Monday, April 9, 2012

Why can’t Illinois House take a hint when it comes to dealing with Smith?

The Illinois House panel that is “investigating” the conduct of state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, let it be known this weekend that they’re giving themselves the week off.
SMITH: Offense not less severe w impeachment

According to the Chicago Tribune, the committee said publicly that because Smith is scheduled to appear in court, which means it is likely that more information will become publicly known about the federal “crimes” that Smith is alleged to have committed.

ACTUALLY, TAKING SUCH a stance makes complete sense. It would be absurd for the legislators to go into their full attack-dog mode and think of possible impeachment, only to have something else forth that would make them look ridiculous in the future.

I only wish that the legislators would realize that they ought to wait for the outcome of the federal case and put an end to their proceedings, rather than thinking that a one-week delay (the Illinois House says its panel will return to action later this month) will mean much of anything.

Realize that I am not defending Smith or his conduct. Personally, I have never encountered the man and could care less what happens to him specifically.

It’s just that I can’t help but think that the legislative proceedings that have taken place in recent weeks related to Smith’s situation are more about the incumbent legislators trying to make themselves appear to be “law and order” types who get “tough on crime.”

IT’S ABOUT MAKING themselves try to look good at a time when Smith’s conduct makes them all look foolish. Guilt by association!

It has nothing to do with trying to find out the truth or impose any kind of real punishment on Smith.

That is what will happen when the U.S. District Court for Chicago gets through with Smith, and it will take time. Anything that the Illinois House does at this point is fairly meaningless. It is pure partisan politics.

I’d rather see the federal court system and U.S. attorney’s office deal with this case in a legitimate manner, rather than the half-buttocked, politically partisan way that government officials inevitably will do.

BECAUSE IF THE federal charges pending against Smith are true, he’s a petty crook. Federal prosecutors are best suited to deal with him in such a case.

Political people are more concerned with their own self-interest than they are in finding real “justice” for Smith, and I’d hate to think they’d due something stupid that would cause some legal convolution that would interfere with federal law enforcement types being able to do their job.

For Smith, he’s the guy who supposedly used his influence to encourage the awarding of a state grant – in exchange for the recipient providing him with a cash payment that federal prosecutors say amounts to a bribe.

Considering that the man who handed over the cash ($7,000 in $100 bills) to Smith was an undercover informant for the FBI, perhaps they have a sense for this kind of thing.

SMITH, HOWEVER, GETS to be the guy who got himself arrested for government corruption before he was ever officially elected to his office (he was an appointee last year who was running for his own term in this year’s election).

Smith certainly isn’t the first person facing federal charges who managed to win an election, although to listen to the political hacks who are behind the Illinois House committee activity, you’d think he was.

The 77 percent of Democratic primary voters who backed giving Smith the nomination rather than a former Cook County Republican official who claims he has now converted to da Dems is something that is so understandable. The real injustice in this case is that the people of that particular legislative district on the West Side had crummy choices for their state representative – no matter whom they cast their ballot for.

Anybody who claims they don’t get it is either ridiculously naïve, or just plain stupid.

BECAUSE THE BOTTOM line when it comes to the Smith situation is that we really don’t need the political people meddling in the situation any more than they have a tendency to do on every other issue.

Whether Smith remains an Illinois House member while the charges are pending or is removed isn’t that significant. Getting him out doesn’t make the offense any less embarrassing to the public.

Smith, if he is found guilty, will get his just deserts.


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