Thursday, August 13, 2009

Schools of Fools

It was a line uttered decades ago, about America's national pastime.

"Baseball must be a great game to be able to survive the fools that run it."

The bemoaner was exasperated at the business of baseball, and so the above gem tumbled from his lips.

I'd like to re-work that quote, if I could---being exasperated myself.

"Detroit must be a great city to survive the fools that run it."

Another week, another instance of crookedness being revealed about the Motor City and those entrusted to serve it.

This time the stench is coming from the hallways of the city's school district.

They're starting to arraign folks now, as the doo-doo is hitting the fan re: embezzling going on at the DPS.

Tens of thousands of dollars were pilfered, according to charges brought against five ex-DPS staffers. Three were arraigned today.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said that the embezzlement was so brazen, and done with such little care to hide it, that she can't believe charges weren't brought some time ago.

As far as crookedness goes, it doesn't get a lot of points for subtlety.

The charged employees, allegedly, simply wrote themselves checks, or made withdrawals from accounts. Or, in the case of two of the five charged, they were given unauthorized payments by one of the other defendants.

Magistrate Robert Costello entered a not guilty plea on behalf of three arraigned today and set bond for each one.

Bond was set at $10,000 for Lisa C. Williams, 41, and Tammi Henry, 39, both of Detroit. They were required to pay 10%.

Costello set bond at $15,000 for Maria Roscoe, 46, of Eastpointe.

The other two, Roscoe Smiley and Sandra Carter, didn't appear in court but are expected to turn themselves in soon.

The three who were arraigned must appear in 36th District Court on August 25 for a preliminary exam.


DPS fiscal manager Robert Bobb, the poor sap charged with digging through the district's financial mess


Detroit's really been put through the wringer by the fools running it.

Embezzlement. Taking bribes. Not paying taxes. Philandering. Firing whistleblowers then lying about it.

And that's just in the past 16 months, and not all of it, anyway. It's just what I chose to name; I'm too exasperated to present the entire laundry list.

These transgressions, and more, have all been committed by folks who are supposed to be the most upstanding citizens of the city. Or they should be, in theory.

The city council is full of these fools. Or, has been. We'll see what happens in November, when a bunch of them are likely to be swept out of office.

The mayor's office had another of these fools occupying it. Thankfully, the odor from Kwame Kilpatrick is finally starting to wane.

And now the DPS has proven to not be immune to such tomfoolery.

It would be unsurprising if higher ups at the DPS were found to be aware of the funny business yet chose not to do much about it. Or that they, themselves, did some skimming.

Speculation? Sure. But you feel like challenging me on it?

It's no wonder that parents of Detroit kids are taking their offspring north of 8 Mile and seeking education elsewhere, at a rather brisk pace.

One of the arraigned, Henry, who was a food services coordinator at Burns Elementary, is charged with stealing more than $400 in lunch money. She previously was convicted of welfare fraud in 2007 and violated parole for that crime, Costello said.

OK, so maybe they're not all the most upstanding citizens of the city, these fools revealed.

But I think the most telling part of this whole sordid mess is Worthy's incredulity that nothing was done sooner.

So which is worse: the acts themselves, or the slowness to react?

I love Detroit. But I love it like a wayward child who just can't get his act together.

I'd just as soon love it with pride, though---instead of by obligation.

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