A Fox In The Hen House

A Fox In The Hen House? December 4, 2012 7:51 AM

Life is strange. Sometimes people are entrusted with a responsibility when it is not in the best interest of the person granting this trust. Sometimes these people receiving that trust can appear to be everything they are not.

Such a situation is like “the fox guarding the hen house”. It refers to a conflict of interest or a deliberately deceptive and damaging course of action that may result in the entrusted person taking advantage of the persons granting that trust.

DON’T LET THE FOX GUARD THE HENHOUSE – “Don’t assign a job to someone who will then be in a position to exploit it for his own ends. Said to one who entrusts his money to sharpers. The proverb has been traced back to ‘Contre-League’ and is similar to the Latin: ‘Ovem lupo commitere’ (‘To set a wolf to guard sheep.’) First attested in the United States in ‘Poet’s Proverbs’ . The proverb is found in varying forms: Don’t put the fox to guard the chicken house; Don’t let the fox guard the chicken coop; Don’t set a wolf to watch the sheep; It’s a case of the proverbial fox guarding the chickens, etc. as taken from phrases.org.uk

The fox is a predator. Always looking for prey, the fox can not help his actions when looking at the wild animal in wooded settings. When a fox guards a hen house, inevitably the fox is going to eat some chickens when he is not being watched. When said of a person, “the fox guarding the hen house”, it means that they are untrustworthy, unreliable, and unscrupulous.

Unfortunately, foxes can be found in the hockey business as well. More unfortunate is when those foxes come to people touting their morals, and desires to be involved in something that betters people.

When a trusted person in a position of power, whether it be a teacher, a police officer, an employer, or business manger attempts to manipulate other people while damaging another person deliberately, that person needs to be removed from their position of power.

Lets just say in this instance an arena manager that has a junior team for a tenant wants that junior team out of his building so that he can attempt to place a team he would operate in his building. Lets just say that until recently that same person was paid by the junior team for services that were suppossed to be performed.

Hypothectically, this person while being paid by the junior team wrote emails to the league the team belonged in making disparaging and untruthful remarks? What if those emails were sent from a team email address and digitally signed with a time and date stamp?

Is it possible that this same person would tell another person that they have a scheme to get the team owner out of the arena within a prescribed time frame?

Lets also say that the same arena manager tricked the junior team owner into altering his tax forms for the preceeding year, so that they went in the name of his spouse in order to avoid other legal actions.

Hypothetically, lets add that the arena manager, in a municipally owned building, is not depositing all of the open skate or drop in hockey money. Hypothetically the same person takes an arena customer check and may or may not deposit it into the municipal account. Again, hypothetically, the person adds vending machines to the building and pockets the income, maybe adds an ATM machine and pockets the fee’s generated, or even conntrols the concessions stand through a family member and pockets income there as well.

Being paid by the municipal body to manage the facility, the person would have a fiduciary responsibility to generate income for the municipality. Certainly the pocketing of cash that could not easily be accounted for would be a conflict of interest. Would it not?

What if this same person had recently filed for bankruptcy protection? Surely, the IRS and bankruptcy courts would be interested to learn of these hypothetical situations.

Lets also say that this same person owes thousands of dollars to the IRS in unpaid taxes, from the sales of business assets in an operation owned previously that went under while under this persons management.

Of course all of this sounds unbelievable doesnt it? Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.

The moral of this hypothetical story?

If you have chickens (something or someone of value to you) watch out for the foxes (those that may gain personally from your chickens). They can be found in the most curious of places, with the most curious of stories, and they will always smile before robbing the coup. Just be sure to check the first smile for remnants of feathers from the last coup they guarded.

Names have been deliberatey omitted from this hypothetical story to protect the hypothetically guilty persons acting in this hypothetical way.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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