Sunday, October 23, 2005

Augh! The Crone!

If I hadn't seen this one with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. You couldn't have convinced me. But there it was -- Susan Adler Thorp sitting before the camera on a WMC/5 newscast Sunday night criticising the Memphis Police Department for having "low expectations" that resulted in police officers engaging in criminal behavior! She chastised a few bad apples for "making it hard for the rest" by "disgracing" the "public trust."

As I live and breath, I cannot believe I saw that. Regular readers of Half-Bakered are very aware of Thorp's career of abuse and unethical behavior. I have covered it here, here and here, in excruciating and outraged detail.

I went to the WMC website and discovered she's already been at it for a while. Here are some of her words of wisdom on Ophelia Ford:
Thirteen votes are well short of a mandate. Now she must earn the confidence and respect of the voters. The people of this community expect her to be informed, to represent them well, and to distance herself from her brother's ethical challenges.
As Thorp should well know, having a history of ethical challenges of her own. Listen to her Ophelia; she's been there and done that!

On Jeremy Hunt:
The whole issue surrounding Jeremy Hunt raises serious questions about the priorities of those in charge at the University. Their decision to let Hunt return to the basketball court just days after he was charged with assault, remains a sore point in this community. It leaves us with the impression that the University believes it's more important to score points than it is to abide by the law. That is wrong.

College is MORE than teaching a young person how to play basketball. And there's more to it than academics. It's about learning life's skills. How to get along in the world. How to act responsibly. How to be a good citizen. While these are skills that can't be learned in the classroom, they can be learned from those who serve as role models - professors, administrators and, yes, even coaches.
Or public servants, though Thorp is too modest to mention that. Judging by how Thorp keeps doing questionable things but always landing on her feet, I think maybe she could teach young Mr. Hunt some life lessons as well.

On the new building permit moratorium in Shelby County:
The map is a good idea. But don't expect miracles. The map is only a guideline, not a law with teeth in it. Too often developers seeking permission to build also are donors to political campaigns. And it's tough to say no to someone who has given your campaign a lot of money.
She should know! It's also tough to say no to a friend, even a disgraced felon asking for something he's not due, through means neither public nor ethical, from the public purse. But laws are made for others, not Thorp, I guess.

Susan Adler Thorp has to be a post-op transexual, because she has a pair of the biggest brassiest balls I've ever seen.

Whatever respect I may have had for WMC and for News Director Peggy Philip is now gone, and I have to wonder at the journalists and reporters who work in a newsroom that would countenance this. My respect vanished in a show of hypocrisy, willful blindness and cronyism that has my outrage-meter pegged.

The old saying still applies: Qui custodiet custodiens -- Who watches the watchmen? If a news organisation will blur the lines so badly, so casually accept such wrong, how can we trust them to bring any strict standard to their coverage of others?

If you want to express your own outrage, email them at Until I learn she's been fired, or asked to resign, or has "reached a mutual agreement to part ways" or whatever, I will not watch any WMC/5 newcast.

This must not stand.

MONDAY 10PM UPDATE: Well, well. Some very testy Susie-supporters in comments leaping to her defense. They all chose to be anonymous, so I have to treat them as one. (Remember, people, if you want to be anonymous, at least choose a nickname so I can distinguish you.)

Quoting:'d find out that Thorp did nothing but hand a note to Bobby Lanier telling him to call Tom Jones. That's it.

And back to the facts, rather than innuendo, all that she did was to walk a phone call to Lanier.

Yep, and if you call Fowlkes, he'll tell you that the part on Thorp was mistaken.
Another commenter was kind enough to forward the link to County CAO Fowlkes' report on his investigation. Certainly you should read it all for yourself (it's short), but I'll excerpt the relevant portions for you:
At various times after September 2, 2003, Jones initiated contact with Susan Thorp, Director of Public Affairs and Robert Lanier, Executive Assistant to the Mayor. Thereafter, Thorp and Lanier met with County employees and discussed Jones’ circumstances. The discussions centered on reinstatement or fallback rights....

