I live in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland has always been high on the list for stand-up comics, television series, movies, newspapers, cartoonists, authors, weathermen, musicians, and yes, even athletes, to take potshots at. Most of it has been very good natured and done with love for the simple reason that so many in the entertainment field and publishing world grew up here. Some of the put-downs have been not so loving, such as the comments LeBron James made about Cleveland when he decided to abandon the team, fans, and city who have done so much for him while asking so little. And then some of the attention has been due to situations involving the environment, crime, or politics where we have essentially shot ourselves in the foot. Of course, we’re not the only city in the U.S. that has had their share of environmental disasters, infamous crime sprees, or political corruption – nor is Cleveland necessarily the worst of those cities. But the story that’s been rocking the headlines this week is a real doozy in that just about every single major local politician, several judges, well-known attorneys, labor union leaders, and numerous contractors have been served (or are about to be served) with Federal indictments for serious charges ranging from bribery, accepting bribes, “selling” verdicts, embezzlement, abuse of office, and on and on. Yesterday, the FBI made a great show of leading the County Commissioner, Jimmy Dimora, out of his house not merely in handcuffs, but in chains, just in time for the local news.
Make no mistake, I find morally abhorrent all corrupt practices by anyone who has been elected or appointed to a public office or by an attorney or judge who have taken an oath to honor the law and our legal system. Such persons sit in a fiduciary position which means that they have a sworn duty to serve ALL of their constituents with an even hand and are personally responsible for the harm they’ve caused to the people as a result of any breach of their fiduciary duty. By law, they are required to be held to a “higher standard” than us civilians: meaning that they are required to be able to genuinely hold themselves up as honorable and moral role models, both in deed and in perception. I feel no compassion for those who choose to ignore such duty and who instead use their positions for their own personal gain, be it for power, financial benefits, sexual favors, or jobs for their deadbeat relatives just to keep their spouse happy. Public humiliation, such as the spectacle of a “Perp Parade”, should be de riguer for any and all persons who have arrogantly abused their publicly held positions of trust. Why? It is not as if such humiliation would serve as a deterrent or cause such people to suddenly get a flash of insight about the harm they have caused to others, as those who indulge in such activities are at the very least, sociopaths, who are incapable of seeing beyond their own nose. The real point of public humiliation is that it allows the start of the healing process for the victims of those narcissitic, scheming ingrates in whom we had placed our trust, our city, our schools, our jobs, our homes, our quality of life, and our regional pride.
I am grateful that the Feds did not succomb to the “politics as usual” which would have deferred the indictments until after November’s election. Not so amazing is the fact that the names of many of those indicted are likely to still be on the ballots, due to time and cost restraints and due to the fact that it is too late for any “replacements” from the same party to throw their hat in the ring. While I believe there are some excellent people up for election, many are newcomers who don’t have established name recognition. It will be interesting to see how the registered voters here handle this election. Will anyone vote for the now disqualified encumbants? Will they choose to vote for alternatives that they’ve read up on and feel good about casting their votes for? How many will indiscriminately vote for anyone and everyone but the dishonored old-guard? Or will most of our citizens stay home, leaving the fate of our city to “someone else”, as they did in the September primaries when the turn out was 16.48% (only 160,00 out of 960,000 registered voters) ?
Whether you live in Cleveland, Ohio; Broward County, Florida; Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania; or anywhere else in the United States, take this year’s election as an opportunity to take back control of our country, states, and cities by voting for candidates that you would not hesitate to trust with your live and your children’s lives, as that is ultimately what is at stake. If you leave it to chance by either choosing not to vote or by voting by faces, names or parties rather than by thoughtful consideration, then forever hold your tongue with complaints about taxes, school, jobs, health care, and the economy. The right to complain (as well as the right to help determine how our laws are applied and how our government’s run) comes at a price. That price is to be a responsible voter not only every 4 years, but in every election.
Tirade and Lecture Over. 😉 Thanks for bearing with me.
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