It’s Been So Long Since I’ve Seen My Friends…

I grew up in South Jersey where I lived until 1995. Hung around with a pretty small circle of friends in the 70’s through the mid-80’s; got married in the late 80’s; bought a home; and in the early 90’s, through very little effort on my part, fathered a couple of great kids. My wife of course did all of the heavy lifting and required pushing to bring them out into the world. Since then parenting has been one long tag team event; we usually win, but once in awhile we let the kids have one just for their confidence. It’s also called picking your battles or the more graphic but appropriate…choosing which hill you want to die on.

In 1995 we moved to Southeastern PA; the move necessary due to the constant consolidation in the drug industry. I should probably clarify that by saying we didn’t lose our corner to a rival drug gang, it was the consolidation in The Big Pharmaceutical Industry. The guys who sell the drugs with the incredible side effects which seem to be worse than the actual ailment your treating with their product. You know, the really big drug gangs.

It has been a long time since I’ve seen or talked to any of my friends from South Jersey, We need something like this back home between us and the Mittlebeelers!apparently crossing the Delaware River is every bit as daunting a task as climbing up and over the Great Wall of China. But then that goes both ways, doesn’t it? It also put us in the geographical center between our two families. Closer to her family; but farther from my family with the…been nice knowin’ you attitude.

I tried thinking about some of the changes in my life since I’ve seen any of my friends (still can’t bring myself to call them former) which I estimate to be September of 2001 or just once since 1995; changes in my personality, family changes…what my kids do now…called parental bragging if you will; changes to technology, things like that.

I have a much different personality than I did in 2001. A change in jobs from a comfortable middle management existence to a failed entrepreneurship with FedEx has made me much more cynical when it comes to the motives of corporate America; I now understand that I wasn’t a partner with Fred Smith and FedEx, I was a business model that saved them millions upon millions of dollars in employer taxes, insurances, and employee benefits. And stupidly, instead of putting FedEx in my rear view mirror, I’ve chosen to stay on and now drive for the company that owns my former route. The owner is a good guy and probably one of my three or four friends, but like my friends from Jersey…would I ever here from him again if I were to leave? Cynical…angry…distrusting…grumpy…sober…old man. Much different than the often intoxicated, lovable loser my friends knew. Sometimes I really miss beer.

And that may be one of the biggest changes since I last saw my friends. Beer! Growing up cash strapped and in need of a couple of beers, often me and the friends would settle for anything cheap. Genesee Cream Ale, the disgusting, but affordable King of Beers, Budweiser, and whenever possible a cold Carling Black Label, free from mom and dad’s fridge. Not only do I no longer drink, I wouldn’t know what the hell to drink anyway. With all of the craft beers and small micro-breweries around, simply choosing a beer would be enough of a chore to turn me sober. The last time I had a beer with my friends, not one guy said it was too hoppy or too wheaty or whatever. You just twisted off the cap and talked or argued about sports or girls or cars. 

The last time I saw my friends, my daughter was in elementary school and my son was just beginning kindergarten. Actually, he was in kindergarten twice a day, once in the morning in daycare and then in school in the afternoon. He really hated that. Since then, my daughter has graduated with honors from an expensive liberal arts college that my wife and I probably couldn’t afford, and my son will be graduating very soon. My son has earned his Eagle Scout rank from the Boy Scouts and my daughter has moved to Florida where she works for the House of the Mouse. All of this…since I last saw my friends.

The last time I saw any of my friends, I didn’t own a cell phone. The only two people I know imagewho had cell phones were Gordon Gekko and Maxwell Smart. I had never sent a text message, never skyped, opened a Facebook account, tweeted anything, or created and saved anything to the cloud. I didn’t know I would one day own something called an iPad; never created my personal playlist of music that I could save on a SmartPhone and play over a Bluetooth wireless speaker…none of these things were mine the last time I saw my friends.

