Page 22 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • June 24, 2009 furlough without pay would be necessary to get through the following year without firings or a reduction of services. The waters roiled as the statement (made to another paper, not this one) was said to have been misconstrued. The administrator opted for retirement. Nobody has heard about the furloughs since then, but you can bet that something will happen to cut expenses. That is, people will eventually be let go. I saw this man in action. When some political people managed to inflict humiliation on a man who has given the town millions of dollars, I wrote an article describing some of the things the philanthropist did which were not only awesomely generous, but also outrageously funny. After the fourth or fifth go-around on who was going to pay for the cleanup after George Bush’s visit by helicopter, for instance, the philanthropist got up, asked what it would cost (it was about $7,600) and wrote a personal check for the full amount and handed it to the mayor. “I’m tired of hearing about this,” the philanthropist said. “Let’s talk about something else.” They did. The administrator read the philanthropist the whole article over the telephone, and then he and the mayor spoke with him at great length – and the project was saved. I’m not sure whether I was in the first, second, or third seat on that rescue mission, but I was definitely part of it. I heard the words that clinched the recovered fumble from two different sources – the administrator and the philanthropist – but I won’t quote them. There were side issues, it’s true, but it’s sad to lose a man like that administrator. A second case emerged just last week in another town as a superintendent of schools received a vote of no confidence from the teachers’ union, and several delegates stood up at a meeting to explain why they took this method of going public with how they felt. Here, too, there were personality issues. I have a lot of sympathy for people who are uncomfortable with eye contact – there are certain cultures where it’s rude to stare at people. There are other cultures where people try to hypnotize one another. I can do this, but not in front of witnesses. My late father was an orphan from the age of six and got his only formative training from the U.S. Army. He insisted on staring and glaring right at people when he spoke to them. He did this while driving. He had five collisions when I was with him in the car. I wasn’t riding with him when he hit the pedestrian. Bad eye contact is not a job issue. Not greeting people by name was another issue. A friend of mine who was an epic scoundrel used to have a lot of trouble with this. “It’s really a drag when you can’t remember what the chick’s name is. It’s a drag when she can’t remember your name either.” In intensely personal situations like this, not using the right name is a serious breach of etiquette. In a more remote professional situation, it’s no big deal provided you don’t identify the people by somatic or ethnic slurs. “Fatso” is unacceptable. “Sir” is okay. I’ve learned to live with “Stretch.” What it came down to – big surprise – was mostly money. Faced with the fact that a lot of people took a huge hit in the stock market and that some of the taxpayers lost their jobs, the board of education and the school administrator felt they had no choice but to pass the bad news along to the troops in the trenches: custodial services were privatized, despite some huge objections from teachers and parents. Those instructional aides who had insurance paid at taxpayer expense were terminated. Thinking with the heart, this can only cause rancor and dismay. Thinking with the head, it had to happen. The function of the public schools is to provide an affordable education for citizens who don’t wish to educate their children at religious or private school or at home. Good as they usually are in this area, the public schools are intrinsically the least common denominator because they have to offer a curriculum that the “average” student can understand, at least through the eighth grade when Advanced Placement and honors classes in high school make it possible to teach future professionals. You cannot make this equation come out just so because variables make it impossible to reach all children at the same level and speed. Some kids scream and hold their ears at the sound of classical music. Others hear one burst of Verdi and decide to be opera singers. Some students drool over sports, while other kids yawn. Attempting to turn the schools into a “family” so both parents can work to pay the property taxes is not going to work in this kind of economy. This parents who choose to do so are making an irresponsible decision and foisting that decision onto people who like their kids as human beings and want to pass on some of their own values rather than using “political correctness” to disguise racism. Each case has to be handled on its own merits, but we should not form the habit of denouncing public officials who dare to give us the ultimate bad news: “We can’t afford this.” I had to grow up without a swimming pool and a pony and I have been a hostile failure as a father ever since. Just ask my kids: the daughter who graduated from Princeton and later earned an MBA from Berkeley, and the son who got into Rutgers pre-med and owns multiple properties at 28. If you want your kids to succeed, pull them out of school and teach them at home. It works. Seismic rumblings inside the Earth are so vast that the evidence for their presence on the surface – such as collapsed buildings and broken bridges – are tangential to the force of the actual event. The collapsed buildings and broken bridges are what get on the TV news and in the newspapers because these aspects of a massive upheaval are the events that impact our lives. Nobody but the fish would have cared if the San Francisco earthquake took place somewhere between Midway Island and Hawaii. The seismic cataclysm was the most recent Wall Street crash, a cataclysm that turned into a catastrophe because so many people forgot that the stock market is not insured by the FDIC. You shouldn’t mortgage the mansion and put the money into some hot new stock, but people do it, and when the stock tanks, they scream for the government to bail them out – and the government complies. One of the joys of the “democracy” we are supposedly fighting for is that every citizen is entitled to all the politicians his or her money can buy. The politicians will put working people’s and poor people’s kids’ lives on the line to make sure things stay that way. The fact that the government bailed out the investment banks that put their money into junk mortgages contributed to the disaster, but most people who are smart enough to understand that fact are not brave enough to say it. The ripple effect is that dwindling pension revenues and the decline in the number of paper millionaires has made it necessary for local governments and boards of education to start trimming expenses from everyday life. How would you feel if you fell off the roof trying to install a new antenna so you could watch your television, and when you called the ambulance, they told you the ambulance was broken and nobody could afford to fix it? If your neighbors would all make a stretcher and carry you to the bus, the doctor might be able to see you some time next week. Third World America, anyone? Okay, it’s not funny at all. It’s sad and frightening, but learning to laugh about it could reduce the pain. One of my self-proclaimed foster sons, a Chinese-American, recently transacted a piece of business where he wrote down the wrong name for a respectable middle-aged white man in a suit. “You got my name wrong,” the white guy said. This is inherently funny when you remember that whites often can’t tell Chinese apart, but it gets funnier -- and sadder. “You know him though, right?” the Chinese guy asked. “Yeah, we’re good friends,” the white guy said, “We go to job counseling together.” We all just shook our heads and laughed sadly in commiseration and mutual support. I have been there myself, and I expect that before this mess is over, a lot of people will be able to say that. The economic collapse is seismic, but the results spilling out from Wall Street and Washington are catastrophic. A few months ago, an administrator in a Bergen County municipality was quoted as saying that a one day a month If the shoe pinches it’s time to take it off! Ho-Ho-Kus Public School student Tommy Hagan recently spent a day as ‘director of special projects.’ Hagan found his day with Director Mardy very exciting and busy. During the day, he was interviewed on the school TV program, attended the eighth grade graduation practice, and visited fourth grade homerooms. Hagan and several of his friends also enjoyed lunch with Mardy. The Ho-Ho-Kus Education Foundation sponsored this event at their annual fundraiser. Director for a day Warshaw (continued from page 7) Community Blood Services throughout the communities it serves. “Working with the foundation to help Community Blood Services achieve its mission of advancing the quality of health care in the community is truly a privilege for me. I am grateful to be in a position to give back,” Warshaw said. Warshaw is retired from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where she worked in sales and marketing. Prior to that, she was an elementary school teacher in Maryland. Warshaw earned a BA at Queens College of the City University of New York and an MBA in marketing from the Ervin K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph University. Warshaw and her husband David have two sons, BJ and Mike, and enjoy spending time with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Ollie, and calico cat, Miranda.