Shirakawa Learns It’s Lonely at the Bottom

It was striking that George Shirakawa Jr. pleaded guilty Monday in Superior Court with nary a friend or family member there to support him. You never know who your friends are in politics until you are down. The absence of so many spoke volumes.

There are those who continue to heap scorn on Shirakawa for his failings, and their anger is understandable. But Shirakawa is just now facing the enormity of his addictions, the consequences of his actions and a seemingly bleak future that includes jail time. But he has also taken the first step in moving forward with his life by taking responsibility in court. This will be followed by some sobering times, and he needs real friends to support his efforts.

But Shirakawa also needs to distinguish between his real friends and the enablers who facilitated his excesses and benefitted from his addictions. He should separate himself from these individuals.

He should also cooperate with any future investigation regarding his crimes. The public has a right know that his addictions were not used as coercion in his public decisions. If they were, he needs to acknowledge those facts and help identify the people who preyed on him and, by extension, the public.

To those who would continue to spitefully engage in Shirakawa bashing, now is the time to stand down. Shirakawa has an illness and faces an uncertain future. Now is the time for good people in this community to offer support for his rehabilitation, and to help him come out of this process a better human being.

Ironically, it is the reporters who brought him down and the prosecutors who did their job who are the most empathetic. Congratulated by many for their pursuit of truth and justice, many were forced to witness the public destruction of a human being. It is not pretty, they were not gleeful. They did their jobs. They protected the public, which is the right thing to do. But, on a personal level, it is difficult to watch a very public person melt down over time. One reporter noted how macabre it was that they were being congratulated for the destruction of a human being, however justified.

George needs real friends in his corner now, and there are many out there. All of us were disappointed by his actions, some of us called for his resignation, and others were victims of his actions. Many were caught totally unaware of his addictions.

But part of being a friend is the ability to forgive. Everyone who truly knows George is also aware of his big heart and gregarious nature. He cares about the poorest among us and his efforts for those who were less fortunate should be remembered.

We should all be rooting for his successful rehabilitation. Understanding that he can never again hold public office, he can nonetheless redeem himself by conquering his personal demons and truly serving the community he loves.

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.


  1. (How true)

    “But part of being a friend is the ability to forgive. Everyone who truly knows George is also aware of his big heart and gregarious nature. He cares about the poorest among us and his efforts for those who were less fortunate should be remembered.”

    (also this)

    “To those who would continue to spitefully engage in Shirakawa bashing, now is the time to stand down. Shirakawa has an illness and faces an uncertain future. Now is the time for good people in this community to offer support for his rehabilitation, and to help him come out of this process a better human being.”

    • I think everyone wants to forgive and move on.  I think that says more about the goodness of the people of Santa Clara County than about Shirakawa’s worthiness.

      Remember that at every step, Shirakawa denied, misled and misdirected.  Was he contrite or just cornered?

      I don’t want to see Shirakawa coming back like Dick Nixon, revising history and offending the sensibilities of those that remember history and know right from wrong.

    • Big heart and gregarious nature?  He was generous with other people’s money!  He stole from the public!  Even his own father recognized he was a loser and begged friends to watch over him if something went wrong with his surgery.  Unfortunately the elder Shirakawa died and his friends thought the best way to watch out for the loser of a son who had zero motivation, accomplishment or ambition would be to appoint him to a city council seat!  Shame on Jim Beall and every single one of Shirakawa Sr’s co-council members who inflicted this SHAME on the family and the community.

      Sick and tired of apologists for Shirakawa’s behavior.  He stole from the public, put his family (brother, sister, brother in law, baby mama) and friends at risk of losing everything for his greed & addiction.  He’s not a great guy who made a mistake.  He’s a sick pathetic self important loser who finally got caught OR HE’D STILL BE DOING THE SAME THING WITH TAX PAYER MONEY.  The only remorse he has is that he was caught.  I don’t feel sorry for rapists who say they were abused as kids or for drunk drivers who kill families but say they’re addicts either.  He CHOSE his life early on.  Deadbeat dad; no college, no career, no hard work.  He looked out for himself and he is a LONG way from redemption.  He should ask for forgiveness himself not avoid the public. He should beg for the forgiveness of the people he cheated and shamed.  He should get treatment and CHANGE HIS WAYS before expecting people to root for him. 

      George Shirakawa deserves everything coming at him, actually he deserves more, he’s lucky that he’s getting off so easy.