The last time I saw my friends was September 9, 2001, when we watched the first game of the Eagles season. And just two days before the terrible events of 9/11, a day no one should ever forget. Since I last saw my friends hundreds of thousands of lives have been changed forever because of the War on Terror. Why do the wars on our societal issues never seem to have a solution…a compromise; how long have we been fighting the War on Drugs…On Cancer…On Poverty…On Gangs…and even on Christmas? 

Since I last saw my friends, the country was once swept up in the great secrecy around Ginger, an invention many thought would change the world, an invention that would change the way cities are laid out, an invention that ended up being The Segway. An imageinvention that nobody thought to ask one simple question, “Where the hell can we use this thing?” How cursed was this invention? The owner of The Segway Corporation drove his off a 30 ft. cliff and into a river below. Irinically…he has seen his friends for the last time.

The last time I saw my friends, Peter Jackson had yet to send Frodo, Aragorn, and the rest of The Fellowship to return The One Ring to Mt. imageDoom…They had yet to prove or dis-prove anything on The Big Bang Theory…Jack Bauer still hadn’t killed anybody on 24…Colonel Jessup had yet to order the Code Red for Private Santiago in A Few Good Men…Sean Bean still had numerous death scenes to play on TV and in the movies…The Philadelphia Eagles still haven’t won a Super Bowl, and the Flyers haven’t heard the ovation that comes from parading Lord Stanley’s Cup down Broad Street in over 40 years.

A great many things have come and gone since I last saw my friends from South Jersey; I often think about them and their families, wonder why they haven’t called, or why I don’t pick up the phone and call them. I guess the real reason is because I don’t want to think of those friendships also as come…and gone.

Ovation

Who Are You To Tell Me I Can’t Complain?

A look back at the week by a conscientious objector to two crappy candidates, and a look forward to a potential 2020 run for the big house.

With the general elections in the books, the country can now rejoice in the knowledge that our Sunday afternoon football games will no longer suffer the endless intrusions of political commercials. Hillary did this…Donald did that…and here in Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey and Katie McGinty will no longer poison our minds with their constant bitching and backstabbing during their contentious Senate race. From here on out, it will be up to NFL officials to ruin a good game with their constant throwing of flags. Come to think of it, they’re really not flags, more like little yellow hankies. Maybe if we required them to call them hankies, they wouldn’t throw so many. After all, flags are to be revered and respected, hankies are something you blow your nose into, which conveniently is also the universal gesture you make when something stinks. As in that call…

Now, hopefully you’re still here and will allow me to vent my spleen about the results of this week. Did you know the spleen was the organ associated with ill humor and melancholy; don’t know why, I’m 56 years old and wouldn’t know what my spleen looks like if you breaded it, fried it in oil and served it to me with my favorite vegetable. Anywho, that stuff earlier about the NFL officials was just the tip of my  proverbial iceberg of complaints. My family and the two or three friends I have know that sometimes I tend to be a little cranky. Really, it’s true. But there’s something I hear constantly now, especially after Donald Trump’s improbable win over Hillary and it’s this…

…”If you didn’t vote, then you’ve got no right to complain about what happens to you.” Well now, ain’t that special. And pure bullshit. It seems some of you Constitution experts have forgotten just how this place works, not to mention the rights afforded citizens with the very First Ammendment to our Constitution…

Congress (nor my fellow citizens*) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

*I put in this part.

Nowhere in that ammendment does the phrase “as long as you vote” exist. Putting our constitutional rights aside, how you vote, who you vote for, and if you vote, can also come down simply to your moral compass. And with Hillary and Donald, moral compass played a big part in how and who people voted for this year; or whether they chose to vote or abstain based on their own set of morals. And your fellow citizens certainly have no right to tell you which direction your moral compass should pointing. I have a friend (he would be 1 of the 3) and co-worker who is a Consevative/Tea Party/Dem hating Green Eggs & Ham guy (you know who you are), but he was kind enough to not look down on me in that Sean Hannity kind of way, but to understand and take pity on me and my reason for abstention. Questions for discussion: How does a fiscally responsible conservative vote for a guy who sits in a gold chair?, has filed bankruptcy no less than four times?, who so misunderstood the financial climate and downward spiral of Atlantic City and its casinos?, how could he have so overestimated the weight of his last name and his ability to secure bank loans for construction, forcing him to use high interest rate junk bonds to finance his erection…

of the Taj Mahal Casino?

