Sunday, January 02, 2005

Victims of Corruption

Rowland's Victims
By Kevin Rennie

January 2, 2005

You could fill a rail car mining the ironies when a powerful man becomes a felon.

For former Gov. John G. Rowland, they confronted him from the moment he stepped into the federal courthouse in New Haven on Dec. 23. He could not have missed the beaming photo of President Bush, his former colleague. He spent the most halcyon of his happiest days enjoying access to power and familiarity with those who exercise it.

"Johnny Boy" was the chummy presidential moniker the Connecticut governor could boast of to his circle of friends. A presidential nickname, the ultimate status symbol in Washington, proved less satisfying than the prerogatives of the rich.

Rowland endured 10 excruciating minutes of small talk with his lawyer as he waited for the proceedings to begin in Courtroom 1. Facing him throughout was a dark computer screen showing the word TEST written in a crayon font, each letter a different bright shade of yellow, blue, pink and orange.

There were signs that the deal came fast. Even the disciplined negotiator of all that preceeded the moment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy, looked uncharacteristically harried. Her team and court employees had not dressed for the occasion. Several women from the court clerk's office were in festive Christmas clothes. In a courtroom that feels like a particularly austere Congregational church, one sweater with sparkling snowflakes struck a particularly discordant note. Men in dark suits, who should have known better, were caught in those preposterous holiday ties trotted out only for the office Christmas party.

For an hour, the court belonged to Rowland. Senior U.S. District Judge Peter C. Dorsey several times described Rowland as an intelligent man, though it seemed counterintuitive given the circumstances of the day. Rowland, after all, proved too weak to resist corruption, but strong enough to claim his share of it. His conversational tone sounded little different from when he answered questions from the state's press corps, many of its members now sitting a few feet behind him. Only the jocular banter was missing. Patricia Rowland, who enjoyed some of the benefits of her husband's perfidy and signed their tax returns, sat behind him. The lady had dodged a few bullets and that can take some of the spirit out of you.

These have been months of disappointments for the former governor. The summer brought gaps in his calendar that had been filled previously by afternoons on the links. Requests to fill foursomes were denied or ignored. His return to the private sector as a consultant has not met with the same success that it did when he left Congress in 1991. The doors of the influential do not swing open at the news of your approach when you wear the scent of disgrace. If Rowland ever wondered about the ephemeral nature of gratitude, he's been reminded of it at UConn football games. The man who gave fans a $90 million stadium was regularly heckled this fall.

Fans at one game prophetically chanted at him, "Martha needs a roommate."

In the parking lot at another game, a pair of disgruntled Waterbury employees accosted Rowland, and police had to step in.

But Rowland is the master of the game face. On the courthouse steps, he refused to utter a clear and simple sentence of acknowledgement and apology. And then there was the royal "we" slipping into his hope that the public would also remember 25 years of public service. During a decade at the top, he and his wife became comfortable demanding the royal prerogatives that make a democracy uneasy. Like the Clintons, the Rowlands remind us that the fiercest fight out of the middle class is waged by its loudest defenders. And $107,000 later, ignominy and everlasting disgrace is theirs.

In the end, Rowland pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy, as the court put it, "to deprive Connecticut citizens of the honest services of its officials."

Prosecutors have agreed to seek a federal prison term of 15 to 21 months and a fine of up to $40,000, but Dorsey could revise that sentence. The felony carries a possible five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000. Dorsey tentatively set sentencing for March 11.

Curiously, the judge said this is "a case of considerable complexity."

He hinted that he saw no direct victim. It should not seem complicated to anyone who watched it unfurl before the public for two years. John Rowland took bribes in exchange for using the influence of his office on behalf of the people who paid the bribes. The result was the degradation of his public trust and the revulsion of the people he was elected to lead. The legislature spent millions of dollars investigating him. He repeatedly promised to cooperate and then refused. He belittled the process for six months and then fled in a garden speech. He supported the building of a $57 million juvenile jail in Middletown in exchange for improvements to his and his wife's cottage. During a year that he declared there would be no special tax breaks, he pushed through one for an air livery service from which, prosecutors said, he had accepted free flights. There is nothing subtle about all this.Now Rowland and his remaining courtiers will try to blur the issue.

His lawyer refers to Rowland's bribes as "gratuities." Will the insults to the public ever stop?

Letters and testimonials will arrive at the courthouse telling a carefully edited version of Rowland's story. Dorsey faces a long blizzard of Rowland's good works. Judges, especially those on the federal bench, are by design and temperment, isolated from the hurly-burly of everyday life. Dorsey may not know the impact Rowland's corruption has had on the state. You can tell him.

Rowland and his friends will emphasize a soft side of his personality. They won't mention the man who became so callous that he seemed to delight in disappointing or even turning against supporters. Republicans in particular complain of the mean-spirited wretch he revealed himself to be in his adumbrated final years in office.

"He who transplanted still sustains" was replaced by "F*&% 'em, he'll get over it" as the state motto in Rowland's office. Nevertheless, his favor paid the mortgage on many vacation homes, sent lots of children through prep school and provided lucrative jobs for friends and their spouses. How can they remain silent when their benefactor faces the hoosegow?

The people of Connecticut are Rowland's victims. They should be heard. Judges always welcome statements from the victims of crime. In United States v. John G. Rowland, that's you. Send a letter to The Honorable Peter C. Dorsey, U.S. District Court, 141 Church St., New Haven, CT 06510. Or send an e-mail to the court clerk's office at CTOpinions@ctd.uscourts.gov .

Tell him about the millions wasted by Rowland's corrupt ways and the hunt to find them.

How many contracts could have been settled, police hired, children protected, elderly fed?

What did your children think to learn they were led by a thief?

E-mail: KFRennie@yahoo.com

The above came from the Hartford Courant website.

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

My email to incoming Gov. Rell of Connecticut regarding Rowland and corruption

Telling your Attorney to go fuck himself- PRICELESS

A Justice System really has to be corrupt and out of hand for something to actually change

The Death of Shame in America(O'Reilly of the O'Reilly Factor, Fox News, asks Gov. John G. Rowland to resign Dec. 2003)

* * * *

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?(post contains pictures of young adults brutalized by police, and picture of a 1978 Chevrolet Corvette and one of the houses I fixed up from a boarded up condition)

Are their unnamed factions in the US, similar to the KKK?

With rogue judges and their minions, police officers, do we really live in a Democracy? (post)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

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