Did we ever really know you? Thoughts on a man now sitting in jail | Street Jazz

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Did we ever really know you? Thoughts on a man now sitting in jail

Posted By on Sat, Sep 21, 2013 at 12:17 PM

His rivals used to say quite a bit,
That as a monarch he was most unfit.
But still in all they had to admit
That he loved his mother. - Oedipus Rex, Tom Lehrer

Well, he was a damn good reporter. That can be said for him for least. As it turns out, it may be the most anyone can say for him. So when I think of him now, when I read his name in the paper, and of the crimes he is accused of, the song by the great satirist Tom Lehrer keeps going through my head.

It may be difficult to find anyone in the progressive community from two decades ago who will admit to liking him, respecting him, or even to knowing him, perhaps, but in the early 1990s, I easily fit it into all three of those categories.

He somehow became involved with the progressive (screw that stupid word - let’s go back and use the more honorable and robust “liberal”) community in the early 1990s when he worked for a small newspaper based out of West Fork, covering in-depth the issues which the two daily papers in Northwest Arkansas generally gave short shrift to.

His reporting during the Great Access War was on a par with that of Grapevine, the alternative paper based in Fayetteville.

He was a large, likable man.

And yet . . .

Today he sits in a jail cell, accused of mail and wire fraud, and suspected of possibly being connected to a murder in Missouri. He is considered such a flight risk that he remains behind bars.

Politics makes strange bedfellows, and we often don’t look too closely at some of the people we get involved with. In this man’s case, he had troubles with the law before he ever came to Northwest Arkansas. But then, a brush or two with the law does not make one a bad person. We are a nation, after all, which believes in redemption, in second chances.

In his case, though, I think perhaps he may have seen those “second chances”as as career opportunities. In 1992 he was convicted of stealing from his former employers. Like the clever con man that we later knew him to be, though, he had those he was allied with politically (superficially, at least) that his former employers were guilty of violating RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

One sad incident outside a hearing room found a political activist (little known for tact at the best of times) crouching before the folks bringing charges against the man, chanting, “RICO! RICO! RICO!” with a nasty grin on his face.

With the gift of hindsight, what seemed monumentally rude at the time now just seems monumentally stupid.

His dishonesty managed to break the heart of a friend, a woman I admire greatly. That’s the sort of thing one can not forgive a man for.

I read later of how he had been acquitted of mail fraud in 2007. The current charges of mail and wire fraud I can possibly believe.

But involvement with a murder?

Is this something new, or, if true, was he always capable of this?

I suspect that most of us who knew him 20 years ago have come to the conclusion that he was playing us for fools, but the idea that he be might be connected, even in a small way, with such an ugly crime as murder makes one realize yet again that you can never, ever, be too careful who you deal with.

It literally took my breath away when I read the accusation of murder in the newspaper.

Still, like old Oedipus Rex, he has one tiny something that he can honestly be proud of . . . he was a damned good reporter.

Too bad that doesn’t balance the moral scales, if he is guilty.

******

Quote of the Day

There is no escape - we pay for the violence of our ancestors. - Frank Herbert

rsdrake@cox.net

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