Tuesday, February 28, 2017

One for the books

They say it's a sin to tell a lie, even the little white lies that are based on good intent.

And should former Major Leaguer Chuck Finley, winner of 200 games in a 17-year career, and former husband of "actress" Tawny Kitaen, be proud to have his name used in a library fake-out of white lies and unread books?

What am I talking about?

Come with me to East Lake County, Florida, where a couple of guys who worked for the local public library were worried that some books might be taken off the shelves because they weren't being taken out.

Hey, there was a time when I wasn't being taken out, and no one worried so much.

Anyway.  George Dore, library director, and his assistant, Scott Amey, had a problem. Their funding was directly tied to how many books were being checked out, so they decided to create a phantom reader (and name him "Chuck Finley" with a bogus address) and dummy things up so that it looked like that chimera checked out 2,361 books over a nine-month period.

One look at "Chuck's" reading list would show "he" "read" "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck, and "Why Do My Ears Pop?" by Ann Fullick, a book for children, and 2,359 others.

In November, someone dropped a dime (quietly, one hopes!) on this book scam, and no lesser an authority than the Lake County clerk of courts' inspector general's office figured out the fakery, and Dore was put on administrative leave while everything was filed.

"Do we have problems here? Oh Dewey ever!" he did not say.

Dore's boss is Jeff Cole, director of the Lake County Public Resources Department, and would not discuss Dore's claims that "other people do the same thing," but anyone who was ever 8 years of age recalls their parents asking them whether they would jump off a bridge just because all the other kids did.

There seems to be a flaw or two in Dore's plans. The books that Finley "read" were checked out and returned within an hour, and there is no record of Finley leaving his home in Newport Beach, CA, to come get books from a library 2,544 miles away.

All the chicanery "improved" the library's circulation by 3.9 percent, and maybe someone will write  book about it someday.

The report from the Inspector General is due in 21 days, with a fine to be assessed daily if it's late.

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