Guest Column: @Leenie909 talks about the “Greatest Lesson” of a Friend and Colleague

(My Twitter friend @leenie 909 passes this along about having confidence in your professional life. My thanks to her for this excellent essay.)

Last week, I received the sad news that Dr. Steven Boggs, child psychologist at University of Florida passed away. He was one of my favorite supervisors when I did my turn there as a Child Psychology intern. Upon reflection of my time with him, the foremost thought in my mind was a story I’ve told to many people over the 14 years since I had the pleasure of working with and learning from Dr. Boggs. The story involves the greatest professional lesson I ever learned from him—possibly from anyone. And he taught it to me purely by accident.

One Monday morning, I came to work at the hospital psychology clinic. Dr. Boggs was my supervisor that day, and he had just come back from a two-week vacation. Before patients started arriving, we all stood around sharing events from our weekends, and Dr. Boggs from his vacation adventures.

Then he told us that when he got home the previous evening he was greeted by a voicemail from the internship director saying that he needed to see Dr. Boggs as soon as possible when he came in that Monday morning. I don’t know what the big urgency was, but apparently it was a pretty benign matter. Dr. Boggs shared this with us though, describing how it felt to listen to that message. I’m paraphrasing here, of course. I wish I had thought to write it down:

I heard it, and I’m like “Oh God, what did I do? I’m in trouble. What did I do? He’s found me out. Everyone has figured out I’m a fraud, I don’t know anything, and I don’t belong here. It’s all over.”

Then he laughed his characteristic giggle.

Let me tell you about this “fraud.” When I knew him he had already spent at least 15 years researching and publishing important studies on childhood emotional and behavioral problems. He helped pioneer of a groundbreaking treatment for childhood behavioral problems (Parent-Child Interactive Therapy, or PCIT as we always called it).

He’d trained hundreds of students and interns and chaired more masters and doctoral theses than I can count. He was Phi Beta Kappa and had received a slew of prestigious awards over the years. Not UBER-famous in the child psych world, but pretty far up there.

And yet, somewhere inside him, something still believed that he was illegitimate. That it was only a matter of time before he was found out for the charlatan that bit of him thought he was.

My psychology training, for all the ways it changed my life for the better, was the low point of my life. I loved my internship—every minute of it. But getting there was the most traumatizing time of my life.

I entered my studies as a person who had never known one moment of academic adversity. Everything I touched was gold for my entire childhood. I was unstoppable. Unbeatable. I got to grad school and I knew a fat lot of NOTHING and had to struggle for every last bit of success I managed to attain, interspersed with more than a fair bit of failure.

I felt like a fraud every moment of my eight years in grad school, including on internship. Fourteen years out as a licensed clinical psychologist, functioning daily as a child neuropsychologist, well regarded in my professional community and sought after by parents desperate to help their children, I still feel that way some days.

But Dr. Boggs’ one-off story taught me that that feeling is normal. Universal, in fact. Look at the most brilliant, accomplished, esteemed professional in your field and be well-assured that there is at least a small part of that person—or maybe not so small—that feels just like you do. Just like I did. And still do sometimes.

Steve, you gave me a gift I pull out and use on my darkest professional days when I feel like I’m in over my head and that everyone, EVERYONE, can see it. You thought you were a fraud and you SO very much were not. And neither am I, no matter how much I fear that I am.

Surely there can be no greater gem a mentor can pass on to his or her student. I’m in your debt forever for that totally unintentional lesson.

As for my PCIT? Well, let’s just say I may have gotten a bit rusty.

Virginia SBE repository of records; no enforcement power; you’re on your own

Which of the many conflicting pieces of data would you like to look at in the State Board of Elections database?

They have everything in there just as submitted, and when a citizen or someone happens to notice, they can call their Commonwealth’s Attorney and initiate further investigation and prosecution if warranted. In other words, we are on our own to police the SBE data to find the criminal activities and bring them to the attention of the government’s attorney.

Isn’t this the job of the government? Why are there no enforcement powers at the SBE? I’ll let you ponder your guess for a moment.

Oh yeah. The GOP led legislature. Along with many other beneficial improvements and reforms in government that are needed are those legislators who will step forward and submit bills to stop this nonsense as soon as possible. Do other agencies that have a task similar to the SBE have law enforcement powers? Yes, they do.

Obviously, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth, Mark Herring, has the ability to appoint someone to look at an irregularity in election records when they are identified, not when wonks like me trip over them while doing research for a related story.

Just from the Moran-Charnielle Herring election tampering information I have gathered, I have identified numerous mistakes in the comparison of the records for the challengers from the aspect of their own SBE account page. Information that appears in one place in SBE records about a contributor (who did not note the donation in their records submitted) does not appear in records of the person who was the candidate. C. Herring’s contribution record shows a donation from VA TAXICAB PAC of $750 on Jan 3, 2008.

TAXIPAC records and forms turned into the SBE do not note this donation at all. Who certifies the veracity of the financial reports? Why are they not prosecuted out of the same office that is tasked to keep the records and count the votes?

Why do citizens like me and others need to chase down a Commonwealth’s Attorney in order to persuade them to file charges on illegal reporting of financial contributions? Who prosecutes these well known cases that end up in the news?

Is it an accident that someone found those records? How much is this costing the Commonwealth?

It’s wrong, and it costs this state a ton of money and wasted manpower.

Sussex County Schools violate VA FOIA twice, lie about it

For the past several weeks, I have been trying to get a FOIA request answered from the Sussex County Schools Division. Their efforts at trying to obstruct and make excuses about their failures under the law, has led me to decide to take them to General District Court.

The paperwork necessary for this will be filed soon.

At issue was a simple request to look at specifications and/or manuals in the construction of the new school in the division. There is evidence that material substitution took place, meaning that non-approved materials were substituted for what the plans called for.

The school division seems to want to keep this quiet for some reason, and the warranty on the construction ends for good on August 31, 2014.

When non-approved materials are used in construction, it is for a reason. Money is saved in the process and that money goes somewhere. The materials called for in the plans in this case are a lot more expensive than their supposed substitute. Meaning the taxpayers of Sussex County will be left footing the bill for someone’s cover-up of irregularities in the construction of the school.

The money difference could have been spent elsewhere in the construction, or something else could have happened to it. I have no idea. I just know the school division wants to keep everything a big secret. To obstruct and waste time in the administration of the public’s business is like lying to a partner. We trust the government to do the right thing.

And that is why the FOIA law exists. To root out the truth from public bodies that would tell you one thing and do another while you are not looking.

Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran implicated in alleged irregularities in 2008 election

Moran and Herring in January of 2009

Moran and Herring in January of 2009

I am this week filing a complaint with the State Board of Elections (SBE), Commonwealth of Virginia, for the irregularities found surrounding the resignation of Brian Moran from the House of Delegates to run for Governor and the election of Charnielle Herring as his replacement in December of 2008. (HOD46)

My only real question is why nobody says a word about the allegations. The evidence will not just go away somehow.

For more information, start here. The articles are self evident by title.