Philly Blunt

Freelance writer. Editor and web-video producer. Former Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Weekly staff writer, City Paper managing editor/columnist and Dougherty for Senate campaign manager. Comments welcome here or emailed to brianhickey9 [at] hotmail. Now on: Facebook (Brian Hickey, in Philly) Twitter at www.twitter.com/brianhickey Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/people/brianhickey/. Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court: divorcecourting.blogspot.com.

15 July 2009

Disgraceful Justice


Since the Metro's out already, I can stop biting my tongue. I think a quote in the Daily News piece from gubernatorial aspirant and former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan cuts to the point on my thoughts about Vinnie Fumo's "sweetheart deal."
"I prosecuted [former City Treasurer] Corey Kemp. He's spending 10 years in jail. I prosecuted [former City Councilman] Rick Mariano, he's in for 6.5, all for conduct which, arguably, is significantly less egregious," said Meehan, who is contemplating a run for governor next year. "If I'm a citizen and a taxpayer, I'm asking a question today: Where's the consistency in the justice?"

In that dual context -- which came to mind while Justice Buckwalter set up the cushion that (paraphrased) the public doesn't recognize the factual nuances that I was saddled with -- I perceive Fumo's out-in-four vacay as 1) borderline racist and 2) borderline classist. The pissed-off brain lobe drops "borderline" from both.
If you can refute the fact that Fumo's being whiter than Kemp and richer than Ricky played a role here, I'm all ears. (Just be ready for the MENSA member who isn't going to prison to engage in a debate that he'll win.)
Buckwalter should be ashamed of himself.
Defense Attorney Dennis Cogan, who I hope took a Brillo shower last night, should be ashamed of himself.
And you should be ashamed of a justice system that played delusional cheerleader for a sickeningly greedy degenerate who, in the end, didn't even need a fiance to shelter his blood-money. Nope, the federal bench was more than happy to do it for him.
As for the Metro, I wrote a lot more from the ceremonial courtroom than I was supposed to, like I always do. Here's the verbatim text from my BlackBerry by topic:

On why I have nothing but disdain for Fumo: It's not so much Vince Fumo that I abhor. Anything more than intense disrespect would convince people of a sour-graping mission since I lost John Dougherty's state-senate election to Fumo's handpicked replacement. That'd gloss over the simple fact that he represents greed-laden arrogance and entitlement. I cheered the jury's 137-0 anti-Fumo score because when people brag about rolling around in "other people's money," We the People's revenge should be measured in dollars and years. This guy stole from the poor and didn't feel the least bit of remorse. That's unconscionable and unforgiveable. In my eyes, he's the very bottom of the barrel.

On how I challenged myself to feel the least bit sorry for him pre-verdict: I wore an orange shirt Tuesday on the off-chance it'd remind Fumo of the jumpsuit hue he'll soon sport. Classy, right? But, the reason I went at all was to see whether I felt the least bit of sympathy during a fellow human's dark hour.
When I saw that he looked like death defrosted with a substantial double chin, not even a tinge arose.
When I watched his eyes continually dart to the right, nod his head twice and move his lips though he was talking to nobody, my quickie diagnosis was, "Fakery."
And when his Wii Fit age was said to be a decade post-reality, I felt uncomfortable, but not bad that 4OO-plus heard his medical info.
The only sympathy I felt was for the fiancee and daughter flanking him on white fold-out chairs. That arose, though, because they had to face the fact that the man they chose to stand by was morally corrupt all along.

On the Fumo Crowd: Relocating the sentencing from a tiny 14th Floor room to a spacious, ceremonial courtroom was good for friends, foes and overflows who'd been velvet-roped from witnessing the people's business. That showed me two things: City Councilman Frank DiCicco's ample class or waning Fumocratic pull had prevented him from snaking a seat upstairs. But, the dozens of courtesy-illiterate entitlementbags pushing their way to the front fit their leader's mold to a prison-issue T. But like they say, birds of a dirty feather are corrupt and content together.

On the verdict: I started getting worried when Judge Buckwalter chopped the prosecutors down as exaggerating Fumo's offenses, and questioning why more people didn't write letters lambasting him. Especially, after he'd already cut the potential sentence in half. Did, like his DC lawyer prattled on about, Fumo acutally do a lot for "the little guys"?
When a legislator brings stacks and stacks of money home to his district, it's for the greater good. Usually. But not here. Because what Fumo brought home was a morally dirty pile of loot.
His fiancee may have likened him to God's son and lawyer invoked a sorta-Honest Abe image before Fumo tried one last-ditch spin as the Pouty Xanexed Clown, but the paltry 4.5-year sentence stripped him power-naked forever and ever, Amen.

Misc:
-- The room had the feel of a scene from Caligula, without the physical rapings.
-- I thought the courthouse did right by We the People by moving the "procedure" to a huge room. Even with twice the size, though, there was a line outside.
-- If there's any justice, Fumo will get sent to Mass., Minn., NC or Kent., where the federal bureau of prisons has its best medical services. He is woefully sick, right? (Beyond mentally, I mean.)
-- Loved how his health was referred to in terms that I automatically summarized as a "Wii Fit age of 76." Also thought it was odd how he looked up and to the right, nodded twice and moved his lips as if he was talking to someone when he wasn't over and over again when the words were going against him. But, that magically stopped when his witnesses were talking. Hmm. Odd.
-- I also found it odd that one of his associates in a wheelchair seemingly asked for his approval to leave the room momentarily. She's lucky he granted it.
-- His daughter's weeping testimony struck a chord with me. Until she turned around, looking entirely devoid of the sadness when her face was out of judicial view. Classy. Just like daddy.
-- Apparently the statement "No one's above the law. Mr. Fumo is not above the law." has been proven entirely false.
-- The highlight of Carolyn Zinni's speech was how she thanked the judge for working in a country unlike where she lived in Guadalajara, Mexico for a spell, that has an open justice system. She can now thank him for his Guadalajaran brand of justice. Highlight No. 2: The rest of what she said that left me thinking Vinnie represents a daddy figure in her life. Her "It wasn't the Senator who destroyed Citizens Alliance. It was the federal government who destroyed Citizens Alliance." recounted statement reminded me of what I heard when Joey Merlino et al beat murder raps in 2001.
-- And, finally, I will move to have Fumo's lifetime MENSA membership revoked after hearing him say, "I'm not a big reader, but I know a Shakespearean tragedy, and this is it." The only tragedy, Vinnie, is the sentence. Now, go have your little lady shelter the money you hid prior to trial so it'll be waiting for you in 2013. If you make it that long.

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