Finally, a Scandal Worthy of This Great State

leland yee crook

Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow

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.

joe-mathews-175If the charges are true, Yee was a professional fraud, truly worthy of real condemnation (unlike Calderon and Wright) — and a bit of admiration for pulling off something so big.

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?

Joe Mathews

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  1. llozano says

    We have other scandals that are more outrageous and those are the legal ones that our politicians get away with. We have a governor who accepts millions from the oil and gas lobby who refuses to even consider a moratorium on hydraulic-fracking. He continues to support the death penalty and legalization of marijuana or any type of prison reform. What is the real scandal here.

  2. LAGirlfromBmore says

    You are so right! I spent many years in Baltimore, where politics is a contact sport, and Texas, whose political scandals are legion and legendary. Things are much more boring here – greedy but colorless administrators in Bell and Vernon, illegal but, to be honest, ho-hum violations by Calderon and Wright. Thank goodness for Shrimp Boy and gun running! Raymond Chandler himself couldn’t have done better.

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