Friday, January 15, 2010

UPDATED: The Brizzi Requiem

Carl Brizzi announced he is not running for re-election. Surprised count? Zero.

Brizzi says he'll throw his weight behind his chief of staff, Helen Marchal. Good call. Wonderful lady. Her husband is Democrat Commissioner Jeff Marchal, a good guy in his own right.

Under optimal circumstances, Ms. Marchal might have a fighting chance to crawl from the wreckage and make a respectable showing. However, knowing I needed such circumstances, I'd be miffed by the following Brizzi quote were I her:

"...after serving as prosecutor for the last seven years, I have wrestled with the question of whether I could make a commitment to serve an additional five years."

You can't serve an additional five years unless you first intended to serve out the remaining one year of your current term, can you? That says to me that Brizzi is stayin' for now.

Sorry, but guilt by association is an often lethal political staple. That's why I'm skeptical Dr. Evil's number two can Febreeze off the Brizzi under any circumstance. But with him clinging to the office, it'll be impossible. You can't establish your own reputation for ethics and adept management when you're still working under the Brizzi cloud.

Were I Marchal, I'd offer to give back the Brizzi endorsement letter in exchange for his letter of resignation. (Seriously, isn't having Brizzi endorse you for prosecutor akin to having Michael Vick endorse you for ASPCA president?) Also, aren't we talking awkwardness on par with The Office? How do you navigate around the fact your campaign's biggest liability is the guy for whom you work? Yow.

Brizzi is actually pretty savvy politically, so you have to ask, "Why doesn't he go and give her a fighting chance?"

I'm beginning to wonder if we had him all wrong. Maybe it wasn't that he is loaded with Tim Durham stock-pick money. Maybe it's that, like Durham, he's completely over-leveraged. If, as one blog reported, every property he owns is encumbered by two mortgages, can you imagine him walking away from $130,000 per year without a sweet deal lined up?

Maybe his continued tenure at the City-County Building is not political arrogance or indifference, but rather the last card held by a crumbling guy with nowhere to fall: if the GOP wants him gone in time to save this election, they better get somebody on his phone with a really good offer.

UPDATE: Rough week. Sometimes I overlook the obvious, such as the necessity that Helen Marchal resign for fear of violating the Little Hatch Act. She is no longer in the office so "The Office" issues are gone.

The federal Hatch Act prohibits local employees from engaging in political activities if the entity for which they work has programs financed in whole or part by federal money. Those activities include being a candidate for a partisan office. Clearly, you cannot stop a sitting prosecutor from running for re-election, which makes Brizzi's remaining all the more troubling, doesn't it?


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