Political office should be a civic duty, not a profession…

I just skimmed through the FBI affidavit on Leland Yee, the latest California state senator to be arrested, and if it is accurate, well he certainly is a scum bag and deserves to be put in a cell and the key tossed away. With three senators facing criminal charges, one has to wonder if the whole legislature is not just one big den of corruption. It does not help the Democrats that all are their own. It’s like Tammany Hall all over again, but this time in California, instead of New York, and two centuries later. Politics has always been at least somewhat corrupt and probably always will be. Money and power do it every time.

But I say all the more reason to abandon the idea of holding elected office as a profession. Public office should be held by folks who simply want to serve as a civic duty and who are willing and able to accept only a small stipend. That may be problematic, but enough is enough with this corruption.

Yee had run unsuccessfully for mayor of San Francisco.  In one part of the FBI affidavit, he is quoted or described as saying that the office would give him control of billions of dollars (of public money).

I realize that the argument in favor of paying politicians is so they do not succumb to the temptations of bribery. But that is the reason we need to begin by making political office something attractive to honest people who simply want to perform a civic duty. And we might be better off with people who only serve their turn as a civic duty. Of course that potentially leaves permanent staff to fill the power void. Limit staff. Nothing is perfect. We also need better press watch dogs. But of course the public has been trained to dislike the messenger.

Nonetheless I still am wary of sting operations. My original post of March 28:

 

BLOGGER’S NOTE: The thesis of this post concerns the efficacy and the ethics and even the legality of sting operations. I wrote the original post hurriedly and now have only slightly reworded the parts concerning criminal charges because it is still not clear to me what they are. I have not read everything yet. But it’s in the news for anyone who has time — but the point is a prominent figure has been arrested in a sting operation and there is talk of great political corruption and gun running and bribes. I’ll try to write more when I have more details (time to read the stuff). In my original post,  for example, I mentioned drug running but I am not sure that authorities allege that the state senator was involved in that specifically. It’s just that in an initial news report I heard that mentioned. Anyway, to convict someone there has to be solid evidence. I wonder why the authorities don’t let it play out in court.

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I have trouble with sting operations. I’m talking about the kind where the cops induce someone to commit a criminal act and then arrest them.

The current big scandal in California state politics is the arrest of State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco, by the FBI in connection with illegal gun running and political corruption.

And in the way it is reported in the initial stories one would be led to believe that he was directly involved in all of this, but you read far enough you find that most of it is implied and that he is charged with going along with undercover agents in these schemes and beyond that the authorities even report that at times he balked — but then again apparently he did not just say no. He also apparently did not report the activity. I mean if you are a senator and someone wants you to help them buy illicit arms maybe you should report it.

And I have to suppose where there is smoke there is fire. I would hope the authorities have more solid evidence against him. And I guess one reason they use sting operations is that these guys are so slippery that they can at once act as if they are turning someone down but at the same time do nothing to stop the process but somehow claim they knew nothing about it all.

Even so, it all seems like entrapment to me, something we are always led to believe is  a no-no in this country. I mean in other places without personal liberties police used trumped-up charges all the time.

I also find it strange that so many of his colleagues are jumping on the bandwagon denouncing him. He has only been charged. Now certainly there rightfully has to be some suspension of his duties when he is under such a cloud. And again, I imagine where there is smoke there is fire. But what ever happened to you are innocent until proven guilty?

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Add 1: Three state legislators in all are involved in corruption scandals and face charges, including Lee, and have now been suspended, albeit with pay, from their duties. Legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown have called on all three to resign, but so far they have not.

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Oh, and I should mention that the great irony in all of this is that Yee has been a strong supporter of gun control and transparency in government. His foes are having a heyday with that.

And from what I have read so far at the least the man is highly cynical of the democratic (small d) process. He seems to have settled for the fact that money and quid pro quo is the way things get done.

I have not done a complete analysis of this whole thing, just working off the initial reports, but I wish that when these things came down the authorities could hold up true evidence and not the purported results of what often seem questionable sting tactics.

They better have more. History is replete with lost cases in these things.

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Add 2:

Yee was running for California Secretary of State but suspended his campaign for that, but as I understand it, his name will still appear on the ballot.

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Add 3:

I take a shortcut here for further clarification and to put all this into context with this link:

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_25440366/state-senate-vote-suspend-yee-calderon-and-wright

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P.s.

I’ll probably write more later on this. Others are involved, to include a character named Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, an ex-con who had supposedly turned over a new leaf and had been lauded by respectable figures, including U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein.

And some of this takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown and involves a social/criminal group called the Tongs (that’s the short name I think). It reads like a novel and/or a movie script.

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