Nonissue

Set Don Hill free

Nonissue:Buzz is not a big believer in conspiracy theories. Oswald? He did it. Elvis? Dead.

So nearly two years ago (two!) when the feds were wheeling files out of the offices of what seemed like every black politician in town as part of an alleged corruption probe linked to apartment developer Brian Potashnik, we didn't buy claims that the investigation was a white establishment plot to suppress blacks.

See, as a former assistant city editor at a daily newspaper in San Antonio, Buzz often heard complaints when reporters would catch Latino office holders doing bad stuff. Why not go after the white guys? The short answer was that it was much easier to catch minorities cutting corners, because they were new to the power biz, unlike the white guys who had been the establishment for so long that they knew how to obscure their smellier deeds.

So with June marking the second anniversary of searches of the City Hall offices of council members James Fantroy and Don Hill, you'd think something would have ripened for picking in the feds' inquiry by now—or not. And with the recent news out of Washington concerning White House political meddling with the offices of federal prosecutors in other states, something about the investigation is beginning to smell pretty ripe. Somehow, those conspiracy theories seem a little less far-fetched these days.

If you're going to allow TV news cameras to tape images of agents wheeling dollies out of someone's office, Mr. FBI Man, you better find something salacious in those files. At this point, it had better be something like a human leg.

The lo-o-o-ong wait for the investigation's outcome is especially damaging to the feds' credibility now that Hill is a front-runner for mayor. We like Hill: He's smart, successful and knows the city. Unless he's ever convicted of anything, he's presumed innocent. But it's tough to keep that presumption in mind when you recall the stories about the investigation. Why, after two years, does he still have this cloud over his head? Indict the man or no bill him at long last, and even up the playing field for mayor.

And there is a cloud. "It's been more a matter of opposition candidates kind of whispering" about the investigation, says Hill, who is careful not to criticize the FBI. Why is that? "I want to believe fundamentally that our institutions are fair..." he says. "If it's every man for himself out here...we're in trouble as a country."

 
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