Sometimes Saying Nothing is Better


Note: For those patiently waiting for my next Gricar case post, I apologize for the delay, but I am still working on examining the new information received and combining it with my own thoughts. I hope to have something in the next few days.

On January 17, 2009, concerned neighbors entered the home 93 year old Marvin Schur and immediately noticed the cold air. Inside, the windows were frosted and the faucets were frozen. Mr. Schur was found dead lying on his bedroom floor. He was dressed in four layers of clothing and wrapped in a winter jacket. Mr. Schur lived alone as his wife had passed away a few years earlier and they had no children.

An autopsy confirmed that Schur’s death was due to hypothermia, and that he most likely suffered a painful slow death.

A few days early, a regulator had been installed on Mr. Schur’s power box due to unpaid bills. The power company, following an established policy, made no contact with Mr. Schur or anyone else, and instead taped a note to his door informing him of the action. Unfortunately, Mr. Schur did not see or did not understand the note.

Neighbors and relatives have said that he had the money to pay the bills. Residents remember seeing Mr. Schur spend time over the years sitting in his chair watching television.

When interviewed about the incident in his community, Bay City Manager Robert Belleman stated this:

I've said this before and some of my colleagues have said this: Neighbors need to keep an eye on neighbors…When they think there's something wrong, they should contact the appropriate agency or city department.
What? A tragic and preventable death in Mr. Belleman’s community occurs and this arrogant response is his contribution? He seems to be blaming neighbors for not knowing something was wrong.

I don’t think “neighbors” were notified that the power company was going to limit Mr. Schur’s heat usage due to unpaid bills or that the energy control device was either going to fail or that Mr. Schur may not understand how to reset his heating unit. In fact, "neighbors” were not notifed at all that something was wrong at Mr. Schur's home and they were the ones who actually discovered the body.

In the winter time where I live, I barely see my neighbors. If the same scenario occurred on my block, I doubt that I would notice signs that someone’s heat had been shutoff—-until it was far too late.

Finger-pointing at the neighbors is the last thing a executive in his position should be doing. If he wants to accuse anyone of being at fault, he should be critical of the power company as their policy would be a more deserving target than the local machinist, marketing director, janitor, college student, or whoever lived next door to Mr. Schur.

On a lighter note, here are other quotes that I would assume reflective persons wished that they could retract:

1. "It's not based on any particular data point, we just wanted to choose a really large number." — a Treasury Department spokeswoman explaining how the $700 billion number was chosen for the initial bailout, quoted on Forbes.com Sept. 23.

2. "Beyond its entertainment value, Baywatch has enriched, and in many cases, helped save lives! I'm looking forward to the opportunity to continue with a project which has such significance for so many."--Actor David Hasselhoff

3. "Anyone who says we're in a recession, or heading into one — especially the worst one since the Great Depression — is making up his own private definition of "`recession.'"--Commentator Donald Luskin, the day before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, The Washington Post, Sept. 14.

4. "In today’s regulatory environment, it’s virtually impossible to violate rules.” Bernard Madoff, money manager, Oct. 20, 2007 On Dec. 11, Madoff was arrested for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that may have cost investors $50 billion.

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