Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Powder Room

It has been a slow week here in the State of the Garden State Plaza (and about 817,000 other shopping malls) in terms of "perp walks". Last week, while I was out carousing 'neath Western skies however there were so many fellas doing it that the sidewalk outside the Federal courthouse in Newark resembled the dance floor at a wedding reception when the DJ yells "Electric Slide!"

Not surprisingly, given the November '09 Gubernatorial election that lies prominently in our collective future here in Levelland, much hay has been made about who got busted recently and the party affiliation of the perps themselves. In this latest roundup, significantly more betrayers of the public trust with the letter (D) affixed to their names walked the walk than did those to whom (R) is attached. Candidly, if there is one thing life in Joisey has taught - or should have taught - all of us by now is that political corruption is not a Democratic thing or a Republican thing. Nope, sadly, too often it simply appears to be a Jersey thing - as if the playbook out of which these miscreants operate lists "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" in both the Gospel and Soundtrack sections.

Of the current crop of perps, my favorite is the rather brash boy who had been the Mayor of the Chairman of the Board's hometown for twenty-three days when he was arrested for allegedly accepting a $25,000 bribe. I admire his work ethic - shaking somebody down for 25K when he had been on the job less than 25 days himself. If he was attempting to foster an environment in his fair city in which a man or woman willing to work hard and apply him/herself could earn more than $1000 a day, then I say kudos to you Mr. Mayor. It does not appear, from the initial reports, however as if he was in fact laying the foundation for some type of revolutionary economic program given the the only pockets he is accused of having been interested in lining are those in his Dockers.

As an attorney, and someone who has at least a passing familiarity with our Constitution, I accept as true the concept of innocent until proven guilty. And as someone who does not know the now deposed Prince of the Waterfront - unless I have run into in court or perhaps on the softball diamond in the Essex County Lawyer's League - I am inclined to give him no less of a benefit of the doubt than the law allows. What attracted me to him as the one to watch in these proceedings (other than the church bell-sized stones it takes to be caught with both hands in the cookie jar, up to the elbows, less than one month on the job) is the quote that has been attributed to him from a May 19, 2009 meeting, which is contained in the Federal criminal complaint against him, bragging that, "[r]ight now, the Italians, the Hispanics, the seniors are locked down. Nothing can change that now. . . . I could be, uh, indicted, and I’m still gonna win 85 to 95 percent of those populations.” Considering that his margin of victory before he was in fact indicted was less than 200 votes, one wonders if he had it to do all over again if he would aim for an indictment earlier in the election cycle. No sense in not sewing things up as soon as possible, right? If I was a Hoboken resident, I would be thrilled to know that the man at the top of the electoral food chain values my intellect as much as the Boy Wonder apparently did. Flattering to be so well thought of, eh?

Memo to baby-faced politicos of all stripes and any party: when you scarcely appear old enough to vote yourself, do not be caught on surveillance tapes threatening to "ground into powder" those who oppose you politically. For when you, the one who threatens to do the grounding, end up being nothing more than the boy who takes the powder the egg residue on your face takes a damned long time to wash off.

Then again, if the charges against him are proven true, he will have lots of time on his hands. Just be careful with the soap.

-AK

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