EDITORIAL: Facing up to their past

York Dispatch Editorial Board
Ryan Supler is running for York County Treasurer.

Thumbs up for political candidates who learn their lessons. That appears to include York County office-seekers Ryan Supler, Blanda Nace and Dan Byrnes. All three have driving under the influence convictions on their records. But all three are owning their past transgressions and insisting they’ve learned and grown from their mistakes.

Supler, the Democratic candidate for York County treasurer, has twice been convicted of DUI, in 2012 and again just last year. In the first case, he fled the scene, being hit with an additional felony charge of attempting to elude an officer. Not the most sterling of political credentials but, to his credit, Supler is facing up to them. He’s blaming neither circumstances nor the press.

More:Democrat Ryan Supler vies to oust York County Treasurer Bair

More:Dan Byrnes, son of York County commissioner, running for clerk of courts

More:Blanda Nace joins crowded race for York County commissioner

“I’ve struggled (with alcohol) since I was a teenager,” Supler, 31, told the Dispatch. But he says after completing a treatment program, he’s been sober for four months.

More:York County office-seekers address DUI records, including a felon

Republican Byrnes, a York County Clerk of Courts candidate, likewise has twice been convicted of DUI — in 2006 and 2016. A U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, he says the transition from combat to civilian life played a role in his drinking. He also says the accountability that came with post-DUI court proceedings turned out to be a catalyst for positive change.

Fellow Republican and county commissioner candidate Nace was charged in 2011. While he completed the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, he never moved to get his record expunged. He says he’d prefer to talk about the issues but doesn’t duck his past.

“I made a mistake years ago and learned my lesson,” he said.

Does a DUI conviction disqualify a candidate from office? That’s up to the voters (although the York County District Attorney's Office says it's reviewing whether Supler's felony conviction would be disqualifying). The charges no doubt reflect a personal failing. But publicly facing up to them shows personal character.

Thumbs down for selective auditing by the Internal Revenue Service. What else would you call it when the most audited county in the United States, by percentage, turns out to be Humphreys County, Mississippi, with its median annual income of $26,000 — more than $100,000 below the nation’s median income.

The county was audited at more than 50 percent the rate of Loudon City, Virginia, which matches the nation’s median income, according to an analysis by ProPublica.

And Humphreys County, whose population is one-third African-American, isn’t an outlier.

“The five counties with the highest audit rates are all predominantly African-American, rural counties in the Deep South,” ProPublica found. “The audit rate is also very high in South Texas’ largely Hispanic counties and in counties with Native American reservations, such as in South Dakota.”

Part of the reason is higher auditing of families that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits low- to moderate-income workers. (Thank congressional Republicans for pressuring the IRS to focus on this segment of taxpayers, leaving fewer resources to go after big-moneyed cheats.)

The focus on poorer, more racially diverse regions means areas like central Pennsylvania are relatively low on the audit list (at 6.9 audits per 1,000 filings, York County was well below the national average of 7.7). Still, it reflects questionable auditing priorities at best, and unfair targeting of certain groups of taxpayers at worst.

Thumbs up for fans of the Philadelphia Phillies, who finally have something to cheer about after a dark period in the doldrums.

In case you hadn’t heard, the Phillies landed Bryce Harper, arguably the best everyday player in the league, during the off-season. He’s been a big reason the Phils, who have spent the past six years in or flirting with the basement after a golden decade, streaked to a 4-0 start this season.

Bryce Harper recently signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Former New York Yankees superstar Reggie Jackson believes Harper may be the right man to save baseball.

And talk about an exclamation point: In his first game against his former team, the division-rival Washington Nationals, Harper hit a homerun in Washington’s home park that, as far as we can tell, may not have landed yet. It not only quieted the Boo-birds, it marked the third-straight game in which Harper had homered.

The Phillies paid some $330 million to lock up the All-Star. He’s already paying dividends. And Phillies fans are cheering. Again.

— Editor's note: This editorial has been corrected to reflect that Nace is a candidate for York County commissioner.