Street sweeper'scase best left closed

Opinion

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Jack Crowe

My old neighbor Bernie spent a bundle trying to increase the water pressure in his two flat. When he turned on his shower at the same time as his tenant, not much happened. This bothered him.

He had new copper pipes run in his basement, but his shower was still a drizzle. Next, he paid a plumber to install a pump near his water meter. This too did not work.

Finally, he had the plumber drill a hole from the street to his basement and run a new water line. This did the trick, and Bernie could take long hot showers with plenty of water pressure.

Butch Diederich, the latest cause celebre in loony Oak Park, was fired from his job as a municipal employee several years ago for allowing public works employees in village trucks perform the kind of work for which Bernie paid good money. Diederich claims he did not know this was illegal and now finds he is unemployed, in ill health and uninsured.

In any other municipality the case would be closed. Anywhere but Oak Park.

The New Leadership Party trustees who now control the village board are showing their new leadership by seeking to reopen Diederich's closed case.

Imagine that you own a plumbing company and one of your plumbers does the same thing as Diederich. You are driving down a street when you see your truck and your work crew on a job for which you are not getting paid.

What to do? It depends. Do you commiserate with indicted contractors when you read in the Sun-Times about the hired truck scandal in Chicago? If so, you might let this one pass.

Most people would fire the employee because you could never trust him again and to set an example to others.

Now, what if you are a village manager and you discover village employees digging up Diederich's front yard.

This is a no-brainer. You fire Diederich in a nanosecond.

Some years ago, I saw federal judge Ann Williams, who now sits on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, sentence a defendant for a white collar crime. His lawyer mentioned that the defendant's wife and children were present in the courtroom to hear the defendant's tearful plea about the burden a prison sentence would be on the family.

Judge Williams retorted that she was glad the defendant brought his family to court so that they could see what he had done to them.

Diederick is responsible for his own undoing. Anyone who ever went to Sunday school knows that it is wrong to bring the boys from village hall to dig up your front yard. No one would be surprised at getting fired for this sort of thing. And when you get fired, your former employer does not continue paying your health benefits.

I am all in favor of the New Leadership Party trustees holding a benefit to pay off Diederich's medical bills, but please do not use my tax dollars to subsidize a thief.

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