Column: The golfer, paid time off and Obama's burdens

The contest for county treasurer has devolved from a horse race to a dogfight. From what's floating about out there, it seems voters will be choosing among common curs rather than thoroughbreds.

In one corner we have incumbent Lee Fabrizio. Fabrizio catches flak at supervisor meetings and from a particular supervisor for a number of reasons, from my perspective the most valid being his time not spent in the office.

Lee would prefer to be Trevino rather than Fabrizio, and who can blame him? That's not going to happen, but Fabrizio certainly enjoys spending time at the golf course.

In the other corner, we have Melissa Havatone. She has worked in the Treasurer's Office for about 2,000 years, has about 1,000 years of paid time off coming to her and, according to the best available evidence, still doesn't know how to reconcile the books. As my bank reminds me every now and then, this is important.

The pit bull in the shadows, meanwhile, is Janet Barker, the former chief deputy in the office with a mean streets vocabulary. I just threw her into the mix because her last name goes well with the dogfight theme.

Here's my own take.

The county has gained somewhere in the vicinity of $8 million thanks to investments made under Fabrizio's watch. We know this is true simply because the figure has been bandied about for two weeks and it hasn't been disputed.

Pete Byers, chairman of the supervisors, is so mad he can spit, and part of his anger is directed at the civil side of the County Attorney's Office, which has decided to do nothing about Fabrizio. Maybe that's because nothing needs to be done or can be done from a legal standpoint.

If Fabrizio can sneak away from the office several times a week, the office continues to function efficiently and the investments result in money flowing into the coffers - well, that's great. I could care less if he ever shows up to work under those circumstances.

But the office is clearly not functioning well. Fabrizio needs to make that a priority before he continues to polish his golf game.

If he promises to do so, he's got my vote.

Woof!

• • •

On this page last week, Editor Mark Borgard rued the fact that our two candidates for president are woefully lacking in certain areas while they excel in others.

Barack Obama is strong on domestic issues, he opined, while John McCain would do the best job on the international stage and in particular in dealing with terrorists.

My own take is both will be about as good as a bucket of warm spit. My dilemma, then, is choosing which will provide the warmer bucket.

Obama has made my decision easier thanks to his six-page "emergency economic plan." If this sounds familiar to you, it's because you read The Patriot Post, which bills itself as "The Conservative Journal of Record," online.

As a recent offering notes, one part of Obama's plan "would take billions of dollars in 'windfall profits' from America's oil companies over the next five years to pay for another one-time stimulus check ($500 for individuals or $1,000 for families) to offset the rising costs of energy this winter."

Big Oil is a handy target for Obama, given, for example, Exxon Mobil's recent $11-billion quarterly profit announcement.

"But economist Mark Perry points out that Exxon's tax bill this year ($61.7 billion for the first half of 2008) will outstrip the entire tax contribution of the lower 50 percent of all American wage-earners.

"Furthermore, Exxon's profit margin was only 10 percent - not at all out of line with most businesses and not exactly a 'windfall.'"

Think about that.

Exxon Mobil might post profits of $44 billion this year for selling a fairly-priced product on the open market, and it's a sure bet Exxon Mobil will pay about $120 billion in taxes.

Somehow, that's not enough of a tax burden for Obama.

For this week, anyway, McCain is getting my vote.