Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Crooks Are More Than Enough

Let this not be the eclipse of black pols in Boston. City Councilor Chuck Turner follows ex-Senator Dianne Wilkerson with extortion and lying to the FBI indictments. We simply don't have enough elected officials of color to lose them in bunches.

Since Wilkerson's arrest, many have speculated who'll be next. Today, David Bernstein in his Talking Politics blog is asking for best guesses. It's grim humor, but not uncalled for, considering the circumstances. We can all recall in September and October how Wilkerson repeatedly campaigned on "This district is not for sale!" It looks now that she meant that she is the only one who can sell out the district.

I sincerely hope that these two sets of charges are the end of this mess. Minority communities in Boston and all of eastern Massachusetts need better representation, ideally by officials they can identify with and trust. That trust has suddenly become crucial again.

Many of us noted that Wilkerson came to office by saying "We can do better" about then Senator Bill Owens, a convicted felon. Now she's moved onto her own irony scale.

Over in yesterday's Bay State Banner, Deputy Editor Dan Devine put out a call for commentary on the Wilkerson events and causes. That would be a comment on his blog, letter to the editor or email. I put in my own about her resignation as another indication that we need more black and other minority officials.

I do hope that this is not the Republican-izing of minority legislators and other elected officials here. The old elephant party has reduced itself to sounding like Uncle Scar in Lion King — "Life's not fair, is it?" They give voters no reason to support them and then whine when they lose. They are cameo players while their role is played by conservative Democrats.

I stopped myself from speculation about whether other black, Latino or Asian-American pols might be dirty. I came up short immediately thinking of Rep. Willie Allen. I do like her and I want her to be clean. I thought of her only for her strange comments during the recent campaign at a candidate forum. She spoke well of Wilkerson, saying she had advised her. Allen also said that Wilkerson taught her that grabbing pork for her district is the way politics is played here. I hope that's the outer limit of what she learned.

May these two be the only politicians of color brought down. In theory of course and despite witnesses, video and tape recordings, both Wilkerson and Turner may never be convicted. I'm not betting on that.

What I am counting on is that if these two go down, the communities they represent will want to replace them with honorable public servants...and will then watch more closely and skeptically. There are already too few elected officials of color. They don't need to disappear the way Republicans have.

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Anonymous said...

I share your wish that no other African-American politicians be caught up in this, but I'm not sure it's realistic. Bostonist identifies him as "Representative Z" from the Wilkerson affidavit.

Rob said...

All this says about black politicians is they are like any other politicians - susceptible to corruption. Hopefully the silver lining in all this will be to bring in a new wave of honorable and effective black leaders to the community.