Like you, my first thought was, Wow. Look at how far Charlotte will go to top Raleigh.
After all, why else, if not to outshine its Capital City neighbor, would Charlottes mayor go and get himself busted in a federal sting that has become international news?
It certainly couldnt have been for the penny ante payoffs federal undercover agents made to ex-mayor Patrick Summers Eve Cannon. Didnt the dude see American Hustle, the hit movie about greedy politicians and the seemingly seedy businessmen eager to grease their palms in exchange for influence?
Dang, man. It was in all of the theaters.
Upon closer review, though, it is obvious to anyone with a discerning eye that no one could be as stupid as Cannon appeared to be in succumbing to the suckerish con especially not for the $48,000 the government contends he accepted.
For instance, an undercover agent allegedly gave the mayor and his wife $1,000 of SAM strolling around money when they arrived in Las Vegas. They were there presumably to con some businessmen on the agents behalf and perhaps take in a show. If youve been to Vegas lately, you know that for $1,000 you couldnt get a fake Gucci, a good meal and see Siegfried & Roy if they were still performing.
Roy, maybe, but not Siegfried, too.
Charlotte residents, never known for their humility, should legitimately be offended that hed sell them and himself so cheaply.
Ill explain it later. For now, though, its enough to say that far from being the rapacious rogue media reports are presenting him to be, I prefer to think Mayor Loose Cannon was merely running a double-reverse sting on the Feds in order to demonstrate for other aspiring leaders and politicians that crime doesnt pay.
Why, just last week in Charlotte, Cannons message got through like a punch in the gut to participants in a wonderful organization called YBM Young Black Men.
Punched in the gut is how some of the young men at the 7-year-old organizations annual leadership conference looked on TV last week as they emerged from various meetings and workshops. The stench from Cannons arrest still wafted throughout the city while John Martin, founder of YBM, and others mentored the academically high-achieving young men on how to become respected community and city leaders.
Just as important, they used Cannon to demonstrate how not to become a respected leader.
Mayor Cannon was a big supporter of ours and had done really good work with us, Martin told me this week. He said he tried to use what happened to Cannon as a teachable moment. We had conversations around the reason we started the organization. It was to help our young men develop that character and integrity early on.
We were saying even before this happened that we want to work with them early so we could help them avoid the traps of leadership and power, he said. We have to make sure we put in front of them more than one leader, because if youre counting on only one leader, then that person has an opportunity to let you down.
Or teach you a valuable lesson. Nothing Cannon or anyone else could have said would have struck as resounding a chord with the young whippersnappers as hizzoner going and getting himself pinched in so spectacular a fashion.
Say Thank you to the former mayor, fellas.
Among other things, Cannon reportedly told one of his presumed benefactors that he needed $12,500 for a feminine hygiene product he was developing. The alleged product was to be called Hers, presumably because Summers Eve was already taken and because no one could imagine a feminine hygiene product called His.
How the federal agent kept from guffawing remains a mystery.
Cannon is merely another in a long line of altruistic politicians willing to sacrifice their own careers for the good of others. His selflessness calls to mind forgotten New York legislator and statesman George Washington Plunkitt, who came up with the term honest graft to describe his self-serving deeds with the citys Tammany Hall political machine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Plunkitt, who claimed graft was necessary for good government, reportedly said, I seen my opportunities and I took em.
Ranks right up there with Give me liberty or give me death, doesnt it?
OK, maybe not. Whats undeniable is that Plunkitt is only remembered, when hes remembered at all, for his brazen betrayal of the publics trust.
If the current charges against Cannon stick, the same, sadly, will be said of Charlottes chump-change charlatan.
Thats a heck of an odoriferous legacy, one no kind of spray can mask.
Saunders: 919-836-2811 or email@example.com