06/25/09 — No clemency: Former speaker's friends should know better

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No clemency: Former speaker's friends should know better

The fact that there are 150 people in the state of North Carolina who actually do not understand the reason that Jim Black needs to stay in jail is a bit shocking.

This is not a matter of feeling sorry for an older man who is sick and whose wife is sick and who has to be in federal prison.

There are lots of those in custody right now in prisons all over this country.

What makes any requests for clemency for Black so surprising is that they might actually have been made by current state lawmakers and party leaders.

That almost guarantees that the advanced ethics education for North Carolina lawmakers is not quite taking hold.

Black might have done a lot of good things while serving his state -- and he might even be a nice guy.

But the facts are that he took illegal campaign money, disgraced his state and thought that just because he was speaker of the house and a powerful man that, somehow, that he would get away with it.

And that, by the way, is only what he was caught doing. Who knows how many other deals went on behind the scenes.

Black should stay in jail because he is a crook -- and really, no better than any of the others who took money or bent the rules while allegedly serving their states and communities.

It is time North Carolina took a stand against such activity and let those who are considering it know that there will be consequences -- and severe ones -- if they get caught.

That is the only way to fix what is wrong here and to make sure we do not have to spend the next year addressing more wrongdoing at the statehouse.

Published in Editorials on June 25, 2009 11:00 AM