Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Local Foolishness, Part 1

I live in the Fort Wayne (Indiana) area, but not within the city itself. So, I've mostly ignored their upcoming mayoral election -- after all, it's not as if I'm in any danger of voting in the exercise-in-futility, and it's also not as if there were a dog in that fight [pace, Michael Vick] for whom I could cheer. These days, though, it's pretty hard to ignore, if you're within 50 miles or so. It seems that the GOP candidate, Mr. Matthew Kelty, was made to do the perp walk yesterday. Not to go into the (ho, hum!) dreadful details, he was indicted for fraudulent campaign finance reporting, for recklessly commingling funds, and for perjury. What it boils down to is that Mr. Kelty reported having lent money to his own primary campaign, when it turns out that the money that was lent had just been lent to him by a couple of his wealthy friends (or maybe just one of them -- I'm not sure, and seriously don't care).

Now, it seems to me that, especially in the past decade or so, the primary difference between Allen County, Indiana and Cook County, Illinois is simply one of scale. The county of my residence seems to be honeycombed with regulatory boards whose members are relatives of prominent businessfolk being regulated by said boards, with booster campaigns for questionable local projects manned equally by our noble public servants and by the contractors who stand to reap the swag, by those who purchase property on behalf of the city in secret and only afterward even discuss whether the property is objectively worth any significant fraction of the price paid. In short, it stinks like a 'possum that was hit by a car a week ago on a county road in the August heat, swelled up like a leather balloon, and went BANG in the noonday sun.

Mr. Kelty's primary opponent was a fellow who's operated for a long time in this dirty environment, and his general-election opponent is another such. Not that I'm suggesting that Mr. Kelty was a prospective breath-of-fresh-air; my tentative reading of him is an outsider who wants to be an insider, not a principled warrior who's come to lay siege to the Den of Evil. He spoke against the current corrupt boondoggle (Harrison Square, for those who know what that is), but went on to speak favorably of alternative local boondoggles. He seemed to know that private individuals who own bars should be able to decide whether smoking inside such places is congenial or not, but he also vaguely threatened a great cover-it-up crusade against the local mammary bars, something for which I criticized him here. He's said to be "pro-life" ... but if he was getting arrested around here back in 1989-90 with me and others, I don't remember seeing him. In summary: not someone in whom I detect consistent principles that I share.

Still, his current troubles are instructive in a couple of ways. First, I think we're seeing how the corrupt-on-a-small-scale machine in this county 'splains to an outsider that he's going to stay an outsider. If being hauled off to the county lockup in bracelets don't convince youse, Kelty, we might hafta get rough wit' ya, and don't nobody want none-a dat, OK? Secondly, when anyone is charged with "fraudulent campaign finance reporting," or "recklessly commingling funds," we see how far divorced the concepts of "wrong" and "illegal" have become. The idea that the same thief class who are robbing the taxpayers of the county by bulldozing the practically-new existing baseball stadium only to toss up another in a different part of town are accusing someone else of impropriety involving money freely given to him ... well, it boggles the mind.

Be sure to vote, now, you good Fort Wayne takaru. Voting changes things, you know.

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