The situation with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a very good example of what I have been saying for many years and no one wants to listen to me — or if they do listen, they tell me that I am wrong. It is very important that the staff of those in public office realize that they are not the ones to make the decisions for the boss, the public official, the candidate… or whatever title they want to give to the person in charge. On many occasions the receptionist, the assistant or the secretary responds to the telephone call as if they were in fact the person who the call was for. Governor Christie trusted his Chief of Staff maybe because she worked in his election campaign and he felt obligated to her to place her in an important position since she helped him to get elected; and now her actions, her attitude and her poor judgment led her to do something that hopefully will not ruin his chances in his political aspirations. I had always believed that sometimes when a person does something thinking that it will help another person, it may in reality very likely hurt more than it helps. Whenever I try to defend a public official that may be in some kind of hot water, I always check with that person or with someone knowledgeable about the situation that may tell me to hold up on my article, not regarding the news aspect of it, but in my point of view column that is my personal opinion; my own point of view, as the title of my column points out. When I write about a legal case I try to get the opinion — not the OK — of the attorney in the case to make sure that my opinion will not hurt the legal strategy in any way. I pride myself on being fair and open-minded and on not hurting anyone intentionally; but unfortunately sometimes in public life one may hurt someone without realizing that one is doing exactly that. Governor Christie’s Chief of Staff should not have done what she did without running it by the Governor first; then, if the idea would blow up like it did, at least the Governor would be aware of it and would not be taken by surprise. What hurts the image of a public official the most is surprises, because when they learn of any wrongdoing in their office from the media, it makes it looks like that public figure is not in control of the office or of their team as a whole. I personally don’t believe that the “Bridgegate” incident will hurt the governor in any way in his political aspirations, but if the Democrats start looking for a payback, it might be because now the feds are investigating him for the money that his new friend, the Democrat president, gave New Jersey (not the governor himself, but the state) because the saying that family (blood) is thicker than water can also be applied to political parties with a twist, coming out as “the party can be thicker than blood.” Hopefully an incident of that (Bridgegate) magnitude will not happen in our community, but that is what I have been saying for years to some of those elected officials — including judges — when a person calls the chambers and the judicial executive assistant (JEA) takes control of the telephone call and tries to make decisions for that judge without consulting or asking the real boss first. Those incidents are not just limited to elected officials or public servants; they can also apply to those in private offices such as law offices; but those private offices are not paid for by the taxpayers’ money and they can have the luxury of treating their customers as bad as they like and they can let receptionists, secretaries and law clerks treat their clients any way the clients allow themselves to be treated by the people that are taking their money, even if they are part-time legal secretaries, or part-time manicurists, as in some cases. Once, a few years ago, I wrote a similar column mentioning how some of those workers at some law offices — as well as at the county courthouse — abuse their dress codes and go to work either as they are going to the grocery store on their day off, or to the gym or a nightclub — from one extreme to the other — with the blessing of their immediate supervisors who do not realize that the employees make the office look unprofessional, and the administration ends up looking bad. I am a private citizen; I am the boss in my office and I wear a suit and a tie every day because first, I believe that judges in the courtrooms deserve the respect of having people dress properly when they come into their domain because of their position — even if in many cases I disagree with them — and also because I believe that I should dress properly as respect to those coming to my office to do business. Sometimes, maybe on Fridays, I dress down a little, but I don’t come to the office in shorts, cut-offs and flip-flops because that is not the way to dress to conduct business; if I dressed that way I would not be giving the right impression and everyone else in the office would want to come in dressed as casual as I was dressed. I hope that this incident with the Bridgegate does not have legs and keeps walking for a very long time because the governor, if in fact he did not know anything and was not involved in any wrongdoing, should not have to pay the consequences even if as the boss he should take responsibility for his staff members’ mistakes, especially when the mistake was made under the assumption that it was going to help the boss. If they are not smart enough to realize what is going on in their office with their staff, and if they don’t have the energy to be able to be on top of everything, then maybe they do not deserve the position they are holding. My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
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