It took one more scandal and a face-to-face meeting with a big chunk of the state House Democratic caucus, Jim Black finally realized that a fifth term as Speaker was unlikely to happen.

Now all eyes turn to the I-word, indictment. Fellow Democratic Rep. Bill Faison called the chance of Black being indicted “extraordinarily high.” Grand jury investigations into video poker and the creation of the state lottery are winding down. And former state Rep. Michael Decker pleaded guilty to accepting a $50,000 bribe to switch parties and fingered Black as an unindicted co-conspirator in the scheme.

In sum, it would have been extraordinarily risky to install Black in the Speaker’s chair once again in 2007. Now perhaps Raleigh can embrace the notion of open and effective government and leave the scandal-plagued Black years behind.

But don’t count on it.