Here is my message to the newly elected officials, those currently In office, and those gearing up to run — get it together and quickly.
In what became a pot of the cold and unrelenting water of truth, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently stood up in a room filled with people of color at a recent Pennsylvania Society event, and said the following: “When you are a public official who violates the trust of the people by stealing money, you do not belong in that seat, and will be removed.”
He went on to declare that he has locked up over 60 corrupt officials in his three years as attorney general and hasn’t lost any of the 29 cases he’s tried, including a lawsuit against the president of the United States.
Someone was standing beside me as he made these declarations, and wondered aloud that he must be gearing up to run for a higher office. But all I felt was embarrassment that we have so many local politicians who are currently in jail or under federal indictment. If the door to your office is a revolving one, and you change employees every few months, chances are that it’s not the employees but YOU as the leader that’s the cause. If you are thin skinned and easily offended, you should not lead. Take it to the Lord in prayer and seek leadership courses for self-development.
If money makes your eyes glitter, and you always feel the need to have the latest styles and cars on a Coca-Cola budget, you might want to take a hard look at what is driving you to make deals with folks and to take their money, only to find yourself complicit when they show up to cash in on their investment.
When as leaders you neutralize your identity and compromise your standards to fit in or get a coveted role that you are barely qualified for, it is right THERE that you are on the slippery slope to back room deals, trying to keep up with blue blood wealth and trying to live the diamond life on a peanut butter budget. Those with the real power who would want certain policies shifted in their favor so they can continue to grow exponentially in wealth know they have you over a barrel when they promise you money for favors.
In the case of former District Attorney Seth Williams, it was a new roof, money for membership to a high octane club for power and stature, and breaking all kinds of rules to keep up a lifestyle he could hardly afford on his salary, which wasn’t peanuts. However, his greed and arrogance also led to the destruction of far too many Black and Brown lives so that he could be seen as tough on crime, even when there was evidence to support the innocence of those people.
There is no room in public office to be arrogant, rude and dismissive of the constituents that you are there to serve.
That means, dear public officials, that you must sit down and find ways to make this city a livable place, not JUST for the ones who can fatten your pockets, but the ones who deserve a solid home, good education and the opportunity to build a successful life.
While I am on this subject, please choose a chief of staff that is there to fully serve the needs of the constituents, because they are the ones that can create a warm atmosphere of service instead of an office where people sit around collecting paychecks but nothing gets done.
So now, take serious inventory of choices you are about to make, and give it some hard thought. Do you want to take the risk that you would never be caught, or be the kind of leader who was hired to SERVE?
The choice is yours.
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