Lafe Tolliver
Lafe Tolliver, Attorney

As some of you may know, I have been a career guidance counselor and political rehabilitation specialist for about thirty odd years. It is work that I try to keep low key because some of the personalities that I have to interface with are of some renown or reputation.

If people knew of their efforts in trying to “rehab” their careers or trying to erase an embarrassing incident, that could cause them difficulties because not everyone who says that they are a friend, are indeed a “friend.”

The long and short of it is that in my business, we meet with people who have been “shaded” by the media or are placed in a predicament not of their own choosing, or… they simply made some bad choices in the heat of the moment and they are genuinely remorseful.

If there is one characteristic of this rehabilitation business that is without compromise is that the offender must do three things: [1] be willing to admit their mistakes and [2] be contrite about it and lastly [3] they must be willing to face the music or the public and allow their innermost being be transparent so that the needed healing can take place.

I have found out with the hundreds of my clients in doing this business that the last requirement is the most difficult because you have to be ready to take the slings and arrows of outrage and doubt and ridicule from those whom may question your motives as being suspect.

Such was the situation I was faced with when Larry Sykes was recently accused of plagiarizing a story about credit information and credit scores ratings and placing that “lifted” story into his own media column.

The firestorm was brutal and when I read what happened and knowing Larry from afar, I knew that he could benefit from my services. No, my services are not cheap but because they can rapidly accelerate the restoration and healing process, a charge of $2500.00 per hour with a four hour minimum is quite reasonable.

I met with Larry at my offices in Maumee.  He was quite subdued and downcast and wanted to get this unfortunate incident behind him.

First things first…I told Larry that he had to take off that twenty gallon cowboy hat before we could sit down and discuss what must take place. He reluctantly removed the rhinestone cowboy hat and we got down to business.

Yes, I did process his check for the four hours and after several attempts to have it cleared, it finally went through. I finally discovered that the problem was that the check was drawn on an overdrawn account out of Mexico but Larry called his bank in Costa Rica to wire the funds and presto!…we were in business.

The essence of my services is to interpret how the client responds to the following two scenarios since each scenario will illuminate the client’s attitude towards other people’s property; and his own tendency to take or not take what he or she did not develop or create.

FIRST SCENARIO: You are in a crowded grocery store and the person who is in front of you in the check out line reaches into his pocket for his credit card and unknown to him, a wad of bills falls out on the floor and only you notice it. The wad stays on the floor and you keep looking at it wondering what to do. Do you pick it up and hand it back to the person or do you hope that the person will soon notice it and pick it up.  Or, do you casually pick it up with the intentions of taking it home and running an ad in the paper about lost and found monies…since this wad of money may not be legally the property of the shopper but was obtained by illegal means!

Larry’s response:  “This is a toughie! I read the question six or seven times and said to myself that I could turn it in to the office and leave my name and address in case it is not claimed or I could take it with me, count it and secure it and come back to this store each day at the same time and ask around if someone has lost some cash.

Or, I could take the wad of cash, donate it to a local charity (minus a finder’s fee) and all would be well! It could very well be that the person who dropped this wad, did it intentionally so that he could bless someone (that’s me!).

SECOND SCENARIO:  You are in a calculus math class in college.  Your grades are not rockin’ the house and you need to get at least a C+ on this final exam in order to pass on to becoming a junior and not having to attend summer school which would also mean you could not work the first shift of a very good city job.

Your best bud…Raoul…sits next to you in class and the professor has his ear buds in and is nodding out listening to old Earth, Wind & Fire recordings. Raoul is left handed and you are sitting to his right…clear eye shot at his answers. Did I mention that Raoul is a near genius when it comes to math?

What do you do? Lift his answers, graduate and get a job or suffer the consequences of not being blessed with a “math gene?”

Larry’s response:  Another toughie! Let’s see. Raoul would not like for me not to be able to follow him as being a junior in class standing and I need that summer job in order to pay part of the upcoming tuition costs.

Also, everyone knows that I have a basic working knowledge of calculus and after all, who uses calculus in their everyday life? Come on!

Or, I could only selectively use Raoul’s answers and thus I can construct a situation wherein I can miss some questions and still get a B grade on this exam! I mean…it is not as if Raoul would mind helping me because I have helped him plenty times in the past with both history and geography courses. This is only my due. My payback, if you will.

In the final analysis, who is going to sweat that I got a B on this exam? Who?

When our interview was up and I gathered the answers from Larry and analyzed them using the Barker-Cray evaluation normalization tables, I found out that the his proffered answers showed that my client was a little too, “loosey-goosey” regarding the explanation given as to why he purportedly lifted the credit score article from the original author’s website.

It took me a good three hours to explain to Larry that what he did and how he did it demonstrated a lack of empathy for the original author’s work product and that the aggrieved author needed him to show actual remorse and possibly restitution.

My suggestion to Larry? That he do two things: [1] publish a full page article in either of the two black weekly newspapers indicating the real and present danger of “lifting” other articles and treating them as if they were your own and [2] writing one thousand times on lined notebook paper the following: “I will never ever take what is not mine and make it appear to be mine” and present it to the offended author.

When hearing my recommendations, Larry immediately grabbed his twenty gallon rhinestone studded cowboy hat and rushed for the door mumbling, “This is the fault of Lindsay Webb! I should have been the next county treasurer!”

Lafe Tolliver, Attorney
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