From the minutes of the Town Council of (fictional) Meddywock, Maine:
The Chair: Would everyone please take a seat? It looks like we have a quorum, so let’s begin. The meeting will come to order. The clerk will record the proceedings.
Clerk: I’ve got the machine turned on. Go ahead, Jim.
The Chair: OK, thanks. As you know, we have a vacancy on the Town Council. There was an election last week and it ended in a dead heat. The Town Ordinances say that in the event of a tie the Town Council decides the winner, and so we’re having this meeting. Tonight we’ll hear from one of the candidates. Sir, would you like to introduce yourself and say a few words?
Mr. Dabney: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Glove Dabney, and I’m a candidate for Town Council. I haven’t lived here in Meddywock for very long, but I have a great deal of highly relevant experience that I bring to the table.
The Chair: Mmm-hmm.
Mr. Dabney: First, however, let me say what a beautiful town this is, from the charming and authentic dump, to the rugged modular outbuildings that comprise the town hall. This is indeed a special place.
The Chair: Ayuh.
Mr. Dabney: But I think we can be an even better, more successful community. My experience in business is highly relevant to service on the Town Council.
The Chair: So you’ve said.
Mr. Dabney: Mr. Chairman, I founded a company that invested in other businesses and made them more efficient. In some cases, those businesses became more profitable. In other cases, even if we didn’t turn a profit, we dramatically improved company balance sheets by cutting expenses, outsourcing production and so on. We increased the value of the businesses in which we invested, and then we sold them. We did quite well, I’m pleased to say.
The Chair: That’s great, Mr … uh … uh …
Mr. Dabney: Call me “Glove.”
The Chair: … Mr. Dabney, but since you’re new to the area and we don’t know very much about you, could you tell us some more about your experience, your background and so on?
Mr. Dabney: What did you have in mind?
The Chair: Well, not every little detail, but you noted on your papers, for instance, that you were once on the Town Council down in Shassawissuc, Massachusetts.
Mr. Dabney: Indeed, I was the Chair of the Town Council, and my election was something of an anomaly, since Shassawissuc almost never elects anyone of my party affiliation.
The Chair: And I see that you were able to get every town resident covered by health insurance. How’d you manage that?
Mr. Dabney: I’d prefer to focus on my business experience, Mr. Chairman, since that’s perhaps more relevant to the economic challenges we face here in Meddywock.
The Chair: Too bad. We’ve got a lot of uninsured here… Go on.
Mr. Dabney: Well, I know how jobs are created. Government doesn’t create jobs; people and businesses through their investments do that. The companies in which we invested increased in value.
The Chair: So did you plow any of your profits back into the companies and hire more employees?
Mr. Dabney: Sometimes we did. Other times we banked our profits, as we are entitled to do in this great country of ours.
The Chair: OK, but so we can get a handle on the kind of person you are, Mr. Dabney, this being a small town and all, can you just give us some idea of the uses to which you’ve put your money? I mean, generally?
Mr. Dabney: That’s confidential, Mr. Chairman. I’m under no obligation to provide that information.
The Chair: No, you’re not, but look at it from where I sit. You seem to have succeeded in Shassawissuc, but you don’t want to talk about it. You invested in businesses, but you didn’t hold on to them. You cashed out your investments, but you won’t say where the money is. For all we know, other than your house here in Meddywock, everything you own could be in Switzerland or on some island somewhere. That doesn’t give me much comfort, Mr. Dabney. I guess I still don’t have much of a feeling for who you are.
Mr. Dabney: I’m successful. I have a track record. I’m a decent person. You can trust me. Ask anyone.
The Chair: Well, maybe you’re right. I mean, we are talking about the Meddywock Town Council, after all. It’s not as if you’re running for president.
Mr. Dabney: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Shall I continue?
The Chair: Go right ahead, Mr. Dabney. I’m listening. Things in Meddywock are pretty quiet , but we’ll take the measure of you eventually. It all comes out in the wash. It always does. Even here.
Perry B. Newman is a South Portland resident and president of Atlantica Group, an international business consulting firm based in Portland, with clients in North America, Israel and Europe. He is also chairman of the Maine District Export Council. His website is perrybnewman.com.