Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Sunday Feeling

Suffice it to say that your life is way too complicated if you a) knocked up a crazy person who was b) on the payroll of your c) campaign for President while you are, of course, d) not only married but e) married to a person who has cancer and is f) every bit as brazenly ambitious as you. 

So, you being g) smarter than everybody h) get your star crossed and weirdly emotionally attached aide Andrew Young to i) get an elderly rich person to funnel your crazy and really troublesome paramour lots of j) $ and you also talk him into k) claiming that your baby is actually his and his wife goes along with it and let's your babymama move in with them which should have l) made you wonder if Mrs. Young is nuts too.

You are eventually outed by the National Enquirer in a m) rare display of actual journalism (think about that for a moment, John) which leaves Andrew with a problem with the IRS because he's been getting all of these checks which might look like n) income to the average auditor.  So naturally, he writes a book about all of this which describes you as an o) vain, preening asshole which by that point is hardly front page news.

Even worse, the Republican US Attorney over there decides to gin up a case against you for p) violating campaign finance laws when the $ got funnelled through weirdly heart broken Andrew to your babymama.  Andrew and babymama get q) immunity for not reporting the $ as r) income! (along with anything else they can think of) and you are s) indicted by the same US Department of Justice that you t) in your boundless arrogance and hubris actually thought you had a shot at u) running. 

Point for you, you may have an actual defense.  But you, being v) a former United States Senator and Presidential contender will have to w) take the stand (and promise to really, really, really tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth) and x) testify! Or your goose is y) cooked.  Because the jury is not going to let you hide behind the 5th Amendment. 

Which leads to the following question z) was that strange really worth all this?

Hell, I'm out of letters of the alphabet.  That's how complicated your goddamn life is. 

You idiot. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Very Last Word

I wrote this for the local website "Bourbon and Boots" last week:

As Warf on Star Trek used to say "We will never speak of this again."  Except to say that the local press is starting to voice similar themes.  Maybe things will change.  Maybe they won't.  We shall see. 

Anyway, you should poke around over there at "Bourbon and Boots."  They've got all kinds of cool stuff there.  Hope you find something you like. 

My Sunday Feeling

I'm sitting this Sunday out.  And the literary world heaves a mournful sigh of relief.  Interesting comments from last Sunday though. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vox Populi: The Frustrated Seller

So the man says, " Now, what exactly do you do for those folks?"

"Well," I said. " One of the things I do is I write tips for consumers about financial matters that will eventually go on the Facebook page and the home page."

"Really," he said. "What kinds of tips?"

" What to do if you get behind on your mortgage, what to do if your car gets repossessed......"

"How about 'what to do if you discover at closing that there are a bunch of liens on your house that you didn't know about.' Are you gonna write about that?"

" That one's easy," I said. " Hire a lawyer would be the 'tip'. But maybe I should write one about 'what to do after you lose your buyer.'"

"That would be a good one," he said. "Let me know if you need any help writing that last one.  I just might have some insights that I would be happy to share with you."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Sunday Feeling

My friend Barbara lives about a half a mile from me.  She has daughters.  I haven't seen the girls in some time.  So I'm guessing high school and junior high. 

Last week Barbara put the following post up on Facebook: "Am I the only one feeling compassion for the young Dorrell girl?"  Which is a really good question.

After all, getting started in life is tough enough without getting one's self embroiled at a tender age in what is easily the most sensational scandal to engulf our little state since Monica and her blue dress.  25 is awfully young to blow up this bad.

But you know what?  I was 25 once.  And I did some awfully stupid things when I was a young person.  Granted, nothing this stupid.  But that was only because of the happy fact that I was, and am still, pretty much nobody.  That, and I never got caught. 

I do not judge Jessica Dorrell when I say that I really don't view her as much of a victim here.  Indeed, the rigged selection process by which she attained her present job, not to mention the 20 grand "gift" she was given by former Coach Petrino could be viewed in a certain light as nothing more than bribes in exchange for her silence.  What she did was wrong.  And the ripple effects of her relationship with Petrino have yet to be fully understood. It is safe to say that this is not going away any time soon.

But a young person such as herself, though fully accountable for her actions, has to be given some sympathy.  When you are young you cannot see the big picture.  You cannot see the end game.  You do not have the requisite life experience to view the gravity of some situations. Indeed, why are we surprised when a young athlete blows a fortune?   We should be more surprised when one actually hangs on to his money.

No doubt, being young and pretty certainly carries with it certain advantages and there is no doubt that Jessica had a great deal of experience with getting hit on.  Still, when the most powerful man in the State of Arkansas takes a shine to you, well, that's enough to turn any young woman's head. 

