Sunday, January 25, 2009

Adios Sr. Crafton! Nashville votes against racial division!

This week, Nashvillians showed the rest of the nation that we are a city of open-minded individuals who will not accept intolerance. With the rejection of the English Only referendum pushed by Metro council member, Eric Crafton, our good city also rejected the notion of Crafton's thinly-veiled, racially divisive and mean spirited hatred aimed at the hispanic community in Music City.

I couldn't help but smile when I saw the outcome of the election. People like Crafton enjoy alienating minorities, using their position to try and enforce their misguided intentions upon the rest of us. But our community refused to be duped by this hatemonger. Instead, the mayor, governor and ex-mayor (who originally vetoed Crafton's first attempt at English Only in Nashville) banded together and spoke out loud and clear against the ridiculous ammendment. Following suit, members of the clergy from all denominations and faiths stood up and urged their members to vote down this measure which would deny English learning citizens the right to understand the policies and working of our city government. The hope that I held in my heart about our community's welcoming nature was justified when 10,000 more votes were cast against the English Only ammendment than those cast in it's favor. I'm proud that Nashville opened its arms to its non-English speaking citizens and refused to reject someone of the basis of language.

Now, I hope that the people in Crafton's district wake up and realize that he is a liability to our Metro Council. Over a quarter of a million dollars was wasted on this election which was completely unnecessary and motivated by a man who obviously fears and loathes Nashville's Spanish speaking population. My wish is that the people in District 22 cast their votes for a more respectful councilman/woman to represent them. Crafton's determination to force this ammendment through was shameful and exposed his true feelings to the immigrants in our community. Rather than support division and racism, why not find a way to help immigrants to learn English? It angers me that this man's prejudice cost Nashville taxpayers 280,000 dollars. When Crafton's term is finished, I hope he is booted off the Metro Council and his seat is won by an individual with a spirit of community and willingness to accept everyone.

Thanks Nashville! I'm proud to say I live in this city. I'm grateful to my fellow citizens who showed up and blocked this ammendment to the Nashville charter. And to Eric Crafton, I have one word for you....Adios!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bad Karma, Bad Ending.....

The last couple of days this week, a lot of Titans fans were arrogant and mean spirited. I'm referring to their reaction to Steve McNair attending a local bar's special event benefiting the Ronald McDonald's House of Baltimore that also featured a Raven's pep rally.

For two days, I heard this "story" (if you call that kind of crap news) on both the day and night segments of the local news, as well as the radio. Fans were calling McNair a traitor, railing on him for attending something that supported the opposing team (God forbid!), when he was a Titan for ten years. McNair was silent at first but later spoke out and stood up for his right (rightly so) to attend the event, which was for the benefit of children. He firmly stood his ground and I'm glad he did.

I don't have a problem with sports, I love going to the Nashville Predator's games myself. My problem is that many of these fans are complete fantatics and can't seem to focus on anything else in life but football. They can't see past the fact that a man may now be playing for a new team and have allegiances there. And they can't see past their overbearing devotion to a team to realize that a charity was involved.

My advice to those folks....get a life. IT'S A GAME! Do you get that? A GAME.

And now karma has checked in, if you believe in karma. You might even belief, if you are inclined to do so, that it was divine intervention and your higher power was teaching a stinging albeit necessary lesson....I personally think God has much more important things to do than watch grown men toss a ball. Whatever the case, fanatical Titans fans (I'm not including you normal folk who enjoy the games as PURE recreation) learn your lesson. Bad attitude, bad ending. Karma can, truly, be a bitch.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Most Un-wonderful time of the year (or how to make January fun!)

The wrapping paper is in the trash, the ornaments are put away and most of us have gained 5-10 lbs from holiday-induced gluttony. Welcome to January---the most depressing, drab and tortuously long month of the year!

Every holiday season we build to the climax of Christmas or Hanukkah with sparkling lights or a well-lit menorah, gifts and family fellowship galore only to fall face first into January, a month void of anything interesting (other than MLK Day). At least the Latin American countries got it right and celebrate thru January 6th, culminating with the Day of the Three Kings.

Today, at my part time job, we took down all the colorful ribbons and bows, garland and snowflakes, allowing the workplace to return to its dull, lackluster dungeon-like ambience. Thankfully, however, this year I’m not playing catch-up with bills after overspending for Christmas…still, it’s just a mind-numbing 31 day stretch that seems to go on forever. And, though February is around the corner (with its celebration of love and commercialism) it just isn’t enough to condone the misery of January’s existence. We also have the dreaded start of tax season this month which is another reason to hate this time of year.

