Dead Ethics Alarms And Dead Brains In Cleveland

In other words, be just like Cleveland, Ohio.

In other words, be just like Cleveland, Ohio.

When I read that Cleveland was trying to bill the family $500 for the fatally wounded  Tamir Rice to be carried by an ambulance after an incompetent police officer shot the 12-year-old boy as he played with a toy gun in a city park, I began a mental countdown. How long would it be before a public outcry forced the Cleveland municipal government to cover the bill and apologize? It took about a day.

It doesn’t matter how one regards Rice’s death: a racist murder by a cop, excused by the justice system ( black activists, anti-polce race-hucksters  and too many journalists and pundits), blatant incompetence on the part of many adults and institutions, leading to the negligent, tragic death of an innocent child (Ethics Alarms), or something in between. The incident was a massive humiliation for Cleveland, its leadership and the police, justifying all of the anger and raw emotion in its aftermath. Tamir and his family were undeniably victims, and the city was the entity that harmed them. If there is a single individual on the city payroll who is incapable of immediately recognizing the grotesque insult of billing the family for removing the body of the dead child killed by city police, then the city itself is untrustworthy and dysfunctional. As it happens, many city employees must have been aware of the disgusting bill, and every one of them should have been smart enough to know that this was one expense the city had to eat or else. Now we know how and why Tamir died. Incompetent people are running the city, and incompetent people are dangerous.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized at a news conference yesterday, and said that the city would pay whatever wasn’t covered by Medicaid. “It was mistake in terms of us not flagging it, but it was not a mistake in terms of the legal process,” Jackson said. This logic echoes the rationalizations for the conduct of “The Worst Aunt Ever,” who sued her 12-year-old nephew to get insurance covered damages.

No, you pathetic, incompetent fool, it was a mistake. Period. It was a mistake that resulted from having ethically-inert, brain dead, inattentive, lazy, rote idiots working for the city at inflated salaries, because any money you pay for a ethically-inert, brain dead, inattentive, lazy, rote idiots is too much. It was a mistake caused by management that allows too many—like one—ethically-inert, brain dead, inattentive, lazy, rote idiots to have any power at all over the lives of citizens.  If there was a ghost of the Golden Rule knocking around in the skulls of anyone involved in this idiotic incident, someone would have thought, then said, “Are you kidding me? We’re going to charge the family for the ambulance? When we killed their little boy? That’s insane!” What was done because no one had that faint stirring of justice and common sense was the Bizarro World ethics version of “the ends justify the means.” As Bizzaro himself would put it, “This good deal! Bizzaro Cleveland get 500 dollars, and only need to give up reputation, honor and self respect!

This particular mistake will cost far more than a lousy 500 bucks in lost trust, resentment, anger, and faith in the values and competence of the government.


14 thoughts on “Dead Ethics Alarms And Dead Brains In Cleveland

  1. I like the apology. Yes, I do: “Erm . . . Sorry for whacking your son, Mr. Rice, but would be so kind as to pay the transportation costs incurred taking him to the ME’s office. You know, Medicaid only pays a portion of the bill; you have to pay the rest. Times are tough and they’ve got that recession on, so we have to cover our costs. Would you like to put that on a credit card? I’ll take the numbers down as soon as you’re ready. Oh, and by the by, we also have payment plans available for the price of the bullets used. If you pay that portion off in 6 months, we can reduce the interest rate in half. How does that sound? Which card would you like to use?”

    When I saw the articles on the net yesterday, I thought it was the Onion being edgy. Nope. Reality is always stranger that fiction. The face palm, and slow head shaking, were about all I could muster. Then, the mayor made his comments. The mayor is blithering idiot and should be run out of town on a rail He said the city will pick up the cost of medical care provided to Rice that isn’t covered by Medicaid. Did you get that? The city intends to bill Medicaid. The city isn’t writing off or eating the bill. No. That wouldn’t be sensible. On the contrary, the city expects to recover $137.00 from Medicaid To his credit, though, the mayor said the city actually wrote off the balance of $327.00 (after Medicaid paid its part),but made a claim in the probate proceeding when the estate’s executor inquired about any remaining medical bills.

