Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wilkerson's Anchor Sinks

It's been all I can do to keep my fingers from twitching. Everyone, his brother, aunt and neighbor has been talking and writing about Dianne Wilkerson's final decent into political hell. There's no need for me to pile on, particularly as much as I have written about her, starting in 2006.

It's very safe to say that there's far more than enough evidence of corruption to put her in federal prison for decades. It's likely though that she'll do as she has in one set of crimes after another — cut a plea deal. In this case, she's likely to trade testimony against others as part of that. Even her most irrational and emotional supporters will have to scramble to find any honor or justification in that.

The shock and disappointment (and dread of association) of her public supporters, like Tom Menino and Deval Patrick, are widespread. However, the local papers had little problem finding constituents eager to say she is being punished because of her race. The most poignant comments came from her mother in North Carolina, from where by phone she advanced circular reasoning that Dianne didn't take bribes because she wouldn't take bribes.

Surely though, the accurate gauge of opinion in the black community is in today's Bay State Banner. The very faithful, sometimes mindless so, paper withdrew its repeated endorsement. It seems too much is finally enough.

The editorial tries to cover the Banner's butt a bit, but gives it up at the end:

...The Bay State Banner has always endorsed Wilkerson’s achievements, even though her administrative irregularities were troubling....The Banner viewed these charges as unfortunate blemishes on an otherwise productive career...The photographic evidence in support of these (most recent) charges is compelling; investigators also claim to have audio and video recordings of Wilkerson’s misdeeds. It is evident that Wilkerson has breached the public trust. Consequently, the Banner can no longer support Wilkerson for public office.

Except for their previously unflagging support for Wilkerson, the Millers over at the Banner have been pretty traditionally moralistic and socially conservative. They frequently editorialize about those in the black community getting a fair shake, but taking responsibility for their own efforts. The amount of abuse of trust that Wilkerson has had to pile up to drive the Banner to today's decision is weighty indeed.

Any pleasure I felt over seeing Wilkerson driving herself to the edge of hell and then insisting on diving into the fiery lake is long gone. The tedium of watching the arrogant destroy themselves is in the end only boring and annoying.

In her first campaign, the one to replace Sen. Bill Owens, her catchphrase was "We can do better." In the current one, it has been "This district is not for sale." She put the lie to both of those so many times that she finally has run out of others to blame.

I have no doubt that Chang-Díaz will be that better Senator. She'll do well and do the right thing by all constituents, black ones included.

The sense of ownership of that seat has taken a big hit though. Wilkerson robbed the district of their black Senator. We certainly need more legislators of color, but honest and honorable ones.

It's likely time to consider better ways of increasing to fairer representation in both houses of the General Court. The single "reservation-style" districting for a black Senator may not be the only or best approach. After Wilkerson proved to be a single point of failure, and one who failed, the tenuousness of that strategy is obvious. As we have seen and heard from myriad comments about Chang-Díaz not being dark enough to suit some pols and some voters, Boston doesn't seem ready for any post-racial world. It appears to be time to revisit the options for fair representation.

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1 comment:

Ryan said...

Good blog. She really is a tragic figure, especially given the fact that she just keeps on trucking. She just doesn't get it and never will.

I wish she'd stop making a fool of herself by continuing to run, because I would like nothing more than to stop writing this race, but this sort of action by politicians must be illuminated for all to see, because it's dangerous for democracy.