Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Charity Begins At Someone Else's Home

USF Associate Dean, Abdul Rao, who oversees grants for the College of Medicine, has been busted for his 'charity work.'

Security cameras caught the good dean and another guy, identified as a day laborer/handyman who has worked for Rao, swiping the Schwinn off a loading dock on campus.

The video shows that they didn't take the first bike in the rack; the soon-to-be new owner took it for a test drive and decided that it just wasn't for him. But the second bike--now, that was more like it. Sporty, yet sophisticated. Handled well, all the options he was looking for, low miles, well maintained and, best of all, the price was right.

So, they loaded it into the dean's minivan, had the courtesy to return the first bike back to the rack and away they went, happy as clams. The handyman got a new ride and the dean was feeling just so damn warm and fuzzy for helping his fellow man.

Then, as is so often the case, some wet blanket has to ruin this tale of compassion--the narrow-minded, selfish owner of the bike in question, Timothy Boyd. As a doctoral student, Boyd makes nowhere near the $384,000-a-year that the dean rakes in and probably uses the bike because he can't even afford a minivan. Loser!

Still, Associate Dean Rao did not blame Boyd or the girl to whom he lent his bike that day for not locking it up or having a better alarm system on it. Instead, Rao said that he "gave a man who does odd jobs for me permission to use a bicycle that was parked at the center. I acted out of compassion for this nearly homeless man; but I failed to consider that the bicycle belonged to someone on our Alzheimer's team."

Oh, and he also failed to consider the security cameras on the loading dock, too. And, I guess it would have been OK if the bike didn't belong to someone he knew.

After the theft was reported to the campus police, a review of the security camera tape revealed the dean's 'act of compassion,' which is another word for 'misdemeanor,' in academic circles.

Rao, naturally, was overcome with remorse when he discovered he was caught. He had an assistant track down Boyd so he could convince him to withdraw his complaint and even made arrangements for the handyman to pedal the bike back to the loading dock. No harm, no foul, right?

Why would Rao risk his reputation (he is, after all an Oxford-educated transplant immunologist), his $384,000 salary and his work at the university overseeing millions of dollars in research grants? Why couldn't he have chosen the time-tested method of skimming a little bit off the grants? You mean to tell me that some drug company wouldn't have given the guy in charge a lousy $100 bicycle?

As I've said before, rich people aren't like the rest of us lowly swine. Just as local favorite, Art Nadel, was so very charitable with OPM (other people's money), so was Rao. Only it was OPB. Instead of parting with any of that $384,000 he made last year, better to just head down to the local bike rack on a deserted loading dock after dark and let this unfortunate fellow have his pick.

At least he didn't take the forklift that was sitting there. Of course, what we don't know is that maybe the guy needed the bicycle to go steal a flatbed truck so he could come back and steal the forklift.

In his defense, Rao said, "How stupid would I be? I knew the cameras were there?"

I hope that was meant to be a rhetorical question......

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