treatment she can get it while in office, just as she could be treated for depression or a stomach ulcer. Decision about remaining office should reflect performance in office, absent misfeasance.) My personal bias (my daughter was killed by a drunk driver) is that all drunk drivers should have licenses suspended for a term (increasing if offense is repeated) and, if found driving while license is suspended do some jail time. Restitution for damage caused while DUI.
This would not get all drunk drivers off the road, but I believe it would prevent a good many DUI incidents.