But wait, there’s more. As a citizen, I’ve met most of the lofty expectations of We the People, which grants me the right to not only free speech , hell I can even begin my own 2020 campaign for the White House, thereby allowing me to pollute the landscape with signs heralding my candidacy. As a precursor to my potential 2020 run, and to save both the liberal and the conservative media time, I can at this time state that:

I pay my fair share of taxes (guess I’m just stupid); I make payment for the goods and services I purchase to the persons and businesses I purchase them from, at the agreed upon price and without the relief of bankruptcy to discharge those debts (can el-presidente elect say that?); I’ve committed no crimes (felonies) recently; unlike our elected officials I provide my employer a good day’s work for a good day’s pay (although we both might disagree on exactly what we provide each other); and I respect the rights of my neighbors to throw loud all-night pool parties to which I am not invited; I respect the rights of my neighbors dogs to do their numbers 1 & 2 in my yard (actually I really hate that one and once in the White House there will be no more of that); I’m not stingy giving out Halloween candy (I have the best chocolates); I drive responsibly but irritatingly slow; I give money to my church whenever I’m there; I donate freely to my favorite charities like St. Jude Children’s Hospital & Research Center as well as the Variety Club; last year I personally worked to raise almost $12,000 in support of the great work they do at St. Jude (I’m also back at it again this year); my wife and I have raised and educated two responsible citizens of this country; and even though I’ve not been called recently, I would be more than happy to serve on a jury that allows me to throw any of my current neighbors in the hoosegow, especially the ones with the loud pool parties and the dogs who seem to be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome whenever they walk by my house. (Once in the White House, they can then beg me for forgiveness and a Presidential Pardon. It won’t be anywhere near that easy.)

So my fellow Americans, I reserve the right to complain about our leaders, their policies, and their erections, regardless of my voting history and whether I chose to put them there or not (just our leaders and policies, once in office my first job will be to make sure our leaders are never permitted to have erections of any kind). Our Constitution and Country guarantee me those rights, and I will exercise them until they pull this iPad from my cold dead hands.

Lofty

Swapping Votes? That’s Really A Thing?

It’s finally here. Let’s just hope the outcome tomorrow doesn’t lead to a civil war.

When it comes to the rules of politics and voting in this country, I’ll admit, you won’t find many more clueless than I am. I don’t argue the 2nd Ammendment all that well, and I definitely can’t tell you how to fix the Affordable Healthcare Act. But this week I learned just how out of touch I am when I started reading about vote swapping and how that’s been going on since 2000. 

The concept is somewhat easy to understand, and now with the proliferation of social media sites like Facebook and the development of apps that can match you with a vote trading partner, it may actually someday, in some battleground state, make a difference. The idea of vote swapping emerged during the Bush-Gore Presidential Election of 2000, in where else, Florida. Democratic leaders in the state pleaded with followers of consumer advocate and third party candidate Ralph Nader to not waste their votes on Nader. As the election day got closer, websites promising Gore support in Florida in exchange for Nader votes in traditionally strong Democrat voting states started to pop up. 

