S1:E8 What Missing Data Looks Like

22 JUL 2020

Show Notes / Script




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.

In the week that I posted  “Transparency… Can you see it?”, two events happened.

First, a dear friend and my collaborator on this project says: don’t spend to much time banging on about data. People think data is boring. Maybe she said: People don’t think data is as fun as you do. Whichever, data is not jazzy.

Nobody else in the area picked this story up. I guess data reporting is boring, huh? Unless we want to explore how police departments are behaving with our citizens. I see a statistic that reads: 70% of people stopped by Boston Police are Black people while only 24% of the population of the city is Black. Hum, that information seems relevant to the events of 2020. I can’t verify that data, but it was reported by the same news agency. But that’s the point. I can’t verify it!

Boston Police Stopping People
Black People 70%
Boston Population
Black People 24%

Link for CBS Story

CBS Boston | 29 JUN 2020 | Public Arrest Data Missing

It is missing from the commonwealth reporting process. That’s what missing looks like.

Reporting data on our own behavior exposes us to scrutiny. Nobody enjoys that. But we made a commitment a couple of hundred years ago, we made a promise…We wish to create a more perfect nation. It is a process.

Seal of Massachusetts

Massachusetts has been self-governed for 400 years come November.  Our history mixes great shame and huge moments of pride. My 12th great grandfather was born on the Mayflower in November of 1620. He was no religious zealot. He spent his life as a soldier and got baptized in his 80s and died at 84. I was born at Boston Lying Inn, the old name for Brigham and Woman’s Hospital three-hundred and something years later. We chased a lot of good people from Massachusetts over the 4 centuries.

Native American? Quakers. We even kicked Quakers out. Oh, and that bit about Witches. That happened here too. We hung 14 woman and 5 men people for witchcraft.  We treated the Irish badly, very badly. Until the Irish folk asserted themselves as civic leaders, police officers, firefighters, etc.

We all know the history of American cities, right. It is confusing and messy. It is lovely and warm and belligerent. People kill each other and share cultures. Just ask yourself how the pickled brisket of eastern European Jews (“Corned Beef”) became embedded in American Irish identity. The Corned Beef recipe did not come from the Emerald Isle. It came from the neighbor down the street.

When I lived in Dorchester for a minute after college, I ate mulligan stew with tripe. My neighbor on the first floor fed me now and again. She was off-the-boat Irish and he was Puerto Rican serving in the National Guard. There in a kitchen, in one pot, mixed heritages and yummy!

I learned bits of three languages. Yiddish expressions were common in my high school. Spanish was common in people’s homes and on the streets. And my parents required I learn French. I learned to love Arabic foods – no one in my house taught me to eat a sweet onion whilst holding it like an apple.

And yet we committed assault on each other and murdered each other. The language we used for folks brings me shame today. And the things I’d say to people on my ambulance late at night: “What are you doing in this neighborhood? You’re lucky you didn’t get killed.” Not strictly a black-n-white thing. Everyone fought with everyone then they became friends or kept fighting.

Apparently, Massachusetts lets Quakers live in the commonwealth these days. How progressive.

We are slowly learning that chasing people out of town for their beliefs, their heritage, their language, their skin color is a bad thing.

Publishing data on our behavior, then letting others examine it creates a feedback loop. Being stopped by the police creates a cortisol release, the heart rate goes up, our palms sweat. Nobody I know likes seeing blue and red lights in the rear-view mirror, or that chirp of a siren while walking. We all have a physical response to the intrusion.

Reporting and evaluating our behavior only starts the process.

Hiding the data, delays the process, hurts people, denies justices, and means we are kicking yet another promise down the road, kicking into another decade, another century.

Our conversation, the one between you and me, I am taking on a project called: “Little Lie, Big Lie: The slippery slope of corruption and why economic justices matters to you.”

Little Lie, Big Lie

“Little lie, big lie” is an expression reminding the speaker that behind a little lie stands a bigger lie. The little lie is a clue. The big lie – what that may be the crime, or just a horrible secret. But somehow, the little lies give hints of something else. Little lies tells us to dig and find the full story.

Diagnostic physicians and medical investigators know this. So do criminal investigators and interviewers. There is a motivation behind the intent to lie. For most humans, lying takes work. And remembering the lies takes more work. Then integrating the little lies with other lies, that’s more work.

We lie anyway.

LT Timothy Kervin

Boston Police Badge

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.

In 2007, he faced immediate termination.

Links for Additional Reading

Boston Globe | 09 JUN 2020 | What Defunding BPD Really means

Boston Globe | 23 JUN 2020 | BPD Spends on Militarized Equipment

Boston Globe | 17 JUN 2020 | BPD Payroll

Shout out to: Matt Rocheleau & Dugan Arnett

Let me make sure that we all understand that I have described a federal felony called fraud. He took public money he was not entitled to. He lied on public documents – this falls under a few statutes including obstruction. And it is federal felony because some portion of the Boston Police Department’s budget, and therefore this sworn peace officer’s income came from the U.S. federal government. Hello, FBI? Department of Justice Office of Inspector General.

He is still employed by BPD. In 2019, he again is the highest paid employee in the city. He earned $355,538 including $115,361 in overtime. He earned $41,360 in off-duty details as a BPD officer. He earned $35,492 in city money via education incentives. There are over twenty officers who earned more than $300,000 in 2019.

The average pay for cops in Boston? $127,000. A schoolteacher in Boston? About $90K.

Here is institutional fraud. It also gives a serious hint that Boston Police Officers are immune from felony prosecutions. If a police officer systematically and flagrantly violates state and federal law, should we allow this officer be an advocate for justice? That’s not a peacekeeper, that’s a felon. That’s crook.

CPT Jack Danilecki

BPD Jack Danilecki

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. This guy seems to be the poster child for aggressive and violent measures taken against the citizens he’s sworn to protect. Video footage appears to show Captain Jack to be damn quick with violence.

Captain Jack has been investigated 20 times since 1993. His past punishments included a verbal reprimand and a one-day suspension – I’ll be that hurt a guy making over $250,000!

It is clear that there are forces in place that protect BPD officers from internal discipline. There are forces in place that protect BPD officers from federal investigations.

Give someone a side-arm, a badge, and authority. It is damn tough to take it back.

We can’t move forward if our public official fail to follow the law.

I get why Massachusetts does not want to publish data about the behavior of its officers and how it treats other human beings. See data isn’t just jazzy, it can really piss you off!

Is Data Cool Now?

This gives a hint to another sentry in our defense against corruption…