Lustgarten must pay more attention to detail
Jan 10, 2013 | 1532 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When we first got word that City Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten’s political opponents obtained proof that she misled the Modesto Bee about her bankruptcy history, it appeared to be a matter best handled by the Modesto Bee.

But now that a Jan. 6 article has confirmed she provided inaccurate information to that publication about those bankruptcies — and also suffered repeated domestic abuse — it’s time for us to weigh in.

On one hand, kudos must go to Lustgarten for overcoming these challenges and for making a new life for herself, even getting elected to the City Council.

At the same time, it’s troubling that she apparently misled the media, and ultimately the public, about her past — even though that past is obviously a sensitive topic and we understand her desire to want to move on.

Lustgarten says she simply misunderstood the question, and thought to herself that because her bankruptcies happened so long ago, they were no longer on her record and were therefore irrelevant.

But the question was rather straightforward: “Have you or a business you owned or had principal interest in ever filed bankruptcy?” It was not a question about her current credit record. The Bee asked about whether she had ever filed for bankruptcy.

At least Lustgarten admitted to making a mistake.

We see no reason for Lustgarten to resign based on this incident, but local residents will be watching her closely — as well as the rest of the council — to ensure that matters are carried out with integrity.

And we hope Lustgarten pays closer attention to the wording in her council agendas than she did to the question offered by Modesto Bee.

At the same time, it seems those who are seeking to bring Lustgarten’s past financial troubles into light are doing so at least partly because of political motivations. Especially considering that more information is being dug up regarding alleged elections law violations.

If Lustgarten committed provable violations, those must come to light. But if this is just a matter of speculation and hearsay, it’s time to move on.

City politics in Patterson have taken a decidedly ugly turn during the past five years, creating an unhealthy atmosphere.

We hope the new council will rise above contentious rhetoric and take a different approach, for there is much work to do in the months ahead.
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