If Stupidity Were a Felony

If stupidity were a felony, ex-county Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. would be spending a lot more time in jail. The new charges filed by District Attorney Jeff Rosen against Shirakawa, resulting from DNA samples found on a political dirty trick mailer, is the latest example.

The mailers in question were put out to make it appear that rival candidates Richard Hobbs and Magdalena Carrasco were communists. It is a laughable charge in a 21st century local election. But the goal was to trick the Vietnamese-American community.

They were strategic lies designed to elicit anger among a highly charged population who remain adamantly opposed to the current regime in Vietnam.

Truth be told, the mailers had a nominal effect on the races in question. Only the most naive and uninformed voter would take the messages seriously. The real damage is to the psyche of the political opponent. The mailers become a distraction to the target, who must take time to deny the message, denounce the mailers and become frustrated when they can find no one to hold accountable for the deception.

Rarely is the prank investigated after the campaign, and there must have been giggles all around when Shirakawa and whoever helped him thought they got away with it.

Which brings us to the next problem: Shirakawa didn’t act alone. The pieces were written, designed and printed by others. There must be more DNA out there that identifies those who helped. These folks should be lawyering up right now.

But we must caution not to speculate who was responsible before the evidence is presented. Political dirty tricks that go awry have a nasty tendency to embarrass innocent people who may have had nothing to do with them—that can include current officeholders.

Many will suspect who the unindicted co-conspirators are in this matter. But the DA has the first piece of evidence he needs to find the others involved.  Shirakawa should cooperate with the investigation. Some vendors, including the designers and printers, might be totally innocent of any intentional conduct. But those who wrote the mailer, conceived the idea and, apparently, helped lick the stamps should be prosecuted.

The others who participated in this idiocy will have to face charges, and the penalty will probably be minor. But, again, if stupidity could be charged as a felony, these individuals would be doing life.

Rich Robinson is a political consultant in Silicon Valley.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.

16 Comments

  1. Never kill the messenger, they’re just the help.  HeeHaw all you want to RR, but Rosen got the right man.

    And the political housecleaning will continue.

    • Amen to that! He is just a big of crook the way he has destroyed a once great city, and if anyone whould bother to investigate they could turn up some very corrupt and illegal dealings.

  2. I don’t believe the effect was “nominal”.  Josh Koehn’s article says that Carrasco lost the primary to Campos by a mere 20 votes.  Campos won the runoff against Carrasco by 400 votes.  If the ruse got 200 voters to change, then that was the margin of victory.

    Shirakawa must have thought it worked in 2008, or he would not have repeated this again in 2010.

    • You are so right.  Xavier Campos legitimacy of office is calling into question.  He is up to his neck in the muddy waters of Shirakawa-gate.

      If Mr Robinson wants to caution to not jump to conclusions about who the coconspirators are and include current office holders and those seeking office currently then those people (Campos & Chavez) should come forward, deny any involvement AND submit their DNAto rule themselves out. 

      When children go missing it is common practice to eliminate the parents as suspects including giving polygraph tests.  It doesn’t imply guilt as much as it proves innocence. 

      If Campos & Chavez want the public to believe they are innocent of collusion with their buddy and pal Shirakawa who they looked to as a political Godfather,then prove it.  Its the only way the public will even begin to trust you again.  At this point it is guilt by your very close and ongoing association.

      I wonder if either of you buddy & pals will be by Shirakawa’s side tomorrow when he will finally be sentenced for his felonies.

  3. I’ve watched enough Alfred Hitchcock episodes to know that there is always something below the surface. A double agent Perhaps. Some one obtained George’s DNA and has placed it in strategic places. Who amongst them knew the rules would change on the use of DNA testing?
    I personally have been challenging the system of Nepotisum and entilement on the East Side for many years. Thanks to the needs of our DA, we have uncovered Pandories Box!
    Now there is no one that can hide their DNA from the DA. Step right up folks! Be the first to be cleared of the licking crimes in San Jose California.
      I have forwarded a list of potential lickers that are close to that East Side Ring of Fools, and down town boot licker!
    The Village Black Smith

  4. Were I a political operative tasked with “managing the message” sent out to the public in the wake of yet another Shirakawa screw-up, I too would characterize the former supervisor as stupid. The reason is simple: with George’s head already on a platter, the only part of the scandal left to manipulate is the public’s understanding of it. Branding him and his misadventures as stupid is both safe and effective. Safe, because the man is undeniably, fascinatingly stupid. Effective, because if there’s one thing our political leaders have accomplished, it’s readying local voters to accept such an explanation.

    But from where I sit, stupid doesn’t cut it. Attributing George’s every scandal to simple stupidity (or any other character flaw) is too convenient and, when mouthed by his friends and former supporters, unacceptably contradictory. The former, because if we write off his sins to stupidity only the already-tarnished George gets stained, leaving all those who supported, excused, or threw their political weight around in service to this dud with clean hands. The latter, because stupidity of the magnitude demonstrated is incongruent with the political supporters and successes George has amassed over the last two decades.

    Make no mistake about it, as far as cognitive ability goes, George has always met his political camp’s minimum requirement for holding office (i.e. not too stupid to be useful). Were he a naval vessel he might, given his functional limitations, be classified a Nora Campos-class barge.

    What I suspect George really guilty of is breaking free of his handlers and getting caught practicing the dirty tricks, favor peddling, and cash pilfering that is business as usual among his peers. That’s the story the rest of the usual suspects are frantic to bury. George has committed the ultimate political sin by putting established methods and practices at risk of exposure; at risk of giving the DA the operational template necessary to expand his investigation elsewhere.

