Not long before he was whacked for betrayal while saying Hail Marys in a boat on Lake Tahoe, Fredo Corleone complained to his brother Michael about the way he was treated.
“I’m your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over …I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!”
Now that he’s resigned as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Jimmy Blackman has time to say his Hail Marys, watch “The Godfather” movies and feel a special empathy with Fredo Corleone.
Replace “older brother” with “most loyal soldier” and you can hear Fredo’s complaint in Blackman’s dilemma as he was passed over for chief of staff, Austin Beutner’s team took power in the mayor’s office and the “Ticketgate” scandal erupted.
Loyalty, like Corleone family blood, no longer meant a damn thing.
Blackman was the guy who was always there for Antonio, connecting the favors to campaign contributors, arranging the tickets to sports and entertainment events, linking the mayor to the City Council and political world outside City Hall.
He was a trustworthy confidant, a pal. Yet, he was the odd man out when the mayor’s dreams of becoming governor were shattered, when his administration was branded far and wide as a failure, when outsiders indifferent to and ignorant of politics were brought in to run the show.
Who needs a bagman when there’s no money to raise for the next campaign, when the big-time favors are being dispensed by Wall Street types who think running a city is no different than making a deal, taking over a failing company or manipulating the stock market?
His farewell email to
friends and colleagues sounded like a suicide note to many with its
expressions of deep gratitude to everyone in his work and private life,
even his ex-wife, his vows of undying loyalty to the mayor, man who at
times had almost been like a brother and now had so little use for money
as city, county and state investigators were gathering evidence of
failing to report valuable gifts and possible illegal conflicts of
Those had to be tough days leading up to Blackman’s decision to resign.
was no longer just a political problem and lawyers got involved as they
mayor went into damage control mode in an effort to contain the fallout
from his flagrant disregard of ethics laws.
You can be sure
Blackman felt like Fredo hearing his brother Michael tell him: “You’re
nothing to me now. You’re not a brother, you’re not a friend. I don’t
want to know you or what you do. I don’t want to see you…”
There is a lot that’s sad in Blackman’s farewell message where he sees
himself as the devoted team player who wants “no parties, no fan fare,
and no long good byes,” just “closure from this chapter in my
professional life” and some time to thing things through after his final
day in two weeks.
And there’s something oddly ominous In the
“thousands of stories that will remain with me. Those who know the most
say the least. One day the real story of the Villaraigosa
administration will be written (not by me).”
Blackman denied in
an email to the LA Times that “Ticketgate” had anything to do with his
resignation.: “I am not a part of any inquiry into this issue, nobody
has asked to
speak with me about it, and it has absolutely nothing to do with my
Maybe. But when investigators get involved and start
examining emails and phone logs and questioning witnesses, those who
are targets soon learn the tried and true rule: First one to tell all to
the prosecutor gets immunity.
The mayor’s lawyers and advisers
have taken their first step in controlling the damage of Ticketgate.
There will be others as they try to get him off with a fine and an
But if investigators look hard enough they will find
“thousands of stories” behind the gifts of tickets and meals and fine
wines and that will inevitably lead them, if it hasn’t already, to Jimmy
Blackman, one of “those who know the most” and wants to “say the least”
– unless, of course, he feels betrayed and has no alternative but to
tell “the real story of the Villaraigosa administration.”