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The politics of keeping up with ‘mud-wrestling’ politics


Practical Politics 

As we are daily inundated—willingly or not—with the legal travails of Donald Trump, hoping that our country’s guardrails really hold the line, we need to also keep check on our own two shining examples of Black political service gone awry—the Mark Ridley-Thomas affair, and the newer Curren Price case.

Mr. Trump will likely seal his own fate, given his constant unhinged public utterances and unorthodox legal maneuvers. And though he and some others in the country are betting he’ll eventually win out over his detractors, that’s really a sucker’s bet. The more likely outcomes include jail time for him and the pulling down of his New York real estate empire. For those aficionados of the game MONOPOLY,  the Boardwalk and Park Place areas are in real danger of being boarded up and sold off. This will be an ignominious end for Mr. Trump, the 6-time failed casino owner, which, by the way, will not likely include a second victory in the presidential race this year either.

Closer to Los Angeles, what fate will befall or has already befallen Mark Ridley- Thomas, the long-serving city councilman of the Leimert Park—Crenshaw corridor section of Los Angeles? (District 9).  Dr. Ridley-Thomas (Ph.D from USC in 1989) served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1991 to 2002, then was elected a member of the California State Assembly and the California State Senate, before being elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2008, serving until 2020, then  returning to the L.A. City Council. He was a very skilled politician.

His case is still relatively unsettled, even though he has been tried and convicted. There was a 16-day trial after which a federal jury on March 30, 2023 found Ridley-Thomas guilty of seven counts: one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, one count of honest services mail fraud, and four counts of honest services wire fraud. The jury found that Ridley-Thomas had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Dr. Marilyn Louise Flynn, 84, of Los Feliz, formerly the dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work and a tenured professor there. Dr.  Ridley-Thomas was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for what was called a bribery and fraud scheme, plus ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.

Dr. Flynn pled guilty in September 2022 to one count of bribery. On July 24, 2023, Judge Fischer, presiding in the case, sentenced Flynn to three years of probation, including 18 months of home confinement, and fined her $150,000.

As of this date, Dr. Ridley-Thomas, remains out on appeal, and is demonstrating briskly that one does not have to be a rich, White male politician to befuddle America’s legal system. It remains to be seen whether he will ever serve the three and a half year term he was given.

 Concerning the other very famous and highly accomplished Los Angeles Black politician, Curren Price, his criminal case is very slowly moving forward.  The county District Attorney’s Office filed five counts of grand theft by embezzlement, three felony counts of perjury and two counts of conflict of interest, against Councilman Price. He is principally accused of voting on projects involving developers tied to his wife’s consulting firm and then failing to report the connections. If convicted, he faces a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Just recently, he appeared in court  and pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled to appear again in court at the beginning of March, this year. We wish him well.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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