    Creating and composing counterfeit mailers, comprehending the value of draping an opponent with a communist flag, knowing which flag to use, and correctly spelling big words like communism, these were not the work of a brain already overloaded with lowlife obsessions. No, this was a case of George’s political camp doing business as usual, and George, as trusted stamp-licker, sharing his talents.

    • You are so right.  If only to be a fly on the wall of some of the walls of those very Georgie boy buddies and pals right now.

      The public needs to pay attention.  Xavier Campos is a fraud who George cheated into office.  Nora Campos-barge, that is just brilliant.  Cindy Chavez bulldog in a pantsuit and lets not forget Shirakwara’s shamed, duplicitious, ever loyal but now hiding FIRED chief of staff Eddie Garcia.  Garcia rode the gravy train of appointments to school board (has that guy ever been elected to ANYTHING?) and the gravy train of literal and figurative free lunches and he helped cover up Shirakawa’s embezzlement because he was the one signing off on all the fake budget filings and controlled the office.  PAY ATTENTION!  If you Google Shirakawa, Nora Campos and Eddie Garcia you get the Latino Leadership Alliance a group where they are pretending to train future Latino Leaders for leadership and office. 

      Make a list of everyone who ever was trained and getting trained now and put them on your NEVER VOTE FOR list.  Shirakawa, Campos and Garcia “teaching” political ethics????? Really?

  5. Good news Rich!

    I don’t have your phone number.

    I have never called your business phone, your home phone, your secret bookie phone, or your anonymous Deep Throat phone.

    The NSA has got NOTHING on me!

    Unfortunately, since you have admitted to being a campaign consultant to convicted felon George Shirakawa, Jr., I suspect that there is a high probability that the nutritionally advantaged former supervisor’s phone number might be in your mobile phone’s speed dialer, . . . and vice versa.

    So-o-o-o-o-o . . . . when the authorities press their investigation into GS Jr’s colorful life of “public service”, I suspect that you might be included in the dragnet as one of the vivid hue’s in the portrait that emerges.

    Are you worried, Rich?

    I realize that the NSA has been very conscientious about not listening to the actual content of your phone calls.  But the fact that you have made 63 phone calls to the 900 phone number of a over-eater’s kinky sex line is not really “private” information and could possibly have a contagious tarnishing effect on your clients.

    Also, do you know all the places where your DNA has been?

    Will DA Jeff Rosen or the Grand Jury view the nomadic meanderings of your DNA with benign equanimity?  Or, will they have “concerns”?

    Rich, you’re the SJI expert on Political Crisis Management.  The accepted wisdom of the trade is to get out in front of a scandal: “tell all, and tell it early”.

    Is there anything you would like to share with us before we learn it from Jeff Rosen or The Smoking Gun?

    If there are any skeletons in your closet that will require a public apology, it’s not to soon to get to work on it.

    Frankly, Rich, at the risk of being judgmental, I have to say that remorsefulness is just not one of your strong suits.

    • No worries.  Anyone who understands my political DNA knows my personal DNA would never be anywhere near this crap—and had I known I would have stopped it. 

      As for remorse, I am sorry the NSA has wasted so much time, energy and money on the trivial—and my call logs aren’t half as interesting as you have misrepresented.

  6. > No worries.  Anyone who understands my political DNA knows my personal DNA would never be anywhere near this crap—and had I known I would have stopped it. 

    Really?

    Just explain to the nice man from the District Attorney’s office that you’re innocent and you would never do such a thing?

    If it’s that easy, a lot of trial lawyers are going to starve, and lots of district attorney’s are not going to get re-elected.

  7. I think the things Shirakawa admitted doing and plead guilty to are disgraceful. Having said that, this piece is written as though Shirkawa was already found guilty of this new charge, without it ever going to a trial. No doubt that Shirakawa has done some immoral and stupid things, but for the integrity of our system, let’s remember in this newest charge, he is innocent until found guilty.

    • DNA proves him guilty.  There is absolutely no reason his DNA should/would/could be on those illegal and vicious mailers unless he handled or orchestrated them. 

      When a man accused of raping a women has his DNA match the DNA gathered at the crime scene guess what?  trial or no trial the public already knows the guilt of the accused.  George has victimized this community for far too long for this suddenly to be the time he’s “innocent”.

      He’s a failure, not just as a politician but showing himself to be a failure as a decent human being.  I hope he pays for each and every criminal act he’s done because it has come at the expense of the community. Tax dollars and stolen service (robbed of an actual leader who would be doing work for us AND the things it cost us like community centers, afterschool programs, etc)  He’s a disgrace to his entire community.  His father’s failing was that he knew his son was a joke and instead of protecting the community from him he sought to inflict him on us by asking friends to take care of him and try to use the highest level of community service as a way to rehabilitate his son. 

      George is an admitted addict.  He hasn’t admitted to being an alcoholic but anyone who has been near him as he sweats alcohol and turns red in the face with the bulbous nose (lets not forget the spontaneous and irrantional crying from the dais during Supervisor mtgs) not to mention the alcohol consumed at the now proven illegal county paid for lunches.  He can’t blame being a gambler for this latest reveal. 

      He manipulated, lied, and CHEATED to help his buddy but obviously inferior candidate Xavier Campos.  He basically stole the election from the more qualified Madgalena Carrasco. 

      Shirakawa no longer gets the benefit of the doubt or carries good will from this community.  He is a liar a cheat and a fraud.  God help him, and lets hope he makes good use of the intervention programs in prison so when he reemerges from jail that he won’t be a total drain on the community any longer.