Chris Rose: Another one bites the dust

Published: Jul. 19, 2012 at 1:49 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2012 at 1:49 AM CDT
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Another day in Louisiana, another dollar in the pockets of a dirty politician.

Another scalp on the wall of U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

Another one bites the dust.

Wednesday's entry on the hit parade is New Orleans Councilman Jon Johnson, who plead guilty to skimming federal funds away from two recovery charities for personal use.

It's almost ho-hum, business as usual around here, as once again the Katrina windfall proved too large, too seductive and too easy for a man of power and influence to keep his hands off.

And maybe it would be just another day's passing news, were it not for the unwittingly insightful press release Johnson issued Wednesday.

Admitting his guilt – in a most oblique and passive fashion – Johnson has asked us, the public, to keep in mind what a swell guy he has been.

Up until now, at least.

He wrote: "I am hopeful that when all the facts are known, it will be found that my positive efforts to help these two charitable organizations, my many civic activities and my years of honest service to my city and state outweigh my transgressions."


Let me get this right: He helped these charities – before he stole their money?

He did good works on behalf of the poor and dispossessed – before he took the money intended to help rebuild heir lives?

This is such exotic reasoning, such an extreme and venal sense of self-entitlement, such a clouded and corrupt perspective, that it makes it easier to understand why people like this rig the system for their personal gain:

They have lost their minds.

I have bad news for you, Mr. Johnson:

The sad fact is, whatever civic activities and "honest service" you performed for the city will long be forgotten when your epitaph is written.

Jon Johnson sealed his fate Wednesday as just another guy who preyed upon the inadvertent bounty created by the disaster that drowned the city, crushed spirits and destroyed lives.

While he got rich.

Perhaps an extended period of solitude -- say, a prison sentence -- will give Mr. Johnson the time necessary to understand that public service is a calling, not an opportunity.

And that no amount of self-serving accolades shield the fact that he was just another common grifter who got busted.

Nothing more. Nothing less.