“But ’tis a common proof,/That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,/Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; /But when he once attains the upmost round. /He then unto the ladder turns his back, /Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees /By which he did ascend. Brutus/The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
Okay, I try not to be political, but I cannot help myself. How the hell did Jimmy Dimora think he was getting away with it?
Being County Commissioner is an important position, and it comes with a pretty good salary. Dimora was paid almost $90,000 a year. I know many people who have household incomes around $90,000, but no one I know lives a lifestyle like Dimora’s. First off, he lives in a $600,000 house. What is the mortgage on a house this size? How much does it cost to heat and cool? To me, I think red flags go up when the only three bills he can legitimately afford are the mortgage, the electric, and the gas.
He wanted more. He was in a position of power. He wanted it all. “The guys who want it all, chicas, champagne, cash– they don’t last.” Maybe it didn’t last, but what Hell of a ride he had, enjoying the amenities and privileges of the rich and famous: ritzy meals, lavish vacations, home improvements, cash. As a Clevelander, I half expected to turn on the evening news and find out that Robin Leach was filming a new show called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Not So Famous,” and Jimmy Dimora was the first subject. He definitely figured out how to make his “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” come true.
Jimmy Dimora forgot one key element to his story. He is not a rock star, he is a civil servant, and people expect some decorum and a little humility from their civil servants. He forgot that his salary is public record.
I am not judge. I am not jury. In all actuality, I kind of commiserate with him. I have actually worked up a little scenario in my head. When the first bribe was given to him, it was not Dimora who asked for a payoff, it was a contractor who initiated the transaction. In my story, the contractor had a dream of a big county contract. He met with Dimora, schmoozed him, bought him drinks, bought him dinner. At the end of the evening, he shook Dimora’s hand, and with his left hand, he slipped an envelope into Dimora’s suit-coat pocket.
“Jimmy,” he said. “Take this. It’s a little token, a gift for considering my company. I know you will find that we are the best company for the job.”
In my mind, Dimora smiled and tried to refuse, but the contractor said, “No. Jimmy, it is a gift. No strings. Just a gift.”
I have to think Jimmy was shocked when he got into his car and realized that there was $5000.00 in cash in the envelope. His conscience got the best of him for a second, but then he thought, “Why not? No one knows. It’s cash.” Free money. It’s a tough thing to turn down.
He didn’t tell anyone. He waited for a shoe to fall. I have to imagine he looked over his shoulder for a while, worried that someone knew, worried that someone would find out. When nothing happened…. Well, we know how the story ends.
Power corrupts those who possess it. Maybe if Dimora would have spent more time reading literature in high school, he would have seen that the spoils only last for so long, and the powerful always fall. If he goes to jail, he may just want to read The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. He will definitely relate to the characters, and he will see that it is called a tragedy for a reason.