Crusader launches bid to get answers from government
DEPUTY, Ind. — From his chickens out back, Jerry Lucas gives brown eggs to neighbors and friends. Lucas advertised free puppies recently to passers-by.
For our country’s leaders, Lucas offers the legal equivalent of the bird.
He has sued them, paying $70 per month until summer to cover a filing fee he actually hoped Uncle Sam would waive. In a self-written, symbolic complaint, Lucas asks for answers, better and more trustworthy ones than he contends America has been provided. Lucas wants more confidence — some would be nice, at least — that these unimaginable sums being spent to rescue our economy will work.
Lucas said he faxed copies to the White House and to Congress, yet he seemingly realizes his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Albany, will get nowhere, probably not so much as skimmed by a soul in power. It could be tossed out of court without a hearing, and Lucas might have to repay the government for its trouble. Lucas wonders, too, if he now is on some sort of enemies list for his official outrage.
“I don’t feel like a kook,” he said on an off day from his job as a registered nurse in a hospital emergency room. “I just don’t understand anymore.”
Lucas, 43, a husband of 22 years and a grandfather of three, seems always in pursuit of change he believes in. When we first met, he had begun to campaign to talk more men into nursing. He knows of 10 certain recruits, along with many others he surely helped influence. Lucas continues to put out an online magazine for male nurses and prospects.
When next we got together, Lucas had set off for better-trained emergency responders in his Jennings County. One of Lucas’ four children, Amanda McGinnis, had died a few months earlier in a car crash on Ind. 3.
The best possible personnel might have been unable to save the 19-year-old woman. Lucas urged the county nonetheless to consider as an investment the expense of paramedics — more skilled than emergency medical technicians.
Lucas took his lumps for criticism he didn’t mean personally. The county finally agreed and beefed up its ambulance crews. “I don’t care who got credit,” Lucas said — a good thing, since he received little if any. “I just needed to make sure we were covered.”
Lucas also took his nursing to New York after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to Biloxi, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina and to Lake Charles, La., in the wake of Hurricane Rita. Lucas handed out supplies, as well, though his family’s always stretched budget took a hit. “Sometimes, people have it worse than you,” he said.
Lucas said he watches CNN one day, Fox News the next, trying for a balanced diet of news and opinion. He voted for John McCain but said Barack Obama can be quite inspiring.
Lucas is an equal opportunity finger pointer. He names the White House, Congress and the Treasury Department in a lawsuit in which, representing himself, he accuses the government of disregarding the Constitution by wasting money.
Lucas urges the court to rule the public trust has been violated. He also wants public money not given to banks until, or unless, the public good truly is served. He asks nothing just for himself, only accountability to ordinary people.
Lucas worries that a nation’s compassion is being exploited and that the economy will remain stuck until relief is in the pockets of the rank and file. “I have not asked for anything other than the truth,” Lucas said. “Sometimes you have to start a fight to win a fight.”
Lucas realizes few of us would start this fight, however skeptical we may be that unprecedented spending in Washington will uplift Southern Indiana or anywhere else. Lucas is out $350 — that filing fee — but is willing and seemingly honored to represent others similarly steamed.
“Somebody has to stand up,” he said. “If that has to be me, so be it.”
Go, Jerry Go!