November 27, 2007

The Inspector General Makes a Joke

"That's a joke."

With that, at least for now, the new Inspector General won my support.

Mr. Cerasoli had followed the mayor's intergovernmental office, represented by Kenya Smith, who included in his budget $2 million for a 311 system. The system will be run by a consultant and manned by 14 operators, and Fielkow and then Midura tried to pry more info re: the consultants take. Essentially, they were asking how much the operators would make and where the left over cash goes.

Smith asked Fielkow, "Do you think I'm hiding people?" and then bullied Midura (par for the greasy course), who fumbled with the math, trying to divide 2 mill by 14 and questioning if...operators...huh? Smith said it was all in the proposal. The cliff hanger and testimony ended.

So when Cerasoli took his seat, he mentioned that he wouldn't have any "$140,000 a year operators." People laughed, and he said it was a joke.

He meant his line, but there was something else there: the prior testimony and phantom consultant fees: those ARE a joke. A bad, old joke, where you try to figure out what's true, what's a punchline, and if you're the target.

Because time's up on the whole "just trust us" thing. If this IG sticks to his word, he'll report on where the money goes and which corner it sits in and how people like Smith dick around with it and bluff their way through wasting it. And maybe, just maybe, we'll stop with the joking.


Also in the house and next on the schedule after Cerasoli was Ed Blakely, who apparently got an earful after I left. It was weird seeing him stand on the side as Cerasoli and the Council exchanged compliments and coos (Cerasoli just about recited a poem for Cynthia Hedge-Morrell). The contrast was stark between Cerasoli's dry wit, his statement that he wanted to be here "as a citizen of this country," and his understated, Boston accountant tone, and the self-lionization from Blakely upon his arrival.

I was in the UNOP meeting in January when Blakey did his first big football coach talk, and have watched his misfires and half-starts with more than a little sadness because of that speech, because of the way it gave me hope. Now I hope that Blakely benefits from Cerasoli and that Cerasoli keeps the low profile and provides honest reporting.


As the Council members admitted, embarrasingly I thought, no one really knows how this whole Political System thing works. Or at least they don't want to shine too much light on it. It might turn out that their pockets are too full or they aren't even wearing any pants, much less slick suits with cool pocket kerchiefs.

Then who's joking?