The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men — kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling — are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest — sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest — are the traits or success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.” — John Steinbeck

MY KIND OF TOWN

The Loved One and I rolled into town in the fall of 2009.

I didn’t know what to think about Bloomington, Indiana. I’d never even visited the place. If you’d have pushed me, I might have recalled hearing its name during the glory days of Bobby Knight.

Other than that, all I knew when we moved here was Bloomington’s just a place in Indiana.

Uh, This Guy Did His Hollering In Bloomtown Or Someplace

To be honest, I was a little wary of relocating here. Maybe even depressed. Heck, the place is a half hour away from the nearest Interstate. I’d spent much of my life in places like Wrigley Field, which can seat nearly 60 percent of the entire population of Bloomington.

Most Of Bloomington Could Fit In Here

I recall telling myself not to slip into thinking this was nowheresville.

And then, like a lightning bolt, came the news that Elinor Ostrom had won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Bloomington‘s Elinor Ostrom.

Elinor Ostrom

I read all about Ostrom the day that news broke. The little girl with a stutter who came from a poor family. Went to Beverly Hills High. Got the bug to go to college there. Followed her husband to IU where he’d landed a teaching gig. Worked with him to develop innovative theories on resource management and green economics.

The first woman in history to win a Nobel in economics.

How cool, I thought, she’s from my new town.

Elinor Ostrom provided me with my first taste of civic pride here.

I never got a chance to meet her which is too bad. I’ll bet she was a hoot. According to the papers, she spent the last days of her life battling pancreatic cancer. I’m glad she at least had the chance to enjoy being a Nobel laureate for two and a half years, until she died yesterday morning.

She didn’t know it, but she welcomed a guy here in the fall of 2009.

Bloomington’s no longer my new town. Just my town.

WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO

Click.

THE SLOW WHEELS OF JUSTICE

My town turns out to be a little bit like my old town. Public officials get sloppy with their morals and ethics and the next thing you know, prosecutors are sniffing around.

Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal filed a request Monday for a special prosecutor in the Amy Gerstman case. Gaal can’t handle the case himself since both he and Gertsman are Democrats. The county auditor is in hot water for using credit cards issued to her office for her personal use.

It’s about time.

Chris Gaal

The only thing I can’t figure out is why it took so long for anybody to threaten action against Gerstman.

I thought sure she would resign her post after news of her using county credit cards to buy groceries and even pay her kid’s tuition at a private school broke in January.

Gerstman’s breech of ethics was at the very least plain dumb. It’s also quite possibly criminal.

I get the feeling Gerstman might have avoided the spectacle of a criminal investigation had she quit six months ago. After all, she was trying to pay the dough back.

Happier Days For Amy Gerstman

There has been no public outcry for her ouster which can be attributed to one of two possible causes:

  • Bloomington is an unusually forgiving town
  • Bloomington doesn’t give a damn

I’m not putting my money on reason number one. That is, my money which Amy Gerstman is supposed to be monitoring with great care as the county’s fiscal watchdog.

Don’t get me started on the rest of Bloomington’s and Monroe County’s elected officials who have remained mum during this whole affair. Two or three of them have whispered to me that, well, this is really a small town and nobody wants to badmouth anybody else.

Oh.

Two or three of them also have said Amy Gerstman really needs the job. She’s got a family to support, after all.

Hmm.

Perhaps the main difference between my new town and my old town is my old town’s excuses were better.

2 thoughts on “The Pencil Today:

  1. “… the excuses were better.” Leaning back in my chair, wheezing with laughter.

    Damn right they were better – up there, they acknowledged the prevalence of the second set of traits John Steinbeck mentions in today’s quote. Dodging the second set leaves one space to cultivate the first set. “Dodging” is of course an evolutionary skill. Build it here, then take it to the Big City, kid.

  2. John Bergman says:

    An observation backed up by no solid evidence whatsoever:

    Road projects seem to take forever in Indiana. Like they’re bidding them out in segments, waiting for completion of the first portion, then reviewing, then waiting for the legislature to commit funding for the next portion. Being honest and getting value for your money is great, but could you just FINISH THE FUCKING ROAD PLEASE!?! YEAH, THE BRIDGE, TOO!

    This Illinoisan is perfectly happy paying some amount in corruption just to get the work done quickly. Though Indiana may have learned a thing or two from Illinois. What’s the lowdown on the tunnel to Kentucky I heard about on the news the other night? Who’s getting greased and who’s getting hosed on that one?

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