Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The full criminal complaint against Diane Wilkerson.

Will Diane Wilkerson Resign? Hell No.

As I expected, but hoped against anyway, Diane Wilkerson refuses to step down in the face of highly damming evidence of corruption and bribe taking. Rather, Senator Wilkerson took her first public address since her arrest as an opportunity to excoriate government prosecutors for not presenting these charges in a timely enough manner for Ms Wilkerson to go to trial before election day.

Sorry about that Diane. I'm sure they'll try to schedule your next indictment for a more convenient time.

Here's an idea. How about stepping down and saving your constituents future embarrassment?

Should Diane Wilkerson resign? Hell yes!

Should Diane Wilkerson resign? She should have done so years ago. The current evidence presented by the FBI against the state senator is highly damning, and at first glance, appears to be enough for any reasonable person to conclude that Ms Wilkerson
should take her earliest opportunity to exit the public stage. The likelihood is that Ms Wilkerson will not resign however, and the reasoning for this is a as simple as the reason for most of her unseemly behaviors while in office; being a state senator simply affords too much power and leverage for Ms Wilkerson to resign in this her grimmest hour. Far better to stall, delay and negotiate as many self serving deals as she possibly can, exerting the last dregs of power form her now tainted office.

More disturbing however than any single charge of corruption or receiving bribes, is the underlying culture of corruption that allowed Senator Wilkerson’s behavior to remain unchecked for so long. There is a code of silence in Massachusetts politics that pervades not only the offices of elected officials but those of our media, our law enforcement officials and even the citizenry itself.
Whether we are sympathetic to public figures found guilty of corruption, or we secretly revel in their downfall, time and time again we examine their actions as if they were committed in a vacuum and not with the tacit approval or outright negligence that Ms Wilkerson’s behavior simply could not have existed without. The broad daylight shenanigans of Diane Wilkerson imply a sickness in the culture of Massachusetts government that is far graver than any single action that Senator Wilkerson is accused of.

I grew up in Diane Wilkerson’s district and have spent most of my life living in it.
I must admit that I found Senator Wilkerson’s public persona attractive. Smart, confident, well spoken and attractive, hardly ever photographed without a confident and winning smile or a look of alert attentiveness. She seemed like a person who I’d like to know. So much so that when the first wave of scandal hit Diane Wilkerson, I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and was not unhappy to see that she retained her office.

But the charges kept on coming, from both her personal and political lives. I knew then that I would never cast another vote for Diane Wilkerson, even as some small part of me hoped that she would exit the political scene for a while, put her house in order, and make a return to public life at some later date. Sadly, this was not to be.

We question why after years of disturbing news about Senator Wilkerson’s personal and public life, voters in her district continue to support her. Why members of her party continue to endorse her reelection attempts when surely other upstanding men and women who are as capable as Senator Wilkerson must be available to to take her place. Particularly disturbing is the support which Governor Deval Patrick has extended to Senator Wilkerson at this late stage of her career. I’m disappointed that the Governor made the political choice of supporting this obviously flawed woman.

I, a lay citizen without even the slightest pretense of political connectedness have knowledge some of the criminal activity being engaged in our highest offices and by our most trusted officials. I’ve spoken directly with local politicians about the world of corruption that exists in the Massachusetts political arena. One young city official told me in confidence that immediately after being elected he was offered garbage bags of money by those seeking to curry his favor. This person has since left public office, hopefully with his hands clean, and not under fear of arrest or public humiliation.

What knowledge must those with genuine first hand familiarity with our government officials then have? How many reporters know of corruption but choose to remain silent? How many news agencies willingly suppress information that should in fact be delivered in a timely manner to the public? How many law enforcement officials remain silent or perhaps even partake in unlawful activities, defrauding the public they’ve sworn oaths to serve?

In a healthy democracy, citizens are encouraged to participate actively in the affairs of state. The sort of casino democracy that has citizen simply showing up to pull a lever every election cycle has left us ill served. Moving forward, and learning form this latest debacle; I that hope both our citizens and our elected officials can agree on the need to more fully engage the electorate. Our politician’s personalities have become bigger than the offices to which we elect them. We all now suffer because of this.

Diane Wilkerson operated brazenly and in broad daylight for years. Suggesting to me at least that her actions we’re known and to some degree sanctioned. Sanctioned by who? How far does the rabbit hole go? The citizens of our commonwealth deserve the answer to these questions.

