In a classic Where Are They Now? real life episode an article in this week’s New York Times found Wendell B. Walters, a basketball playing friend of mine back in the eighties, testifying in a recent corruption court case. Once “an assistant commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development he was in charge of approving applications from developers who wanted to build affordable housing in partnership with the city. He pleaded guilty in 2012 to accepting $2.5 million in bribes from developers”. Wendell is now a cooperating witness for the government.
The DEALBOOK section of that newspaper headlined $80 Million for 6 Weeks for Cable Chief pointing to Robert D. Marcus’ compensation for agreeing to sell Time Warner Cable to Comcast for $45 billion.
On a day when I uncharacteristically allowed a small group of impressionable 15 & 16 year-old males to drill me with questions inside a classroom the number one focus of their inquisitive minds?
So what are we to make of these unrelated, but so much connected, episodes? Do we continue to isolate them, label it anomalies, and keep it moving? Or do we commence with the really difficult job? That would be change.
My time with the kids was a teaching moment because I was able to use those two stories anecdotally inside a discussion about the pursuit of wealth. Whether the outcome will be positive remains a question partly due to the unfortunate “substitute” label which carries its own luggage inside most school buildings. But this group I’ve engaged with since they were 7th graders. I see change possible, I have faith, and more important have learned much more from THEM than they will ever learn from me.
The vision of Solomon Northup hanging from a tree—12 Years A Slave—and 99% of the folks carrying on around him as if nothing’s wrong is frightening…and telling.
An argument could be made it’s also indicative of the 1% in our society today.
“Signed…An Educated Brother!”