      • Aware D5: This is George Sr.‘s grand-daughter and it has come to my attention that you have been making up lies about my deceased grandfather. My grandfather would NEVER say anything like that.  So if you are getting your “information” from the other tabloid, the “murky snuz”, please stop repeating the lies and untruths.  As you know, my grandfather cannot defend himself.  From your rants and raves, you seem to be a very angry person and you should get therapy or at least a life!  Lastly, the five or so “bloggers” who are writing hateful lies anonymously are absolute COWARDS and I feel sorry for you!  By the way, Mr. Robinson, my dad asked us not to attend his last court date to avoid us being harassed; my Dad has THOUSANDS of family and friends who love him and are fully supporting him, something you will NEVER have!

        • Is it a lie that George Jr. is a thief?

          Is it a unfair that George Jr. should pay for his crime(s)?

          Only a “coward” would try to avoid either if it is true. In the case of George Jr…. it’s true.. or else he would have, of his own accord left office and got the help he needed.. before he made the choices he made. He would have been viewed differently, and the consequences would have been much different for him than they are now.

        • Your grandfather’s legacy of good deeds and hard work are muddied by your fathers lack of responsibility and crimes.  Yes, crimes.  Felonies actually.  Its understandable that as his child you want to support him.  You should, its a shame you didn’t do so with intervention years ago.  Its a shame that others who call themselves his friend didn’t do so years ago. But you didn’t, and they didn’t and now we, the public,
          pay for it.  Pay for his crimes by the loss of money and the loss of effective leadership in all the areas he wiggled himself into.  City Council, Eastside School Board and County Supervisor. 

          Your grandfather said a lot of things about your father.  You should talk to some of the people in his age group who were his friend because then you could get off the denial wagon and see your father for who he is and not who you want him to be. 

          Here’s an idea, how about you rally the THOUSANDS of your fathers supporters and have them each pitch in a dollar to pay his debts starting with MONEY HE STOLE FROM TAXPAYERS AND CAMPAIGN DONORS. 

          There are a lot of people who are angry about this, and rightfully so.  The little mini mafia your dad used to like to call himself the Godfather of plays dirty so anyone who disagrees with them is smart to take cautions to protect themselves.  Your dad and his co-conspirators don’t like to play fair or by rules.  The charges he plead GUILTY to are evidence of that.

          Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  You should get some therapy yourself.  If your dad hadn’t wasted so much county money maybe there’d be a county funded health care program you could access.

        • The hateful lies are actually harsh truths.  The sooner you deal with that, the better chance you’ll have not to repeat the same mistakes your father made.  At least you don’t carry the name so you don’t have to hang your head in shame when you sign it anywhere.  But if you’re so proud of your dad, change your name.  Be his daughter and let people know your pedigree and the type of person who raised you.  Stop blaming the paper, media, SJI, Mercury News, Bloggers and tax payers for your fathers faults.  Telling the truth isn’t the problem, HIS THIEVING WAYS ARE THE PROBLEM.

        • In the Mercury News article last week there were interviews with people who were actual friends and coworkers of Shirakawa Sr.  Much like George Jr’s denials of racism, prejudice, Raider-backlash, Jr’s daughter seems caught up in denial and what an actual lie is.

          Its a shame but when thats your family legacy its not really a surprise.  We can only pray she doesn’t have aspirations to elected office.  God help the Santa Clara County taxpayer if she does.

      • Dakota N.  Goldman and Sachs speculator.

        Yes, it’s spin, it is a blatant attempt at culling voter outrage.  Concern for Shirikawa be damned. And to address your speculatation regarding Shirikawa’s chances for holding office again, I’ll just make a quick reference to Marion Barry, disgraced Mayor of D.C.  Enough said.

        • I agree with Mr. Cortese here.

          I will go perhaps a bit further and assert that I believe the man should get several years of state prison time, not merely one year (translation:  Eight months with the nearly-obligatory “good behavior” designation) of county jail time.  After he’s served a sentence in the state prison (and successfully completed his period of parole), then I will perhaps be interested in his welfare and redemption (albeit only so long as he never again makes any attempt to get close to either elective or appointive political office – not even some sort of advisory commission or committee;  no way!), but right now I’m viewing him as essentially a despicable criminal who violated the public’s trust in a most egregious fashion (likely to a greater extent than we will ever learn), and who is sorely in need of being made example of.

