Saturday, July 29, 2006

McGee skates again

There is no doubt that Mike McGee lied through his teeth when he denied a romantic relationship with Kimley Rucker or that he sent her the e-mails that he quite clearly sent her. But, as I blogged when the story broke, perjury is a special animal. It doesn't cover everything that would count in everyday life as a lie. Thus, the ability of the district attorney to punt on criminal charges.

Still, I think it was a bad decision. While the case would not have been a slam dunk, it would not have been unreasonable for a jury to conclude that there was, in context, really no other reasonable interpretation of the question or that there is no reasonable doubt that he was the one who sent the e-mails that he sent.

The DA's office may have concluded that it was best not to charge a black elected official in what might have turned into a racially charged case. It may have concluded that prudence and concerns for racial harmony dictated taking a pass.

I think that's wrong. The matter may be racially charged, but not prosecuting makes it more so. The DA's office has been sending the wrong message to the African American community by giving police officers a pass when they didn't deserve one. When it passes on cases like this, it sends a message to the white community - and to the larger metropolitan community - that Milwaukee is a corrupt city paralyzed by broken racial politics.

Guys like McGee get by with doing nothing for their constituents by playing off black solidarity and white guilt. Near as I can see the only one who benefits by this is McGee. His constituents may be entertained, but they are no better off for having elected him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's unhelpful and inaccurate to speak of McGee's constituents as if they are uniformly black people who support everything he does. I doubt there is more than a handful of people who fit that description. Many--white and black--do seem to approve or tolerate specifically his race games. But many do not.