Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Edwin, Bob and me, 1973 …

This is day 3 in a series that started at a column called “Wirth-less”.

So, a little volunteer work for Edwin Edwards in 1971 turned me on to political activism.

At the end of 1972, I left UNO for a similar position at Bentley College, in greater Boston. The Bentley position paid a little more, and gave me summers off.

Good things were happening professionally. I got a contract for a book, "Introduction to FORTRAN," and picked up a consulting position that generated a few trips to Taiwan during that time. I also taught Management Information Systems as an adjunct at Boston University, and for little cost or effort got a Master’s degree in Communications (6 years after getting a Ph.D.).

In the summer of either 1973 or 1974, I was back in Louisiana and decided to look for summer work. As a long-shot, I called someone in the Edwards camp (maybe Jim), just to ask whether they had some work for me before I had to go back to Boston.

As I remember it, I was told about a day later to report as soon as possible to Baton Rouge for an assignment which I should find acceptable. Because of the short-term nature of the position, I would work for the state through a consulting firm. I was to work out the particulars with (as I remember) one Bob Grapp, president of Software, Inc.

So, having been a minor cog in the EWE election machine, I was entitled to rapid response patronage. Wow! What did the major players get?

The assignment was meaningful, preparing a report on the state’s telecommunication assets with suggestions as to how they might be better networked. I was assigned an assistant who was knowledgeable on telecom, and we produced a very good report.

I was paid a nice hourly rate for my work. I thought I had provided great value for the state until I found out that Grapp got a 200% burden, i.e., twice what I got for every hour I worked.

Some time after that I think that Grapp got into some legal problems and left the state hurriedly. Over time, I began to think that some of his Louisiana income was kicked back to the Edwards version of the “deduct box.”

Join us tomorrow for "A patronage two-fer."


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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