Tuesday, May 12, 2015

THE PARABLE OF THE SCORPION AND THE FROG

There once was a frog who lived near a creek, dividing two beautiful and bountiful fields. 

The Frog, of course, could cross the creek at will and enjoy either of the beautiful fields.  His neighbor, the scorpion, lived in only one of the fields and longed to experience the other, lovely field.

One day the frog was preparing to cross the creek, as he did frequently, when he was approached by the scorpion.  The scorpion, appearing peaceful and earnest requested "Mr. Frog may I  please ride across the creek on your back since you seem to be crossing anyhow?  You will find I do not weigh much and will not add any burden to you."

The frog quickly replied "No, for, if I let you onto my back, you will surely sting me and I will die."

The scorpion affably replied, "Well that would be a foolish thing for me to do. If I were on your back and I stung you and I would also die in the creek.   We would both perish because I cannot swim and I would surely drown.  Thus, if you were giving me a ride, I would have every reason not to sting you."

The frog thought about that for a minute, contemplating the foolishness of mutually assured destruction, and said "I see your point, Mr. Scorpion.  I am getting ready to cross now, I will stand still on the bank and you may climb on to cross."

The scorpion hopped onto the back of the frog and was peaceful there as the frog began stroking and paddling across the creek.

About halfway across the creek the body of the scorpion suddenly stiffened and its stinger protruded.  In a single, continuous motion the scorpion thrust its deadly stinger down and drove it deeply into the soft back of the frog. 

Shocked, the frog asked "why in the world would you do that now we're both going to die in the middle of this Creek!"

The frog replied quietly as he contemplated his own death "I cannot help it.  It is simply my nature."

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

FAREWELL, FRED CAWTHON

It was right at 40 years ago when I met Fred.

 I was going to visit a friend in Fred's subdivision after she suffered a death and her family. Fred was in his yard. I will not accuse him of doing any actual yard work. He was just in his yard.

I told him who I was looking for and he told me rather-of-factly I was at the wrong house, pleasantly rerouting me. We introduced one another and I guess I must've given him a business card because later that year he invited me to come and speak to service club.

We had frequent contact in the 10 years after that. Over the years, I did some legal work for his family (it is fair to say that his sons were "adventurous" and often "spirited").  Do I have that about right, Brian?  The last few years, I didn't see him as much but our encounters were always a true pleasure. 

Fred was a beautiful, intelligent, opinionated and comprehensively stubborn person but we agreed on one thing, we liked each other's company.  He was one of about 20 people who had my unlisted phone number while I was State's Attorney. If Fred had something to say, I wanted to hear it.

I know his wonderful spirit lives on in his children and I pray for their comfort on his passing. My life was enriched by that incidental encounter in 1975 and I truly hope I added a little bit to his journey, as well.

There were already not enough Fred Cawthons in the world and now we have one fewer. Godspeed to a good man.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

CON ARTIST OR FREE MARKET ECONOMY?

I've been reading a lot about Joel Osteen being a "con artist."

Now I get that his biblical history is a little weak but "con artist?"

He says stuff that makes people happy or content or....whatever. They send him money.  He buys an eleven million dollar house.

Does he have a good gig?  Yeah, but I fail to see the con.  I see a value for value transaction.


Friday, February 27, 2015

POWER UP!

I was truly thrilled to learn that the Exchange Club honored Chief Deputy Rob Power with the Officer of the Year award.   It could not have gone to a more deserving guy.

Wish I could  have been there to see it.  When you retire from 30 years as a prosecutor and police counselor, they stop inviting you to celebrate the people with whom you shared those thirty years-- but that's a side trip for today.

Rob is, and always has been, a solid guy. He's one of those rare, smart guys who doesn't need to be the Smartest Kid in the Room. Stealthy smart is bad news for criminals, even the odd smart ones.

 About every six months or so, I will run into him and it's always a true pleasure.  He is always been dedicated to the cause of law enforcement.   He pursues his work with balance and an eye out to doing substantial justice.  I know stories about Rob doing the "right thing" in the field that he doesn't even know I know.  Being "fair-minded" in drug enforcement is not always without risk but Rob will take a risk on the right guy.  He wasn't always quite that blessed with maturity and balance.

To say that Rob was a little spirited in his early years in law enforcement might be a bit of an understatement (I believe the words "Piss" and "Vinegar" were once used in the same sentence to describe his demeanor) but his heart was always pure.   If any officer was on assignment with him, that officer could count on Rob's best effort each and every time.

How the Quincy Police Department let him get away is a long story for another day (or not--actually almost definitely not). The good news is Rob is still fighting crime in the Region,   He enforces the law and keeps the peace, all the time being a credit to his community in so many other ways they cannot be counted.

I miss being around him but am pleased to see that the special things that he does every day have been recognized by the tri-state region.  Not one bit surprised.

Continued success to a really good guy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

NIGHT MEETING GETAWAY: A PRIMER

Do not try this at home.  Trained Professional on a closed course.

