By: Marvin McCoy
There’s an old Southern saying that I think aptly applies to Mark Ridley-Thomas “a hard head makes a soft behind”.
The Los Angeles City Councilman’s pending criminal trial, slated to start this Tuesday stems from an indictment levied against him and former USC Dean Marilyn Flynn. They were charged as co-conspirators in a scheme that alleges the highly respected longtime lawmaker traded his office for the personal gain of not only himself but also for his son Sebastian, who has amazingly avoided being indicted too.
This scandal is unfortunate as Ridley-Thomas rose from being an obscure math teacher whose amazing intellect saw him become the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and then propelled him to City Hall in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.
With that being said, in Ridley-Thomas’, case and for those who have followed his historic rise and seemingly inevitable fall, I think we all knew eventually this day was coming. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s many of us who wishes he is ruled innocent on all 21 counts in his federal indictment because I can’t imagine Los Angeles without Mark Ridley-Thomas’ leadership.
Mark Ridley-Thomas avoided the many “temptations” that come with the power he acquired and there is no doubt in my mind that we’d be calling him Mr. Mayor, as opposed to a convicted felon, had he not been charged with these crimes.
We’ve quietly watched his charm, and his engagement of lawmakers in his quest to constantly achieve elected seat after elected seat, but the way he avoided charges for previously reported indiscretions led us all to predict his fall was coming but to come right as he was a certain shoo-in for the Los Angeles mayor’s seat wasn’t on anyone’s 2021 bingo card. Surely it wasn’t on mine.
Now that documents are public about who will testify against him leads me to believe this is why Sheila Kuehl didn’t seek an additional term, and why the Board of Supervisors collectively went after former Sheriff Alex Villanueva who had the ability to investigate them.
The government’s trial memo finally reveals who the County officials are who aided in Ridley-Thomas’ scheme and there’s no way to avoid scrutiny of the board who more than likely approved said employee’s appointments to their positions. Everyone on the board benefits from a cozy relationship with USC.
There is no way Mark Ridley-Thomas can or should avoid conviction because in taking on this martyrdom mission against the Department of Justice is obvious he and his legal counsel are ignoring the fact that the DOJ has over a 95% conviction rate and that his co-conspirator, Dr. Marilyn Flynn, has already accepted responsibility for her role in this scheme and agreed to plead guilty. That alone should’ve been enough for him to accept a deal to avoid further embarrassment. That’s if one was even offered.
This further cements what we all suspected that Mark Ridley-Thomas’ ego is bigger than Inglewood Mayor James Butts’ who is also skating on thin ice until he’s no longer needed by the establishment.
It’s quite possible Ridley-Thomas’ fear and realization that accepting a plea or admission, despite all his hard work and ambition to appear as the “Black Messiah” of Los Angeles, means his political career is over. His long and illustrious career will come with an asterisk like Barry Bonds baseball career.
With all the promise and hope we had for Ridley-Thomas he failed us and himself and his foolish quest for a not guilty verdict, despite the facts we’ve all read ad nauseum, shows us he’s not that smart after all.
Marvin McCoy is a lifelong Inglewood resident and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @MarvinM83905936 | Instagram: @therealmccoymarketinggroup