Slouching toward midnight at the Deadwood Cafe. Lukewarm pizza and tepid beer. Catching up on the day’s Washington Post on my trusty netbook while listening to the thunderous roll of marble balls ending in the shattering hollow clatter of tenpins scattering. What are all those kids doing here on a school night?
My affection for cheap airfares and cheaper hotels put me on a late AirTran to Boston (deal!) with an adventurous overnight at a Ramada in Dorchester where the desk clerk informed me that my choice for late nite fare would be the vending machine or bowling alley across the parking lot. Who could resist? The neon sign of Boston Bowl lured me into the Deadwood Cafe, the romantic name for the snack shop overlooking the lanes. My fleeting hope to find a few cowboys vanished at the sight of high school kids throwing strikes. I swept crumbs from the formica table top and settled in for supper. The next day’s luncheon with alumnae in Hyannis would be glamourous; the overnight respite would simply be an amusement.
I powered up my netbook and went to washingtonpost.com… Two sips into my Sam Adams my eye caught the headline: Montgomery College Chief Accused of Lavish Spending…
“A $4,051 hotel bill in Delhi. A $780 tab for limousine service in Boston.”
Gosh. And I bet he didn’t even stop at the Deadwood Cafe.
Reading stories of the troubles of other college presidents seems somehow voyeuristic, yet, I can’t stop. In this day and age, after all of the scandals, why does this keep happening?
$58,165 in credit card charges….
Always, two or three or four sides to the story come out, and often, the accused actually does have some logical explanation. But the question that I can’t shake is simply this: why would you do anything that would even raise the question? People who work in the public eye — that includes college presidents — must now accept the plain reality of unending scrutiny of their personal and professional conduct.
There are obvious ways to avoid even the hint of scandal. Ok, so most of my colleagues are not likely to follow me to the Deadwood Cafe at midnight just to prove a point. But seriously, folks, living large at the Ritz is just not where we should be these days. The Ramada also has indoor plumbing and reasonably comfortable beds. Also, free breakfast. To say nothing of the bowling alley next door…!
(Postscript: on Friday the Trustees of Montgomery College appointed an interim president… good luck to all colleagues at that fine institution and let’s all hope that this sad moment passes quickly for a terrific school…)