How to leave the office for night meeting out of town:


1.  Pick up pertinent file;

2.  Realize you haven't put your suit coat on yet;

3.  Put file down;

4.  Put suit coat on;

5.  Walk to elevator;

6.  Take Elevator to Ground Floor;

7.   Realize you left file on credenza;

8.   Take Elevator to Office Floor;

9.   Pick up File;

10. Walk to elevator;

11.  Take Elevator to Ground Floor;

12.  Realize you forgot to put on your topcoat;

13.  Take Elevator to Office Floor;

14.  Put file down;

15.  Put on top coat;

16. Walk to elevator;

17.  Take Elevator to Ground Floor;

18,  Realize you left file on credenza;

19.  Take Elevator to Office Floor;

20.  Pick up File;

21. Walk to elevator;

22.  Realize you have to pee before you hit the road;

23.  Return to Office;

24.  Put down file;

25.  Take off topcoat;

26.  Walk to Restroom;

27.   Inspect Plumbing;

28.   Return to Office;

29.   Put on topcoat;

30.   Walk to elevator;

31.   Cleverly realize left file on credenza, this time before getting onto elevator;

32.    Return to Office;

33.    Pick up File;

34.    Walk to Elevator;

35.     Take elevator to Ground Floor;

36.     Discover that the panic bar on the inside door is frozen shut and door cannot be used to exit building'

37.    Go to auxiliary exit which requires key;

38.    Put file on floor;

39.   Take off topcoat;

40.   Fumble for keys;

41.   Listen to cellphone in topcoat pocket ring;

42.   Snatch Topcoat up from floor;

43.   Fumble for Cellphone;

44.   Curse Loudly as window shows "unknown number;"

45.   Put on topcoat;

46.   Jiggle keys until damn door finally opens;

47.   Hold door open while stretching to pick file up off floor;

48.   Walk out door;

49.    Jiggle Key to re-lock ghastly auxiliary door;

49a.  Hyphenated Cursing;

50.    Complete Locking Door as Polar Wind Blows file from my hand;

51.    Curse in short bursts;

52.    Simultaneously pick up file and drop cell phone onto icy sidewalk;

53.    Serial Cursing;

54.    Walk to car;

55.    Slip on ice enroute, wrenching lower back;

56.    Enter car;

57.    Press Start Button;

58.    Read Light Emitting Diode Message "No Key Detected."

59.    Mutter Curses while rifling pockets for key fob;

60.    Find key Fob in pocket under metal money clip where its little signal was blocked;

61.    Start car;

62.    Listen as Satellite Radio plays out Anthony Robbins telling me how positive expectations are going to open up endless possibilities in my life;

63.    Pull carefully out of parking lot en route to meeting;

64.    Run through torture scenarios involving Anthony Robbins, sharp objects, caustic substances and Bangles Music;

65.     Rinse;

66.     Repeat;













Thursday, February 19, 2015

A PLACE TO START: GOVERNOR'S BUDGET ADDRESS

Had a chance to read the New Governor's Budget Address.

He used a lot of "weasel words" when it came to safety net things but then he turned around and refused to rule out revenue increases, again by indirection.

He used the classic worst examples of a a relatively small number of pensioners to suggest that our previous pension system was improvident (as opposed to our pay scales).  No more dishonest than any other Governor.

He tried to give comfort to the justice system (court Reporters), Corrections (Officers) and TANF/Medicaid families that there would be money to continue those things in the short term. He was pretty mysterious about all that but had a relatively positive view.

His "immediate Tier 2" pension proposal was dead on arrival but he did put up one thing that could sell and could make literally everybody happy.

He proposed a present value buyout of pensions for State employees.  The takers could then either put that money into the new State Defined Contribution Fund or draw it out.  I know several state employees who would take the seed money, quit the State and start a business if that were an option.  I know some others who would salt in the Defined Contribution Fund and pound money into it for the last years of their State Employment.

Anyhow, I think anytime the Governor goes to the Capital and tosses out even one useful idea, it's a win.  

Let's see if he can walk the walk and get this part of his otherwise unrealistic budget passed.  I'll be rooting for him.  A good idea is a good idea.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"GYM BAG: IN SMALL, UNMARKED CONSECUTIVE BILLS"

So the city of Quincy is going from being self-insured to actually purchasing insurance.

The difference, as you probably know is that, in self-insurance, the city maintains a pile of money and then hires a third party administrator to handle claims from that pile of money.  When the city pays that money into the "pile" or city retirees pay money (their own premiums) into that "pile" it goes into a segregated fund, a dedicated account under the control of the City.

Now, the City is going to stop that and simply pay premiums (and have the retirees pay premiums) to an actual insurance company.  So the city won't be maintaining that pile of money anymore.  When the self-insurance winds down, there will almost certainly be several hundred thousand dollars in the "pile" after all the claims are paid.

So where will the pile go?  Will we see a big deposit into the general fund?  Will it be redistributed out to the member of the plan who paid premiums to offset premium payments for the new insurance?  Or maybe for a little Downton Abbey redecorating?  I hear that's hot now.

Of one thing we can be sure of.  This administration will be as transparent about this as it was with the information regarding the bid specs on the employee health plan recently.  In other words.....Close your eyes.  What do you see?

Be on the lookout for that pile.