Magical thinking


Tony Bouza

Another proposed system change to reform the police. How we love gimmicks and formulaic answers. And yet, in our real lives, we mostly tend to be more practical. In the end we usually find that the person
matters and the system can be manipulated.
Talented folks make bad systems work and uninterested caretakers let the estate go to rack and ruin.
Now we have a charter proposal to inflate a bloated and dysfunctional bureaucracy. Whence?
The fact is that those worthies so publicly wringing their hands in a paroxysm of despair actually have no interest in reform.
The proposed reorganization is not only wasteful but sure to produce role confusion among responders. How the City parents love to create magical solutions for tough problems. Magical thinking goes hand in glove with such brilliant notions as defunding the police.
The last thing that would occur to City Hall geniuses is to cut the budget, eliminate duplication or waste, or look for a genuine reformer. There is no interest in anything resembling reform and no appetite for taking on the police union.
Once – in 1979 – they were desperate enough to attempt a real solution to police reform.
They changed mayors. They hired a personnel firm to lead the search, advertised nationally, created a citizens’ committee to vet candidates and generally treated the problem for the civic crisis that it was. They spent money – invested time. The press took a deep interest and joined the discussion.
And the result?
The effort – after winnowing the obvious idiots – led to the attraction of 14 genuinely qualified executives from all over the country. Reform is an exacting master.
However it played out, it is the effort that demands understanding.
And today?
“Jo, Jo, Jo,” as we say in Spain.
An uninterested Mayor, a posturing Council desperate to evade genuine engagement, and a Chief determined to work with a union whose main objective is to protect thumpers.
That, folks, is the formula in play.
“If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.” Puck had it right – mortals are fools.
You want to be rich?
Buy a lottery ticket.
You want to be smart?
Watch TV and read comic books.
You want to be thin?
Subscribe to the blandishments of your idiot box.
You want to be beautiful or handsome?
Buy the products that answer your prayers.
Life is simple. Forget hard work and hard study. That’s for schmucks.
Change the Charter. That’s the answer.
When I was young and dating – a century ago – I squired talented women who frequently concluded with, “I’ve had a wonderful evening” – pause – “but this wasn’t it.”
This reform – although reforms are desperately needed – isn’t it either.

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