I just called the county by its real name of “Prince George’s,” and my reporter-narrator told of driving past “row after row of grubby garden apartments—the legacy of developers whose ethics made those in Roxland County look like priests.
“Prince George’s was to the Washington area what West Virginia was to the United States. The people were poorer. Some of the land was rutted and pitted. It was not coal country. It was land-speculation country, and the developers’ dozers had gnawed away at many of the natural watersheds.”
Thousand of smart, honest, hardworking people live in PG, but over the years the crooks all too often set the tone—discouraging some upscale retail chains and other businesses from setting up shop there. As county executive since 2002, Jack B. Johnson helped spiff up the county’s image. Business boomed. Newspapers properly paid tribute to PG as a magnet for affluent blacks who had worked their way out of D.C. Boosters praised the place as “gorgeous Prince George’s.”
In recent years, the PR campaign received setbacks from allegations that Johnson was getting bribes from developers, hiring inept cronies and steering county office leases to favorites—stuff right out of Scandals.
Yesterday came yet another blow when the FBI raided the Mitchellville home of Johnson and his wife, Leslie, and caught her with $79,600 hidden in her underwear, after he had said over the phone to hide the cash in her bra. Authorities suspect that another $100K may have vanished down the toilet.
Reassuringly, there were differences in terms of the law enforcement and the press from counterparts in Scandals—-both of them were apparently more aggressive. And, again, let us remember we’re talking about certain officials in PG rather than about the residents as a whole, most of whom are simply your standard lawn-mowing, church-going suburbanites. Johnson is maintaining his innocence. Whatever happened or didn’t, it will be a long time before PG boosters can restore all the shine. Sad.