Sunday, September 18, 2005

How Clueless is Kevin? A conversation with Ned Johnson, Fidelity

So I was campaigning in Beacon Hill today at a community event. I went up to a man in a red shirt and introduced myself. He started off by saying "all politicians want to do is suck your blood" as he pantomimed protecting his neck from a vampire. I agreed with him and told him that is one of the reasons why I'm running. We went on to have a good conversation about my work as a contractor and he complemented me on actually doing something, not living off of others. He clearly was not impressed with politicians, not an honest profession he thought.
Then he talked about charities and about how they had wanted to give money to the Red Cross but before they gave money they wanted to look at the percentage of money that actually went to victims, but the Red Cross refused to open their books. He asked if I knew what their overhead was and I answered that it was about 20% (he clearly was impressed that I was in the ballpark) he answered that it was actually 24%. He said that if he charged those types of fees they would put him in jail.
So, I asked him what "honest" line of work he was in. He said that he owned a few businesses but that Fidelity was his main line of work. I mentioned my mother used to work there. (I was still clueless about who he was). He said he thought Menino would be good at working at the Red Cross because he was very good at squeezing blood out of the businesses. He was genuine in saying that he did think Menino would be good at it.
He also agreed with me that we didn't really have any choice in the political system, one of his european friends had told him there are no real differences between democrats and republicans. As I said, "what were the choices last year, one rich, privileged guy from a connected family who went to Yale versus another rich, white, privileged guy from a connected family who went to Yale". He said "what is up with these yale guys anyway?"
As our conversation wound down, I thanked him for his time and asked his name. He said "Ned Johnson" , I said "THE Ned Johnson" and he said well one of many Ned Johnson's with a twinkle in his eye.
As I introduced myself to a couple standing next to us, they said hi to Ned and Ned said "hey listen to this guy, he's got some interesting stuff to say" Thanks for the introduction sir!

As I confirmed later, that was THE Ned Johnson who runs Fidelity. Quite a lively, down to earth guy, thanks for the time, Ned it was interesting. I don't get to rub elbows with the rich and famous too often, it is interesting how outspoken he is about the low esteem he holds politicians in.

The juxtaposition with the black man who was an evacuee from New Orleans I met yesterday morning outside a shooting site in Dorchester who said that as far as he could see, Boston was no better than New Orleans couldn't have been bigger. I offered him a job working on my campaign so he could make enough money to get back to his family. We'll see if he shows up at work tomorrow at 9.

Postscript: he didn't show, but another gentleman I met there did show up.


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