Columns & Stories]
Parkinson's Law & Petty Crime
By ANDY THIBAULT, Columnist
Law Tribune Newspapers
July 25, 2005
The trail started at two police stations and the chambers of several
judges. The clues were many: bad form while shopping, the fear of creative
thinking and bruised egos.
These were answers to the question I asked myself, what moves a
All roads led to the works of Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the father of
"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its
completion." This is the law as elucidated by Parkinson. I have found
its application amusing and bewildering, notably in West Hartford,
Ridgefield and in our little state's highest court.
Parkinson, who served in military intelligence with Britain's Royal Air
Force in World War II, went on to study his government's civil service,
teach at universities and publish about 60 books. He found that
organizations have an inexorable tendency to grow regardless of the amount
of work to be done, with expenditures rising to meet income or
taxation. Many organizations, Parkinson said, erect new buildings around
the time they are about to outlive their usefulness. "The best
plan," he said, "is to insure them heavily and set them
While arson is probably not the right tack to take, like passersby
entranced by a house fire we can't help but be mesmerized by the
overreactions of governmental authority. Let's take a look, for example,
at how the police in West Hartford and Ridgefield, as well as
Connecticut's Chief Justice, are spending a lot of their time and our tax
The Dairy Scream Squad in West Hartford struck earlier this month with a
mighty piling on of charges against a psychologist who collapsed at the
local Stop &Shop after purposely inhaling nitrous oxide from cans of
whipped cream. Goodness, my, was she dressed properly? The arrest warrant
Did the detectives who worked on this case for six weeks perhaps inhale a
bit of that gas to keep them going? That's where I'd bet my money. It's a
rugged road building a case in such a short time for creating a public
disturbance, third degree criminal mischief and illegal possession of a
restricted substance. I'm comforted, though, in the belief that the
prosecutor and judge who signed off on the arrest warrant read the
document carefully. Couldn't they have added a few more charges?
We always hear about bloated education budgets and too many
administrators. How about sending the West Hartford cavalry into Hartford?
Certainly they have the techniques mastered to put down the crime rate.
After all, anyone who moves up the drug ladder to heroin must have inhaled
whipped topping at some point early in life.
Beware, a dangerous student could still be on the loose in
Ridgefield. Better alert Homeland Security for a Code Red. School
Superintendent Ken Freeston is taking the matter very seriously, but you
can never be too careful.
Seems dozens of high school seniors received fake letters with the forged
signature of an assistant principal telling them they failed a required
course and would not graduate.
It became Ridgefield's version of the War of the Worlds. As a dissident,
let me say this kid might deserve a scholarship for a graphic arts course
of study. But, the town fathers know best. They referred the matter to
police. Hold on, it could be a long ride.
Leadership is crucial to the welfare of this great state. That's why we
look to the chief justice for guidance. How else are we to learn what's
really important, besides keeping all those files secret? When a disturbed
man wrote to judges, including Sullivan, calling them very bad names and
testing their cognitive skill with his narratives, another judge somehow
got the message to hold the scribe on a $1 million, punitive bond. This
was after a 13-month state police probe involving major crime squad
detectives and lab experts.
Now, that's leadership. We're all safer now as the letter writer appears
headed for what Faber College's Dean Vernon Wormer called