Ousting a felon like James Tindall from office shouldn’t be this hard

04/12/2014 5:52 PM

04/12/2014 5:52 PM

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker made the right decision in taking action to oust a convicted felon from the County Legislature.

Fortunately, rather than once again fight a move designed to keep him off the Legislature,

James Tindall made the proper call to announce that he would step away on June 30.

And so ends the political career of one of the longest serving politicians in this metropolitan area.

It also silences, at least when it comes to casting votes to spend public dollars, one of the leading blacked elected officials in the region.

But Baker did not bow to pressure from black community leaders when it came time to deciding whether to press ahead with her plans to make sure Tindall did not run this year for another term.

And while black officials praise Tindall for his service, this also could be the opportunity for a new voice, perhaps even a more youthful and vigorous voice, to speak out on issues that concern many parts of the black community.

Tindall was convicted of a federal felony tax fraud charge in 1999 and was in prison for almost three years. That was after his first terms in the Legislature ended in 1996.

But when Tindall wanted to serve in public office again years later, he and his supporters basically got around a state law that appeared to prevent felons from doing that.

He was elected in 2006 and again in 2010, even though questions came up about his federal conviction each time.

It’s a shame that it took this many years, following several legal contortions, for the proper decision to be reached.

Most people would appreciate having a simple rule on this matter: If you’re convicted of a felony, you don’t deserve to serve in public office and draw a salary from taxpayers.

The current state of Missouri law now seems to indicate that should be the case going forward. But we’ll see.

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