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How to screw T.J. today

Breaking News out of Hollywood

The Channel 5 news, anchored by furniture peddler and Mayor Daley suckup Alison Rosati (more on that later), informed me tonight there was “breaking news out of California” after the commercial break. Curiosity kept me there.

What was this breaking news? An earthquake? A fiscal crisis spurred by some action or inaction by the state general assembly? Unrest in Los Angeles or San Francisco or Oakland?

No, it was more important than that. Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are separating.

Who says hard-hitting TV news is dead?

Privacy, please?

I was going to cackle at all the Iphone users whose precise locations are known to the databases in Cupertino, Cal.

However, I own an Android device (a Motorola Droid X, which is excellent, by the way), and I read that my locations are probably also known to Sergey Brin at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Cal.

I didn’t sign up to have my movements tracked and stored. Worse yet, the government now knows these databases exist. How long until the government talks Google into handing over the information.

Disgraceful.

Thought of the Day

Courtesy of David Bowie:

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

A lot’s been on my mind lately. To me, one who does not keep trusted friends’ counsel, who does not outwardly show any interest in learning from any outside force, who asserts his or her leadership prowess simply by pointing out the shortcomings he or she perceives in others, and who chooses no solution over acknowledging that there’s a problem is no leader, and really is just one step from dead.

I’ve witnessed someone, who in 15 short years went from being a young man who carried a bit of an aura about him to becoming a bitter old man with no original ideas. He has become a man who measures achievement and accomplishment by “activity.”

Anyway, the time’s come to bury the remnants of an old friend who passed 11-plus years ago. Now that was a leader.

A Common Thief … Too Common

Hackney’s on Harms celebrated St. Patrick’s Day the way you would expect a neighborhood restaurant owned by an Irish-Catholic family. They had an Irish band, Harp and Guinness on tap, corned beef, cabbage and all the expected fare.

They also got the Glenview Police involved and had them collar a 52-year-old woman, a former bookkeeper at the Harms Rd. location. Because she was in charge of making the nightly deposits and because inadequate controls were in  place, she was able to embezzle something to the tune of $186,000 from September 2008 until the restaurant caught on last fall.

It appears that the bookkeeper was pocketing cash from each day’s receipts and then writing a check from Hackney’s account to the bank to make up for the lost cash. It was a confusing scheme, and it’s a little surprising neither the bank nor Hackney’s caught on sooner.

That said, I know exactly how it feels to find someone in my own organization with his hand in the cookie jar. His scheme was doctored (or plain forged) receipts that went on his expense reports. This fraud totaled only a tenth of what Hackney’s experienced, but it was no less stinging. Family businesses rely on trust — sometimes too much — with employees.

We discovered this in January and I wonder why we didn’t catch on sooner. The problem is simple. The system of controls we have in place is inadequate. We’re a small business, and most employees are stretched thin. The company president approves the expense reports, but he only checks to be sure all the receipts are in the report and that the numbers match. He’s not spot-checking them for irregularities.

It was a brutal lesson for one man to learn when he came into the office to be informed he was fired. It could have been worse. Unlike the Masterson family who owns Hackney’s, we decided not to prosecute. (I use the word we to indicate it was discussed. Collectively we decided not to get police involved. I won’t tell you what my course of action would have been had it been my call.)

At least we learned our lesson, too. Right?

WSJ on Illinois

The Wall Street Journal mocks us Illinoisans on the Saturday editorial page.  A couple quick facts: state revenues increased in Illinois by $7 Billion over the past six years and the state’s population decreased by 736,000 over the past decade.

This is a state that does almost everything wrong economically. It is not a right-to-work state and is thus heavily unionized, repelling new business investment. It has the fifth highest minimum wage among the states, the fifth most trial-lawyer friendly legal code, the sixth highest workers’ compensation costs, and the 11th highest property taxes. It has one of the highest inheritance taxes, at 16%, so retirees flee to states with no death tax, such as Florida and Arizona. A rare Illinois advantage has been its relatively low income-tax rate, but that will shrink or vanish under Mr. Quinn’s increase.

It’s time to start from scratch in this state.  Unfortunately, the same voters who gave us Blago will get a chance to pick a new governor (and a general assembly).