Our governor is in the nation’s capitol today, asking lawmakers to come up with another $5 billion for the Road Home Program. The headline in Wednesday’s paper announces this is going to be a “hard sell.”
Congress doesn’t trust our leaders. No wonder, when you consider the shenanigans of many of them.
Across the top of today’s front page, we read that an ex-school board member has admitted to taking bribes from the brother of embattled Congressman William Jefferson to influence board policy. Mose Jefferson himself has been prominent in the news as the partner of his little brother William in all kinds of business deals, some of which now appear to have the potential of sending them both up the river.
Ellenese Brooks-Simms had presented herself as a foe of corruption in running for the Orleans Parish School Board in 2000. She was outspoken in her criticism of Superintendent Al Davis, particularly when it came out that Davis’ elderly father, a custodian at Carver High School, had racked up enough overtime to bring his annual income to $70,000. Brooks-Simms was relentless in her outcries against cronyism and corruption, so Davis was terminated and Anthony Amato was hired. Within a year, Brooks-Simms and some of her pals on the school board were trying to oust Amato when the citizenry decided they had had enough of such shenanigans. In the 2004 election, she was voted out along with a number of other board members, and a council of responsible, more proven leaders was chosen.
Now, this prophet of righteousness, this thorn in the side of all who would try to cheat the public, this voice for goodness, Ellenese Brooks-Simms will be going to jail. She admits that she took $100,000 from Mose Jefferson in order to support a program for the schools called “I CAN Learn.” The newspaper makes it clear the educational program as such is highly respectable and popular. The owner of the company says he hired Mose Jefferson as a consultant in order to introduce him to movers and shakers in the local educational community. “You can’t just cold-call a superintendent,” he said. The contract gave Jefferson $500,000 and stipulated that the agreement was immediately canceled by any “untoward activity.”
“Untoward”–an adverb meaning adverse or vexatious. Yes, I’d say we have had–and perhaps still have–plenty of vexatious political leaders down here. Not all, thank the Lord. But we keep getting these revelations about the wheeling and dealing that has gone on behind the curtain, and pretty soon you decide not to trust any of them.
That’s what congressional leaders in Washington are no doubt concluding.