Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Recoupment at a Price

Following a stint in the United States Marine Corps, Harry E. Findel, following in his father's footsteps, found civilian employment with the Long Island Railroad, where he served as an engineer.  Nothing I have found even suggests that either his military or civilian service were anything other than honorable.

Following retirement, Harry and his wife Shirley moved to Florida.

Harry died on September 18, 2013.  And then, Shirley, in her grief as she strived to deal with the adjustments necessitated by her new condition of widowhood, received a disconcerting letter from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent organization of the LIRR.  The letter informed Shirley that a clerical error was made in 1995, resulting in Harry's receiving a monthly $124.80 per month more than he should have been paid, and will she please remit the accumulated $26,707.20 discrepancy back to the MTA (which the MTA will be deign to extend the courtesy of allowing such repayments through convenient deductions from her own widow's pension payments).

Comparing the numbers on her reduced pension check with her living expenses, Shirley saw that the arithmetic would not work for her, and so, she has lawyered up and is contesting the MTA's determination.

The MTA is claiming that it has the fiduciary duty to recoup the pension payments.

And, quite frankly, they are correct.  And they should get the recoupment.

But this recoupment, even if they recoup every penny, will come at a price.

As mentioned in the posting of 31 July 2013, there was a big Railroad Retirement Board disability pension fraud scandal involving LIRR employees.  The last of the defendants have been sentenced.  Some got some hard time in the pokey, but former LIRR conductor Christopher Parlante, who gave a great operatic performance as he sang from the witness stand, was spared the slammer for his own fraud, and ORDERED to repay his ill-gotten gain of almost $295,000 at the rate of $25 per month.  Doing the arithmetic, he should have it all cleared in less than a thousand years.

The comparison between Parlante and Shirley Findel is not lost on the widow or her attorney.  And the news media have not missed that cruel irony either.  Again, all signals indicate that Harry Findel served honorably, and he does not seem to have been implicated in this disability retirement scandal.

The LIRR and MTA have been made into monkeys by the whole affair, as has the union, which, as noted in the 31 July 2014 posting, gave free office space to Marie Baran, the "consultant" who advised the LIRR retirees how to game the system to claim false disability from the RRB.

The LIRR is now at a labor contract impasse with its unions, who now threaten to strike in July if the impasse is not resolved.  I do not know how this one will play out, but it would not be surprising in the least if this Parlante-Findel comparison is somehow insinuated into the story line.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Shavuot 5774

In a few hours the sun shall set, bringing on the Festival of Shavuot, the commemoration of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.  I have much to do before then, but do take this opportunity to extend Shavuot greetings to all.

I will, of course, be incommunicado for the next two days, as I answer to a Higher Power than that now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


Sunday, June 01, 2014

You Know Who You Are

[Note:  Identifying information has been omitted/altered.  Much as you may deserve it, I do not now purpose to embarrass you any further.]

Not all learning is accomplished through the formal education process.

It is axiomatic that students are expected to read and understand the Syllabus document of the course, handed out on the first day of the semester.   Some of my colleagues do not go into the detail that I do when they prepare their course syllabi, but the fact that my Syllabus is in fact so detailed should be a very strong indication that I mean business.  You are expected to read -- and heed -- the information in the Syllabus (and in any other course handouts distributed by the professor).  For my part, I am expected to deliver on the representations I make in the Syllabus.

And it is no less axiomatic that you, as a student, are obligated to conform to the College Policy on Academic Integrity.  The Policy is printed at length in the College Bulletin; the fact that my course Syllabus gives the URL link to the Policy makes your failure to adhere to it all the less excusable.

In addition to the foregoing, my course Syllabus explicitly and plainly states (and I quote):

"Students who turn in a plagiarized Term Paper are subject to a failing grade of "F" for the semester."

That is why your final grade was "F."  You submitted a plagiarized Term Paper.  I have some very damning well nigh incontrovertible evidence that the Term Paper you submitted originated at one of those term paper mill websites.

So now, you come to me with all of your sob stories about how you had to deal with some pressures from various sources, how you had a family emergency that required you to go back to your country, and how you will now need to retake a course, even though you marched in your gown and mortarboard at the graduation ceremony a few days ago.

But you made a decision to submit a plagiarized work, and I caught you.  Understand that you have insulted my intelligence.  Understand that, notwithstanding the anonymity of the process, I now need to impose the promised sanction upon you or else I will be a smacked toochas with no credibility in future semesters.  And understand that you, and you alone, placed me into a situation where I am now compelled to take this action against you.

In addition to your failing grade, I can now pursue disciplinary charges against you.  I'll forgo that option, however, because it would only consume my time and yours and that of the College Judicial Officer; time that could be better spent by me in my scholarly research or my law practice, and better spent by you studying for the course you will need to retake.

I have made my decision.  You have the right to appeal it to the Assistant Department Chair in the first instance, and from thence to the Scholastic Standards Committee, but, as I have said, the documentary evidence against you is overwhelming.  [And if you elect to play the race card, I am prepared to demonstrate that the penalty I am now imposing upon you is identical to the penalty I imposed upon a student a year ago, in a similar incident where the student was of my own ethnic background.  I am quite evenhanded about these things.].

And so, you have nobody but yourself to blame for your current predicament.

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