Friday, July 18, 2008

Public embarrassment

In a simpler, less cynical world, business arrangements often were sealed with a handshake and, as 16th century novelist Miguel de Cervantes (author of "Don Quixote") believed, "An honest man's word is as good as his bond."

Unhappily, the workplace today seems to be filled with people who advance themselves through deceit.

The lamentable episode now unfolding in Ketchum involving the high-paid director of the Community Development Corporation, Gary Rapport, is a laboratory example of the consequence when diligent background checks are not conducted.

Rapport is in the Blaine County Jail, awaiting extradition to California, on a charge of felony burglary. He also has an assault charge lodged against him in Bozeman, Mont., where he allegedly choked his wife into unconsciousness.

At a minimum, hiring Rapport with his background is an embarrassment to the city and the nonprofit CDC, whose mission is to help develop economic stimulus programs for the community.

Troubled executives hired for influential posts exposes a public agency to public suspicion and ridicule, not to mention the potential for wrongdoing in its administration. That erodes public trust.

Several times, police who encountered Rapport in several states were aware of the outstanding burglary warrant. How could that have been missed when he applied for work in Ketchum?

The case should be an inescapable lesson for every local community agency to exhaust every tool in checking the credentials and pasts of employees entrusted with sensitive executive responsibilities.

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