Monday, November 19, 2007

Culture of Corruption, Part Deux

Just in case you missed it, Channel 9 News ran a segment last night (transcript here) with additional details on the Office of Tax and Revenue fiasco.

According to the story, it seems that "Mother Harriette" (or is is Hariette, I've seen it written both ways) Walters had her co-workers cashing her personal checks for $5 to $10 thousand on their lunch breaks and bringing the cash back to her. In return, allegedly, she treated co-workers to Wizards games using her front row season tickets, shopping sprees at Neiman-Marcus, and gambling trips to Vegas and Atlantic City. She was also the office go-to person when co-workers needed a loan, doling out loans for "tens of thousands of dollars." It also appears that at least two of her supervisors had at least an inkling that something fishy was going on, but evidently never followed up. (Who knows? Maybe they got a little something too?)

You gotta admit this is all pretty brilliant. Not only did Mother Hariette help write the rules that she evaded to bleed off $20-30 million in taxpayers' money, she managed to get all of her co-workers enmeshed in a web of complicity so none of them would dare blow the whistle. It increasingly looks like everyone was in on it to some degree.

No wonder OTR can't be bothered with collecting deliquent property taxes. Its employees are all off buying bling at Neiman's or playing the slots at Harrah's. It really makes you want to pay your taxes next time, doesn't it?

This all reminds me of a great song from a 1960 Broadway musical called "Tenderloin" set in Manhattan's red-light district. The chorus of the song goes something like this:

Ain't it grand how the money changes hands!
Ain't it grand how the money changes hands!
Everbody's happy,
Just the way it stands,
Just as long as the money changes hands.

To paraphrase the old Marine expression: Let's fire 'em all and let God sort it out.

Addendum: If you're following this case and its widening ripples, there's good stuff here.



At 11/20/2007 10:50 AM, Anonymous Mr. Ray said...

It will take another ten to twenty years before the Barry-era of work-free employment with no oversight will finally die out. I only hope our current mayor has the fortitude to prosecute Mother Henrietta and the other thieves to reverse the culture of corruption.

At 12/02/2007 7:30 PM, Blogger gpliving said...

We're up to $44 million.


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