Other than the obvious “make your vote count” argument, another part of these vote swapping agreements is in securing federal funding in future elections for a third party like the Green or Libertarian parties. The major party candidate gets a battleground state vote from a third party voter, and the third party candidate gets a vote in a state in which they wouldn’t have counted on one and which has no effect on the outcome of the election other than to help push the third party vote total to the 5% required nationally for the future funding. I can understand how this whole vote swapping process sounds irksome and a bit smarmy, especially to Donald Trump and his supporters who believe his arguments of a rigged election, the thing to remember is there are no guarantees the swap will be acted upon by both parties once they hit the voting booth. The swap is nothing more than an exchange of ideas and preferences on who and how the country should be run. It is not a contract and there has been no exchange of money or services (supposedly) between the individuals. And the opportunity exists for both candidates to take strategic advantage of the process. I’m guessing dating websites like eHarmony and Match.com might want to avoid offering future vote swapping services however for all of the obvious legal and social pitfalls.

I don’t know how many of these swap contracts were agreed upon for tomorrow’s election, or if they would even have any bearing on the results of the election, but with two candidates who are held in contempt by so many Americans, the potential is there for voters to want to make their vote count more than ever. It’s your choice.

image

Irksome

Donald, Hillary & Just One Positive Thing

At the end of the day, did they make us believe their answers to a truly pointless question?

Anyone who chose not to or was unable to watch the 2nd Presidential Debate last night missed one of the more heartwarming moments of the campaign. It was without question however none of these…

No…Bill didn’t share an I’ve Missed You Hug with the targets of his former dalliances, conveniently seated nearby thanks to some last minute seating arrangements.

No…Grandmom Hillary didn’t invite the grandkids up on stage after the debate to watch their mother, Chelsea, reprise her role of the Favorite Aunt in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

No…Hillary didn’t give a special shout-out to FBI Director James Comey thanking him for all of his years of service…and for looking the other way on all those emails.

No…Hillary didn’t invite all of Donald’s  Deplorables on stage to apologize and then send them lovingly away with a slice of Grandmom Hillary’s Apple Pie.

No…Donald didn’t promise if elected he would pardon away Hillary deleting those emails. In fact, he pledged to hire a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary and throw her in jail if warranted (much to the delight of his supporters I’m sure).

No…Donald didn’t invite all of Mexico over to his place for a Cinco de Mayo festival next year. Not even the good ones as he likes to call them.

No…The former students of Trump U did not come on stage to thank The Donald for the world class education they received at his university. 

And No…New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman did not step on stage to tell Donald it was all a big misunderstanding, that the notice to stop fundraising he sent to the Donald J. Trump Foundation was just for laughs.

What you would have seen and heard in this sometimes out-of-control town hall meeting was a question straight out of a marriage encounter retreat…or from my 4th grade school teacher after she broke up a fight between me and my no longer best friend Danny Kelly on the playground.

The final question of the night’s political pillow fight (you know what I mean, everyone swings real hard but nobody really gets hurt) came from Undecided Voter Karl Becker, who asked the two candidates;

“My question to both of you is, regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

Here is where Donald absolutely outshines Hillary. His answer, no matter how insincere it was, actually was mostly complimentary and somewhat thought out. Hillary on the other hand, refused to compliment Trump himself, choosing the more indirect route of saying he had great kids.

From Hillary:

“Look, I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that. I think that is something that as a mother and a grandmother is very important to me.” Say what you want about her, but she didn’t fall into the trap of praising her opponent directly.

And then Mr. Trump dove right into the pool without his water wings:

“She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter,” Trump said. “I disagree with much of what she’s fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases. But she does fight hard, and she doesn’t quit, and she doesn’t give up. And I consider that to be a very good trait.”

Trump then politely thanked Clinton for her disingenuous flattery of his children (it was that obvious), and Hillary then silently thanked Trump for supplying the next sound bite in her TV and radio ads.

 Flattery

An Open Letter to Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.

re: Willis v. FedEx Class Action Lawsuit

Your Honor,

Please, do not approve the proposed settlement in the Willis v. Federal Express class action lawsuit! I can’t speak for all of the members of this class action, but to allow FedEx off the hook after years of mis-classifying employees as contractors is a terrible miscarriage of justice.

