Prison Pete

Sunday, May 22, 2005
  To err is human, but why couldn't someone err this one on me?
According to an article in the April 21, 2005 edition of the New York Times there is at least one lawyer in New York City that remembers what ethics are. His name is Gary S. Mayerson.

I do not know what law school he attended. Whoever his ethics professor was, he also deserves a thank you on behalf of the taxpayers of New York City. Why you might ask?

Well it seems there was a tiny little error made on a check due one of Mr. Mayerson clients. The check was supposed to be in the amount of $86,415.75. It was to cover the special educational services for a child with autism.

The error, which was not caught by anyone involved on the issuing side of the check, involved the use of two extra zeros and that pesky little decimal point. The check was issued in the amount of 8.6 MILLION dollars ($8,641,575.00). If this lawyer was operating on a contingency percentage fee basis, he is even more to be congratulated, and pitied for the scorn that he is probably subjected to form his fellow lawyers.

Can you not hear the bar room talk now: "Hey did you guys hear the stupid thing Gary did? It is guys like him that can give the rest of lawyers a bad name! Now they will expect all of us to behave in an ethical manner. It only takes one goodie-goodie to screw it up for the rest of us."

Other items in the article are equally disturbing. "'This is not the first sizable overpayment we have returned to the city,' he wrote in a letter attached to the check." The actual amount of the check was $8,641,575.00, and according to the article, the error was made by the Education Department. Maybe the employees there should be forced to take some of those proficiency tests that are so common now with the "No Child Left Behind Act", seems to me there may be a few employees in the Education Department that may indeed be left behind or maybe should just be left (out).

Two more comments and then we can drag this well beaten dead horse (I can not help it, I have no life so I feel free to pick on others) off the glue factory or fast food processing center which ever is closer.

"Bruce Fieg, the chief financial officer for the Education Department, confirmed the error 'was made in this side.' He said it was unfortunate because the department was two weeks away from installing a new system designed to prevent such errors."

It appears from the article that this was not the case of an insider, Education Department employee, working with an outsider, the lawyer. Not only did the lawyer return the check, which he certainly could have cashed, but he does mention this is not the first check he has returned. Hey if the "systems" in place allowed for the check to be issued in the first place, what system would have caught it as a possible error on the bank reconciliation?

One would think that only a few people and/or "systems" would allow the entry of 8 MILLION dollar checks. What is the new system, hiring people that know the how to find how the decimal point on the computer keyboard? Maybe the newly designed system will have pop-up dialog box that asks, "Are you sure you want to issue a check for over a MILLION DOLLARS, this is not the New York State Lottery or Power Ball prize is it?"

Since I am forbidden to hold a job while in prison, I am willing to give the above "system" to the Education Department for free. I would love to know how much they paid for this new system.

Another comment from Mr. Feig, which makes me wonder what his qualifications were to become the chief financial officer (maybe former Enron worker?). When describing last year's over budget amount of $140 MILLION, he said, "On a $13 BILLION [caps added] budget, $140 MILLION [caps added] is not a huge number." Yes, tell that to the teachers scrambling around for basic supplies. $140 MILLION pocket change.
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