The High Price of Principal in Politics

The Division of Light and Power, Dennis J. Kucinich, 2021

Tom J. Johnson, Founder of Muny Light Mayor Cleveland 1901-1909

I believe in public ownership of all public service monopolies for the same reason that I believe in the municipal ownership of waterworks, of parks, of schools. I believe in the municipal ownership of these monopolies because if you do not own them, they will in time own you. They will corrupt your politics, rule your institutions and finally destroy your liberties.


Boy Mayor Kucinich wife Sandy and arch rival Council president George Forbes <> <> <> Muni Plant 1941

This book is primarily an account of the long term efforts by interlocking private banks, private electric utilities, and corrupt politicians to privatize the 75 year old public Cleveland Electric company known as Muny for their own financial gains at the expense of the citizens of Cleveland and of the political efforts of Dennis Kucinich to stop them, ultimately resulting in Cleveland being forced into default on its various bonds and loans. Kucinich prevailed and Muny is not only still in operation, it is expanding and has saved the citizens of Cleveland hundreds of millions of dollars. In December of 1998, 19 years after the events chronicled in this book, Cleveland honored Kucinich for his role in saving Muny Electric.

Dennis Kucinich

Politics is inherently transactional. It is a process of give-and-take, and compromise. The distinction between normal politics and corrupt politics can therefore, be difficult to recognize. The line is crossed when the reward is personal to the office-holder – – private sector jobs for friends or relatives, contracts for personal business interests, admission to a desirable network of associates, support for a favorite charity, and well-timed campaign contributions can be inducements that cause an elected official to favor a private interest over the public interest. Corruption is much more than cash slipped under the table. Its forms are endless. This process is so endemic that it is actually accepted as “The System”. Every newly-elected office-holder, as I once was, must decide early on if he or she will participate in The System, or challenge it. Ignoring corruption or pretending it does not exit is not a real option, because acquiescing without trying to impede or stop it, you become complicit in facilitating it. Once elected, you must either join The System or fight it. I engaged The System energetically, and it cost me dearly. What is worse is that many others, whose only sin was helping me, also suffered…Was it worth it? Having finished the book, I now know the answer, I really had no choice, if I wanted to live an authentic life with integrity…I have no regrets.

At 562 pages this book, centering on Kucinich’s 1977-1979 term as Mayor of Cleveland when Cleveland was forced into default by the banks, is a surprisingly engrossing, suspenseful, page turner. If you question the soundness of Kucinich’s memory after 42 years, he includes 42 pages of end notes referencing massive qualities of supporting documentation. One could spend years going through this material.

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