But, for all the gray and bitter cold of the first month, 2009 is a bit different. For the first time in eight horrifying and seemingly unending years, we will be inaugurating a new president and bidding farewell to a monster who has given our country a bad name in the world community and done nothing to justify his robbery of the presidency in the first term or winning it fairly (with the help of the Devil, aka Karl Rove) in the second. After starting an unwarranted war, acting like a bewildered buffoon during the Hurricane Katrina crisis and alienating our allies and strengthening the hatred of our enemies, Bush and his now-hated cronies are on their way out. So, for once, we have a REAL reason to enjoy January. I, for one, will be taking a cake to work (I’m not kidding) and making January 20th a true day of celebration. Sure, we are in a recession and businesses are closing all around us….but perhaps we’ll soon be seeing light at the end of the tunnel. One can only hope that Obama will provide the true change that his campaign promised. Besides, he CAN’T be any worse! At any rate, fear not---the dark days of Dubya are almost behind us!

So, let’s celebrate January 20th and perhaps create a new holiday! If, during this hatefully cold month, you can think of very little reason to smile, remember….we are almost free of Dubya Dumbass! If that doesn’t make you grin, then you just might be hopeless!! The departure of King George II is exactly what dreary ole January needs….so make a cake, put up some balloons and throw some Kool and the Gang in the cd player….it is, indeed, time to “Celebrate”*!

* Yes, the mention of Kool and the Gang dates me and exposes me for the true geezer I am. For you yunguns who haven’t heard of them, bite my butt! ;)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The true spirit of giving!

One of the nicest stories I’ve heard during this holiday season is about a family owned business called Peer Bearing just outside of Chicago, Illinois. The company, run for three generations by the same family, was recently sold to a Swedish company for over 6 million dollars. Rather than greedily hide the money away for self gain, the CEO and his family decided to share the wealth with all his employees. The workers were called into the cafeteria for an announcement of the sale of the company, which worried many employees. During the meeting the workers were given envelopes with a card of thanks as well as a bonus check. This act of good will awarded some employees as much as $100, 000 (others received $35,000 and $10,000, for example) depending on the employee’s amount of time at the company. As you can imagine, the employees were stunned, pleasantly surprised at the huge checks they were looking at! The family said they felt a duty to share the money with their employees because the workers are the driving force behind their business. The employees said they have always been treated like extended family and were amazed at the size of their bonuses. And, further good news, the Swedish company that bought Peer Bearing has agreed to keep all workers at the plant.

During this time of greedy CEOs pilfering the funds of their company workers and spending excessively while their own employees are struggling with home foreclosures, its nice to see an example of the beautiful human spirit that we can aspire to. I know for many of us now, bonuses at Christmas, turkeys at Thanksgiving and other workplace gifts are a thing of the past. The days of holiday bonuses and company picnics have gone the way of the dinosaur. So, I say THREE CHEERS to the Spungen family of Peer Bearing for being a shining example of true giving and, hopefully, inspiring other companies to take a look at how they treat their workers.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Green for Grade$ Program...are we bribing our kids to learn?

Good Morning America had a segment earlier this week about a program that has been started in Chicago by The Paper Project, which was created by the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University. Students earn $50 for each "A", $35 for each "B" and $20 for each "C", giving a "straight-A" student the chance to earn $ 4,000 during a two year period. The program focuses on the first two years of school, when the possiblity of dropping out is the highest. During the junior and senior years of high school, the students are given support in the areas of career and college, aimed at forging a path for the students to meet their academic goals. The student is awarded half the money up front during the freshman and sophmore years and the rest is received upon graduation from high school. Students are encouraged to open bank accounts and the money is direct deposited, with the idea of helping foster financial responsibility. The money is NOT paid by the school; private donors sponsor the program.

While I like the idea of rewarding good grades, I cash necessarily the best policy? Should a school be involved in paying a student to do what is, essentially, their "job"? While low-income, high risk students are the primary purpose of "Green for Grade$" and I understand that we must make an every effort to help these young people meet their goals, I guestion the choice of monetary compensation for doing well, or even average, in school. In America, because we are so fortunate to have the chance to learn, we often forget that in some parts of the world, an education is a privilege. The chance to learn, socialize with fellow students, and following the rites of passage into young adulthood should be enough for young people. I remember receiving Certificates of Achievement in school for good grades or excelling in a certain subject and feeling proud of my accomplishment. I don't recall ever thinking, "Man, I should get 500 dollars for making the A honor roll."

Perhaps giving students tickets for movies, concerts or sports events (donated, of course) or downloading 5 or 10 songs from a music provider who would work in tandem with such a program could be enough. Or even, as a friend suggested, points to buy things in the school store could also be a possibility. The more I think about it, however, I think it seems we are bribing our kids with money to do things they SHOULD ALREADY BE DOING. Young people can make it out of their particular situations without educators dangling a carrot of cold, hard cash to entice them into meeting their LEARN.

Today's world is already hyper-focused on money. We get it, we spend it and we want and work excessively for more of it. And in this climate of excess, a lot of kids are growing up with a sense of entitlement....they think they should be able to have all they want without the blood, sweat and tears of working for it. Are we setting up a generation of children who think they are owed for all that they find work-oriented? Leave the money making to the "real" world. The true currency of high school is knowledge. I think an education is payment enough.