Archive for November, 2009

Helen Pleads for Personal Responsibility

This is a cross-post from Swampbubbles.com

From the Toledo Blade Letters to the Editor: November 22, 2009

Headline: Let sick workers stay home

As a nation and a region, we are battling uniquely difficult circumstances created by a harsh economic recession and a national health emergency — the spread of the H1N1 flu.

Call it a request or a suggestion, but to avoid having one problem compound the other here in Lucas County, we’d like all workers to be able to stay home when they’re sick with the flu.

It is recommended that all workers with influenza stay home until they are well, which is generally considered to be 24 hours without a fever without the use of aspirin, Motrin, etc. All told, those infected with H1N1 or “swine flu” could need several days to recover.

About 40 percent of all private-sector employees in the United States do not have paid sick days — or the ability to recover from illnesses like swine flu without losing chunks of income or their jobs in general. We don’t know exactly what that number is here in Toledo and Lucas County, but low-income and part-time employees typically do not have paid sick days, and about 23 percent of Toledo residents had incomes below the poverty level in 2007.

If a significant portion of our workforce continues to come to work for fear of losing income or even their jobs, this could result in many more colleagues, fellow workers, and employers becoming ill. This could turn a controllable situation into a major problem for a company.

And if those without paid sick days stay home, a bad local economy gets worse.

The Centers for Disease Control is advocating businesses to adopt flexible or nonpunitive leave policies to help combat the swine flu. We second that notion and would like to see it taken a step further.

If possible, we’d like to see all Lucas County businesses offer their employees three paid sick days during this flu season. It’s not for us to decide the mechanics of such a procedure, but if CEOs and company owners can find a way to make their employees feel better about staying home with the flu, they will in effect help to cure two ills that are plaguing our community.

Ben Konop
Lucas County Commissioner

Dr. David Grossman
Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner

Helen Writes a Similar letter, which wasn’t published:

Dear Working Men and Women of Lucas County:

As a nation and a region, we are battling uniquely difficult circumstances created by a harsh economic recession and a national health emergency — the spread of the H1N1 flu.

Call it a request or a suggestion, but to avoid having one problem compound the other here in Lucas County, we’d like all workers to be able to stay home when they’re sick with the flu.

It is recommended that all workers with influenza stay home until they are well, which is generally considered to be 24 hours without a fever without the use of aspirin, Motrin, etc. All told, those infected with H1N1 or “swine flu” could need several days to recover.

About 40 percent of all private-sector employees in the United States do not have paid sick days — or the ability to recover from illnesses like swine flu without losing chunks of income or their jobs in general. We don’t know exactly what that number is here in Toledo and Lucas County, but low-income and part-time employees typically do not have paid sick days, and about 23 percent of Toledo residents had incomes below the poverty level in 2007.

If a significant portion of our workforce continues to come to work for fear of losing income or even their jobs, this could result in many more colleagues, fellow workers, and employers becoming ill. This could turn a controllable situation into a major problem for a company.

And if those without paid sick days stay home, a bad local economy gets worse.

If possible, we’d like to see all Lucas County residents put aside a portion of their paycheck that they could live on in the event that they need sick days during this flu season. It’s not for us to decide the mechanics of such a procedure, but one suggestion might be to curtail unnecessary spending such at the newspaper or cable-TV subscription, cigarettes, sodas, processed and convenience foods.

If you do so, you will in effect help to cure two ills that are plaguing our community: H1N1 and the other illness that is even more deadly–the entitlement philosophy.

The Cool Kids Get All The Breaks

Is President Obama taking the appropriate action to protect our troops and interests in Afghanistan? Is he making appropriate diplomatic choices while visiting with Asian leaders? Did he really think through his decision to try the 911 hijackers in New York City? Is he making flippant and irresponsible statments about the inevitability of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s conviction? Is he doing what he can to revise and negotiate a health care reform bill that will not bankrupt the country and burden our future generations?  

Who the hell cares? According to USA Today, he is the hippest cat in America!

Get a load of this graph from a November 3 article:

“President Obama may not have delivered on all the policy changes he promised since his election a year ago, but he and his family have brought dramatic social change to the nation’s capital and to the country’s collective image of its first family — and not just because they’re the first African Americans in charge at the White House.”

 While I see how the family has changed the image of the first family, I can’t think of  any “dramatic social change” the Obama’s have  brought.

The article details all the cool things the Obamas do, like hosting poetry slams, hiring Stevie Wonder,  Fergie,  and the Foo Fighters to entertain at their house, and they go to Paris and Martha’s Vineyard as a family! The first couple use iPods! She Twitters! He is addicted to his Blackberry.  She has a Facebook page.

 They go tho their kids soccer games. They work out….and they go out on the town… a lot.

If he got any cooler, he’d be able to bump Johnny Depp from the People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive throne.