But I also remember getting a phone call one night in the distant past.  I had just moved back to Little Rock.  A woman I grew up with asked if she could come over for awhile.  R worked for a State agency back then.  She told me that the a State Trooper had just called.  He told her that the Governor wanted to know if she would like to come to the Mansion for a drink.

Guess who we are talking about?

Anyway, she wanted to come hang out with me because she didn't want to be there if the State Police came  knocking on her door to ferry her over to the Governor's Mansion.  R admitted to being flattered.  No doubt.  And curious.  But as she put it to me that night, "Nothing good can come from this.  And if my mother ever found out she would die."  R and I were-what?-26 at the time.

I don't know "the Dorrell girl."  For all I know, she has already retained Gloria Allred who is negotiating the rights to the made-for-TV movie.  For all I know, she is about to pose nude in Playboy.
But I hope this is not the case.  This situation has caused sufficient pain to completely innocent people as it currently stands without her trying to further cash in.

I hope that "the Dorrell girl" now realizes that she should have been more cognizant of what her own mother might think if her affair with Bobby Petrino ever saw the light of day.  And I hope that she is in those arms right now.  If any woman needed her mother right now it's Jessica Dorrell.  25 is awfully young for a life to explode. 

So yeah.  I feel a degree of compassion for her.  She's a kid.  Kids do stupid things.  And so I wish her luck.

Because she is going to need it.  Once you are in the history book, you don't get to come out.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vox Populi: Tonight's Text Message Banter

PM: Chet's been looking for your ass.  What have you done now?

Me: Gave his wife a ride on my motorcycle.

PM: Figured as much.  Does he know about the text messages?

Me:  Yeah.  He also found out about the 20k she gave me.  That's what really pissed him off.

PM: No doubt.  Hope you don't wind up in a neck brace. 

Sunday, April 08, 2012

My Sunday Feeling

I've told this story before.  Bear with me.

Years ago, a friend of mine came to me with a problem.  She had gotten herself involved with a married man who was pretty high up in the food chain at the company where they both worked.  As if this were not sufficiently complicated in and of itself, she was married as well.  They were both separated from their soon-to-be former spouses at the time I visited with her.  But the wife of her lover was not going quietly and had made it plain through her lawyer that her exit would be costly. 

My friend is a very good person.  To look at her, and her quiet unassuming life, you wouldn't have believed that she could get herself in this type of fix.  And yet here she was on my porch swing weeping in her glass of chardonnay as she told me this story.

People have told me all kinds of Godawful stuff out on the porch swing.  I think they tell me stuff because they are secure in the knowledge that it will go no further.  That and I do not judge.  Especially over matters of sexual morality.  We have all done things we are not proud of. 

Likewise do I not judge Arkansas Razorback Bobby Petrino who as the world knows by now admitted to having a "prior inappropriate relationship" with someone.  That someone is likely to be 25 year old Jessica Dorrell, recently promoted by him from within the Athletic Department as his assistant, who was taking a motorcycle ride with Patrino when he wrecked his motorcycle last Sunday.  Petrino lied to to his boss Athletic Director Jeff Long.  He told Long he was riding alone which was dutifully put out in a press release by the UA Athletic Department.  Only the police report clearly stated otherwise.

Which puts Jeff Long in one hell of a fix. 

Now I doubt that Jeff Long, like most bosses, much concerns himself with the sex lives of his employees.  But I also doubt that he would have approved of his highest paid employee carrying on with a) a subordinate who is b) engaged to be married to man who is likewise an employee of the Athletic Department. 

Forget the morality of it.  What kind of parallel universe did Bobby Petrino live in that red flags didn't start going up?  And what possibly made him think that he could get away with an extramarital affair seeing as how he is practically more important if not as least as visible as the damn Governor?

Again, forget the morality of it.  That is between the Petrinos.  That is between Jessica, her fiance and her family.  While I don't think Jessica is a victim, I also don't think that it is a good thing to start your career off in the public eye exposed for sleeping with the boss.  I think it reenforces certain unfortunate stereotypes about attractive young things.  Especially blonde things.

Here's what matters insofar as Petrino's employment relationship is concerned.  What is the appropriate penalty for his having exposed the University of Arkansas to enormous liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?  As the employer Long will have to consider a couple of things.  What if Jessica had called off the affair? Which presumably she at least might have done after consecration of the sacred bonds of matrimony.    And what if Petrino kept hitting on her? 

I defended one of these once.  Or tried to.  It was ugly.  We settled it. 

