For many this is earth shattering to know our government officials wanted to be paid for favors. Let me shed a little light on the topic. It has been going on in major cities for at least 5o years that I know about and I'll bet the real old timers could tell you stories of happenings in their times that would also shock you. Why is it that some know about this and have for many years and some are ignorant of a more shady surrounding going on all around them growing up? It is the fundamental difference of people who are "street smart" and those who are not. Being street smart keeps you safe when you grow up in cities. Suburban kids haven't got a clue.
I grew up in the streets of Boston, specifically the part called Dorchester, a community of low income people whose kids grew up to be laborers and ruffians. To survive in this environment you had to be street smart or you got beaten up by others or worse. Growing up we knew where the power was in the community. It wasn't with the police, it was with those who paid the police on the side to ignore illegally parked cars, fix traffic tickets, or even paid off to judges to reduce a sentence or to let someone go. In those days there wasn't a lottery. Instead there was a local Bookie who took bets on "the numbers" and the horse races, paid the winners off and even loaned money by "Loan Sharks" at incredibly high interest rates over short periods of time. It was a very dangerous place to grow up, but because survival demanded being street smart, many learned valuable lessons in life.
I'm not trying to glamorize this life, but to wake up people that corruption has been here for a very long time and it is naivete to think otherwise. So it is well known that the Illinois Governor was corrupt. Most everyone knew it but no one dared do anything about it. It took Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald to uncover this and stop it in its track. He is the same Special Prosecutor who helped prosecute "Scooter" Libby in the outing of Valerie Plame.
Many out of fear have been silent about corruption. Many use the excuse, "It's none of my business". Well it is! It is all of our responsibility, because we have allowed it to go on for at least a generation. Illinois, and specifically people in Chicago, have a chance to change this condition if they are brave enough to demand things change. It is why many of us voted for President-Elect Obama for President for a chance of a different kind of politic, rather than the same old politic of the past.
I am not proud of how I conducted myself as a kid. I was very scared most of the time growing up. My parents never knew what was going on in the streets or in the neighborhood. They were good people that minded their own business and didn't socially mix with any of our neighbor. They were Irish and we were Italian, and the only Italians for a square mile. I saw things and knew of things I shouldn't have. I was afraid to talk about them. Trying to fit in, I went along with the status quo and appreciated the small amount of money which came my way through playing cards at first, and then hosting bigger card games where I received a weekly take. Even today I still fear full disclosure of events back then. But maybe someday I will add more to this topic.
When I was 19, I decided to leave Dorchester, go to school, and make something better of myself. As an Executive Coach, I have devoted my life to helping others face their fears in business and in their personal lives and hope I have made some small difference. But, I have never forgotten where I came from and know it is the same all across big cities in America. Those who have street smarts know what I am talking about, and those who don't, have no clue. Wealthy families never have their kids exposed to environments where it was necessary to become street smart. And so stories like the Illinois Governor and the selling of a Senate seat for money, are unfathomable. I wish it weren't so.
Labels: Dorchester, Illinois Governor Blagojevich, Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, street smart