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Lawyer Up

Island Life

“Do we live in a world devoid of consequences, now?”     John Oliver

I was sitting on the couch the other night when Mr. Oliver posed the above question to Mr. Colbert, and not really jokingly, as one might have hoped. It was for the most part related to actions performed by the clown troupe from Trumpworld on a seemingly daily, if not hourly basis, and their apparently complete lack of expressed guilt or awareness that they’ve done anything wrong, and certainly not that they should have to make any accounting for it. As has been stated here before, regarding a large part of my misdirected fascination with the machinations of so-called president 45*  and his cohorts and their continuing obsession with constantly adding to a list of reasons why this occupant of the White House will need an asterisk in the history books, it is my weird hope that eventually some consequences will be met by the players in this tragicomedy. It has been my experience as of late regarding actions and their consequences, that it all depends on who you are talking about.

In truth, there is good reason why I have not spoken in a while of my own travails in familial politics as they relate to a supposed legal system. Long time readers will recall my accounting of the escapades I have endured with someone I continue to refer to as my sociopathic sister. Actually there is a third name I usually append to that which has to do with a female specific body part whose slang iteration is four letters long and begins with the letter “c”. I would like to say that the reason for this silence on the subject had anything to do with a final resolution, but as of today we move into the fourth year since my father’s passing. This  also marked the beginning of my personal need for lawyers to salvage anything from what said sibling had done in terms of laying waste to a pair of trusts that my parents had intended for the both of us to share in, and three years on it still isn’t quite settled.

For those of you coming late to this tale, let’s make this quick and easy. For the year and a half before my father died, this singular sibling known as sister had also served as co-executor and co-trustee of the estate along with the family lawyer until they were both thrown out and replaced by a special fiduciary. During the time before that occurence,  having gained the power of attorney, she wrote checks to herself and her progeny in a manner that nearly completely drained both estates of over a million dollars, all while the family lawyer looked the other way, or in a few cases, directly at what was going on. A few days after my dad’s services when the family lawyer read the estate accounting and prefaced it by saying that there really wasn’t much cash left, I rediscovered the pit of my stomach and soon after asked a friend in town there if he had any recommendations for obtaining legal advice. After setting the forensic accounting in motion, about a year and a half passed and I wound up in mediation where the family lawyer agreed to pay a tenth of what my sister had taken and blown to the point where she had nothing to pay back. After my legal fees were paid with about three quarters of that, I had enough to write a check big enough to forestall actions by my mortgage company who, on the day my fraction of the settlement arrived, had sent me a certified notice of them filing for foreclosure. That was why I had agreed to the mediation settlement- because I knew that if I hadn’t, any money that came from a trial would have been too little and too late. I do not know what has since happened to that other sibling from my family who was responsible for this mess- I do know that the family lawyer has since received at least one accolade in New Hampshire for lawyer of the year.

On a more local note, I now can say that I have achieved the dubious honor of having attended meetings of the commissioners and directors of the parks, the schools and the fire department on the Island. Again, the readers of this space know well my opinion of past recent residents of the park commissioners seats. I should preface whatever comes next with the statement that who we have there now is a vast improvement. But, it should be noted that following an internal audit it was found recently that the parks need at least five million dollars in maintenance to bring them back to where they should be. It should be noted also that much of this neglect was taking place as three former members of the board rammed the VES fields down the Island’s collective throat to the tune of three million dollars and counting since, like my legal wrangling back east, it really hasn’t been completed yet some four years down the road. As can be noted, there has been no accountability for the economic misdeeds of the past VPD park board, even though their actions, not unlike those of the only other living sibling in my family (I did have a brother but he only lived for three days), nearly bankrupted the park district and they continue to struggle to this day.

We could get into a discussion of the school board and their battles with the park district over a common use cash fee from parks, the likes of which does not exist in most if not all of the known universe. Instead, let us turn to the fire department and their current struggles to continue to offer their excellent fire and rescue services in a manner that we have become accustomed. While I have been hearing the tales of VIFR woes from at least two friends for years, it was my duties in Voice of Vashon digital scribery that saw me standing with camera and monopod in a number of recent fire commissioners meetings, hearing tales of aging rescue vehicles breaking down and being scavenged for parts so as to keep at least one of them running, making at least one part of this Island sound a bit like another one about 90 or so miles south of Miami. The blame again causes fingers to be pointed backward in time to apparent bunglings by former board members. As it is, in all of these three board situations there has been mention of needing to talk to “our  lawyers”. What this translates to of course should be considered as billable hours coming out of the public coffers that otherwise would have gone to serving the public good instead of righting a public wrong that shouldn’t have been committed in the first place.

So, do I think Mr. Oliver’s observation had merit? It seems that to answer that depends on which side of the coin one is residing. While still early on in the proceedings, my lawyer mentioned that my sociopathic sister might indeed face jail time for her deeds. If my dad had survived another year, she would have had to face the consequences of an elder abuse law passed in New Hampshire in 2015. On the other hand, I have come to believe that even then she would not have gone to trial, because then the incompetence, neglect and possible collusion of the family lawyer would have then been exposed for what it was, and what law firm wants that? As far as the current occupant of the White House goes regarding any consequences for his actions, it seems that for most of his life he seemingly has avoided much of any consequences for his actions at all. While I would like to see that change, my own recent experiences would lead me to not bet on seeing anything like consequences of any kind any time soon.