Inspection- Jersey Bridge is Falling Down, Falling Down…

by Ken Carman

 Corruption? Jersey? Who woulda thunk it?
  Ever since I was young, and active in politics just north of New York City, Jersey has taken it on the nose, the toes… well, let’s just say if Jersey were an Algonquian, his tribe would have called him, “Running Joke,” OK? Some Jersey dissing is somewhat fair, some not. The beautiful parts of Jersey rarely get mentioned. There have been some great folks from Jersey, and certainly even fun, and funny, folks from Jersey, right, Jon Stewart?
  (Jon gives me one of his classic moments of silence, eyes dart back and forth.)
  Still the recent bridge shut down, and all its political intrigue is a… surprise?
  Of course, here we go again with the, “How much did Christie know?” and, “When did he know it?” Really, do we have to Groundhog Day our lives every time we go through anything like this? He already made the low comic fruit denial, “I am not a bully.” I swear if Christie says, “I am not a crook,” I’m going to splatter the screen I watch, or read, it on with the half digested parts of last night’s House soup, egg rolls and shrimp toast.
  My guess: especially considering past history of the Gov being vengeful, spiteful and just plain snotty, is “of course he knew.” But while the Jersey jokes are sometimes: “sometimes,” unfair, some assumptions are more than obvious. I mean, really, he knew nothing? Mr. Tough Guy? Mr. Tough Guy who has been known to be mean, spiteful and nasty over petty issues: even in public?
  Of course “innocent until proven guilty” does apply: if we were to make a court case out of this. “Were?” I’d be surprised if “not” any court cases, though it’s also unfair to slap it all on Jersey. Poor Jersey: the Meg Griffin of states. But this has become an all too popular management style, whether we’re talking politics or business.
  When we first moved to Tennessee my wife and I worked for The Grand Ole Opry in Wardrobe: rather lowly positions in an otherwise well known, fame-based, business. The way the manager ran the place, at the time, could be likened to how certain Jersey officials went beyond falling down on their jobs…. a “falling,” in this case, also by taking revenge, intentionally sabotaging those he didn’t like, lording over those he did who, otherwise, did poor jobs. And if something was dangerous he’d never bother to get it fixed… well, not at least until an employee lost his arm in a shirt press. Then those “nasty” regulators came a knocking and, well, “Now I have to do something,” he’d mutter, as if it were a curse…”
  “&%$#! gov-vern-ment in-ter-fear-ance.”
  Of course he could be sure 99% of the southern born staff would blame it all on “those damn Yankees who tell us how they do it up north…” even if the regulator was also southern born. “Yankees” were the standard fall guys in the South at the time.
 Oh, do I have stories to tell. Not the only thing that mirrored how public officials feel down on the job when it comes to that bridge. Intentionally “fell down?”
 Then, before that, I worked at a Hess gas station in Utica, NY and one of the three managers I worked under had a similar management style. That manager even went as far as to sabotage those who liked him in ways that would get them fighting to kiss his patoot more.
 But the best comparison was a campground in Massachusetts…
  Christie seems to be a fan of a far too common variation on this management style where you appoint: hire essentially, folks who will step over the line ethically for you. They know what you want, and part of the job description is plausible deny-ability. They do the dirty work. In this business it translated into selling folks memberships in the campground by making promises that can’t be kept, or are outright lies. Let the trash and garbage overflow to the point it becomes a health hazard under this style of management because, otherwise, you might have to pay a little more to do it right in the busy season. The dump station gets pumped out on the same, “Oh, gee do we have to?” schedule. Once one of their managers tried to blame me for a sewage spill until I pointed the spill started up hill from my tour bus. As I said in my response back to them; also cc’d to my lawyer: “sewage doesn’t flow up hill.”
  My guess: since the dump station was, once again, overflowing, they decided to dump on the ground then blame it on some camper.
  Very happy, big fat, flies in that campground.
  Every year I passed through I could tell who was a decent manager, and who was trying to step over the line, because the decent ones usually lasted a year: at best. Next summer I’d come back and they’d be gone. The nasty ones who were obviously involved in stepping over legal lines? Well, they lasted years. Then the news would come that they had been caught and the nasty would be gone, sometimes replaced by “nastier.”
 Here’s the Christie kicker… occasionally it would hit local news and the paper, or some TV report, all filled with his, “I never knew(s),” and, “If I had known(s).” So let’s just say I’ve heard all this before, so excuse me my skepticism.
  The unfortunate thing here is it’s a tactic that works far too often these days. It used to be that fellow businessmen, and women, local movers and shakers, would pressure such scam artists out of business: give them a bad name. But if you think as far back as the power outage on the east coast where employees were joking about “poor Aunt Millie” losing power: this has been going on for a long time. Or how about destroying the careers of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson because they won’t tell the story the way the administration wants it told? You know: tells the truth instead?
 Even the Supremes have gotten into the act, when reporters refused to lie to the audience the Supremes declared that employees can be ordered to lie, or be fired.
  The increasing attitude, this free for all when it comes to ethics in business or governance, has everything to do with the idea that moderating: regulating if you wish, our actions is a bad thing. “Whatever gets us there” is “all that matters.”
  Look, corruption in Jersey isn’t exactly “news.” But this is a bigger issue than just Christie. A lot of “bridges” are falling down in both the private, and the public, sectors: both physically and ethically. “Falling” because it has become far too common to refuse to punish those who don’t agree with us, don’t follow the corporate, or the politically correct, line. We crucify the politically incorrect, and the employees who point out where we may be falling down on safety and ethics.
  Look at a do nothing Congress, and the “progress” on “no more Sandy Hooks.” Look at the constant attempts to bring down politically incorrect pols: even up to our President. If I am right, and Christie is the kind of “manager” I suspect: he is a symptom of a far bigger problem.
  Our “bridges” in society are the way we connect, get important things done, and stop from diving into chaos. And far more than one “bridge” in this country is “falling down, falling down.”

                                                     -30-

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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