View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, July 10, 2003

I knew this wasn't going to go well for the Asians. All the evidence is that the policeman who shot Paul Childs, James Turney, was a lousy cop, with a prior shooting, ethical, um, issues, and test scores that could only have gotten him on the force with the help of the University of Michigan Law School's point system. Which is essentially what happened. About 35 other applicants had better scores, but he checked the box that counted most - Asian - and leapfrogged right over them to the bottom of his class. His mother being Asian had nothing to do with anything. But it put a bad cop on the street, because some judge named Hoag decided that the department needed more "diversity."

Even when Asians benefit from affirmative action, they get shafted. And now a city that's basically dealt pretty well with racial issues recently is in for it. Most of the Alliance of Ministers don't seem inclined to take a racial angle on the shooting. But their family minister, Paul Martin, has called on an old friend to represent them - Johnnie Cochran. ("If he's got a knife, don't take his life.") Remember the old Star Trek where the glowing child's pinwheel shows up and the Klingons and Humans start butchering each other because the thing feeds off of hatred? Maybe young Johnnie Cochran saw that episode and it sounded like a living to him. Beware, Hollywood. You never know which character is going to end up being the role model for an impressionable youth. We may be worried about all the refugees from California that the mountains were supposed to protect us against, but at least they stay here long enough to have a stake in the place.

In a strange twist, outgoing (faster, please) Mayor Wellington Webb is a good friend of (and recipient of campaign cash from) Cochran and his wife. Mrs. Cochran is a vendor at DIA, last seen getting a no-rebid extension on her lease, costing a city with a $33 million deficit about $4 million dollars for 4-6 years. I'm sure that whatever salary Mrs. Cochran gets paid from her company goes back into the collective coffers of Cochran, Inc. Which means that we, as taxpayers, are not only funding Webb's next campaign, but also Cochran's lawsuit against against the city.

This isn't necessarily out of the ordinary - politicans do favors for friends who turn around and finance their campaigns all the time. It doesn't mean they're bought, or that they can't be bought out for a better price. But it is the kind of thing that Common Cause might spend their time on, rather than explaining to me why I'm missing a good chance to shut up. It also wouldn't be quite so bad if the extensions hadn't been justified on the basis of benefiting small, local, minority ownership. Mrs. Cochran isn't small, middle-class, or local. Hell, she may be white for all I know. The more we learn about this deal, the more it stinks, and the more it's going to cost. And the way out is sometimes the best time for politicans to do favors. Just remember all those upstanding citizens who received White House-embossed Get Out of Jail Free cards on January 20, 2001.

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