Boy, I wish I had a dollar for every person who has asked me what I think about the federal corruption conviction of Robin Williams.
If I did, I'd send it all to Community Mental Health. Their budget would be running a surplus.
The questions weren't unexpected, I suppose. Most everyone knows Robin and I were best friends as teenagers. His mom is one of the sweetest people on the planet; everyone in his family is wonderful.
Fact is, none of them deserved to be dragged though this emotional wringer with Robin. His friends and former political allies, many of whom defended him when the indictments came down, right up until or even after the jury's lightning-quick guilty-on-all-counts verdict, didn't deserve such a betrayal.
It's painful because many of them had been through an emotional wringer with Robin before, years ago, when his not-quite-teenage son, Robbie, died after a lifetime of pulmonary problems. No one deserves to lose his boy, and the loss hit Robin hard.
Robbie's name came up a couple of times during the trial, which is too bad. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can't help but feel sucker-punched at even the slightest suggestion that we should transfer sympathy from a very real gut-wrenching tragedy to a self-inflicted ethical disaster.
The real sympathy, now, should be saved for those fine family members who demonstrated such blind loyalty, and in a couple of months will have their tearful eyes opened wide as federal Judge Dudley Bowen sends Robin and his convicted co-conspirators away to prison.
Another good boy, lost. But I'm afraid we lost a lot of the good a long time ago, and it's just the boy who'll go to jail.
Don't confuse cases
Meanwhile, anyone who uses the Community Mental Health case as a barometer for how to expect the Charles Walker trial to go when it starts next week is just plain silly.
Walker's case is more complicated in the number of federal charges -- nearly double those of the CMH cast. But it's also simpler: The feds' indictment draws easy to follow, connect-the-dots allegations about how they say Walker and his daughter moved money from the government, businesses and charity patrons to their pockets.
It's also highly doubtful that Walker will employ the CMH defendants' losing defense, which amounted to saying "Sure, we got rich -- but we didn't break the law."
Not enough thanks
On a much nicer note, it was great to be invited to visit Wednesday afternoon at Evans Middle School with members of Columbia County's School Nutrition Association.
The organization held a reception to honor retiring lunchroom workers and install new officers, and applauded Rita McDonald, who stepped down after two years at the helm of the organization.
She's fed my kids (and occasionally, me) for the past six years at Stevens Creek Elementary, so I think Miss Rita is pretty special.
Much was said at the meeting about how under-appreciated the lunchroom ladies are. But let me tell you: After eating their food, volunteering in their kitchens and seeing the smiles on the faces of their hungry customers, I know they are very much appreciated. They just aren't often enough told that they are.
So as the school year draws to a close, and too many of our community's children prepare to spend a summer in homes where nutritious, balanced meals are a rarity, we all should take a few minutes to thank the school lunchroom workers for their vital role in the education system.
And don't forget to ask for seconds on the tater tots.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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