Corruption

 As I get older, my perspective of the same issues tend to change. When I was young, my heroes were Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, George Washington, John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt and Lee Marvin just to name a few off of the top. As I grew older the pantheon broaden out to Smedly Butler, Gen. ‘Black Jack’ Pershing, Colonel Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and Gen. ‘Chesty’ Puller. Later, men and women of the likes of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Buddha, and Jesus stepped into the lime light.

I guess over the last 20 years or so, one by one I discovered they all had clay feet. At some point, I stumbled across a speech that president Teddy Roosevelt gave called “Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

It was then that I went back to look at some of my old role models and much to my surprise found none wanting. However, as I look around over the last couple of decades I find nothing but corruption in the halls of politics, industry, government and throughout the entertainment industry. Maybe it was always there to one degree or another but I never just saw it for what it was.

How ever, this is what I see today and do not hold much hope for the future as it is too well embedded into the daily lives of too many people. In simple terms there are just too many mortgages dependent on the scams of everyday life woven through the institutions of our life. My single hope over the years is that the criminal justice system to include the courts stood above it but over the years as I walk in and out of prisons it is oh so clear that they are as much a part of the problem and the politics and industry.

I guess all of this would not be so bad if everyone had an equal shot but it is not the case. Babies and kids come into this world trusting and ready to learn. By virtue of chance they will either end up as sacrifices on the altar of political expediency or in that class at the top of society called ‘the corruptors’ for lack of a better term. Did you know that Florida has more kids in prison serving life terms than the rest of the nation combined. If you broaden the net, you will find that Florida has a higher incarceration ration than the USA who has the highest incarceration ratio of the world. That means there is no country on God’s green earth that has a higher incarceration ratio than the state of Florida.

The politics at the top of the pyrimid of society in Florida are corrupt to the core. Between 2000 and 2010 Florida’s ethic laws moved Florida into first place among the most corrupt states in the nation. Now, this is not based on state but federal prosecutions. State prosecutions are a joke.Haridopolos helped friend expand and secure no-bid contract at DJJ DJJ is Department of Juvuvenile Justice where the state deals with it kids that are in harms way.

All one needs to know about the laxity of Florida’s government ethics laws is that the state Commission on Ethics does not have the authority to initiate investigations into public corruption on its own. Then again the Florida Ethics Commission operates under the laws written by the Florida Legislature and designed as a check on their illegal activities. The Florida Ethics Commission refused to write off the latest batch of nearly $100,000 in unpaid fines for financial disclosure violations Friday although they are considered uncollectable, including $1,500 owed by a state representative.

Then again for the county that is the home of Florida politics comes the story of the mayor.The Florida Commission on Ethics charged Mayor John Marks with violations of state ethics laws when he voted on matters involving two city vendors, the Atlanta-based Alliance for Digital Equality and corporate giant Honeywell.

And again some of the ethics violations come to light as a part of the political process. This is the case for ex-Alachua sheriff Oelrich accusing Congressman Stearns of earmarking federal funds to Central Florida Community College where Stern’s wife works. What has to be said is that he makes a very compelling case showing a relationship between her promotions and the money coming from the feds through Sterns earmarking process. The truely sad part is that this process had been going on for a decade and no one spoke to it. Oelrich questions Stearns on CF earmarks as wife rose at school. Not only does our corruptors list include politicians, captains of industry and government but educators as well.

Then again, Florida lawmakers like to say that they’re just like the rest of us. “And that may be true except according to financial disclosure forms filed with qualifying officers last week, 21 Senate candidates this year have net worths of more than $1 million — with 13 candidates at more than $3 million…” However, they are not like the rest of us and the Democratic National Convention is a case in point. Those heading to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., need not worry about liquor supplies running dry Makes you wonder if the nomination of process for the leadership of the nation is a responsible exercise of democracy or a booze party.  Caligula just might be drooling with envey.

The one possible check on this abuse of power comes from the criminal justice complex. However, on the surface they appear to be as deep into the various forms of corruption as the legislative and executive powers.  The most startling revelations come from three snap shots. The first is the scandal within the secret service. Secret Service’s 229-page log reveals agents’ porn, wiretap, embezzlement and drunken misdeeds. Then there is the Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious. Then there is a window from LA Judicial Benefits & Court Corruption. The surprise was how all members of the law enforcement community rallied behind the judges.

So, you think this is drawing conclusions from a few cases that don’t represent the whole? Then let me focus on Alachua county. This is directly from the newspaper “..Employees in the evidence room at the Sheriff’s Office, according to an internal investigation, were deliberately using misleading dates when they entered items into evidence days after they should have been, and in several cases items were missing entirely from the room….” Attorneys investigate mishandled evidence It gets better but I think the point is made. This is not something that is all of sudden discovered. It has been going on for a long time and down played by all as in the LA judicial probe above.

Then there is the collusion of the legislature, criminal justice and executive. I will argue that drugs are a case in point. Drug laws in our country are designed not to eliminate a problem of addictions but to fill prisons as well as provide the political gold of campaign contributions and endorsements in elections. Case in point is Chicago: If the City Council agrees, cops can issue pot tickets instead of arrests for possession of 15 grams or less. Tickets would range from $100 to $500. This is by the mayor who used to be the president’s right hand man. Could he be acting as a point man in testing an initiative of the president? Now, think what this will do to demand that will have to be meet illegally and in turn fill the prisons and coffers of law enforcement through civil forfeitures.

 No, the heroes of days gone by might have had clay feet but they were not mired in the depth of corruption their counterparts are today. The ones who pay the price are those with less than a high school education that serve as the necessary but expendable middlemen between the cartels and pharmaceutical industry and those with the disposable income that think it is their right to use drugs.

The children of those sent to prison have a 70 percent chance of going to prison. Not because they are evil or bad. It is because they are the sacrifice offered on the altar of political expediency to satisfy the appetites of those who benefit from their incarceration.

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