To be truly great and ambitious, a state must have great and ambitious scandals. But California hasn’t had any recent scandals truly worthy of our size, diversity and importance – until recently.
Rod Wright, you say? C’mon. His conviction for not living in his district, and using a residence he owned as his residence for voting, didn’t amount to a scandal. It isn’t even clear what he did was wrong. Congressional members don’t have to live in their districts, and the money that determines representative and elections can come from anywhere. Why not our representatives?
Ron Calderon thing? A scandal, sure, but not big enough. While the bribes he took from an undercover agent stemmed from an investigation involving a health care-related fraud, those bribes didn’t even amount to six figures. It’s embarrassing to have a state senator going down for so little – and a depressing reminder of just how little juice state legislators have in this day and age.
Just when I’d given up all hope of seeing major league corruption in a California public official, along comes Leland Yee to save the day. I’m still digesting the indictment, but Wednesday’s events were big time stuff. Raids all over Bay Area, and in the Capitol. Gangsters. An alleged kingpin known as Shrimp Boy. Multiple bribes. Violence. 26 defendants. This is something the boys in Hollywood could do something with.
Yee’s deceit may have been, as the surfers used to say, appropriately epic. Here’s a guy who portrayed himself as a lone wolf, good government type. When he wasn’t setting up arms deals as the indictment charges (talk about constituent service), he was giving California online voter registration! He was even running for California Secretary of State, the favorite office of those who fancy themselves above the dirty political fray.
In California, size matters. And our politics are so small and disconnected from places and civilians.
The news about Yee was connected to real crimes and real life, and enlarged politics in the process.
It’s Chinatown, California! Ain’t it grand?