North Brother Island
I thought about what to tell the others,
how we could ferry over and pick our way
through the shoreline vines and brambles
into the interior of North Brother Island,
with its stark-raving buildings
ringing the inner forest like Easter Island stones --
Tuberculosis Pavilion, the Nurse's House --
walls aching from neglect,
gaping portals where the glass is gone
but the iron bars still grip for dear life
against the ghosts this sanitarium.
Dear, dear life.
You have been my greatest pathogen.
You are the cruelest of diseases, cycling between
proliferation and dormancy, epiphany and stupor.
Others fret over ways to extend you,
or rather, how to extend into you.
But you know better, taking so many
in convulsive waves, bodies in the streets,
the slyly perpetrated ruse of dignity exposed
for what it is: The ultimate indignity, the mess.
Imagine! Tom Corbett's Former Top Prosecutor Afraid Porn Emails Would Be Used To Intimidate Him and Silence Others
We're not going to see former Pennsylvania prosecutor Frank Fina or any other Tom Corbett associate doing the perp walk. Sending pornographic emails to each other isn't a crime, just an ethics breach and a sign of a little juvenile depravity. What's a little risky business among a bunch of powerful men with subpoena power acting out their greatest fantasies?
No, when it comes to perp walks, Tom Corbett and his goodfellas gave Pennsylvania a clean sweep by arresting such hardened "criminals" as Al Bowman, the poor staffer for PA. Senate Whip Brett Feese, who was put through the ringer before finally having many of the charges dropped in exchange for Corbett's desired results: A GOP gubernatorial victory in 2010. In securing this brass ring, all Corbett and his buddies in the AG's office had to do was scare the crap out of dozens of legislative staffers, officials and political operatives -- except for Jane Orie -- and threaten them with indictments.
Oh, Tom Corbett cleaned up Harrisburg, all right, just in time to claim the throne, thanks to the backing of PAGOP leaders like Rob Gleason, Bob Asher and Leroy Zimmerman. Corbett was THEIR GUY, even as Corbett and his zealously aggressive AG prosecutors spent years and millions throwing a few people in jail, all so Corbett could take control of the state of Pennsylvania and, for four years with total control of the state, do absolutely nothing.
But here's the rich part, which must be filed in the "What Goes Around, Comes Around" department. Because this week, with PornGate still sorting itself out, out comes news from the Philadelphia Inquirer that Fina successfully got a court order against new PA AG Kathleen Kane preventing her from naming Fina among the list of porn email recipients she uncovered in a probe of another quirky bit of case-making by Corbett and his AG henchmen.
Why did Fina need a court order to protect himself? It seems he was afraid of having done to him what he and his colleagues did to dozens of PA legislative staffers and elected officials who were mercilessly intimidated into testifying in the Bonusgate investigation.
Numerous people with knowledge of their quarrel - including sources close to both - have said Fina participated in the exchange of X-rated e-mails.
If anyone in Pennsylvania has any question that the only thing wrong with the Corbett administration and the reason the current one-term governor is down 17 points in the polls against Democratic challenger Tom Wolf is because that Corbett is inept, it's not that simple.
Corbett and his "administration" is inept. They spent four years enacting absolutely none of the reforms they promised back when they were campaigning and slamming political opponents in jail. But in addition to inept, and inconsequential, Corbett and his crew were also dangerous.
I know. I know. Selective prosecution is not grounds for dismissing charges against the likes of Brett Cott or Al Bowman or some of the others Corbett & Co. punished in a selective prosecution of political hacks who abused state office to win more elections. However, it doesn't make how Corbett went about "winning" office he was unqualified to manage any less nauseating.
Say anything you want about how much of a career Kane has in front of her. She has certainly caused her share of consternation and head-scratching for the way she has dismissed cases or leaked information or handled staff turnover. She had a trump card to play with the pornographic email chains that zipped around the great men who ran the OAG and staffed some of the state's highest judicial offices. I'm happy to know that under the surface of the surly, unaccountable personas of those who staffed Corbett's OAG office were, indeed, men who are as truly repugnant as they appeared to be. It's like .. mystery solved.
But the irony here is that in being exposed for being a porn email perpetrator, Fina and others in Corbett's army are outraged -- OUTRAGED! -- that anyone in a position of prosecutorial authority might, indeed, move to intimidate them.
Certainly, the many people who were reeled into the Bonusgate case, and the dozens more who were threatened and given immunity or dragged before grand juries, have a ton of things to tell about the way Corbett & Co. ran that operation. They feared for their freedom, their families, their pensions, not because they were completely innocent, but because they knew plain as day that people in charge of cleaning up Harrisburg were among the worst at political gamesmanship, power hungry and abusing the system in the same way for which others went to jail.
The end of the Corbett error is coming. Many are breathing sigh of relief, and having the last laugh, quietly, out of the spotlight, happy to see that what comes around, goes around. I mean, these were the people who called on Twitter to give them information on account holders tweeting bad things about Corbett and his abuse of power.
As for whether or not the PAGOP has learned anything from all this humiliation and embarrassment? Rumor has it that Jim Cawley, the lt. gov., is the top pick for the GOP's next gubernatorial candidate. Good to know they are really analyzing their problems. Good to know they really care about quality leadership, policies, action.
Is a former political and sports columnist who worked great cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. She lives New York.