Our Place

Article by Terry O’Neill, former Lake Geneva Alderperson and city activist

The Third Rail of the City of Lake Geneva.
Electric railways have a high voltage third rail which powers the train. Touching that third rail is almost certain death, which is where the expression; “the Third Rail” comes from. In politics, the “the Third Rail” is any discussion about cutting Social Security, which means almost certain political death for any politician who might attempt to cut Social Security. In broadcasting “The Third Rail,” is saying certain words or expressing certain thoughts, and whether true or not, one’s career might likely be over.

In a similar manner, making negative comments or revealing negative truths about a local charity is “the Third Rail” in the City of Lake Geneva, and is akin to a personal death wish in public office. Speaking against a local charity would get the same reception that a child in the ’50s received when one accused a religious leader of molesting them. No one would believe that child, and they would be punished for lying because back then people refused to believe that any religious leader could ever do such a thing. Well, some of those religious leaders did do stuff like that.

People today are no different than people back then, except today they are better conditioned to believe the child, and also to believe that a religious leader might have molested them, but that same person of today might not accept disparaging truths about a local charity that they supported and believed in. They would accuse anyone revealing negative truths about it of lying. So like most of the children in the 50’s and 60’s who kept quiet because no one would believe them, the people who know disparaging truths about local charities today also remain silent, because they fear few would believe them, and they fear the potential negative repercussions.

In another 50 years the truth about these charities, like the stories about religious molesters, will become public knowledge and people will know what charity publically thanks the volunteers today, and reports to the IRS that it doesn’t have any volunteers, so that it doesn’t have to make any financial information available to the public. Charities run this way, are run by donations given by people seeking improved self-image, or for personal benefit, are deceptive, even if a few in need actually benefit. Whereas, charities built and run for the betterment of those that they are serving, are true charities run by good people worthy of public support.

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