Blind loyalty to elected officials needs to end

December 3, 2010
By

I write in response to the letter from another reader [JP Gazette Nov. 19] who wrote in support of Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner completing his term despite his bribery conviction, but this letter is not just about him. It’s also about former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who has pled guilty to taking bribes after being arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and it’s also about the many state legislators who fostered and fed the corruption at the Massachusetts Probation Department in order to secure “thank-you jobs” for their supporters.

The corruption of our city and state governments is an open secret. New York, Chicago and Florida make big splashy headlines when their scandals hit the papers, but in Boston this is just the way stuff gets done, and everyone knows it. It isn’t until something is really sloppy—stuffing money into a bra or getting a preacher’s handshake—that we, the citizens of this city and state, just can’t look the other way any more without also risking looking really stupid. But then again, if we persist in the defense of those who are guilty, it isn’t stupidity but some kind of loyalty.

I’d like to ask Boston—and even just JP—what that blind loyalty has bought us.

I look around and I see a city that can’t claim to be better than it was in the last decade and is in some ways measurably worse than it was in the nineties. I see more for sale or for lease signs than I ever have before. I see a school system that is constantly redefining the meaning of failure. I see our library—possibly the best refuge many of us have when everything else has been taken away—constantly struggling to justify itself. I see people leaving as soon as they can, and now I don’t blame them. And I see other people who honestly do not believe that it’s reasonable to expect that it will get better.

And, yet, many of the same people will still shrug and say, “That’s the way we do things here.”

I think we should start doing things differently. Getting rid of Turner won’t do everything—there’s still Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and state senators Mark Pacheco, Stephen Brewer, John Hart, Mark Montigny and Thomas McGee—but it’s a start.

Let’s start.

Deb Nam-Krane
Jamaica Plain