Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Smith trial; it’s about time!

Wednesday’s the day that jury selection is supposed to start for state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago.

SMITH: Dirksen Bldg., rather than Capitol
He’s the West Side-based legislator whose presence in the General Assembly has been an embarrassment to the powers-that-be, and whose timing of his trial has also managed to complicate things.

DERRICK SMITH IS going to be remembered by political observers far longer than his accomplishments in the Legislature would merit.

Smith is the legislator who faces federal charges in U.S. District Court because of a letter of recommendation he wrote on behalf of a day care center operator who had applied for a $50,000 state government grant.

Prosecutors contend the only reason he wrote such a letter was because he was given a $7,000 cash payment. A simple matter of bribery – although Smith contends he was merely offering support to someone who wanted to locate a needed service in his district.

It will be up to a jury that has yet-to-be-picked to decide whether Smith’s account has any legitimacy, or if he was just trying to enrich himself with some extra pocket cash.

THE ACTUAL CRIME for which Smith is alleged to have committed is petty. Even taking into account that the actions for which political people often are convicted don’t amount to large amounts of money, this incident is unmemorable.

But Smith will get remembered because he just won’t wither away.

COLEMAN: Will have Smith's attention
He’s the guy who got kicked out of the Legislature back in 2012 – just over a year after he was originally appointed to fill a vacancy in the Illinois House. His colleagues overwhelmingly decided he was a disgrace to their collective reputation – which is saying something significant considering some of the clowns who have served there.

But he managed to get re-elected in the 2012 general election cycle – on account of the fact that his name was already on the ballot. And for whatever you want to think about idiotic voters in the district casting a knee-jerk vote for the Democratic Party’s candidate, the other candidates on the ballot really weren’t any better.

THE VOTERS CHOSE to stick with the political organization they were used to, rather than let Republicans play ideological games with their West Side legislative district.

MADIGAN: Down a vote
But it still creates the laughable condition of an indicted man getting re-elected to office. The pathetic part, however, was that it took federal prosecutors so long to get this case to trial that he served just about the entirety of that term in office.

He was even on the ballot back in the primary. We could have repeated this whole condition.

Insofar as Smith himself, he falls into the masses of the Legislature. I generally find that there are about 20 to 30 members of the General Assembly (177 members total) who have some special skill or knowledge to be notable. The rest, like Smith, take up space, and cast votes when needed.

WHICH EXPLAINS WHY Smith’s name cropped up into the news in recent weeks. He actually wanted a delay in his Wednesday trial date. The Legislator’s leaders wanted him to be available for the entire week so he could cast his vote on efforts to pass a state budget and determine how funds will be raised to pay for things.

It was presumed that Smith would be a reliable vote for whatever it was that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, wanted done.

But that’s not going to happen. U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman made it clear she expects Smith to be in her courtroom on Wednesday. Although considering how confused the political people are as to what they will do, I don’t think Smith’s absence will make a difference.


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