Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • June 24, 2009 about the furloughs since then, but you can bet that something will happen to cut expenses. People will 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. 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 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.” What it came down to 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 objections from teachers and parents. 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. 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 pool and a pony and I have been a hostile failure as a father. Ask my kids: the daughter who graduated from Princeton and earned an MBA from Berkeley, and the son who got into Rutgers pre-med and owns multiple propertie. 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. One of my self-proclaimed foster sons, a ChineseAmerican, recently transacted a piece of business where he wrote 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.” I have been there, 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 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 If the shoe pinches it’s time to take it off! Great beginning Mahwah U-10 Blue Thunderbirds won the Cerbo Memorial Day Blast Tournament. They were undefeated, winning games against Mendham, Essex, Florham/Madison and the NJ Mariners. They also captured the championship title in the PBI Spring U-10 AAA League by defeating the Hackensack Comets in the championship game 8-5. On June 11, a 33-year-old Mahwah woman was arrested on Gardner Street for assault after officers were called to investigate a domestic dispute. The officers spoke to the woman’s husband and observed injuries he sustained during the dispute. The woman was arrested and later released with the pending court appearance date. On June 13, an 18-year-old Mahwah woman was arrested on Meadow Avenue for underage consumption of alcohol after officers were called to the area on a disturbance. The officers located the woman and interviewed her. After determining that she had been drinking and was involved in the disturbance, she was arrested. The woman was released to her grandmother with a future court appearance required in Mahwah. A Nyack, New York woman, 32, was arrested June 14 on Franklin Turnpike for driving while intoxicated after officers were called to investigate a motor vehicle accident. The officers located the abandoned car involved in the collision and later the woman, who had fled the scene on foot. The woman was also charged with motor vehicle theft after Township of Mahwah Police Report the officers determined that the car she crashed was stolen. The woman was arrested for DWI and motor vehicle theft, and released to a friend with a required court appearance. On June 15, a 57-year-old Mahwah man was arrested on Franklin Turnpike for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia after officers were called to investigate a smell of burned marijuana. The officer met the man at his residence and once inside saw the drug and paraphernalia in plain view. The man was arrested and later released with a pending court appearance date in Mahwah. Also on June 15, a 23-year-old Mahwah man was arrested on Walnut Street West after officers were called to investigate a disturbance. The officers met the man at the residence and attempted to speak to him. After several attempts to find out what the problem was, the man raised a knife to his throat. The officers subdued the man and later charged him with disorderly conduct and possession of a weapon. The man was transported to the hospital for treatment and given a court date.