C orruption stinks in all circumstances, none so much as when the bad actors are elected officials.
The Sun reported this week on the sentencing hearings for two such area leaders.
One official, we suspect, learned something and could spend time behind bars contemplating her wrongdoing, while the other, thanks to a judge's largesse, was further enabled.
On Monday, former McCracken County Property Valuation Administrator Nancy Bock was sentenced to four years in prison for second-degree forgery and theft by unlawful taking.
She was represented by Paducah defense attorney Mark Bryant, and had compelling character witnesses in family friend David Wheatley and McCracken County Clerk Julie Griggs.
She was to report to jail Friday, but it's unlikely she'll serve the full four years in prison -- her penalty will most likely fall somewhere between "shock probation" and seven months behind bars.
Circuit Judge Tim Stark noted that he'd "never seen so many letters of recommendation or commendation" as he did on Bock's behalf. He wisely noted that "sometimes good people do bad things," a sentiment echoed by Bryant.
But "this was a misuse of the office, and I can't ignore that," the judge concluded, before sentencing Bock to what the editorial board believes was an appropriate punishment for abusing the public's trust and resources.
No such balanced wisdom came from the bench Thursday in Hickman County.
Former Sheriff Mark Green, plagued for years by his office's suspicious finances, admitted no wrongdoing through an Alford plea to attempted theft between $500 and $10,000. He faced 180 days in jail for writing himself two checks from the sheriff's account for $2,000, money he eventually repaid.
Lucky for him, he had Circuit Judge Tim Langford, no stranger in his own right to alleged abuses of office, presiding from the bench.
Langford gave Green 200 hours of community service.
T he Sun covered a Hickman County Fiscal Court hearing in 2015 in which court members questioned Green for hours over his office's financial irregularities, including inflated cell phone and fuel bills, cash withdrawals, and mishandling thousands of dollars from the drug fund.
Green attributed many of the problems to inadequate record and bookkeeping. His other excuses were equally non-sensical.
His tall tales continued Thursday, along with his lucky streak of having a sympathetic listener.
At one point, when asked why he hadn't quickly repaid the $2,000 he took from the county, the ex-top cop gave several reasons, including that his cell phone had been damaged and he couldn't check his financial records.
"In the end, Langford called Green's explanation (to his office's financial management) 'sufficient' and said sending him to jail would have been a 'shame given your service to the county,'" according to The Sun's story.
Thank you, Judge Langford, but no.
The county, be it McCracken, Hickman, or any other, neither needs nor deserves service like Bock and Green have provided, the editorial board believes.
That isn't us being sanctimonious. Rather, it's showing due respect for honest, hardworking taxpayers whose money was taken by profiteers impersonating servants.
This lesson, we suspect, sank in for Bock.
For Green, well, he's probably already forgotten.