Friday, May 27, 2005

It's time to stop defending the indefensible

Yes, everyone is innocent until proven guilty; that's an American belief that everyone but Nancy Grace seems to understand.

However, after attempting to digest what happened here and in Nashville over the last 36 hours, I have one question for the folks who were indicted, some of whom I have worked side by side with in Democratic Party circles for years:


Even IF you are acquitted, how could you have allowed yourselves (and the CITY and the PARTY) to be put in a position like this? There is no recovery from this, and I'm sure you know this. The indictments paint a sordid tale of hands being stuck out everywhere.

It is damned impossible to regain the trust of the public to manage even the simplest of programs, much less anything far-sighted and far-reaching, when the impression is given that we can't even pass a bill without asking to get paid.

Harsh? You're damned right it is. Unforgiving? Maybe. However, it's time to stop defending the indefensible. I hope against hope that this will be a mistake, and that the charges will be dropped, but I'm sure as hell not betting the rent on it.

The only public figure who gets a thumbs-up from me today is AC Wharton, who demanded (and received) Roscoe Dixon's resignation. AC clearly understands that if you are going to keep the public trust, you cannot even allow the APPEARANCE of wrongdoing.

And on this day when many of us who are Shelby County Democrats face the shame and humiliation of an entire state, we at least know one Democrat who gets it right.

I know I'll get nasty emails and be accused of throwing my friends under the bus, but I know better; they JUMPED, willingly.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Welcome to eCycle


Less than 24 hours after Harold Ford Jr. files for and officially announced his candidacy for the US Senate, his uncle John, along with three other legislators, an ex-legislator, and two others, were arrested and indicted on corruption charges in an ongoing investigation by the FBI and the TBI.

The charges include accepting illegal payments in return for supporting legislation created to help eCycle, an "undercover" company set up to dispose of computer equipment. Ford was reportedly approached about this legislation, and, per the indictment, told the eCycle representative that "you are talking to the guy who makes the deals".

Ford reportedly received $55,000 in illegal payments. Allegedly joining him on the gravy train were Senator Ward Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga), a former Senate Democratic leader, newly elected Senator Kathryn Bowers (D-Memphis), who also serves as Shelby County Democratic Party chair, Representative Chris Newton (R-Cleveland), along with former Senator Roscoe Dixon of Memphis, recently replaced by Bowers.

Also named in the indictments as 'bag men" were Charles Love of Chattanooga and Barry Myers of Memphis, who Dixon had wanted to serve in an interim capacity as his replacement in the Senate. Former SCDP chair Sidney Chism received the appointment instead.

As someone who has been involved in Democratic politics here for over 25 years, this is a punch in the gut. I hope that this is smoke and mirrors; however, given the detail of the indictment, I am not holding my breath for a positive outcome.