Morning all:

I don’t know why “Fair Market” coffees put a smile on the face, they just do. It’s just a bit dumb to sit here by myself early in the morning, grinning.

This week we had the annual chili cook-off at work. My entry was a robust version of a pork and black-bean variant. I felt that the title, though a little long, was stunning: Dirk’s “Dan Rather CBS News Sweating, Steaming, Screaming, Fake Memo Chili – Flaming Style”. Although not officially declared the winner I knew that I had many more folk who in their heart of hearts wanted to vote for my batch, they must have been just a bit nervous about possible social or political consequences. After testing I found Marcia speechless, even after drinking a couple of glasses of water she could not find the words; I haven’t yet deciphered the meaning of her “iaeeee”.

I am looking for your input and ideas. Of course this is all hypothetical, but follow along for a bit. Supposed that I had a son or daughter who way back in 2001 was a full time student with a couple of small part-time jobs. Under these conditions earnings would be fractionally of what is considered the “poverty line”. The employers take out taxes and pay a net. Under normal conditions no one ever files a “city tax” since it just collects and there is never an adjustment. Now suppose that because of the small amount the employer did not take out city taxes. Then three years later the city cross references with Federal tax ledgers and now back bills the tax along with a hefty Penalty and Interest charge.

Now suppose that this imaginary son or daughter becomes a volunteer halfway around the world and lives on something called the island of “pittance”.

Fast forward this hypothetical case to this week. In case this should happen I called the City’s Auditor’s Office to discuss. Take into consideration that this is a shrinking, mid-western, money strapped town. Much money is frivoled away on boondoggle plans, but we won’t go there. City workers have been canned and not received wage increases, but the city fathers did pass raises for themselves, we won’t go there either. Where we will go is that I made a supposed offer stating: “since the city needs money and since this son or daughter has this cloud hanging, as a good citizen I am coming forward to pay the tax debt.” “In return I will need a letter granting forgiveness of any Interest and Penalties.” At this point of the discussion I expected to hear the Hallelujah Chorus over the phone line. Instead I discovered that the first thing that is done in these circumstances is a line is drawn in the sand, starting with the word, “no”. The concept of “working with the customer” is an unknown. Fifteen minutes into the solution discovery process, my offer still stood and their response was no different. Now why exactly did the Bostonians throw themselves a tea party?

Currently my favorite “next step” is a detailed letter to the head of the department, restating the offer with a copy to the mayor. Assuming the continuance of their ”heels in the dirt” approach this to be followed up by a call to the local television station’s consumer advocate “Troubleshooter” reporter. I sorta like that approach. Your thoughts?

Have a great week.



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