Many of us are talking about the number 42 in Binghamton, New York, today.
No, we aren't talking about 42, the movie about Jackie Robinson, now playing in our local theatres.
No, we aren't talking about the Answer to the Ultimate Question about Life, the Universe, and Everything.
No, we are talking about the length's of someone's career. Someone who was arrested this week for grand larceny,someone who was the former Binghamton Parks and Recreation director, someone who should have retired in March at the age of 71, after a distinguished 42 year career. Instead, he resigned in November. Now, he could be facing a felony charge and 15 years in prison, if convicted.
That's an important point - this man hasn't been tried for this crime yet. His alleged crime? Stealing at least $50,000. in funds from the Binghamton Department of Parks and Recreation. We may never know the full amount (assuming he is guilty, of course) because the investigation can only go back five years.
"He handed a trophy to my son", one of my co workers said.
Another co-worker said he knew the accused's next door neighbor.
In a city of 47,000, people know each other, and many are in shock. They are asking "Why? Why would someone jeopardize a lifetime of good works to steal money?"
Another co-worker commented that she would rather be "penniless with a clear conscience".
The Mayor of Binghamton said, in an interview, that this person was “kind of like an icon around here.”
Now, this man is a tarnished icon. He interacted with our comunity's youth while he was (allegedly) stealing money collected by the taxpayer to serve those same youth.
And all we can do is ask "Why?" and "Say It Ain't So, John".