Here's another wrinkle:  Petrino said he lied to cover up an inappropriate relationship.  Given the context of the lie, we may again assume that the relationship was with Jessica.  She had only been in her new position for a month or so.  Which raises a couple of questions.  Did they start carrying on during the brief time she was his assistant?  Or had this been going on for some time and Bobby managed to hire his clandestine girlfriend?  If I'm Jeff Long, I think a) this is a really sleazy business practice at best and b) a potential can of worms at the worst.  For all we know there could have been 5 people of various races, ages, national origins and religious persuasions who wanted that job. 

"Hired his squeeze" is not a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for a hiring decision.

Also, what does Long do with Jessica and her fiance?  There would have to be unbearable tension in the workplace.  Does he put her on leave while he sorts this out?  Does he tell the fiance to take a few days off?  The young man has to feel like an idiot.  If he brings Petrino back, what does he do with Jessica that won't get him sued?  What will Jeff Long do the first time he hears his assistant say "Gloria Allred is on line 1 for you?"

You don't pay a man over 3 million a year to cause this kind of a migraine.  Bobby Petrino may not get fired.  But there will be hell for him to pay for causing this mess to fall in Jeff Long's lap.

Which brings me back to my distraught friend.  We were and still are in the habit of exchanging chaste kisses.  And as she was leaving that night she gave me the usual peck on the mouth.

"No," I said. "Give me a good one."

"What?" she said.

"You heard me.  Lay one on me"

She gave a "what the hell" shrug of the shoulders and then proceeded to suck my adenoids out.  After she was finished she stepped back. She crossed her arms.

"Well," she said, "How was that?"

"It was a lot of fun," I said as I checked my front teeth with my thumb.  "But it ain't worth $200,000."

Like I said, I do not judge.  And carrying on with a younger woman is not without its discrete charm.  I've been there.

But I would like to ask Bobby Petrino if he thinks it was worth it.  Bet I know the answer. 

And he hasn't even gotten the final tab yet.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

My Sunday Feeling

A friend of mine had tough duty to pull last week.  She had to fire somebody.

She followed all of the rules and jumped through all of the hoops.  She cleared it with HR.  She got the green light from legal.  She had discussed the situation with the employee back in the Fall. Things didn't change. So the course was clear.

I know this woman really well.  She is one of my closest friends and one of my few confidants.  She is a pillar of rectitude.  She is honest to a fault.  She is compassionate and kind.  She is also nine kinds of tough and she is not a ditherer.  When the choice was made plain and stark to her she made haste to get her legal ducks lined up before she did what she had to do.

Because she is such a compassionate woman, she was literally physically ill the morning before she confronted the employee with the bad news.  After all, the employee is not a bad person.  Quite the contrary.  She is a very good person.  And she had been in her position a long time.  But the needs of the organization had changed.  And, unfortunately, the employee's skill set had not.  It just wasn't working out anymore as they say at times like these.

I had to fire somebody once.  I was the President of the Board of a non-profit here in town.  Our CEO had resigned under a hail of bullets after an investigation of a complaint by the HR people revealed that she was either something of a bigot or a total idiot.  As happens from time to time, a collateral finding of the investigation revealed that another employee was routinely subordinate and disruptive.  Not only that, she was despised and feared by her fellow employees.  So I went in with the acting CEO to send her packing as well.

This was 7 years or so ago and the economy was in the tank.  Although this employee had it coming in spades, still, she was a fellow human being.  A single Mom. And I was taking bread out of her mouth. 

I called one of my agency heads back in the government for advice. 

"Paul," he said. "There's no easy way to do it.  You just go in there and hand her the notice that she is terminated along with her rights under COBRA.  Give her her dignity but don't engage in a discussion with her about the decision.  Give her time to clean out her office.  And then take her out of the building in such a way that few employees will see her leave if you can do it.  That's about all you can do."

And that's what we did.  But still, it was hard.  I can't imagine having to terminate a nice person.  Even if there are grounds.  But then again, my agency head friend told me that the minute firing somebody gets easy is the minute you need to get out of management.

My friend did what she had to do, basically following the same script that I was given years before.  Then she went home and went to bed. 

She reported to the HR person after the dust had settled.  She was told to wear blue the next day.

"Always wear blue the day after you have to let somebody go," she was told.  "Blue inspires trust. I know you wear a lot of black. But don't go back to that office wearing anything but blue."  I guess that is why the President of the United States is sometimes referred to as "the man in the blue suit."

My good friend went back to the office the next day.  She wore a sweater despite the fact that it was a warm Spring day.

It was blue.