The proposed settlement comes nowhere near re-paying We the Mis-Classified Employees of FedEx Ground for years of paying FedEx’s expenses. New trucks and maintenance, FedEx uniforms, scanners, customer complaints and claims (not always investigated) and employer taxes were all paid by us when FedEx should have been covering them as part of their own business model. As part of their model, drivers were also not paid for stops requiring a customer signature that went un-delivered because the customer was not available. How many thousands of stops do you think this represents? Unpaid stops legitimately attempted by the driver, yet unpaid by FedEx. I understand that the settlement was reached with FedEx claiming they did nothing wrong, but if you owned a business, why would you pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to thousands of people who couldn’t afford their own attorney, if you truly believed you did nothing wrong? Please, do not approve this deal.

FedEx has also led the public to believe that their new business model has changed and that they only do business with companies who have their own employees. This may be among the biggest hoaxes they’ve floated to date. Many of these so-called companies are the same contractors they used in their flawed contractor model. Their employees? In many cases are former single route drivers who can no longer afford to fulfill the FedEx Purple Promise. FedEx has ruled that there will be no more single route drivers and that these businesses must own a larger number of stops per day, forcing some single route drivers to give up their route prior to the implementation of the new FedEx ISP model, unable to meet FedEx’s new standard. There are only so many stops per day to go around, and since they will now be requiring owners to have a minimum of 500 per day, someone will have to go. And if what FedEx has claimed is true, that these former route drivers were businesses, then their actions have also not only driven down the price that these distressed single route drivers could expect to receive trying to sell off a route, but it was a way of forcing them out of what they (not me) would call, business. Why would these new employee based businesses pay top dollar for a route when they know that the distressed route owner has to sell to get out? Or why not just wait, if the driver is unable to sell, FedEx can just assign the route to the business that makes the most geographical sense. Again, I ask you, please do not approve this settlement.

The system that the administrators and FedEx used for calculating payments is also extremely suspect. They have calculated that if you worked 35 or more hours per week then you are entitled to a settlement of $41.13 for each of those weeks. This after having sent documents stating the rate was $65.83 per week. What business or legal entity would send a letter so grossly wrong to 12,000 people? Their needs to be some investigation into this type of incompetence. Having done this job since July 2001, I can tell you, if you only worked 35 hours in a week you were lucky. We switched to larger trucks around 2004 which meant that our hours of service had to include time spent loading our trucks. It’s my opinion that drivers actually worked closer to 45-50 hours per week, and during the busier peak season 60-70 hours or more. I will also tell you that many drivers did not include these hours when logging onto scanners in the morning for fear of violating their hours of service limitations. And FedEx managers knew it. I won’t say they openly suggested it, but when they signed off on daily settlements, they knew what the drivers were doing and what they were signing. Ask me about the snowy morning they closed the doors, refusing to let drivers leave until one of their late trailers was unloaded. What is that? Kidnapping? False Imprisonment? Please, do not give into corporate greed and send them back to the table.

I also have questions about the resources used to calculate these settlements. I started with FedEx in July of 2001 with a signed operating agreement. I drove full time and was dispatched from a terminal in Pennsylvania, just as the settlement requires. I still am . Yet in conversations with other drivers, most are being paid more than me, sometimes up to $10,000 more. If I meet all of the requirements, have been there longer than any other driver, why would others be receiving more in the settlement? As stated previously, I have no faith in the ability of FedEx to properly determine the correct settlement for time served. Are they only using hours based on scanner information, if so, we didn’t even have scanners when we started at FedEx. Where are they pulling their information from?? Who knows??? There has been no communication on this issue. Do I have to lawyer-up and subpoena the information from FedEx? 

Federal Express has employees they call Contractor Relations. Require Federal Express to use these employees and the law suit administrators, to sit down with each distressed driver and go over their individual numbers. To many of us it’s too important to just throw our hands up and say, “We’ll take it.” For many of us, this is our pension, this is the money we will use to pay off those credit cards still filled with charges related to years of driving for FedEx. A chance to get out of debt. Debt that not one single FedEx employee has had to incur while they drove for FedEx. And tragically, after living life week to week, this may also be all of the money they have ever been able to save while driving a FedEx route.

