Sherwood’s Notebook: ‘Pow, Pow, Pow’ Again

Getty Images

This time, it was the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington. “Pow, pow, pow,” one witness told TV reporters on Monday, recounting the rapid fire shots.

Details emerge, swirl and change, but we know the basic story.

Whether it’s at the Holocaust Museum in 2009 or just last year at the Family Research Council, shots can ring out any time, in any severity, in any place.

That’s why even as the terrible Navy Yard incident is investigated, it’s important that people like D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton decry the shootings but urge the nation’s capital to resist the certain calls to close down access even more.

On Monday, as the Navy Yard shooting captured the nation’s attention, a Capitol Hill resident tweeted a question. The police were urging people to avoid the Navy Yard area and to “shelter in place” if nearby. So your Notebook got this tweet: “Want to support local [Capitol Hill] businesses tonight and be around neighbors. Are we still to shelter in place?”

Your Notebook responded, “If you’re not near the immediate shooting area, great idea to be out to support [local] businesses. Fight fear with action!”

Enough said. Or, as the English properly said on a poster way back in 1939 to reassure a nervous public about possible bombing attacks, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

■ Us and them. District citizens have carried on through more than two years of scandal and public corruption. And no doubt there’s more to come. We just don’t know when.

Back in the 1990s when the federal control board ran the city, your Notebook periodically ran items that we called “We are not alone.” Those items detailed the malfeasance, corruption and other wrongdoing found in cities and states across the nation.

We haven’t done that in a while. But a recent New York Times article described how three mayors of Florida towns near Miami had recently been arrested for various corruption charges.
Here’s the lead sentence in the Sept. 1 report by reporter Nick Madigan:

“Even by Florida standards, the arrests of three suburban Miami mayors on corruption charges within a month were a source of dismay, if not exactly a surprise.”

Officials say Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman was arrested for allegedly accepting under-the-table payments from a company that wanted to open a clinic. And — attention District employees! — he was turned in by members and staff of the city council.

In August, the Times reported, the mayor of Sweetwater was arrested along with two lobbyists in an alleged kickback scheme. (Mayor Manuel Maroño, by the way, is president of the Florida League of Cities.) Miami Lakes Mayor Michael A. Pizzi also was arrested in the same scheme.

The Times reported that prosecutors said Mayor Maroño received more than $40,000 in bribes while Mayor Pizzi allegedly received $6,750. The mayors and lobbyist were targets of an FBI sting operation and could face 20 years in prison.

“We bought the trifecta,” said Carla Miller to the Times. Miller is the ethics officer for Jacksonville and a former prosecutor. “It’s bad when three mayors get led out in handcuffs,” she told the paper, “What’s left of the public trust gets ground into little pieces.”

Florida has a corruption history dating back to the days when the Mob controlled Miami. And don’t get us started on the corruption found today in Illinois. It’s ingrained, just like Washington Post columnist Colby King says of the District.

The Times also quoted Katy Sorenson, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner who runs a good government initiative for the University of Miami. “They get drunk on power,” she told The Times. “There’s a certain psychology to some of the people who run for office here — they don’t think they’re going down the wrong track, but there’s a slippery slope,” she added. “There’s a lack of self-awareness, an immaturity, brazenness, of feeling like a big shot. So when they’re arrested, they’re very surprised.”

Well, we can’t resist asking, are there any politicians in Washington who fit that description?

Even one case of public corruption elsewhere is no leavening agent for the sordid corruption still being unearthed in the District. But when some prejudiced or ignorant folks offhandedly say the District’s 630,000 citizens don’t deserve voting rights or other treasures of American democracy, it does help to know of other cases.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Contact Us