By Roldo Bartimole
Jimmy Dimora was a victim of ignorance. The ignorance of his choice of friends. The ignorance of his expectations of public office. The simple ignorance of a simple man.
He added arrogance to ignorance. An explosive combination in public life.
He was also the victim of circumstances. This resulted in the over-sentencing by Judge Sara Lioi. The 28-year “death sentence” of U. S. Judge Sara Lioi.
Dimora’s ignorance apparently led him to believe that he had done nothing that other politicians had not done. This might have some truth to it. Not enough, however. And it isn’t much of a defense in a court of law. Or anywhere else.
Dimora badly needed a media advisor. Worse than being his own lawyer, he decided to be his own media brain. Bad decision. His comments and behavior throughout this entire episode revealed that he didn’t have someone advising him. If he did, he ignored or got the worst advice anyone could buy.
He was also the victim of circumstances in his public posturing.
Dimora had the misfortune of running into the law just as the media, particularly the Plain Dealer, ran into threats of losing position as our arbitrator of all things. The newspaper business suddenly found itself under threat of the internet and other obstacles and vulnerable to obsolesce. And financial distress. It needed relief. Dimora was an easy target. He could sell newspapers, they bet.
Former County auditor Frank Russo should have been the PD’s Public Enemy No. 1. But he still walks our streets. Thanks prosecutors. Thanks Judge.
But, unfortunately, for Dimora, Jimmy fit the needs of the PD’s front page. He was literally the Big Fat Photo the paper felt it needed to sell newspapers. And boy did it use him. Public Enemy No. 1. With the proper girth.
Of course, the TV cameras also loved the lumbering fat figure walking to his office or silently to court each day. Powerful stuff. Even the best media consultant would have had trouble with this. Yet, in how many cases have our culprits been allowed to enter court rooms unobserved. By a back door.
Jimmy couldn’t catch a break.
Even the Scene noted this week what a “low-rent, nickel and dime” crime affair it all was. Its editors pulled out an old Scene cover with Dimora’s photo. The headline: “Godfather,” said the bold headline. Not hardly.
Jimmy walked the perp line every day. Don’t underestimate the power of those daily processions on TV. They embedded in the public mind.
The media lived on these pictures. You’ll see them again.
The PD was merciless in its coverage. Its binging on Dimora’s appearance matched the former County Commissioner’s own sin of over expansiveness.
I hope I don’t go too far in saying it had the quality of a lynch mood.
I think it even affected the prosecutors. And the judge. If not the jury, certainly the public. It was showy stuff.
I’ve seen/written about politicians that did – in financial terms for friends or partners – far more that Jimmy, in his ignorance, could think up. As I said above, he wasn’t very quick.
Indeed, they’ve named buildings, parks, streets for those guys that will last far longer than 28 years. Graft. You have to know how to do it legally. Or in the shade. And I know some who have perfected it. Not Jimmy.
Cleveland Suckered Again By a Browns Owner
How much of the billion $$$$ for the Browns does the City of Cleveland get? What’s the share for the Cleveland schools?
Must be a good deal then, according to Fred Nance.
The sale of the Cleveland Browns for about $1 billion tell us just how meaningless pro sports are for the cities that build the stadiums for owners and players who don’t give a shit about Cleveland, Pittsburg, St. Louis, Boston or any other town. They’re just passing through.
It’s a business. It’s a subsidized business. Most of its money comes from the TV airwaves, which are supposedly public. At least I’ve never heard of an auction to the highest bidder for the privilege.
Someone recently said that Karl Marx’s claim that religion is the opiate of the masses was wrong. Sports are the opiate, they said. How can you dispute it?
Anyone can go back into my writing and see what Cleveland and Cuyahoga County taxpayers have done to make the life of the Lerners, Dolans, Gunds and Jacobses a whole lot easier and profitable. The 1 percent shouldered by the rest.
There’s a sucker born every minute and someone to take him, is a quote I remember as from P. T. Barnum. The showman denied it.
He did say, however, “Never give a sucker a break.” Clevelanders should write that on the blackboard 1,000 times. Not that it will do any good.
Roldo Bartimole has been reporting since 1959. He came to Cleveland in 1965 to report for the Plain Dealer where he worked twice in the 1960s, left for the Wall Street Journal in 1967. He started publishing his newsletter Point of View in 1968 and ended it in 2000. In 1991 he was awarded the Second Annual Joe Callaway Award for Civic Courage in Washington, D.C. He received the Distinguished Service Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, Cleveland chapter, in 2002, and was named to the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame, 2004. [Photo by Todd Bartimole.]