Your Honor, just to let you know how much we drivers really cared for FedEx customers, I’ve imageincluded a photo showing you how one resourceful driver did everything possible to keep a FedEx customer package dry from the weather and safe from those who might want to steal it. And they left a door tag. And FedEx probably charged that driver $280 (depending on the actual date this was done) for leaving the package at an improper location. See how they are? And the photo at the top? The customer failed to sign their artwork, so the driver was not allowed to leave the package according to FedEx policy. We deserve better for that kind of adherence to their rules and our courteous and careful service in crappy weather.

Please your honor, do not approve this deal. Doing so would be a miscarriage of justice and only serve to allow FedEx to get away with their charade.
Careful

Frederick X vs. We The People

We The People and Mr. Unremarkable battle another tyrannical King and his Intolerable Acts.

This is an Unremarkable work of fiction. Whether you believe it to be a work of historical fiction or a story created in the mind of an angry, Unremarkable old man is up to you. The resemblance of any individuals or corporations in this work to actual individuals or corporations is purely coincidental and in the imagination of the reader. Angry, Unremarkable old men occasionally need a villain to blame for the injustices which make them angry. Sometimes that villain is a king.

When in the course of human events…it sometimes becomes necessary for the rabble to rise up and challenge the financial strains placed on them by a king who resides far from their homes, yet uses them to enrich his vast coffers. That ruler, who sneers down from on high at those he believes not worthy, is FREDERICK X, from here forward referred to as FRED X, and who besides being an iron-fisted monarch, was a no-good, money-grubbing, glory-hound of a businessman.

And he was smart. Fred X surrounded himself with cut throats, lackeys, yes-men, idea-men, both good and bad, and a horde of lawyers to defend those good and bad ideas. It seems the only thing Fred X’s castle didn’t have were mirrors with which to look yourself in the face, and a singing conscious-guiding cricket. But even with all of the aforementioned pirates to help guide and defend his business, there was one thing that perplexed Fred X, how could he make the rabble pay his taxes and expenses from said business? His lackeys were stumped, his yes-men agreed with him…but thought he was crazy, and his idea men were clueless. It wasn’t until the cut throats met with the lawyers over lattes at a local coffee emporium that a solution was found.

And here born was the Independent Contractor. Independent as in refusing to be under obligation to others and contractor meaning someone who is party to a contract. This position the cut-throats and lawyers reasoned…as much as cut-throats and lawyers can reason, would sign what they laughingly termed an operating agreement to work for Fred X, and only Fred X, and in return Fred X would give them their own territory, a protected primary area of service it could be called. Those who bought into this skullduggery would think themselves entrepreneurs, like fools they would pay the king’s taxes, absorb some of his expenses, they would wear Fred X’s colors and display his coat of arms, and they work from sun up until sun down and later with not so much as a hint of overtime pay or paid time off.

Fred X was beside himself with delight. The cut-throats and the lawyers had done it. And as thanks he would give the cut-throats the new title of Contractor Relations. The lawyers he knew would get their enjoyment finding new ways to plunder future Contractor earnings. He would also allow them to discharge his yes-men. They would have fun doing that, and if needed he could hire new yes-men later. And most important, those zany financial talking heads would adore his company and heap praise upon the genius that was Fred X.

Like all great rebellions, it’s not exactly known where or when its seeds were sewn. Employee unions and Fred X’s largest competitor spent time and money railing against the Independent Contractor model. We The People were not businesses they screamed, but simply mis-classified employees being used by the king. And as the word spread, more and more lawyers around the country arrived in courts to sue Fred X for his terrible mis-treatment of The People… and to put their own hands into the pockets of The People. Lawsuits were filed in far away courts on the left coast, still others combined multiple locations and jurisdictions into one bundle to be ruled on by learned judges of higher courts.

