BEST SCANDAL Minneapolis 2002 -
We couldn't help feeling a little nostalgic last summer when the FBI nailed Minneapolis City Council member Brian Herron for extorting $10,000 from grocer Selwin Ortega. It's not that we're in favor of municipal graft. But corruption comes in such nebulous forms these days; the deals between government insiders and their friends in the private sector are usually so cleverly lawyered that they're hard to understand, much less probe for corruption. And that interferes with scandal's greatest pleasure: the effortless mustering of personal outrage. There were no such frustrating nuances in the Herron scandal. It was an endearingly old-school affair: the straight-up exchange of cash for a promise to put in the fix--in this case, with the troublesome city inspectors who threatened Ortega's grocery licenses. As with the best scandals, this one raised as many questions as it answered: Did any other council members have their hand in the cookie jar? Were city inspectors actually being bribed? The fallout from the scandal no doubt contributed to the shakeup in the November elections: By the time Herron checked in to begin serving his one-year prison sentence in March, the city's political landscape had been vastly altered.