Leaving aside the notions of recrimination and punishment, Massachusetts must begin to demand greater oversight and openness in its political procedure. In her disgrace and disservice, Dianne Wilkerson has done one great unintentional service to the citizenry of Massachusetts, she has exposed deep flaws in our system; one that allows political favors to be bought and sold unchecked, save for the grace of a cooperating witness. Whether we’ve seen the last of Ms Wilkerson, or her legendary resiliency affords her another opportunity, we the citizens of Massachusetts now have a great opportunity to speak frankly about the conditions that have brought us to this point and to attempt to repair these conditions before our collective attentions are turned elsewhere.

How do you get a liquor license in Boston? The simple answer is that without political or criminal connections, you don’t. It has long been common knowledge that liquor licenses are among the many political plums given out with out rhyme or reason mostly to those who have, or are willing to buy, political access. Why then if this is common knowledge are frank discussions about this practice reserved to the back hallways of state government offices, the front stoops of frustrated citizens or at best A.M. talk radio?

Despite our hopes, despite our undying confidence in the rightness of our political system, human nature is such that any person given the right set of circumstances may be tempted to break laws and abuse power for their own enrichment. Now is the time to admit that the trust and power which we bestow upon our public officials may be too great for these officials to wield without regular and thorough public scrutiny.

It is high time that Diane Wilkerson resigns or is ejected form the office which she has tainted with her years of erratic behavior and in all likelihood, abused for her personal benefit.

You don't know me homey.

I like Barak Obama. I think that the Senator is smart, geeky, and charming. I agree with many of his stated positions, while at the same time feeling disappointed with some of his more obviously politically motivated campaign choices. Barak’s rhetoric is sufficiently inspiring, but doesn’t instill the sheepish sense of awe in me that others seem to find in it. I guess I’ve just heard some damn good rhetoric in my time; blame it on Bartlett’s Quotations.

John McCain seems a little weird to me. Shot out of a cannon weird. Or maybe shot down over Vietnam and bayoneted in the groin weird. Truth be told, if I were in a room with either presidential candidate, I definitely wouldn’t be the smartest person in the room; Id probably be serving drinks.

There is however, the off chance that I’m in the room performing some other function. Maybe I won a radio contest, maybe I’m with building maintenance or something. Hell, I could even be a crazy stalker. Don’t limit me!

So the vibe I get from McCain is that he immediately walks in the room and orders a Johnny Walker Blue double (no ice, ice is for pussies) and before I can explain to him that I’m not the bartender, has me fired. As I’m being tossed out, I realize that I’m wearing a white tuxedo jacket and suddenly appear to look exactly like Louie Armstrong; the force of John McCain’s expectation of who I must be has sufficiently altered reality around me to the point where I transform against my will into “po colored folk”

Barak, on the other hand breezes into the room sizes me up, and uses the most non-offensive black slang that he possibly can, to ascertain if, in fact in harmony with his expectations, I am the drinks guy, “Sup?” he asks; I think he heard it in a Jay-Z song. In stead of “what the fuck?” I’m compelled to respond in a similarly ritualistic faux black fashion. Maybe I even say something like “Sup brother Barak?” Giving him my toothiest grin and paraphrasing Cornell West (retire already you relic and let some one else suck on the intellectual race baiting tit for a while. Just kidding. Love ya bra). So anyway, I’m extremely uncomfortable in a room with either of these guys. Because neither of them get me.

Each of these men thinks that my internal dialogue is something along the lines of “oh lawdy if I’s can just has a chance in this white mans, and highly educated black mans (who was raised by white peoples), I would surely appreciate it.” So here we have the traditional liberal conservative “black problem” argument played out with a slightly different cast of debaters. Jesus, just hit me over the head and steal my vote.

Well fuck that. The idea that I would vote for anyone because of the color of their skin is reprehensible to me. I was a clean and articulate black man back when it was meant as an honestly doubled edged pejorative, and I’ll continue to pronounce the consonants on the ends of the words I say long after doing so has gone out of style.

If this is in fact a “post racial election” stop pandering to the stereotypes and earn my vote based on what you’ll do for this country and not who you presume I am and what you presume I feel. Something about that ‘too cool for school” attitude of yours make me believe that a “guns and religion” speech about me has been given (off the record) once or twice in your campaign. Thanks but no thanks, I’ve no need to be legitimized by you; I’ll open my own doors than you very much.

How will I feel about a black president? Meh, forty years ago it would have been a great achievement, but I don’t see any real harm in letting the baby boomers have their last wet dream before they go wherever the dinosaurs wandered off to.

So I’m voting for Barak and wishing there was a better choice on either side. Skin is, after all only skin deep.