          This sweet plea bargain deal he’s being given is just one further example of the cozy little way that the political & civic elites of San Jose and Santa Clara County all take very good care of each other. And it makes me want to vomit!

        • Well it’s already done, so any further discussion is irrelevant unless it is going to be regarding a recall of D.A. Rosenthal.  There is a systemic problem with American politics and it goes both ways. We are always quick to blame the politicians, and rightly so, however voters refuse to send messages to consistently reinforce what they will not tolerate. The Madison Nguyen recall is the only exception I can think of, and she has had to mind her P’s and Q’s since although I don’t think she has a snowballs chance in hell at becoming mayor but I digress.

              Back to the subject at hand it would be a wonderful thing to see if San Jose residents actually rallied and made an effect in some capacity on the D.A.‘s office.  I would be very proud of my home towns populace indeed if they were to invoke that type of moxy.  We don’t need to go the way of Europe and let tensions build up until we are rioting in the streets.  We’re American and we can do better.

        • Its interesting to note that the Madison Nguyen recall election was driven by the ethnic politics of a largely immigrant & 1st generation community ie., it was in some sense an extension of South Vietnamese internal political conflicts being continued on our shores.  The point I’m after being that within the more conventionally assimilated American electorate (which is not-quite-but-largely a euphemism for “White people,” although in San Jose it would also tend to include a lot of Mexican-Americans), the problem is much as you suggest – we are far too tolerant of, and acquiescent, to bad behavior on the part of our elected officials.  Our leaders anger us, but we almost never make them pay a price.  When was the last time, say, a member of the County Board of Supervisors, or the San Jose City Council, or the Mayor of San Jose, lost a bid for re-election?*  Hell, when was the last time the Mayor of San Jose faced more than token opposition in his re-election race?  Shirakawa ran freakin’ unopposed in 2010.  That should essentially never happen.

          *The 2010 D.A.‘s race was a highly unusual departure from the overall pattern, to the point of essentially being the proverbial exception-that-proves-the-rule.

    • Finally!  Someone gets it!  Shirakawa has no shame, he’s only sorry he got caught.

      His so-called “friends” who wanted and still want the public to forgive George and remember only the “good” he’s done must have gotten their dates mixed up because I don’t see any of them there in the courtroom. 

      Where is giggly Chief of Staff and political flunkee Eddie Garcia?  Where is fattest-rolodex-around Cindy Chavez?  Where is so-slick Joe Coto?  Where is hear no evil, see no evil Wonder Twins Xavier & Nora Campos?  Where are all those CA & Santa Clara County Democratic Party heads who swore George was a good guy, who’d done good things for the party and they’d stand by him regardless? 

      When the smell of crap got too bad and when their “friend” really needed them, they ran and hid.  Fair weather friends.  If THEY don’t care about Gluttonous George and have benefitted directly from his lying, criminal and manipulative ways, then why should the general public? 

      Criminals belong in jail. He’s a criminal, not the victim so stop trying to convince the public that it is in our best interest to be forgiving.  IT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC TO BE AWARE AND SMARTER THAN WE HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST WHEN CHOOSING OUR PUBLIC LEADERS.

  2. Mr Robinson the next time a rapist claims his actions are fueled in part by his own tragic abuse as a child or the next time the habitual drunk driver wipes out an innocent family in an accident will you also write a blog asking the public to stand down and be supportive because they have illnesses?

    You say Shirakawa faces an uncertain future and needs real friends but by the looks of that empty courtroom he doesn’t have any.  They abandoned him and he didn’t cultivate any.  He put his brother, his sister & her husband, his baby’s mama, and all his other political allies at risk over the course of decades.  But it went on long before his political career.  His own father knew he was a loser who needed babysitting as a 30 year old. 

    I have my own responsibilities and I save my compassion for those more deserving and those who truly ask for it.  George is only sorry he’s caught.  I say this because if he wanted to make good to the public he would have stepped down, sought help, accepted his fate when the story broke in September not AFTER 7 months of more costly investigation.  He didn’t care AT ALL ABOUT THE COSTS HE CONTINUED TO INFLICT ON THE TAXPAYER OF THIS COUNTY.  He is remorseful?  Then don’t seek a plea bargain.  Do ALL the time you have coming to you Georgie boy.  Then I’ll believe you are remorseful and want to pay your debt to the community. 

    You are still looking out only for yourself.

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