The fact is, we all take our kids to soccer games, and we love or iPods, and social-networking tools. We travel with our families, and though we can’t have big-name acts play at our parties, we can entertain with their music. Obama is no cooler than the rest of us. The only difference between us and him is his success or lack thereof in his job, and his approval rating.  Hard-working Americans can sit at my cool table. Until The President proves himself worthy, he’ll have to find another spot in the cafeteria.

Congratulations, Mayor-Elect Bell!

After what amounted to be a pretty boring race, Mike Bell won an office, complete with shower, on One Government Center’s lofty 22nd floor.

January can’t come soon enough for Toledo, a city sorely in need of  real leadership, some new blood, and a fresh perspective.

—–

And while we wait patiently for the changing of the guard, I’ll share a Mike Bell story.

I have a friend who is more than a bit smitten with the former Fire Chief. She would sigh at the mere mention of his name, and when we worked together ages ago, was literally giddy when he visited our office for a get-together.  She had at least one press photo of Bell as a pin-up on her bulletin board.

A few years later, she and her hubby were at Home Depot, looking for smoke detectors to install in their first home.  As they approached the  display, they noticed a man looking over the smoke detectors. They discussed the many options out loud, uncertain about which was best. The man in the aisle selected a smoke detector from a hook and turned to them–the man was my friend’s celebrity crush…none other than Chief Bell, who told the couple, ” This is the one you want…” and handed them the  model he recommended.

I do believe my friend was speechless…

Helen and Katie: Facebook Friends?

Today, Facebook recommended that I befriend  CBS anchor Katie Couric. Intrigued at what connection she and I might share, I traveled to her page, where I read a wall-page of posts and comments, most of which promoted her television and her advertiser-supported online interviews at @katiecouric.com.

This led me to her online interview yesterday with Al Gore, whom she introduces as The Godfather of Green, the King of Conservation…” In the interview, Gore speaks with Ms. Couric to promote his new book in which he shares his expertise in environmental science.

Yes, Gore, according to Couric, is the regal leader of all environmental causes, though according to an article in the Washington Post refered to in a Boston Globe column, Gore took only  two general education science courses in college as an undergraduate. He earned a “C+” in one and a “D” in the other. I wonder how those with doctorates in the environmental studies feel about him selling books, videos, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to their field, while they scrape and struggle for the grant money and support necessary to further their research.

Sorry, Katie; I hope you won’t be too hurt if I decline your friendship. I’m selective about who I befriend in social networking sites, and about who I glorify.

A Reluctant Non-Endorsement

I opened my  (Toledo) Blade this morning, and read my way to the Op-Ed pages, where I found that the lofty editorial board chose not to use its traditional space to make its traditional endorsement of its favorite mayoral candidate. They claim to endorse neither Wilkowski nor Bell.

 I see things a little differently–the team stands equally behind both men, therefore, it rubber stamps both candidates, or perhaps, some quality or qualification in each of the men vying for  the 22nd-floor throne. Ah, t’wer it possible that both men could be combined into one fair leader who could create prosperity from the ashes! But this is not in keeping with the role of the American newspaper in our daily lives.

Newspapers have ALWAYS been a strong influence in politics in this nation, and newspaper editors have been the engine driving that machine. WHY, the editorial board would so flippantly dismiss its mission, choosing the “Good Choice for Mayor” route is worthy of analysis.

The wishy-washy editorial ends with this statement:   “And so we reluctantly defer to the electorate, hoping that they will turn out in large numbers to make their wishes known on Tuesday.”

Is this a kinder, friendlier, everybody’s happy Toledo Blade? Don’t be too quick to draw that conclusion–

 Let’s look at word choice: Reluctantly?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “reluctant” as Unwilling; disinclined: Exhibiting or marked by unwillingness; Offering resistance; opposing.

The men and women who sit on editorial boards are “word people,”  that is, they carefully choose words that convey the meaning they intend. This word was not chosen by mistake, or wrecklessly to best describe the board’s inability to come to a conclusion about who they would want to govern the city–a conclusion that editorial boards in this city and thousands of others have done willingly and proudly for  hundreds of years.

One of the tenets of journalism tells us to be suspicious of such changes in policy: Why would the editorial board be so reluctant, so unwilling to make a public statement choosing one man over the other? What does the newspaper business have to gain by endorsing Wilkowski? Bell? What do they have to lose if Bell wins? If Wilkowski wins? Did someone, say a publisher, suggest that the editorial board not endorse a certain candidate, when the board did not feel it could in good conscience endorse the other?

If you read my diatribe levying charges of favoritism toward Democrat Wilkowski, you might be thinking that I should renege and concede that I was off base. You’d be wrong. I maintain my original stance–that the coverage of the mayoral race was biased in favor of Wilkowski. I did term this a “not so clandestine endorsement,” and that opinion stands.

It is clear; however, that for some reason, the editorial board could not or would not solidify that bias in a formal endorsement.