Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bullying: Part 2 The Serious Part

The worst advice your parents and your teachers gave you in the schoolyard was "Ignore the bullies. They just want attention." It is finally dawning on us in the 21st century that what the bullies really want is power. It's the superego asserting itself. Like thievery and lying, it is a lazy and often effective way to take what was not rightfully earned.

On Saturday, I showcased a classic example of how bullying is used in the politics of North Bay Village. Read it here if you don't remember.

Well, today I want to speak about the more grotesque bullying happening on the dais and in plain sight. I refer to the way Dr. Paul Vogel, a man who served the city long and honorably, is being exploited.

Dr. Vogel had two strokes and is often confused. He talks openly about this. If you watch him on the dais, he never comments, never offers his views and his only questions are which item is being voted on. He then consults an already marked up agenda which notes how he is to vote on the item in question. When there is a variance in the order of the votes, he becomes confused.

Simple example, at the last meeting, there was an item by Corina Esquijarosa to open a search for a temporary city manager, followed by an item by Eddie Lim-Kreps to bypass a transparent search and install the former police chief as interim city manager. These were then combined to a single item as they were much the same subject.

This threw the rhythm off. Dr. Vogel's marked up agenda said vote No then Yes. But with the change, a No vote would have blocked Commissioner Lim-Kreps decision. Dr. Vogel followed the script and voted NO. His wife, Marietta, then shouted out from the audience, "Vote Yes" and he quickly changed his vote, clearly not knowing what he was voting on or why.

This happens all the time. When Dr. Vogel votes, he first looks to see how the twins have voted. If he is called on to vote first, he consults his agenda. His wife sits directly in the line of sight and indicates Yes or No.

It's sad. It's sad that age and sickness have struck this fine public servant and a hell of a guy, and it's made even worse to see how those who claim to respect and even to love him, don't hesitate to exploit him, in public, in front of cameras and in front of the city he served so well.

What's happening to Dr. Vogel fits the definition of elder abuse. Those surrounding him are isolating him, keeping him uninformed, directing his behavior for their own personal gain and punishing him with withdrawal if he does not comply. We are all complicit when we allow this to happen. We are all bullies if we do not protect our elderly.

When we are called to account, I firmly believe that the question we will have to answer is "How did I treat people who were weaker than me?" The longer we let this go on, how will any of us be able to answer that question?

Kevin Vericker
June 14, 2011

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