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Column as I see ’em …
Don’t be surprised this week if a former social services employee who pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of falsifying her investigations is, in essence, released from prison.
Yep, the five year sentence Margaret “Geri” Murphy received just a month ago could be set aside when she asks for, and odds are will receive, shock probation.
That hardly seems appropriate, given that her admitted lies almost certainly left children she was being paid to protect in bad situations that included sexual and physical abuse.
Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised. If memory serves, the sentence for a Lawrenceburg woman who admitted “sexting” vulgar photos of herself to a young boy was set aside when she was placed on shock probation, so there’s already a precedent for doing so.
It will be interesting to see if Attorney General Jack Conway’s office agrees to this. His office made a big deal out of Murphy’s sentence and attracted considerable media attention. Even his prosecutor, Barbara Whaley, talked tough after Murphy was sentenced.
“I feel this sent a message that the system to protect children cannot be breached without serious consequences,” Whaley said. “Of all cases child victims are the most vulnerable.”
It’s hard to imagine those “serious consequences” include spending just one month of a five-year sentence actually behind bars.
In keeping with my own tradition, I worked on Labor Day as a means of protesting how it became a national holiday.
No, I’m not anti-worker or anti-union or anti-anything — except for taxes, that is. I grew up in a union family that was frontloaded with northeastern Democrats from my dad to both grandfathers. For a thankfully brief period of time I even belonged to a laborers union, which was among the more ridiculous jobs I’ve ever held.
I would have opted to be a scab, but finding scab work in a union-or-else state was almost impossible.
Most folks believe Labor Day was founded to honor the hard work that went into building our great nation.
That’s true. Local Labor Day parades began in the 1880s to honor the labor that built a country. Had it remained intact for that reason alone, I’d have taken Monday off.
But it soon became nationalized for all the wrong reasons.
During a depression in the late 1890s, railroad workers pitched a fit after their wages were cut. Their revolt and subsequent strike left an already teetering nation at the brink of economic collapse, which prompted President Grover Cleveland to order them back to work.
If that sounds familiar it’s because nearly a century later President Reagan did the same thing to striking air traffic controllers. But unlike Cleveland, Reagan stuck to his guns and fired the lousy lot of them.
The striking railroad workers organized under the infamous Eugene Debs, which resulted in people being killed and massive property damage during what became known as the Debs Rebellion.
Even the New York Times editorialized against the rebellion and called Debs “an enemy of the human race.”
My, how the Times has changed.
Cleveland, in an obvious move to make nice with the unions, capitulated and moved quickly to nationalize the Labor Day movement by declaring it a national holiday.
Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t enough to get him back in good graces with the union-fueled Democrats and his bid to be re-elected failed.
For his troubles, Debs was sent off to prison where he continued to serve his fellow man by studying the writings of Karl Marx. He eventually became one of America’s leading Socialists, and even took several runs at the presidency.
Had he come along about a 100 years later, perhaps he could have secured enough support from modern-day Democrats to win, especially when said stuff like this: “With faith and hope and courage we hold our heads erect and with dauntless spirit marshal the working class for the march from Capitalism to Socialism.”