To close the budget gap in a hurry, let’s start with the bunch in Augusta.

For each abuse of power, unethical act, violation of their oath of office — to serve the best interest and welfare of citizens of their district, of the state — the guilty must pay a significant fine, $25,000, to be paid out of his or her own pocket.

For Bruce Poliquin’s alleged conflict of interest, carrying on with his own business while acting as state treasurer, that’s $25,000, and for the Popham Beach snafu he cavalierly dismissed as bad judgment, and the matter of tree growth if it proves a violation, another $50,000.

Paul LePage, for looking on and overlooking these acts, as much as $75,000.

And Dale McCormick $25,000 for trying to justify massage and playground rides as consistent with providing good low-income housing.

It’s a start.

Push on: South, west, east and north, even to Ludlow in The County, whose residents can only contemplate bringing their former town manager, Mary Beth Foley, to court for abuses of the food pantry and excise tax accounts verified by a state auditor, $50,000.

Of course, we’ll need an independent ethics committee with clout, and its members subject to the same fine if they abuse their power. But, surely we can find enough honest individuals to serve on this commission.

James Low, Vassalboro

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