Editorial: Parkinson’s tax liens are common

Late payment of property taxes is nothing to be proud of, to be sure. But if that constitutes political scandal in the race for SLO County sheriff, we can only wonder, what’s next? Late credit card payments overdue library books a parking ticket, perhaps?

Then again, that late payments are even an issue speaks well for the candidates. If that’s the worst peccadillo to be uncovered, it confirms what we’ve said from the start: All six candidates for sheriff are exceptionally strong, and voters are fortunate to have so many excellent choices.

But back to the scandal du jour.

In case you missed it, four tax liens were filed against sheriff’s candidate Ian Parkinson — three here in San Luis Obispo and another in Monterey County — on account of late tax payments.

Authorities could have gone on to garnish Parkinson’s wages or pursued his bank accounts had the tax bills gone unpaid. It never came to that, because Parkinson paid the taxes shortly after the liens were recorded.

On six other occasions, Parkinson was delinquent in paying his taxes, but he paid the bills before it got to the point where liens were recorded.

Certainly, Parkinson’s history of late payments points to a pattern of disorganization — and we hope that’s something he’s corrected. But if being late in paying the household bills is enough to taint a campaign, we’re setting a ridiculously high standard for politicians.

While a tax lien may sound ominous, here’s the reality: They’re quite common, and are typically recorded when a property owner is a month or so late in paying taxes on unsecured property — things like boats, planes and businesses. Out of 10,129 tax bills issued in SLO County in 2009-10 for unsecured property, liens were recorded on 1,027 — or roughly 10 percent.

Again, a tax lien is nothing to brag about, but it’s no reason to dismiss a qualified candidate.

Political candidates are, like the rest of us, human. They may be late paying bills, jay walk, run an occasional stop sign, inadvertently bounce a check, even.

As we’ve said before, we found it tough to pick a single candidate in the sheriff’s race, but we believe that San Luis Obispo Police Lt. Ian Parkinson has the best combination of experience, knowledge of the community and solid ideas for improving the department.

And recent revelations about his history of late tax payments haven’t changed that.