I’m apparently the only one not surprised by the verdict in the Don Hill corruption case. Even someone as smart and as Dallas-savvy as my pal Schutze figured the former councilman would get off.
But I’ve seen too many of these trials to think otherwise. Hill and his associates took cash for votes, and the federal government usually does a pretty good job with those kinds of prosecutions. Just ask Tom Keane or Buddy Cianci. Just because Hill and his colleagues did it in Dallas doesn’t mean they were exempt,
Most importantly, the convictions should, once and for all, put rest to the lie that we don’t have political corruption in Dallas, that we don’t have “ward politics,” that our council-manager form of government insulates us from the scandals and skullduggery that go on in evil and un-American places like New York and Chicago.
More, after the jump:
Guess what? Since 1996, three council members have been indicted and convicted of taking cash for votes (though one, Al Lipscomb, had his case overturned on appeal) and a fourth was convicted of embezzlement. They have been Anglo and African-American, from north of the Trinity and south of it. We are not immune.
And why does this happen? Because the people who run the city don’t see the role of city government as providing services for the people who live here. To them, city government exists to facilitate real estate deals and to make Dallas look good in the national press to attract outside money for real estate deals. It’s a culture of money and where’s mine and let’s get rich and we’ll worry about the voters later – if at all. As Schutze has pointed out, Hill’s defense was not that he didn’t take bribes. It was that he only did what everyone else did in Dallas, and they didn’t get indicted. So why should he?
The most corrupt city government I’ve ever seen was Richard J. Daley’s Machine in Chicago. But even Daley, as venal as any politician, at least had the good sense to pretend to be doing what he did for the voters. Here, they don’t even pretend. They just stick their hand out, and they don’t care what we think.
Isn’t it about time that we, as voters, did something about that?