88°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Pass judgments carefully

What happens to good people when bad things happen? Books have been written on this subject, but when it strikes close to home the question is no longer academic. When enough stress and chaos enter the mix, some good people turn down a road unexpected. Without sufficient moral strength, it takes their soul. Such, I worry, has been happening with my friend Jeff Grasso, the former Boulder City policeman who has had legal troubles lately.

I’ve seen friends and family take a wrong turn before, so I am quickly reminded of the major lesson I have learned from observing these turns: Be slow to judge and quick to lend your prayers and moral support.

Something bad happened to Grasso’s entire family a few years ago on a fateful day when his son Giulian went skateboarding without protective gear. Giulian fell and sustained brain damage that is physically as well as mentally debilitating; it ruined his life.

I met Jeff, Giulian and Giulian’s mom about a year after this, at Mass at St. Andrew Catholic Community here in Boulder City. Like so many in our community, I responded with gifts to their private charity for Giulian. Some time after that, I sponsored Jeff and Giulian as brothers of the Knights of Columbus.

The stress on Giulian’s mom and dad were evident. They were making weekly trips to California for Giulian’s therapy, and Jeff already had one of the most stressful jobs ever created, that of a modern-day police officer in a department with management issues.

You don’t have to be a fan of cable TV police dramas to know this is a situation only the best people could survive intact.

We won’t know exactly what happened until the trial in August, but we know that Jeff stands accused of forging documents for the purpose of taking reimbursement payments on therapy that never occurred. The payments involve the private foundation for Giulian, hence the accusation that Jeff stole from his son. Maybe he did and maybe he did not, but as a bookkeeper I’ve seen these situations before.

Private foundations can be treacherous to manage for two reasons: They are controlled by individuals with a close personal interest in the foundation, and the law is quick to jump on signs of financial abuse. I once saw a constable go to prison for similar accusations, of actions against which I had personally warned him.

Over the years, I have been dismayed by the mistakes of friends and family, and along the way learned a lot about tolerance and love. When do they cross the line? When is a sin too much to forgive? I had a friend worried that her brother would come to visit her after he was released from prison for manslaughter. I think most of us would be equally concerned, but short of a killing, what is too much?

Here are some of the mistakes I’ve witnessed and forgiven over the years: A bank officer and former sheriff’s deputy caught using bad credit cards he had confiscated; a wealthy attorney, now homeless, who ruined his life by dipping into escrow funds; a hapless attorney who never made the success expected because of cocaine addiction and subsequent alcoholism; a cousin who died in a drug den after a long life of alcoholism; and a nephew with a promising military future whose Xanax-infused anger landed him in prison instead.

The wealthy attorney’s situation reminds me of Grasso’s situation because of allegations of misused funds, and because it started in muddy waters, a slippery slope where a single transaction may have seemed harmless, but which led to more and more until there was no escaping the inevitable capture.

From this lifetime of experiences I have learned that when the people experiencing the bad things are your friends and family, judging does not come so easily. I spent more than two years trying to help my sister keep her son from prison, but his continued actions made it impossible. Although I am deeply disappointed, it’s easier to lessen or withhold judgment of him than it would be with a stranger. It makes me worry about how impetuously I judge strangers and has caused me to measure my judgments carefully.

How we view these situations often depends on whether we are on the inside looking out or the outside looking in. Can you learn to judge strangers as generously as you do your own kith and kin? That is not too far from loving your neighbor, and the benefit will always outweigh the effort.

Dale Napier is a Boulder City business consultant with a background in urban transportation and development.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Air traffic control towers save lives

I commend the City Council for its interest in the construction of an air traffic control tower at the Boulder City airport, a move that will enhance safety and could even save lives.

Bishop’s ordination filled the soul

Hundreds of devout souls came out Friday to celebrate one of Boulder City’s own, the Rev. Gregory Gordon, who was ordained as the first auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.

Consult pilots about need for air control tower

Did you know that there are over 15,000 public and private airports in the United States, and only 300 or so are served by the airlines? There are only 648 airport control towers in the entire nation. Therefore, there are approximately 14,000 airports without control towers. So, the question is: Does our tiny airport need a control tower?

Extend warm welcome to new council members

Tuesday, the city welcomed its two new council members, Matt Fox and Sherri Jorgensen. I wish them all the best as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

Some information bears repeating — often

So often we say or write something and the intended audience takes it in a completely different way from what you planned or ignores it totally. What do you do?

Does city desire family housing?

Many issues seem to be a perpetual part of Boulder City politics. One of those that always seems to arise during an election is how does Boulder City continue to keep our schools filled with children? Over half the population of Boulder City is older than 50.

Commentary: Water conservation remains key to sustainable future

The last time Lake Mead was at 35 percent capacity, it was being filled in the 1930s. While ongoing drought and climate change have created an uncomfortable reality and stressed water supplies, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has been preparing for this for almost 20 years. Now, with a federal shortage declaration just weeks away, our community’s commitment to conserving our limited water resources takes on a new urgency as we strive to protect the vibrancy of the place that more than two million of us call home.

Public utility commission needed for social media

Holding and reading a newspaper is old school these days. However, Facebook, and other social media platforms, have given us the power of instant feedback. I said in a previous column that all feedback is good, even when it is negative.

Enjoy July’s many gifts

Today is July 1 and it marks the beginning of one of my favorite months of the year.

New leaders will bring fresh perspective to city

The recent municipal election resulted in two new council members being elected. I congratulate Sherri Jorgensen and Matt Fox on their elections and welcome their input on City Council.