Mr. Seth Williams, the once-beloved Philadelphia District Attorney who this month was indicted by a federal grand jury on 23 counts of corruption, is unlike former U.S. Congressman Mr. Chaka Fattah, the last politician here who was indicted on corruption charges and sentenced to prison.
Mr. Fattah, whose son was a shady Philadelphia businessman that was also indicted and imprisoned, leading up to his trial never stopped declaring his innocence in the news media and pretending as if everything were normal: A year ago this month, at City Hall, Mr. Fattah, then still a U.S. Congressman, and his wife were at an awards ceremony where they took pictures and shook hands with fans and friends, despite the big, dark cloud looming over them.
As strange as Mr. Fattah’s showmanship was then, in the face of serious charges, Mr. Williams’ silence now, and his opposite approach to the public, is even stranger.
Sure, Mr. Fattah, who in June succumbed to the calls for him to resign, talked too much, but the taxpayers last year at least knew where he stood and why, and his brazen defense of himself inspired others to echo his innocence.
But Mr. Williams isn’t attempting to influence the court of public opinion, where many within it think his resistance to resign is solely because he needs the money to pay for his defense, and his reasoning why is likely because he can’t; he knows his reputation his beyond repair, his words are of little value and would fall on deaf ears, and he didn’t build up the same level of goodwill that Mr. Fattah, who served 10 terms, did, so the benefit of the doubt won’t be as generous, if it exist at all.
By remaining silent, Mr. Williams can neither lie nor tell the truth, neither capitulate nor demonstrate his effectiveness, and yet the silence is destructive beyond measure. By saying anything at all, Mr. Williams could risk mis-speaking, but by staying silent, the District Attorney is surely mis-stepping.
At the very least, since he has, to date, refused to resign, the Philadelphia electorate deserves to hear from him, particularly on the subject matter of effectiveness and morale, which translates to productivity, or the lack thereof.
Can a District Attorney indicted on 23 counts of corruption, and who already admitted to accepting gifts from those outside of the office, be an effective leader and prosecutor? That question shouldn’t linger but rather be answered by Mr. Williams, who’s accused of selling the powers of the office for personal enrichment, immediately.
Mr. Williams isn’t just innocent until proven guilty but he’s also a public official, and can be subjected to public scrutiny and confrontation, and be pressured to speak publicly, until he resigns. Whereas, the federal government carries the burden of proof in The United States of America v. Seth Williams, the District Attorney now has the burden to prove he can, despite his legal troubles, be an ethical, fair, and focused chief law enforcement officer for Philadelphia.
Of course, making that case in a credible manner, given the circumstances, is seemingly impossible, and so Mr. Williams, having nothing nice or substantive to say, is remaining quiet. And since he won’t speak publicly, he shouldn’t lead a public institution; he should remain silent and quietly pack his shit up, and walk away from the office, with his head held low, never looking back, and never to return.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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Photo courtesy of the author.