April 15, 2002
Tax Day Ruminations

Doing my taxes today reminded me of a couple of things I had almost forgotten. I hope my memory is accurate, but can't guarantee the details. Here is how I remember it:

1. In 1980 or 1981, when I was living in San Francisco and Diane Feinstein was mayor, one of the local papers (Chronicle or Examiner, who cares?) printed the mayor's 1040 on the front page. She had not consented to its release, nor had her wealthy husband, and they were not happy. (There was then no legal requirement for such information to be made public.) Besides the gross invasion of privacy, what particularly impressed me was that the information appeared in the April 16th edition. Maybe Mayor Feinstein had mailed in her tax forms weeks before, but the date suggests that she had waited until the last minute, and that some IRS munchkin couldn't even wait 24 hours before illegally leaking confidential information to the press. (If the paper had had the information for weeks and was just waiting for an appropriate day to publish it, surely they would have done it on the 15th, not the 16th?)

2. A few years later I was living in the D.C. suburbs and was equally impressed by the fact that detailed eyewitness accounts of closed government hearings (Iran-Contra? I don't remember) were routinely appearing in the next day's Washington Post. What was particularly interesting is that each day's Post could be bought in the 7-11 at the end of my street in North Arlington around 11:00 PM on the night before the nominal publication date. The hearings lasted until 5:00 PM or so, which didn't seem to leave much time to get the information into a story and then print and distribute the newspaper. It appears that participants in these closed hearings were not only violating their oaths of secrecy on a daily basis, but elbowing each other out of the way as they headed for the nearest telephone booth when the hearings ended.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at April 15, 2002 11:56 PM