Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Tom Sherwood's Notebook: Harry Thomas Jr.

a friend in my neighborhood sent this out on our listserv.  i couldn't agree more!

tim wrote: 

Where's the sympathy for the real victims? Think about all the violence amongst youth that took place in communities like Trinidad and Eckington during this time period. Maybe this money could have saved some lives. 

Tom Sherwood's Notebook: Harry Thomas Jr.

Your Notebook has known Harry Thomas Jr. a long time.

We knew his father, Harry Sr.

As a Washington Post reporter a while back, we’d drag our young son to Ward 5, where our preteen was always treated warmly by the Thomas family.

The senior Thomas also was good news copy. He chaired the committee overseeing parking tickets.
By then, we were working for NBC4.

With cameras rolling, we asked Harry Sr. if he had any overdue tickets himself.

“No, I don’t,” he replied firmly.

“I can check,” we cautioned.

“Don’t check, Tom, don’t check.”

The exchange still amuses those who saw it on TV.

But there is nothing amusing about Harry Thomas Jr.

His heartless theft of $353,000 of our city money over three years underwrote blatant, selfish and foolish spending sprees for himself.

Worse yet, that money had been intended for city programs to help children in Ward 5 and elsewhere. It was for sports programs that the junior Thomas unendingly trumpeted as the way to keep young people focused and achieving, sometimes against great odds.

Yet Thomas, according to the court papers and prosecutors, began stealing from his very first days in office in 2007, stealing from the children he laughed with, played ball with and championed -- at least in words -- every chance he got.

What a crock. What a crook.

Last week, the depth of his thievery officially became known.

Thomas walked into U.S. District Court as a leader of the city and walked out a convicted felon. After months of pious denials -- his family, his children, his reputation meant more to him than anything, he had said -- Thomas fessed up to it all. Only a handful of council members previously had called for Thomas’s resignation. When the fact of his odious criminality became unavoidable, there were a few more calls for him to step aside, including, finally, one from Mayor Vincent Gray. (Chairman Kwame Brown’s statement said only that he expected Thomas to resign.)

Nearly every official written statement we read, however, expressed more concern for Thomas and the impact on his family than it did for the children who were cheated. Various people called it a “sad” day for the city, but that was about it. And some earnestly added that the Thomas family and the city need to put this ugly chapter behind us and “move on.”

Well, pardon the interruption, but don’t citizens get a moment to just be angry?
It was vile greed. (Look it up if you don’t know the word “vile.” It fits.)

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