The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Keough Artifact II

When moving recently to a new location in Amherst I came across a number of political artifacts that I forgot I had, some of which I put aside to share with you in the coming weeks. I've already shown you a ruler from an old Frankie Keough State Senate campaign, but I also came across this picture of Keough I cut out from the May 20, 1993 edition of The Valley Advocate.

Beneath the picture it reads:

Springfield City Councilor Francis Keough still has a felony tax charge hanging over his head "for eighteen months upon the specific condition that he supply complete and truthful answers to any and all questions put to him by investigators."

This refers to the plea bargain Keough made on the first round of charges he was indicted on in the 1990's, as opposed to the second round in this century that has recently sent him to prison. Keough escaped prison the first time by promising that he would help investigators for then Attorney General Scott Harshbarger in their attempts to expose other corrupt Springfield politicians. The words in quotation are directly from that agreement.

What is interesting about that agreement is what didn't happen. For one thing, there were no further indictments based upon Keough's testimony or anyone else's. The whole investigation just petered out. Part of the reason was that Harshbarger got ambitious. He decided he wanted to be Governor of Massachusetts, and Harshbarger received a very strong message that his candidacy would have no support from the local machine unless he backed off fast from his corruption probe.

Harshbarger was alleged to have been taken back by the reception his probe had received in Springfield. Normally, when corruption is exposed, the attitude is that the investigators are fighting for good against the evil politicians. Instead Harshbarger found that in Springfield the government and the media were portraying the investigators as evil and the crooked politicians as victims! Instead of, "Hurray, they're cleaning up Springfield!" the response was, "Stop picking on the good people of Western Mass!" There were only two print outlets that took the side of the investigators. One was the Valley Advocate. The other was yours truly.

Doing great work for the Advocate at that time was a guy named Al Giordano. A former Yippie who had studied under Abbie Hoffman, Giordano is best remembered for being the reporter most responsible for forcing the retirement of former District Attorney Matthew Ryan. But he was also the host of a popular radio show on WNNZ and an all around rabble rouser who was always up to some kind of outrageous crusade. Here's a picture of Al taken just after he left Massachusetts for an undisclosed location in South America.

The reason he went to South America and the reason his exact location was undisclosed is because he began publishing NarcoNews, which tracks the international trade in illegal drugs. It is the most dangerous form of journalism imaginable, since drug lords are only too eager to kill those who expose their secrets. Equally as dangerous, and sometimes more so are the law enforcement types, who are often corrupted by the drug trade and who have an equal stake with the pusher in insuring no light is shined on the drug trade.

In recent years Al has been protected by a shield of publicity. Rolling Stone magazine gave him national exposure when it named him its Hot Muckraker of the year and his NarcoNews is now available in seven languages. He also has a popular band called Zapa-Sutra, with which he is shown on the right in a recent photograph.

But before he was appearing in national magazines and battling the world's most dangerous businessmen he was on the Frank Keough beat for the Valley Advocate. The article accompanying the Keough photo has Giordano's typically colorful writing, as he denounces Mike Albano as "the biggest, dumbest dupe of all" in his passionate defense of Keough and declares the editorial staff of the Springfield Newspapers as Keough's "partners in crime."

It's interesting to speculate what might have been different had Keough not had the last laugh in the Harshbarger corruption investigation. It was the failure of that investigation to bear fruit that set the stage for the wholesale looting of Springfield over the next ten years, culminating with Keough's "biggest, dumbest dupe" Mike Albano taking over as mayor. After the Harshbarger investigation flopped, they thought they were invincible. If only the public had listened to people like Al, Stephanie Kraft and others at the Advocate, people like Dan Yorke, and activists like Bob and Karen Powell. Or people like me. We've since all had the satisfaction of having been proven totally right in the end, but there's no satisfaction in being proven correct when what you are predicting is disaster.

Jordan Williams is best known in the Pioneer Valley as the former publisher of the now defunct Springfield based magazine City Limits, which lasted about a year from 1992 to 1993. I worked there as a reporter and copy editor, so no wonder it failed. In any case that's a picture of Jordan below taken on Cape Cod.

Lately, when he's not working as a computer wizard for Bechtel, he is a world traveler with his faithful companion Micheline. Recently they were in Argentina, and sent these pictures. The one below shows a billboard advertising nude tango dancing.

One day they came across drum-beating protesters denouncing the United States.

Here is an icon from the protest, a U.S. bomber with a crucified Jesus nailed on it.

Well, that's typical of our friends south of the border. Glad to take our money, but offering only insults in return.

Finally, I hope this is true:

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