    The lawyer representing the Tamir Rice family in a civil suit against the city, Subodh Chandra, doesn’t seem to be too much brighter, either. She questioned the city’s explanation: “If the city accepts Medicaid reimbursement, there is no additional amount owed,” Chandra said. “That’s the basic principle of insurance and Medicaid/Medicare law. They can’t hold their hand out for more.” The attorney is questioning the propriety of requesting more than the Medicaid reimbursement, not the propriety of filing a claim for money due because of the actions of the city’s personnel.

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave.


  2. And I though the Chinese practice of charging a “bullet fee” to the families of its condemned was ghoulish. It makes you wonder if this ever occurs in lower-profile cases, and goes unreported.

  3. The fact that he would still qualify his “apology” by specifying that only the part not covered by medicaid would be paid by the city astonishes me. Just because someone else is paying on your behalf doesn’t make that part of the charge OK. Also, saying “paid by the city” was disingenuous. The city will not be paying anything, just not recovering payment to offset its expense in providing ambulance services.

    • Maybe this is a Cleveland thing–Lake Erie water? Special tone-deafness?
      From 2006:

      Nonlawyer Father Wins His Suit Over Education, and the Bar Is Upset

      Several years ago, Brian Woods sued the school board in Akron, Ohio, on behalf of his autistic son Daniel. Mr. Woods wanted to make sure that Daniel received an appropriate education, and he won several concessions and about $160,000.

      “I soundly defeated a team of lawyers,” Mr. Woods, an adjunct professor at Cuyahoga Community College, said yesterday.

      When the Cleveland Bar Association got wind of Mr. Woods’s victory recently, it also went to court — to sue Mr. Woods. The bar association said he had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. It sought a $10,000 fine, lawyers’ fees and a promise that he would not continue to assist other parents seeking to represent their own children in court.

      The Ohio Supreme Court was not impressed. On April 20, it ordered the bar association to produce evidence by next week in support of its complaint, saying the available facts suggest that Mr. Woods “has not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.”

      With that deadline looming and after reports on the controversy in The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, the bar association backed down. Sort of.

      In a statement on Wednesday, its president, P. Kelly Tompkins, said the complaint against Mr. Woods “had a legitimate, technical basis.” Mr. Woods did, after all, represent someone else in court — his son — without being a lawyer.

      The filing of the complaint was nonetheless a mistake, Mr. Tompkins said, withdrawing it and apologizing to the Woods family. The association should not have considered filing the complaint, he said, until after the United States Supreme Court acted in a case it might decide to hear this month.

      That case involves two other Ohio parents, Jeff and Sandee Winkelman. In November, the federal appeals court in Cincinnati gave the Winkelmans, who had been representing their autistic son Jacob in a suit against the Parma, Ohio, school district, 30 days to find a lawyer or have their case dismissed. Justice John Paul Stevens issued a stay of that order in December.

      Federal courts around the country are divided over the circumstances in which parents who are not lawyers may represent their children in federal court under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
      Ms. Winkelman said the ruling of the appeals court effectively barred the courthouse doors to her son. Her family, she said, simply could not afford a lawyer.

      “One quoted $60,000,” Ms. Winkelman said. “She wanted $2,600, biweekly. I was in tears. I decided to go on my own. We had no money, and we had nowhere to send Jacob to school. When you’re in a do-or-die situation, you do what you have to do.”

      Christina H. Peer, a lawyer for the Parma district, said there were good reasons for requiring that only lawyers might handle such cases.”People who are not attorneys cannot represent the interests of another in a court of law,” Ms. Peer said.

      Where disabled minors are involved, she added, courts should be even more reluctant to let others, even parents, speak on the minors’ behalf.

      “Do they have the skills,” Ms. Peer asked, “to adequately represent the rights of their children?”
      A lawyer for Susan Woods, Daniel’s mother, said he was furious that the bar association had pursued charges of unauthorized practice of law against her and her husband.

      “I’m very angry about it,” the lawyer, Allan M. Michelson, said. “I’m upset that my fellow attorneys should spend their time like this.”

      In an interview, Mr. Tompkins of the bar association sounded conciliatory. “Our board had not approved this filing,” he said. “We had a breakdown internally on this.”

      But he refused to rule out the possibility of further action after the Supreme Court acted in the Winkelman case.
      “We’ll stand down until it’s resolved,” Mr. Tompkins said.

      Mr. Woods said he suspected that the peace might be temporary.
      “The issue is,” he said, “to shut me up so that I can’t beat them again.”

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