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A Verdict, A Visit, and a Honey of a Problem

McVeigh is toast, our city manager is out with, no doubt, his police chief, and the Dalai Lama calms the waves

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 04, 1997.

A truly interesting week in the city and state. We were all shocked, of course, when Tim McVeigh was convicted on all counts in Denver this week. Almost as shocked as the local media, which had penciled in tear-jerking stories right through the summer and now must deal with the horror of no trial of the century story. Even the trial of Terry Nichols - which will likely not be held in Denver, whenever it comes - might be a ratings bomb.

Whatever else this trial proved, it showed that live television courtroom coverage is a major detriment to justice, that Los Angeles has some of the worst District Attorneys in creation, and that the myth of the heroic defense attorney takes shots poorly. Stephen Jones took a dismal job and made it much worse, this from experienced attorneys. His cornpone vanity, fanned by the media, may cost his client his life. If so, good for him. I spent a lot of time in jail and half-way house with Timothy McVeigh wannabes: people who actually think political statements in their favor - if their screeds could be so dignified - can be made from the cindered corpses of three year olds as long as it’s a government building.

It bothers me to admit it, but I hope the stupid son of a bitch dies a painful death. It bothers me because I hate being in any mob, especially a lynch mob. I’ve faced them, and it’s no fun. For that alone, I would hesitate.

And the Dalai Lama came to Boulder. According to all reports, he was a gracious, humorous, and captivating speaker. His kindness and tact, spirituality, and humbleness won hearts and soothed minds. He elevated the local Buddhist community. He gave the local papers their celebrity rush. He was wonderful. Question: is he Tibetan any longer?

It is not a cruel question, or at least intended as such. The man was thrown out of - or escaped from - his country, what, forty years ago. He speaks, jokes, and handles the media like a western politician. He seems to think like a western man, more so than recent Japanese Ambassadors here or anyone in China. What does he have in common any longer with his abused countrymen? Even granting that his heart is there, that his wish is to be there, if his wish were granted and he returned, could he stand it? He has been in the fleshpots of Los Angeles the Damned, Europe the Effete, and even now Babylon by the Flatirons. He lives in like places. How long could he stand freezing temples and conversations with goatherds? His philosophy allows for such, but I still wonder.

For example, one of the many, many reasons that General Douglas MacArthur, a very different and early on a very strange man, seems so bizarre to American historians is that this man lived in the Philippines, then in Japan, for 33 years without ever setting foot in the United States, a decade less than the Dalai Lama has been in exile from his country. MacArthur was so out of touch with anything approaching democracy that he really thought he could become President merely by announcing his intent. His already monarchist leanings had found great support in monarchist Asia, but his home country, although grateful for his past military leadership, or at least the image of such, thought him way over the line upon his return.

I wonder how the Dalai Lama would seem to his flock after he returns and the thrill dies down?

And we are about to have an abortion of a municipal government stalemate elevated to disaster. If Tim Honey, our city manager, is removed by whatever means, rest assured that his police chief, Tom Koby, will soon follow, and that the reverberations of this will shake down the municipal chain of command. It will affect everything, from the Ramsey case to fraternity parties and all the tricky and hypocritical relationships the city of Boulder has fostered, sometimes inadvertently, through years long previous to Mr. Honey but are now coming under the gun.

It is my personal opinion that the Boulder mayor has been so enthralled with Mr. Honey that she has routinely shut down appraisals of his merits in the past. If I recall this correctly, she once vacationed in a home of his family’s while she wrote out his job evaluation, hardly a coldly objective situation. The storm built behind the dike and it broke. Whatever else may be at work, and whatever the merits - and there are many - of both Leslie Durbin and Tim Honey, her puzzling over protectiveness through the years has elevated what might have been averted into a disaster. This is going to be a horror show, just wait.