The cron log at /var/log/cron gives me the following when I reboot the system or manually start cron (with /etc/init.d/cron start):
Jul 2 10:17:31 monserver /usr/sbin/cron: (CRON) INFO (pidfile fd = 3)
Jul 2 10:17:31 monserver /usr/sbin/cron: (CRON) STARTUP (fork ok)
Jul 2 10:17:31 monserver /usr/sbin/cron: (CRON) DEATH (Can't create reboot check file)
Verified that cron is truly not running with ps aux | grep cron
This server has recently had permissions issues with other applications (nagios for one). I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case here, but I haven't been able to track down the location of this "reboot check file". It's an older Debian system (ver 5.0.2).
Please let me know if more info is required (I'm still learning) and thanks for your help!