It wouldn’t surprise us if former Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas, who was acquitted of bribery and misconduct charges last week, walked out of the court room wondering if there was a county department he could go to get his reputation back.
Despite being found not guilty of taking a bribe from a top county official, it will be difficult (in our opinion) for him to hold political office again.
We hope we’re wrong and Thomas again makes an attempt at running for office. He has the ability, talent and vision necessary to be very successful in whatever office he would hold.
But it won’t be easy, despite being found not guilty by a jury of his peers, one of whom saw through the canard and said she would vote for Thomas if he were to attempt a run for public office.
We believe what many in the community who know how the public and private sectors work and its history of racial bias: Thomas was targeted for his championing–as Board Finance Chair–minority and DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) minority contractor rights.
As noted in a OP/ED article written by respected Black community entrepreneur and business leader Curtiss Harris that appeared in the May 9, 2012 edition of the MCJ titled: “The Railroading of Johnny Thomas,” the former supervisor had been inquiring about the lack of minority and DBE participation in county contracts, particularly at Mitchell International Airport and other contracting opportunities. Harris noted in the article that Thomas’ inquiries were never fully addressed.
Thomas, who has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration, was a candidate for the office of Comptroller for the City of Milwaukee at the time he got caught up in the “sting operation” that led to the charges and trial.
If Thomas had continued his campaign (he suspended it when he was charged) and won the election, he would have overseen the city’s financial and accounting affairs and exercise control over the activities of approximately 40 city departments and agencies with the ability to establish accounting policies and procedures for those departments.
Thomas would have also controlled the city’s $950-plus million city debt program and overseen the periodic refinancing of the city debt to take advantage of any available lower interest rates and save taxpayers interest costs.
Having read that, you can see why–in our opinion and that of other community leaders who continue to fight for fair and equal access to minority contracting opportunities and jobs–Thomas was targeted by the “powers-that-be” because he would have changed the entire power paradigm as to how business is done in the city.
Milwaukee’s Black community and its Black businesses make up a significant portion of this city’s population and should have long been represented proportionately in its distribution of contracts.
We support Thomas when he was a county supervisor and we support him still.
Justice was served. Regrettably he has to again determine his future.