Town finances made simple

May 11, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND


Bummer. The chap who tells you how to get free government money to pay your BILLS! was in Hagerstown Thursday, and I missed him.

Had I only known in advance, I would have been front row center.

If you watch any cable TV channels, you have probably seen or, more likely, heard him. He dresses up in those bright, kooky-crazy suits covered with question marks and hollers at the top of his lungs about how you can get money to pay your BILLS!

What kind of bills? Oh, he'll tell you, all right. Electric BILLS! College BILLS! Mortgage BILLS! Credit card BILLS! Health-care BILLS! All kinds of money to pay your BILLS!


His name, and I never knew he had one, is Matthew Lesko. And, of course, he has to pay his own BILLS! so he wants you to buy one of his books or videos that explain how all of this free government money can be procured.

Of course, you have to think that maybe if the government would stop paying everyone else's BILLS! it might have a little better luck paying its own BILLS! which it never seems to do with any degree of urgency.

Lesko is my second-favorite cable TV advertising personality, next to "Fitness Celebrity John Basedow." He's the guy who - based on before-and-after pictures - is an expert at taking pear-shaped women and turning them into she-Skeletors.

Basedow is not as excitable as Lesko. In fact, he is very earnest. And he likes to hug his clients. That kind of turns me off to his "Fitness Made Simple" program, right there. I don't give a low-fat protein shake how many pounds I lose - if any fitness celebrity tries to give me a hug, I'm yelling, "Get your tank-top-wearing torso away from me, you celery-eating freak!"

But outside of that, he's cool. I appreciate the fact that he obviously does not spend a lot of money on impressive theme songs or logos. His theme song goes like:

"It's fitness made simple

Something real people

Something something real lives."

I'm guessing that after I hear it another 6 million times, I'll be able to fill in the blanks, so I suppose it's kind of catchy.

The logo is a triangle with "FMS" in it. Took a lot of thought, that one. Maybe he didn't have enough money to pay his graphic design BILLS!

This is where Lesko would be able to help. Because I am sure there, somewhere, is a government program specifically designed to help fitness celebrities supplement their studio recording artist budgets. It probably passed Congress as a rider on some nuclear missile program.

And how are serious businesses and individuals supposed to make sound, financial decisions that will affect their fiduciary viability? By trusting a guy in a purple suit with question marks stapled all over it, that's how.

I love that look. I think it ought to be standard issue for all bankers, accountants, stock brokers - anyone who handles money. I want to be able to walk into, for example, Albright Crumbacker and say, "My financial standing has grown increasingly complex over the past several years and I need to see an accountant to put my fiscal house in order." And then look up to see everyone in the office wearing purple question-mark suits.

Had I been in attendance Thursday, however, I would have taken the time to ask Lesko this: Why question marks and not dollar-bill signs? If you're giving away money and giving away answers, why is your trademark a "?"

That's not a confidence builder, in my book. It says to me, "Maybe I'll tell you how to get money to pay your BILLS! or maybe I'm just plain NUTS! which do you think it IS!?

Besides, dude appeared in the wrong jurisdiction. He should have been in Williamsport because there's a town that needs some help paying its BILLS! according to a story in Tuesday's Herald-Mail.

Williamsport penciled in a $4.4 million budget, and then announced that it's probably all wrong. The current council has been trying to clean up a budget mess, which includes "deficits and missing money."

That's not good. The deficits are one thing, but "missing money?" Missing how? Missing as in, hasn't been collected yet? Missing as in, it's around here somewhere, we're sure it will turn up sooner or later? Missing as in, left the piggy bank on the dresser, but it wasn't there when the council got home? Help me out here.

Missing. Maybe we could put a picture of the money on a milk carton and hope for a couple of tips. Bet Lesko could find it. He probably has an instructional video on specifically addressing how governments can find all kinds of missing money. Or in this case, on how Williamsport can find its BILLS!

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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