If You Won't Lock The Door, At Least Move The TV Out Of The Window!
Whatever verdict the jury eventually reaches, one thing is clear from the evidence being presented at the Federal trial of Michael McGee Jr. Namely, McGee is a major league sleaze-bag.
Over the course of the last few days, the jury has been presented with the testimony of multiple business owners from McGee's Aldermanic District (and one undercover agent) who all say that they were shaken down for cash by McGee and his associates. The "quid pro quo" was McGee's approval of the issuance and/or transfer of liquor licenses.
If the jury determines that the government has met it's burden of proof, McGee's place on the public stage will finally, mercifully, come to an end. The larger problem though is that as long as the MIlwaukee Common Council's informal system known as "aldermanic privilege" continues to exist, corrupt politicians will continue to exploit it for their personal gain.
"Aldermanic privilege" is the concept that presumes that an individual alderman knows the needs of his or her district better than anyone else. As such, if an alderman like McGee chooses to oppose the transfer of a liquor license within his district, all other aldermen will defer to his judgement.
The effect of this is to make a single alderman, in the words of McGee, "the gatekeeper" for anyone wanting to do business in an Aldermanic district. In other words, buy a ticket from the gatekeeper or don't expect to get into the park!
Obviously, the Common Council as a whole should give some deference to the views of an individual alderman when it comes to matters occurring in that official's district. At the same time, it is absolutely irresponsible for elected officials to allow individual aldermen to turn their district's into personal fiefdoms.
It certainly appears from trial testimony thus far that Michael McGee was as corrupt a politician as we've seen in these parts for quite a while. That said, McGee wouldn't have been able to get away with this if the rest of the members of the Common Council were doing their jobs.
Wouldn't it have been refreshing if someone had challenged McGee when he opposed the issuance of a liquor license to a business owner in his district? How about at least asking McGee why he was objecting? How about doing some due diligence?
Questioning McGee though would have undoubtedly been an invitation for McGee to question the exercise of "aldermanic privilege" by others. Heaven forbid!
Like bad weather, we'll always have corrupt politicians. As long as we have "aldermanic privilege" though, we'll continue to make it easier for these crooks to operate.
If the Common Council isn't willing to lock the door, can't they at least move the big screen television out of the window?