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Cool Justice 
Parkinson's Law & Petty Crime
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 bureaucracy?

All roads led to the works of Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the father of Parkinson's Law.

"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 alight."

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 dollars.

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 doesn't say.

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 "double-secret probation."

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