On Monday former Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt was convicted on racketeering charges.

This week in Clancy's Commentary, Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos speaks out on the big picture of local corruption that Gill Pratt was involved in, along with the family and associates of former Rep. Bill Jefferson.

Clancy DuBos / Eyewitness News Political Analyst

NEW ORLEANS -- Yesterday's conviction in federal court of former New Orleans City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt closes the book on the political machine of former Congressman Bill Jefferson.

Leading members of that machine have been convicted of corruption. Equally important, machine itself has been dismantled partly by the feds, and partly by the voters.

While the corruption of the Jefferson Machine is galling, the story of Bill Jefferson and his family is a cautionary tale. Jefferson rose from extreme poverty in northeast Louisiana and became one of the state's most influential political figures. He had the brains, the talent and the opportunity to shine on a national stage.

Sadly, he also had a Shakespearean flaw: greed. Instead of using his political success to lift and inspire others, he used the public trust to enrich himself, his family and his cronies. The higher he climbed, the greedier he got and the more brazen his schemes became.

What could have been a classic American success story is instead an American tragedy. Instead of lifting and inspiring, the fate of Bill Jefferson and his political family should serve as a warning to all who think public service is a shortcut to private gain.


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