Michael McGee Jr: Going Out Not With A Bang But A Whimper
With the guilty verdicts on all counts in Federal court, the saga of self-proclaimed "Thug MIke" McGee appears to be coming to its conclusion. In what is undoubtedly a surprise to many, the reign of McGee appears to be ending not with a bang, but a whimper.
Prior to the start of the trial, I have no doubt that the few remaining McGee apologists hoped that the Federal prosecutors and agents would be exposed as racists out to get McGee because of who is was. That's certainly not how matters played out. As a matter of fact, the Federal trial really amounted to nothing more than a slow guilty plea!
It is theoretically possible that Milwaukee has had a more corrupt politician than McGee. We certainly haven't had a more brazen one though. From the blatant attempts to shake down one businessman after another in his district to his boasts about using his position to extort money citywide, McGee demonstrated that he was nothing but a crook - pure and simple.
Some were surprised that McGee chose not to testify in his own behalf . They shouldn't have been. I mean, hadn't he already said enough on the tapes? Seriously, how could he get on the witness stand and explain away his statements on the wiretaps or his appearance on a videotape accepting cash from an undercover agent?
Beyond this, as a practical matter, there would have been a very real consequence had McGee chosen to testify. Under the Federal Sentcing Guidellines, defendants are not punished by requiring the government to prove it's case against them at trial. However there are substantial consequences if, in the opinion of the judge, a defendant testifies falsely. In other words, had McGee tried to B.S. the jury, it could have led to a much greater sentence.
Frankly, in light of the absolutely overwhelming evidence of his guilt, it's pretty clear that the truth wouldn't have set MIchael McGee Jr. free.
In the wake of the verdicts, the most interesting question ius where we go from here?
As to McGee, don't be surprised if the various State charges now resolve themselves short of trial. While serious, the State case has always been the "little brother" of the Federal case. I've always thought that, in the event of a conviction, any State sentence would probably be ordered to run concurrent with the Federal sentence anyway. Accordingly, it wouldn't shock me if the State prosecution gets disposed of short of trial either by having the conduct "read in" for Federal sentencing purposes or through a plea with a recommendation for concurrent time.
More important though is whether the City of Milwaukee will, once and for all, do something about the culture of corruption that pervades City Hall?
McGee was able to extort money from businesses in his district because of the unwritten doctrine of "Aldermanic privilege". This is the practice by which an individual Alderman can control everything that happens in his District with regard to licensing. If the rest of the Common Council hadn't abdicated it's responsibility to look out for the interests of the City, McGee wouldn't have been able to run his district as a private kingdom. So, will the Common Council now step up and eliminate this practice once and for all?
In that same vein, what was Common Council President Willie Hines thinking when he put McGee on the Council's Licensing Committee? Talk about having the fox guard the hen house! If this is an example of the judgement that Mayoral wanna-be Hines uses in other matters, everybody in the City better hope that Tom Barrett sticks around for a long time.
Years ago, I said that sooner or later guys like McGee always either fizzle out, flame out or simply fade away. From the standpoint of being an influence in the community, McGee has certainly flamed out. However, thanks to the incredibly strong case built against him by the Feds, he departs the scene with a whimper instead of a bang.