A distraction we didn’t need

The flap this week over the lost e-mails at City Hall is a last-minute distraction in a campaign season that otherwise has been conducted at a high level.

The four candidates for mayor have shared a forum several times, including two head-on televised debates. The four campaigns have had ample chance to get out and meet the voters, and offer their own message of how each would function as the city’s chief executive. The 11th-hour flurry of accusations against the current administration is unfortunate, as it could well distract voters from making their own choice about who is best for the future of the city.

It is discouraging to hear the suggestion that the vanished digital communications somehow are evidence of wrongdoing, even criminality. Only the most cynical among us would buy into the notion that our mayor and his staff are somehow corrupt.

It deserves to be said that we have known this mayor and his chief of staff, Michael Kineavy, for many years, and any notion that Tom Menino would tolerate illegal practices is beyond belief.

The cynics would subscribe to the old maxim, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,” attributed to the 19th century Englishman, Lord Baron Acton. Yet aphorisms are often just catchphrases, old sayings that on the surface may seem to encapsulate universal truths, but instead may replace the need for any deep consideration of what is true and what isn’t.

During the American Civil War, this same Englishman was a fervent supporter of the Confederacy, and when the South surrendered, he wrote to General Lee, “I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond.” So much for Lord Acton and his wise sayings; let the cynics chew on that one for a while.

Meanwhile, this reminder: Next Tuesday is Boston’s Preliminary Election Day, and there are 4 candidates for mayor and 15 seeking at large City Council seats. Voters will nominate two mayoral candidates and eight Council candidates, and Tueday’s nominees will be around for a final vote in November.

The voting booths are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. If you care for this city, you will join us in casting a ballot on that day.