by Jim Harris
Corruption and mismanagement have been discovered in the court system, the police department and several other municipal departments in Philadelphia. Federal investigations are ongoing.
Sound familiar? Well that’s the news from 1947, but it could have been 1927, 1867, 1987 or, of course, today. The only difference now is that a Democratic patronage organization has replaced the old Republican one. Check out this excerpt from the book, “Philadelphia: Corrupt and Contented,” July of 1903: “Other American cities, no matter how bad their own condition may be, all point with scorn to Philadelphia as worse.”
In fact, we’re so thoroughly corrupt that Vladimir Putin says he models his regime after the Democratic Party in Philadelphia. And here’s the big story on Action News: nobody cares! I know I don’t. If I did, I’d have to move to somewhere honest like, gee, I don’t know, Canada, and TV shows up there are terrible.
I propose that we accept corruption as something that we Philadelphians do best, and embrace it. We are the champs. Our corruption has a family tree. It’s like a prize poodle. Sure, it still roots in the garbage — that’s its nature — but it has a pedigree, and that is to be admired.
For example, former Traffic Court Administrative Judge Bernice A. DeAngelis was recently quoted as saying, “This is Philadelphia. We do things a lot different in Philadelphia,” referring to the practice of ticket fixing, i.e., giving special “consideration” to politically connected individuals. This consideration took the form of dismissing tickets, holding phony trials and aiding in “judge shopping.”
As you may know, due in no small part to the most inept prosecution since the O.J. Simpson trial, a federal jury recently found six Philadelphia traffic court judges put on trial for ticket fixing not guilty. Even the defense attorneys were surprised, one of whom remarked that “There may have been ethical lapses, but there was no federal crime.” So that means that ticket fixing is legal then; right?
Hey, I’m OK with that. After all, the practice of granting special consideration has been going on forever. Mickey Mantle got a new liver (his old one is in the Liver Hall of Fame), and Richard Nixon got a pardon. Kim Jung Il’s children get to eat. Who cares if it’s ethical? Ethics is for Sunday School teachers and white-bearded professors. The only people who are mad about judges giving special consideration are the people who can’t get it. Maybe we should make it a little more egalitarian by having lotteries, contests or newspaper coupons “good for one free acquittal.”
As for the six judges found not guilty, maybe they could capitalize on their notoriety by going into show business. I could see them in a movie, “The Traffic Coneheads.” They would all be pointy-headed aliens masquerading as human judges, handing out favors to fellow visitors from outer space and thwarting the FBI at every turn.
FBI agent: Where are you people really from?
Traffic-Coneheads: “Meep! Zorp! We are from Frankford!”
Or maybe a remake of Gilligan’s Island: “Hooligan’s Island,” where they’re all stranded on a medial strip on I-95. There’s the millionaire, the bumbler, the smart one, the nervous one, the “innocent” one and the wacky preacher.
Honestly, these six judges should have their own statues outside the Art Museum. They are just as quintessentially Philly as Rocky, and they actually WON their fight! Tourists could line up to stand in front of them, banging a gavel and yelling “dismissed” while having their pictures taken.
OK, now where do I go to get my tickets fixed? You really can’t tell who’s in charge anymore without a program. Let’s see, Traffic Court has been taken over by Municipal Court; the schools have been taken over by the state, and the state’s been taken over by the natural gas industry.
At least, so far, the city has not been taken over by the feds. Obama is reluctant to send in troops, declaring that the city’s problems could be solved internally if the city’s one-party (Democratic) cesspool can just rid itself of corruption. And that just may happen — at the same time as the people of Israel and Gaza; Iraq and ISIS; Ukraine and Russia; the Tea Party and liberals all decide to love and care for one another.