What do you look for when buying a house? Good schools? Picturesque views? Granite counters? Off-Street parking? When Michael Williams, former Treasurer of the City of Colton, was looking for a place to retire he reviewed a city’s financial statements, evaluated the number of potholes, and made sure the library was open every day, all signs of fiscal health. “Living in an economically sound place gets more important as we age. If I have heart pains, I want to know the ambulance will come.”
Michael was a child of the 60’s. “I saw Jimi Hendrix live.” In 1970 he decided to go into law enforcement, so enlisted in the Marines. He was stationed in Okinawa during the Vietnam War and received a service medal without ever steeping foot in Vietnam. “It was fun. Where I was, nobody got hurt.” Back home he failed the back exam for the LAPD so worked as a community college police officer and bought a house on the GI Bill. Michael exposed a local employee engaged in fraud, which led him to become an expert in employee theft. As Treasurer of Colton, Michael fired a guy who later turned out to be a financial manipulator. He became a local fiscal hero and was reelected treasurer until he decided to hang up his hat. Michael’s never been unemployed. Now, on the cusp of retirement, he’s a partner in a small consulting firm that manages issuing municipal bonds. “I can work anywhere with an Internet connection.”
Four years ago, Michael and his wife bought a townhouse in Carlsbad, a city with well paved streets, long library hours and a balanced spreadsheet. Their transition to full retirement is gradual – Michael still enjoys his work, and his wife spends most weeks tending her 96-year-old mother near Colton – but well planned. “I’ve led a charmed life. My children will not have such good things.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I have some plans for after I quit working. I’m seeing a lot of problems with younger men. I’m hearing a common theme that many boys don’t have a father in their home. I would like to do mentoring of some sort. I am sure all men want to work and contribute to society. But there are so many men who have no support. Society says we have to be tough and self-reliant. Without a college degree, there aren’t good jobs, not like how it was when I got out of high school. Women seem to be doing better than guys these days; it’s tough on guys.”