This did not happen to me, but I use it as an example of where this nation might be going towards a declining of accountability.
I frequent a favorite restaurant for good food. On two occasions I see some guys run out of the business without paying their tabs and the manager yells at them. When I see it happen the third time, as I pay by food bill, I ask the manager what is happening with these guys running out of the store and not paying. He tells me they work on nearby big construction jobs and he is afraid of them. He tells me he does not go to the police because he thinks those guy would burn his business down. I tell him they look to me like undocumented illegal aliens, and he tells me he is afraid of bodily harm from them so he serves them knowing that they will probably run out of the store without paying.
I do not stop going to my favorite restaurant but I am really pissed off that these guys are getting away with this. It is unsettling. Then one day I find that the meal prices are raised about 5 percent. I ask the manager about his raise in the meal prices. He tells me, “Well you know Hank those construction workers are ripping me off, and I have to still make a profit or why even be in business”.
So there we are at my dilemma. Continue eating in my favorite restaurant and in effect help pay for the meals of the illegal aliens, or stop eating in my favorite restaurant and patronize a less desirable restaurant?
It has not been admitted yet by Port Orange Officials, but the millions of dollars lost by the city because of errors of malfeasance will someday have to be repaid by the tax payers. The cost of recouping unnecessarily lost financial revenue by the city will be hidden in categories such as new equipment, new contracts with vendors, and raises for city workers. If the city of Port Orange was a private enterprise, we would stop doing business as tax payers (investors?) with the City, but that is not one of our options. One option is to complain but like Sonya Laney said recently at a city council meeting, that she had made complaints back around Dec. 2013, and no one on the city council did anything about it. More and more it seems like to conduct business with this Port Orange City Government, one needs to get abrasive, crude, rude, vent emotions to get them to notice you. Threatening them with bodily harm or destroying city hall is not a practical strategy because most of us have family and financial interests to safeguard, and if the law were applied to us, we would not be treated as illegal aliens are in this nation. More and more we are seeing fairness misapplied by financial interests. In the city of Port Orange, the financial special interests lobbying groups are calling for the activists who want reform and accountability put into effect to be silent or silence. The first step to shut up the citizens is the procedure to have a hearing on Ted Noftall’s abusiveness.
So, what does it mean for me personally? Should I continue to make the effort to separate my garbage into recyclables when some on my street do not? The Public Work Director some years ago who had to resign because he was found to be stealing items out of our city yard stated once to the city council that the garbage company which collects our recyclables make very little money on those items. Should I believe that when nevertheless making little money on recyclables allows the garbage company to return 10 percent of recyclable money earned to the city to run its July 4th fireworks event? Why should we believe our vendors who deal with the city of Port Orange or believe the city itself. There is a national problem of deceiving the citizens by those in government, and now when there are indications of the same in Port Orange, the financial special interests want the citizens to keep quiet about such things.
So what principles of mine am I deliberating about?
My desire to honestly communicate? What difference does it make as some of our national and local leaders have said? Do you get more accomplished by spinning the facts , exaggerating and not being truthful?
My desire to keep on issue and not let side issues take over the dialogue? Some years ago in my private e mail to all city council members that the city council meetings were not providing transparency was resented by Green and Steindoerfer and it had no effect other than resentment. What difference did it make when I warned the city council that the national mood for transparency would come to Port Orange. It did, and guess what, they really didn’t notice it until the mood got emotional, abrasive, insulting and despairing.
I faulted the best seller book of the 50’s by Dale Carnegie “how to make friends and influence people”. Basically the book advocated not telling your boss or a friend when he was wrong, because the frankness most probably would not be accepted and you lose your influence in your opinions. I have always faulted that book which America gladly accepted and followed the books thesis. I had considered it a crime against humanity to not try and correct errors wherever they may be found. But in truth it was a theme for success to gain friends, power, promotions and influence people.
Looking at the results of people who have had principles like mine, it appears that we, they, are losers in the game of improving society. We are losers who do not resort to the tactics of those who do not want to be accountable or own up to their wrong doings.
Maybe I made my personal principles something of a faith, without a rational foundation. Maybe my principles fitted me because in personal contacts I am not a charmer, do not have charisma, and do not feel that I can be a good con artist and politician. Then again, I remember when Joan and I attended a weekend mystery live performance when we were the actors while in a big boarding home in South Hampton, that at the end when we had a critic of the weekend ,the guy who played James Bond (me hank springer) really did a good job of explaining his role as a person who had international intrigue as one who worked in selling and buying Jewelry, that many of the participants felt I was too well prepared with cover stories, and that James Bond (me) was really the killer in the party. (I was not)
Maybe if I change my attitude and principles I can make some improvement in our social problems. But if I have to resort to kissing asses, exaggerating, covering up, granting favors to despicable people, lying, never disagreeing with anyone, could I do it, and would I want to do it? And for what? Is most of society miserable and hypocrites? Was it a Jesuit education which told me “what does it matter if you gain the whole world but suffer the loss of your soul”? My soul to me I think was my personal understanding of myself, which included personal integrity. What a self-defeating hero role to adapt since no one believes there can be people like that anymore. I don’t even believe it any more except for fools like me.
I do not know if you know Phil Farragio, I think that is his name. Phil was an activist in Port Orange who championed national causes which proclaimed that the federal government was screwing the people. He was a man of his principles. He spoke to the city council two or three when Phil and his son started and ice cream parlor business in the shopping center built by LaCour on Herbert and Clyde Morris Blvd. The city was not allowing him to put stand up signs on the sidewalk outside his store and wouldn’t let him put up neon sign over business. But the Mexican food business facing Clyde Morris had a large neon sign above its store and the reply from the city council was one I did not understand. The reply was something which sounded from the city that the developer LaCour was allowed to make such an arrangement for that Mexican fast food restaurant to have such a neon lite sign. If someone can correct me in this matter please do. Any way back to my point. I remember in my conversation with Phil Farrugio that I came to a revelation about myself and Phil and I found myself telling Phil that he and I were losers because we stood on principles. Phil asked me why we do that, and I said I think it is because we are comfortable living that way, but we are not appreciated by most people in society.
I have never forgotten what a revelation it was to me to have voiced such an opinion, and now years later, when I see what is happening all over the world, nationally and in Port Orange city politics, I have doubt that what I have stood for was only catering to my own personal image of what it meant to be a good person, and in the long run, what the hell damn difference does it make.
Most of the people who want me to remain an ok guy with principles are those in power and influence. I realize that and accepted it in the past. With a new outlook on our society and myself I am not sure where I go from here. It has come to this for me, at the age of 77 yrs. But I tell you this, I am not ashamed that it is all about me. You live your life, and tune me out if you want. No matter what my principles may change to, if I want you to really hear me, I will approach you in a new revised “I am mad as hell and don’t give a damn any more what you think about me.”
Civility is lost and somehow I think that is good for society. It is advantageous for the powerful to demand civility while they screw you.