Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.
The outrage generated by the bloated salaries and pensions for top officials in the city of Bell has been amplified throughout the state, and for good reason it is resonating in our fair city. One of the "Gang of Three" in Bell, Randy Adams, will be asking Glendale to contribute to his bloated pension, now estimated to be $411,000 per year for the rest of his life.
I'd be curious to know what Adams — former police chief of Glendale — was thinking when he maneuvered to position himself for this unwarranted payout. Was he thinking, "I deserve this," or was he thinking, "I can get away with this"? Did he believe that no one would take notice? Did he consider the financial straits of a nation, a state, of cities and of millions of people struggling to survive in a depressed economy?
Who was minding the store when these sweet deals were concocted? How many other officials in other cities have quietly lined their pockets with seeming impunity, relying on the apathy and non-involvement of local voters?
I am amazed that there is any objection in this country to government oversight and regulation given the recent and continuing financial meltdown at every level — national, state and city. The debacle in Bell should become a national metaphor for the wages of greed and the ongoing necessity for the people to be vigilant, and for the government to act swiftly to keep it in check.
Greed is responsible for the obscene salaries of chief executives, now put at a 500-to-1 ratio to an average worker's compensation. Greed is the cause of the high wages paid to the bosses, even of failing companies. Greed has government bailed-out enterprises giving bonuses to the very people who presided over their corporation's failure.
And now we have mid-term elections coming up and, as per custom in our country, money plays a feature role in determining outcomes. Large chunks of it will go toward promoting a candidate, some to promote change and some to protect the status quo.
Efforts to bring greater transparency to political ad campaigns by requiring disclosure of donors have been consistently blocked in our nation's Senate by one party. For the life of me, I cannot understand how public disclosure of private interests looking to influence public policy would ever be challenged.
Those fighting disclosure seek refuge in the 1st Amendment, but it is not the freedom of speech that is at stake. It is the right of the people to know who is exerting the greatest influence over laws that are made and people that get elected. It is in the most basic interests of the people to follow the money. Whether we care to admit it or not, it is what exerts the greatest influence over the minds of voters in this country.
I still wonder what Adams was thinking when he exploited a pension loophole that will deliver millions of ill-gotten dollars to him in his retirement. I am also curious to know what he must be thinking now — now that his plans have come under public scrutiny. Is he thinking, "Maybe I did let the money go to my head and cloud my judgment," or is he thinking, "I didn't break any laws, I just took advantage of them."
I want to believe that a man who rose up in the ranks of law enforcement and dedicated his professional life to justice and fair play will do what is right in this last chapter of his public service. If he truly believes that he is entitled to a lifetime pension that is greater than that of the president of the United States, then let him retire to his delusions of grandeur. Let his name serve as a reminder to future generations that public servants who are sworn to uphold the public trust may indeed fall short of their promises and oaths by putting personal gain ahead of the public good.
I often heard what a "good man" Randy Adams was from many voices in the community that he served. He has a chance to solidify that reputation for all time by accepting a reasonable pension and rejecting the unwarranted, unconscionable windfall that he now stands in line to receive.
DAN KIMBER is a former teacher in the Glendale Unified School District, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@sbcglobal.net.
FOR THE RECORD: Portions of this piece were plagiarized from two separate sources. A sentence was taken from an Aug. 2, 2010 piece published in the Los Angeles Times written by Tom Hamburger titled “Corporate campaign fundraising picks up speed.” A separate paragraph was plagiarized from an Aug. 20, 2004 piece in the Chicago Sun-Times written by Andrew Greely titled “America’s Disease is Greed.”