Although I have not been able to identify specific dates, sometime between April 1, 2004 and Jones’ formal request to exercise his fallback right on April 28, 2004, employees met and discussed if he could be eligible for an age 55 pension, which would be at a higher benefit rate. An informal meeting took place in Lanier’s office. Others present besides Lanier were Waverly Seward, Janet Shipman, Administrator of the Human Resources Department, Brian Kuhn and Susan Thorp who left shortly after the meeting. The discussion again centered on what actions were necessary to process Jones’ retirement request if he filed for fallback rights after his 55th birthday....

In discussing this situation with Thorp, she indicates that her sole purpose was to help a long time friend obtain much needed pension benefits. Her involvement was limited to asking general questions about whether or not the process was proceeding. She indicates that she has no experience with the Retirement Plan or the Civil Service Act, and played no part in moving Jones’ request forward. However, Thorp demonstrated knowledge of fallback rights and the affect it could have on changing Jones’ retirement date. The significance of this knowledge was evident when she spoke with Jimmy Moore, an Elected Official. Thorp told Moore that Jones was trying to exercise his fallback rights and needed a position with the County. Thorp asked Moore if he would hire Jones. Both Thorp and Moore described this conversation as “brief”, “off the cuff”, and “mentioned almost in passing” indicating that the discussion was of little or no import. However, soon thereafter, Moore followed up on the conversation with Lanier. Moore asked Lanier about Jones’ circumstance, and Lanier advised Moore not to get involved. No action was taken by Moore to place Jones on his payroll.
At no time did Thorp alert the Mayor to any of these circumstances....

Susan Adler-Thorp.
a. Had been advised on a previous occasion to separate work from personal friendships, specifically regarding Jones;
b. Spoke with Jones about pension and benefits, and agreed to help get the process started;
c. Spoke with Lanier about the possibility of helping Jones get his pension benefits;
d. Inquired of Lanier on several occasions about progress regarding Jones’ benefits;
e. On other occasions, discussed Jones’ benefits acquisition with Human Resources employees;
f. For a short time, attended a meeting of those working on Jones’ behalf where employment, retirement and benefits were discussed;
g. Briefly discussed Jones’ retirement and employment circumstances with an Elected Official, and at one point asked the official about employment possibilities for Jones;
h. Thought the Mayor was aware of what was occurring;
i. As Director of Public Affairs, failed to alert the Mayor to any of the events that were occurring.
So there you go. That certainly seems to contradict the Susie-supporters' claims. Given the choice between taking Fowlkes' official word and some anonymous commenters, I know which I'll take.

The interesting thing about Fowlkes' report is that he never specifically identifies the person responsible for placing Jones back on the payroll, though the strong indication is that it was Lanier.

There is another loose end. From the report's timeline of events:
May 28, 2004, (30 days from reinstatement request) by administrative act, Jones was reinstated to County employment;
10. June 1, 2004, Loudermill letter was hand delivered to Jones, notifying him of major disciplinary action. (Because of the holiday weekend, the Loudermill letter wasn’t delivered to Jones until he had been on County employment rolls for three days.);
11. June 1, 2004, Jones resigned and requested retirement;
12. June 4, 2004, by administrative act, Jones was placed on the retirement payroll;
Hand-delivered on the day after a major holiday weekend? That's serious. And who/what is the "Loudermill letter?" Notice the "by administrative act" citation; I assume this was Bobby Lanier?

I stand by what I said. Thorp was part of an effort to help out a friend by circumventing normal procedures and the specific edict of Mayor Wharton, at taxpayer expense. If it wasn't a strict legal violation, it was most definitely an ethical one. The County is not a piggy bank for hard-luck cases, especially not ones who are convicted felons because they abused their County position. With her long experience watching City and County government, and hearing from Commercial Appeal readers outraged at the shenanigans in those governments that she covered, there is no possible excuse for her actions.

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