A poignant story about a Missouri State administrative law judge who got his walking papers from newly-sworn Democratic governor Jay Nixon last month made rounds on the Web recently, troubling members of one of Boone county's largest online listservs -- the 800-member Columbia Missouri Realtors.
Calling Judge Dale Hardy Roberts "a very good and trustworthy friend," Columbia realtor Rhonda Carlson circulated a letter detailing a tragic situation: Roberts volunteered to donate a kidney to someone in dire need, but his surgery was scheduled for the day he lost his job -- Monday, Jan. 12th -- also the day Nixon took his oath of office.
"I decided, long ago, to be a kidney donor for someone," Hardy, who lives in Ashland, wrote a group of friends. "Then, this morning at work, I was handed an envelope – and notified by Governor Elect Nixon that my services will not be needed after he is sworn in on Monday. I got 1½ day’s notice of my departure."
New administrations come and go, and previous administration appointees are frequently let go. But the irony of a soon-to-be-hospitalized employee losing his health care coverage in a new Democratic administration committed to healthcare reform was overwhelming to many readers. The added poignancy of Hardy's predicament -- that he is a so-called “living donor" for a person in desperate need of a life-saving organ -- boggles many a mind.
"I was already on the approved Family Medical Leave Act list, as I am scheduled to go into the University of Missouri Medical Center for the kidney transplant," Hardy continued. "My employer and co-workers have known for a while that I was going on sick leave to be a kidney donor."
So upset were the local realtors to whom Carlson forwarded her plea -- finding a good friend with one kidney a new job --they forwarded the letter to several local news outlets. "The story about [state] employees being let go has already been told," said Columbia realtor Alice Leeper. "I think this puts a particularly personal face on the issue."
Saying that he realizes “I’m not the man I used to be,” Hardy maintained an upbeat attitude despite his troubling situation. That last joke, he wrote, is "organ donor humor. Obviously, I’ll be passing out resumes like candy on Halloween. If you know of anything…although, I’m not sure who would hire me with only one kidney."