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Lady Justice has her day

The next time you see Lady Justice, pat her on the back.

She got it exactly right last week.

In Augusta's federal courthouse last Friday afternoon, a jury convicted former State Sen. Charles Walker of 127 counts ranging from conspiracy to filing false charity tax returns.

Hold on, allow me to savor that last line for a second: former State Sen. Charles Walker. (OK, thanks for the indulgence.)

Of course, not everyone is happy. A couple of legislative cohorts are already crying foul. A representative of the Democratic Party in Augusta said the poor little jury was just overwhelmed by the prosecution's rhetoric when they pronounced former Sen. Walker guilty. Even some of the former senator's constituents got in on the act, saying he was set up because he was black and too powerful.

Oh, please. The man was found guilty on 127 counts. Saying he was the victim of a set-up based on race, power or anything else is just ridiculous. Need proof? Just look at Robin Williams, who is also looking at a long, state-funded "vacation."

Face it, no matter the outcome of his appeal, former Sen. Walker is at least guilty of abusing his position and building a fortune on the backs of the very people who elected him to office. (And yes, there will be an appeal. His cadre of attorneys have already set it up, asking for a mistrial because of the jury during the opening hours of the trial.)

His supporters - and a few detractors - point to all the good he's done for Augusta and say that should have some sway in the sentencing.

I agree.

I hope the judge considers this: Every time former Sen. Walker has brought money to Augusta, he's also brought money to himself. He's made millions as a politician, while hiding behind the mantle of being a benevolent public servant.

And I have one more hope, a wish that hits closer to home. I hope the result of this trial sends a signal to every politician and public servant in the area: You are not greater than the office you serve or the people who elected you. Their needs should always be at the forefront of what you do and how you do it.

It shouldn't take a criminal conviction to shine the light on what politicians should and should not do. It is the job of every citizen to serve as a check and balance for elected officials.

As Charles Walker proved, many of them will go as far as their ego will take them. It's up to us to stop the runaway trains at the ballot box.

And just as I'm thankful for Lady Justice's decision last week, I'm also grateful for riding lawnmowers. The belt that drives the blades on my mower snapped last week, leaving me with a nothing more than a slow go-cart that I could ride around my yard and look at the ever-growing grass.

Instead, I broke out the push mower (usually my wife's gym partner) and walked back and forth for hours.

And when I can move my back again, I'll get around to fixing my riding lawnmower.



Web posted on Thursday, June 9, 2005











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