Fraud in Vermont, I am shocked, shocked. But why not? The state won’t likely investigate. The attorney general won’t likely press criminal charges. The laws are weak. And opportunities abound. In a fine example, of the resource curse, Vermont’s freedoms, views, cheap land are all for sale. Bienvenue, welcome, velkomen, bienvenido, huanying – come on over, especially if you have money. Let’s explore the Jay Peak Resort fraud scheme now.
The operation of a legitimate democratic government should be a familiar rhythmic and almost boring process. Governmental operations ought not involve a magical invisibility cloak or gossamer curtain. When there is a razzle-dazzle; when there is confusion; when there is a deliberate effort to divide us; stop, look, see, question and act. Something is being obscured that you are not meant to see – and it is right there next to you. While I eschew speedy answers, these are key themes.
- And acknowledgement of a social contract.
Is there a link between governmental corruption and the calamities of 2020 here in the United States? My research led me to two books by Sarah Chayes: “Thieves of State” and “On Corruption in America”. In this episode, I weave Sarah themes and my experiences in Iraq and Puerto Rico. Maybe we should solve the problems of governance before the crisis of security and insurrection take over here too.
FEMA’s suffered numerous high-profile investigations and arrests from top to bottom in 2019. Can we see discover the difference between corruption, confused, or conflicted by exploring the investigations and arrests? How do we save our national emergency response agency together? Explore today’s history with us now.
I interview Sarah Chayes who informs us of how she became an advocate for public integrity as a result of her work in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. We discuss her most recent book: “On Corruption in America and What is at Stake”, published August 2020. We also touch on her 2015 book called “Thieves of State: why corruption threatens global security”.
During the interview, explore the mythology of the Hydra, King Midas, and The Cleansing of the Temple while we talk about current events in the United States.
Please visit Sarah’s website at https://sarahchayes.org.
The Enron debacle of two decades ago haunts our legal system today. Enron CEO Jeffery Skilling appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States because claiming that a law related to fraud was too vague. SCOTUS agreed with him thereby weakened key elements of our federal fraud statutes. Now fraudsters have a pathway to avoid convictions. When striving to prevent fraud and corruption with enforcement, we need laws that have teeth and meaning. What you and I might recognize as fraud, may not be illegal. We’ll explore this now.
Do Something Now
Roz wants me to “Tell a story that she can do something about.” We are more alike than we ever admit. Today, we struggle to see that. The worst crooks, the crooks who do the most damage to our country walk freely amongst us fully camouflaged. In the recent decade, Vermont fell victim to two massive fraud schemes – these relate to social, economic, and even environmental issues everywhere.
If you want to do something, maybe start with this formula: look, see, question, act. At the root of so much of what is going, there exist elements of corruption, fraud, and an institutional resistance to change. Let’s start that story now.
Friends, I took a victory lap last evening that ended in tears. My tears, friend’s tears, and a gut wrenching shame of being human. People who can make technology sing and dance receive more in COVID recovery funds than those who struggle with tech.
The analog versus digital divide expands and limits our ability to help those with the greatest need.
And this is a matter of economic justice …
Knobs & Twiddly Bits
We continue to deny full rights to 6 million Americans because of racist rulings from the Supreme Court over a century ago. The same court that ruled: Separate But Equal was cool, suppresses voting rights for Americans today, 115 years later. Moving closer to economic justice and a fight against corruption requires we welcome all US Passport holders to the voting roles.
FEMA - Fiddle, Fumble, Flop
FEMA – widely criticized for failures in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina is on path for the same failures in 2020. What will a major hurricane during a pandemic look like? Is there a plan for transporting, feeding, and/or sheltering people? And will this plan actually prevent the loss of personal data for 2.3M Americans?
In 2018, they did a large-scale sheltering program. FEMA fiddled, fumbled, and flopped. Then lost data!
Helluva Job FEMA
Department of Homeland Secrecy
The United States Department of Homeland Security obscures its actions with a lack of transparency and it maybe the nation’s largest law enforcement agency.
According to U.S. Law, any of the 240,000 employees of DHS may arrest and detain people – in accordance with 40 USC §1315. Maybe they do have the right name?
Welcome or not, they certainly became the national police force. I looked at OIG reports, FOIA history, and OpenData find a hint of transparency.
Data, Contracts, Blood, and Money
You and I have a contract with each other and our shared government which promises justice, tranquility, promotion of general welfare, our common defense and securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. How are we doing on that?
Transparency is a primary defense against corruption yet during the summer of 2020, the Secretary of the Treasury flip-flopped on making public data public. And flipflopped again.
Transparency... Can You See It?
Transparency helps ensure economic justice for our citizens.
Transparency in governance means that we can follow the flow of money into our communities.
We do not have a law that provide detailed access to how public funds are spent?
We do not have a law that enshrines public information as publicly available?
We do not have a law that ensures transparency in governance.
What do we get as a result?
We've Been Dun In
Preventing Corruption and improving economic justice might be easier if the government didn’t have to pay for data that they should already own. Nice deal if you can get it!
What Missing Data Looks Like
What does missing look like? I have a picture of that – right here! The data required by a set of laws the Massachusetts legislature can’t be found. The law exists, yet the data do not. Public arrest data has not been posted on the website of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security as required by law” Investigations into Boston Police Lieutenant Timothy Kervin found that he committed (“allegedly committed”) 191 payroll violations during 20 years. 68 counts of inaccurate reporting on a paid, off-duty detail card. In 2005, LT Kervin collected $237,272 in pay during 2005. The second highest paid city employee is a BPD captain named John “Jack” Danilecki. His income from the city didn’t break $350,000 but came close enough.
75% Failure Rate... Not Good, huh?
75% failure rate with FEMA fund recipients, in a typical year. Pretty poor showing. And why this matters to you! 1) How did i get to this failure rate? what is my foundation? 2) What risks do you and I have with failures? 3) I’ll place blame
I am the Problem
The Declaration of Independence
The Want, Will, and Hopes of the People
The Dead Don't Vote but They Do Float
We are tampering with evidence as we manage the dead during crisis and disasters. We lose count and information as we shuffle corpses into refrigerated trucks. We still debate the number of dead from the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico: 64, 2950, 4000. Puerto Rico stored bodies for over 2 years in 11 trucks. Are we doing the same in 2020 with CoronaVirus?
No Corruption Here... Is there?
There is no corruption here. That’s what the United States Federal Government informs us. We have over sixty offices of inspector general. It is their separate missions to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within the various agencies of the executive branch. Fraud. Waste. Abuse. Aren’t those just alternate names for corruption? Let’s explore.
I Tried to Commit Fraud...
Crossing the line to felonies can be a fluid movement with one does not see options and alternate pathways. In this episode, I almost messed a government contract and I admit to kidnapping, assault, and battery (35 years ago).