Greed and corruption is as old as time and happens everywhere. I saw it when I lived on Long Island in two different towns, and I see it where I live now. A discussion in a group about one of the towns I lived in sparked this memory.
A neighbor of ours divorced her husband and had a new boyfriend move in with her, He worked for the village and was a volunteer with the fire department, eventually being one of their chiefs. You’d think that would mean he was a pillar of the community. He was anything but, and people scrambled to keep covering for him, while many of us saw and knew the truth.
One of the first issues we had was when the fire department held their elections for who would be the chiefs. When he was elected, they came over to party around 11PM one night. As in, the fire department drove around with men and women on the fire trucks, drinking like crazy, hopping on and off the trucks now parked up and down the street we lives on, sirens and lights all going off, drinking and being loud for about an hour. It didn’t matter if neighbors had to be at work the next day. It didn’t matter that there were laws about drinking in public, or noise ordinances. They were exempt from any of it, and they knew it.
As I said, he worked for the village. Not only did he have a Fire Chiefs car that he drove around with gas provided by the village, but he would regularly bring his girlfriend’s car to where he worked and fill it with gas from the village pumps. She made the mistake of telling neighbors about it. Nothing was done to stop him. I would hazard a guess he wasn’t the only one filling up personal vehicles at taxpayer expense.
Despite living 3 blocks from the local elementary school, they would regularly drive there to drop off and pick up her two kids. We had a traffic problem in front of the school. Many things were tried to alleviate it. At one point we’d have a teacher stand outside one of the building exits where parents could try to quickly drive up and drop off their kids. One afternoon he arrived in his fire chief’s car and parked in such a way that he was blocking all of the traffic while waiting for the two kids to come out. No one else could move to pick up their kids in or out of that parking lot. The teacher went over to tell him he had to move, and while sitting in a fire chief’s car he cursed her out, basically saying he could do whatever he wanted and she couldn’t make him move. The teacher and the school lodged a complaint with the fire department, especially considering someone in that position should be acting as an example and not cursing out a teacher in front of students. Nothing happened.
I searched to see if this part of the story ever made the newspapers, and I can’t find anything. At one point he was caught with cocaine in the fire chief’s car. That was right around the time we moved away. As far as I know, all that happened was he was removed as chief. He was still allowed to be in the fire department. He still kept his job with the village.
All this happened at a time when Fire Departments were being worshiped on Long Island following 9/11. I’ve always said there are no saints anywhere and holding anyone up as an icon while sweeping and wrong-doing under the rug is a very dangerous thing. If you were a member of the “right” political party in these towns, you pretty much got away with anything though.