Letter from the Editor 

Now that's corruption, my friends! I'm speaking, of course, about the indictment this week of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. The Feds say that, among other dastardly deeds, Blagojevich conspired to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama by sale to the highest bidder.

A 76-page FBI affidavit released Tuesday said the Democratic governor's wheeling and dealing was revealed by court-authorized wiretaps, and in the event that the governor's sale price wasn't met, he was planning to appoint himself to the Senate.

And, as they say on late-night infomercials, "That's not all." The governor is alleged to have threatened to withhold funds from the Tribune Company on its proposed sale of Wrigley Field unless the Chicago Tribune fired some of its "unsupportive" editorial staff. According to one wiretapped conversation, Tribune Company CEO Sam Zell "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue."

In addition, the governor attempted to get $7 million in kickbacks from companies seeking business with the state of Illinois and sought a six-figure nonprofit board position.

U.S. attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald (remember him?) issued a statement saying that "the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering." You think?

If I'm Mayor Willie Herenton, I'm relieved — and nervous as a cat. Relieved, because if Herenton is nabbed for anything by the grand jury meeting in Memphis this week, his dabbles in local real estate are probably going to look like chicken feed in comparison. And nervous because it's obvious the Bush Justice Department isn't relenting on its prosecutions of public officials, despite the president's lame-duck status.

I mention the Blagojevich affair by way of comparison for those who seem to delight in slamming Memphis' politicians as the most corrupt in the country. We aren't even close. No Memphis public official to my knowledge has attempted to intimidate a newspaper into writing favorable articles, as much as they would have liked to. Yes, we've had some bad apples but no one like Blagojevich.

Still, corruption is corruption. If Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor offered Barney Fife a promotion to get permission to date Thelma Lou and the Feds found about it, he'd be in the slammer with Otis in no time. We still have two months before the new administration takes office. The mayor of Birmingham was indicted on relatively unspectacular corruption charges two weeks ago. I wouldn't bet against more indictments at this juncture — anywhere.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs

      Oh would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us. — Robert Burns

      Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the line above in response to seeing a louse on a high-born lady's bonnet at church. The point being, of course, that while we might think we're looking pretty good, someone else might be noticing a flaw we've overlooked.

Blogs

Politics Beat Blog

A Temporary Truce Among Republicans

Politics Beat Blog

TRUMP — The Memphis Flyer Podcasts from the RNC #3

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Politics And The Movies 1: All The President's Men

News Blog

Coliseum Repair Cost Lower Than Previous Estimate

Politics Beat Blog

Protests Heat Up in Cleveland — RNC Day 3 (Video)

Politics Beat Blog

Trump-Cruz Rivalry Continues in Dustup Among Tennessee Delegates

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

  • Vendor in the Grass

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare

    Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.

    • Mar 31, 2016
  • Snow Day!

    A snow day in Memphis has all the trappings of a traditional holiday, so why not make it official?
    • Feb 19, 2015
  • The Heart and Soul of Memphis

    Portland, Brooklyn, Nashville, and Memphis. Those aren't four cities you typically see referenced in the same sentence, but last week a Wall Street Journal story cited a Cushman & Wakefield national real estate report that lumped Memphis in with those three hipster-friendly cities ...
    • Mar 19, 2015
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation