I'm in Cuyahoga County where the FBI/IRS raided county offices and, so far, 50-plus corruption convictions followed so maybe I shouldn't talk.
I live and vote in Cuyahoga County where the FBI and IRS raided county offices and businesses in 2008. That resulted in more than 50 convictions to date for bribery, corruption and conspiracy and officeholders resigned. So I really should not be "throwing stones" BUT...
Torontonians were or were not surprised today when Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who long denied allegations that he used crack cocaine, admitted he used cocaine "probably a year ago" when he was drunk. He has refused to step down, saying he is not a crack addict and he doesn't do drugs.
According to USA Today, he said, "Yes, I've smoke cracked cocaine...Yes, I've made mistakes...All I can do now is apologize and move on. I can't change the past.'' This after Toronto police said they had a video tape that appeared to show the 44-year-old mayor puffing on a crack cocaine pipe. But police said they don't have sufficient evidence to charge Ford with a crime.
He already apologized Sunday on his weekly radio show for "a lot of stupid things." He didn't address his drug use on Sunday's show, however, and said he would not resign from the post he's held since December 2010. He is up for reelection in 2014 and says he will run.
Maybe he was just in with a group of unsavory friends. After all, his longtime friend and occasional driver Alexander Lisi was arrested in October for trafficking marijuana. Ford has previously admitted to smoking "a lot of" weed in the past.
Some people describe him as colorful. I'm not so sure. To me, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is about as colorful as I like.
But back to Cuyahoga County. Voters may or may not have been surprised when several officeholders were indicted on corruption charges 2009-2012 and were either found guilty or pleaded guilty. That included two sitting judges, a county commissioner, the county auditor, two school board members, and the list goes on to include business owners and officials at the county-run hospital.
Jimmy Dimora was the longtime chairman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party and a county commissioner. Frank Russo was the longtime county auditor. As the tales unfolded, we learned that they were the two main targets of the corruption probe. Dimora is a giant of a man in girth, Russo was his cohort and court jester, so to speak. The two ruled Cuyahoga County. A nod from Jimmy almost guaranteed that you would be elected/reelected.
People used to wait in line at events for an "audience" with Dimora, a few words from him could make or break your political career. He would stop at 4 or 5 events every night and he was always, always late. It was referred to as "Jimmy time."
His trial in 2012 lasted two months and two weeks and he was found guilty on 33 counts. I covered that trial. In those two months we learned of his heavy drinking (Crown Royal), his penchant for prostitutes, his FBI-taped conversations liberally laced with expletives and vulgarities.
I had covered Dimora for 12 years a s a newspaper reporter before coming to TV and he was always charming, polite and forthcoming.
Could Dimora or Russo get elected today? Nope. Did one of the sitting judges who was indicted yet ran for reelection win? Nope.
It's a question of how much the public will tolerate from their officials. Had people known about John F. Kennedy's extra-curricular activities during his presidency, would he have been reelected if he had lived? Should moral standards be linked to elected offices? I don't know the answer but I know that former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner took scandal sideways to a whole new level.
Cuyahoga County voters and voters across America went to the polls today. Let's hope the winning officials/candidates don't disappoint them with bad personal behavior.