As much as we feel it is a burden sometimes, our civil duty to drag ourselves to the polls every year or so can be quite daunting. The process of making time out of our day to go vote is something we don’t want to be wasted, especially when you learn a few years later that vote was cast for a corrupt crook who felt the need to steal your hard earned tax dollars for personal gain. Unfortunately, this has become the norm in the District of Columbia.
On June 6th of this year, another local politician with a bright future was publicly exposed of his sneaky, greedy violation of our public trust. The incumbent councilmember for Ward 5, Harry Thomas, Jr (HTJ), was accused by our (non-elected) Attorney General of using $300,000 of city grants funneled through charity and youth baseball groups for personal use. Not only that, he did what every typical person does when they receive a lot of money they never been able to touch before: he headed straight to the car dealership, traded in his $69,000 Audi SUV for a $39,000 Chevy Tahoe. smh. Why is this guy still in office? After the FBI and IRS raided HTJ’s house on Dec. 2nd, I must say I was thoroughly embarrassed as a DC resident.
The thing is, this is nothing new. My fellow District residents and myself have been through this before a number of times, as recently as 2009 when Marion Barry got caught again having shady dealings with another one of his girlfriends. This time it involved getting reimbursed money from a contract his office awarded her, which put tens of thousands of dollars in the pockets of those of his choosing. This is taxpayer’s money! I know how Mr. Barry doesn’t like to pay his taxes. But for those of us who do, we surely don’t like for it to be used to fill the pockets of your friends. If that is the case, why am I paying taxes in the first place? I can keep that money and pay a bill or something.
I can easily say we have no one to blame but ourselves because we’re the ones who put these jerks in office. But many do come in the clothing of a shephard. They will wear Christ on their shirt to prove to you they’re a trustworthy person. If their family has a history in the community, they will ride that into the ground just to show they been here fighting for you. And beware of the creatures of the civil rights era who have long lost their way. These people have turned this way of capturing your imagination into an artform. Don’t be fooled by it. Staying vigilent in what you believe in and what you expect from your public servants is key.
Sometimes, we have to get a little Iowan in us and start grilling our candidates for public office like we’re putting our very own children in their care. They may not like it as much and will most likely push back, but its the burden they must carry in order to sit in a comfortable well-paid seat such as the office of a DC Councilmember making around $130,000 a year.