2018-05-16 / Opinions & Letters

Where’s the con?

Midwest Memo
by Alan Shultz

When I was a newbie in the real estate business, I somehow latched onto a retired second-string sports celebrity as a client. That’s what he represented himself as, and what I convinced myself of - anyway.

John was all about his privacy - that’s why so much of his background and dealings had to be “secret.” He knew every penthouse for sale in town. And price was no object. His knowledge of the upper end marketplace gave him seeming credibility to me and others. When there’s a big commission at the end of the rainbow, one makes allowances for some far-fetched or missing facts.

Back then, John and I got to see some truly fabulous real estate. And because he was so engaging and knowledgeable, John broke the eager hearts of many other brokers with big ticket listings to sell.

In the end, John never hit me up for money, or even lunches out. He was a con artist without a con. The two of us never had an argument, let alone a moment of truth. He just kind of faded away. To this day, I don’t know what he got out of his seemingly pointless ruse.

I think of John these days when I try to make sense of an envelope I recently received in the mail.

The mailing looks both serious and official. “IMPORTANT TAXPAYER INFORMATION ENCLOSED” all in red caps blazes across the outer envelope.

The envelope shows a return address at PO BOX 91 in Indianapolis - the presumed home of the ominous sounding “Indiana State Voter Report Program” - complete with torch emblazoned official seal.

Inside the envelope, a veiled threat greets me in line one in the form of a pretty pointed question.

“What if your friends, your neighbors, and your community knew whether you voted?”

Say what?

But that threat of outing my voting record seems indeed the apparent point of this letter I’m holding, reading, trying to figure out.

Because - that pointed question is followed up by an up front and personal look at a star-studded list of the purported voting records of my spouse, son, father-in-law, corner neighbor and others.

“What’s going on?” I ask myself.

The only apparent message of the “Indiana State Voter Report” is “do your civic duty - vote!”….or else. The intent is confusing, the threat is confusing, the hidden nature of who is behind this seeming invasion of privacy… it’s all confusing.

Confusing, and very unreported.

Hoosiers started to receive these notices in the mail in early May. Some recipients reported the notices to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office. And out of Indianapolis came the wisdom of the ages, advice so sage, so wise, so balanced that one could barely stifle a yawn. ”Disregard.”

I Googled the incident and the “State Voter Report” and found scant news coverage other than a few television stations passing on the fact that the mailing went out and the “disregard” advice. And then nothing more.

If this is a con, I want to know what the con is. And if this is an organization fiddling with voting records, I want to know that too. Gosling update #2

My spouse advises me that I’ve missed half the story in my reporting of the family of geese that commutes between the two ponds on our farm. There are actually two families in residence - one with six goslings and the other with five. And they have play dates when the two couples and the 11 little ones get together.

My wife described to me the remarkable scene when the play date ends and the two families part. The two groups quickly sort out and separate - the five goslings with their parents, the six with theirs. No hesitation, no confusion.

The marvel of creation, down to the detail of a gosling’s individual identity, is a marvel still to behold

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