There was some discussion on Eric Von's show on WMCS-AM during the "Backstory" segment about whether or not Michael McGee Jr should be removed from his committee assignments during the investigations, prosecution and sentencing to come. Former Crazy Shepherd columnist Dave Berkman argued that McGee Jr is innocent until proven guilty, and that he was uncomfortable at any level of government of removing an elected official from their chairmanships and committee assignments until they've been proven guilty.
While it's nice to hear such a reasoned and stirring defense of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R) by Berkman, I find myself reluctantly agreeing with Rick Esenberg who patiently explained why someone should be removed from those positions as a matter of prudence while the investigation proceeds. He compared the McGee Jr situation to a cop who is assigned desk duty after shooting someone while the investigation proceeds. Whether or not it is likely the shooting is wrongful, you still don't want the police officer on the street making decisions about using their gun while their judgement in that area is being investigated. Similarly, you don't want a politician in the position of being able to use the power that he is accused of abusing until trust is restored.
I want to take this a step further. Mark Belling reminded his audience today that McGee Jr still gets paid while the investigations continue (ht: Patrick at Badger Blogger) and that if he holds out until April 2008 McGee Jr will be vested in his pension.
Let me remind you what McGee Jr's lawyer said in court,
McGee's attorney, Glen Givens, said prosecutors are confused about street language and at worst the trio were guilty of planning a battery, which is a misdemeanor.So McGee Jr's defense is that he was engaged in a conspiracy of violence, just an amount of violence not rising to the felony level. So we're no longer talking about whether or not McGee Jr is guilty. Instead the questions left are the severity of the crimes, their cataloging and his sentence.
There's not any reason for him to remain in office a moment longer than it takes for the Milwaukee Common Council to remove him.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has already asked McGee Jr to resign. Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines Jr is calling for a thorough review of "all license applications and other city business under way in McGee's district."
It's time to step it up and remove McGee Jr from office, and it's already past time for the city leadership to take the necessary steps to start the process.
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