Excuse me while I vent a bit about my editor, Josh Adams. I’m pretty upset. Last week I told Josh I want to drop my opinion column. Well, not drop it, exactly. I just want him to hire someone else to write it for me. Frankly, it’s become a real burden, what with all the other reporting and writing I do.
“Just use my name on someone else’s work,” I told him as he stared at me uncomprehendingly.
“But then, then I’d have to pay two people for one column,” he managed to sputter, a look of annoyance on his face.
“Exactly!” I cried out. “I’d be unburdened, but still paid. That’s the point.”
After another uncomfortable silence, I cleared my throat and assured him I’d still be around to read the other person’s writing and OK it. After all, I’m a professional journalist-I don’t expect to continue getting paid every month for doing nothing. Just for doing, well, nearly nothing. It was a distinction that was totally lost on my editor, who brusquely said he wasn’t going to pay me for something he had to pay someone else to do.
I thought of our mayor, Tony Calderone, who gets paid $30,000 to run the village despite having a professional administrator earning more than $140,000 a year. Now he’s talked the village council into paying someone else to handle his liquor commissioner duties while allowing him to keep his $10,000 annual salary. How would Tony handle this, I wondered.
“It’s … it’s strictly my opinion. I feel it is needed,” I replied defensively.
“If you feel that strongly, pay for your replacement yourself,” Adams said as he turned away.
Obviously Adams doesn’t understand how things work here in Forest Park, being from New Hampshire and all. Damn Patriots/Red Sox/Celtics fan.
“The writing field is getting a little more technical today!” I hollered desperately as he left the room. If only I was like Tony Calderone, I mused later as I sat sullenly in my study. Unfamiliar admiration of Calderone flooded through me.
I had a vision of him as a youth at Proviso East before he dropped out, brooding as I myself had often done before tests. If only he could somehow get someone else to pay attention in class, to study and do his homework, to take his tests so he didn’t have to, life would be so much easier. Unlike me, Calderone never gave up on that dream. He kept his eye on the prize, and today has realized that dream, that shining vision of having all the benefits with none of the responsibilities. Where the buck no longer stops with you, but the bucks still do.
The truth is, I too, want everything that comes with doing what I do without having to actually do what I do. If only I was as clever as Tony. He may not have had what it takes to cut it in a second-rate high school, but he’s got the smarts to get other supposedly intelligent and principled adults to pay him $200 a week to do nothing. And he has the status to attract thousands of additional dollars in contributions from the very people he’s sworn to regulate.
Now that Calderone’s finally admitting it isn’t so much about public service as it is money and privilege, can any of us honestly deny that we’d gladly do the same? But few of us are made of the same stuff as Calderone. We’re no where near the sche… dreamer he is. And to think I had the nerve to refer to him once as Lil MAC. The truth, it’s becoming apparent, is that the only little men on the village council are the four commissioners.