“We strongly disagree with the challenges to the Independent Contractor scheme”, Fred X and his lawyers repeated over and over again. But legal challenges  to the king’s business model mounted and the lawyers soon saw the hair on the wart that was the Independent Contractor lie. So the lawyers and the cut-throats met once more over lattes and came up with another business scheme. This one they called PIS, short for Provider of Independent Service.

This time even Fred X was initially taken aback by the level of deceit the lawyers and cut-throats had established. Their new business plot was both brilliant and devious and oozed with the legal sliminess only the most talented lawyers could invent. Single service area contractors, the backbone of the Independent Contractor model will be required to purchase additional areas of service or sell out to other providers. If they are unable to do so…we will thank them for their years of service and financial investment, take back their service area and assign it to a different provider. And all of this legal jibber-jabber will allow us to announce that we are no longer working with Individual Contractors and that we only work with businesses that use employees. The owners of these new employing-using businnesses will be allowed to negotiate with Fred X the value of their services. And, here is the best part, these new businesses will sign away their right to sue Fred X in the future as part of the PIS scam. Past lawsuits with The People could now be settled for pennies on the dollar. Fred X nearly passed out as he sat upon his golden chair, thankfull there were no mirrors upon which to look himself in the face or singing crickets offering conscious-guiding advice.

But this my friends may not be the end of this tale, this assault on We The People. For many of these businesses Fred X works with are the same Independant Contractors he abused before, just re-branded to fit into the king’s new PIS model. How long will it be until they experience the same level of displeasure with Fred X’s new model? How long will it be before they learn the art of contract negotiation with Fred X, which is to say, no matter how much you value your business contribution to Fred X, it will be the king and his court of jesters who will determine your worth to the king. How long will it be until dissension among The People sets in as they learn through the grapevine the value of one business vs. another?

And now, in a Podunk little town in the southeast corner of the newly re-named territory of Wentzylvania, new voices cried out to just themselves. Older voices, long-time servants of  Fred X, disturbed by the amount the bundled lawsuits were settled for. If We The People were indeed employees of Fred X, then these settlements come nowhere close to our investments into the King’s business. The attorneys in the action of We The People vs. Frederick X had settled, and We The People had been weighed on the scales of justice…and have been found wanting. Congratulations King Fred, the riches of the kingdom remain yours…but don’t spend them all in one place. This isn’t over until We The People say it’s over!

 

I Really Hate It When…

Is there such a thing as a journalistic code of ethics in sports? If not, when and why did it disappear?

Does anyone share my irritation when the sports media uses “sources close to”… or “sources with knowledge of”… as their way to substantiate information used in a report or column? To be honest, if you won’t name the source, then you’re report simply amounts to here-say. 

…and if you’re a source willing to give information, go on the record.  If you won’t go on the record…again, how can you be considered a credible source?

I know, this is only sports, grown men playing kids games, not the Watergate Scandal and it’s confidential informant Deep Throat. That kind of journalism brought down a President and earned a Pulitzer Prize for The The Washington Post. Much of today’s sports commentary is just not that important. And if an important event occurs, whether an actual sporting event or something in an athlete’s personal life, be it legal or illegal, just about any caller can get on the air and present him or herself as an expert, someone with inside knowledge, someone with a phone, someone given the use of public airwaves to say just about whatever they want. Mostly unsubstantiated. Not vetted. Just like information we get from some members of the media.

Consider the 2014 release of the Eagles DeSean Jackson. The original NJ.com report quoted only “sources within the organization” regarding Jackson’s ties to 2 Los Angeles gang members. The story also quoted the “infamous” source within the organization saying the team was concerned about Jackson’s influence on younger players.

Meanwhile, Derrick Gunn from Comcast Sports Net broke this story wide-open with information from his well-founded sources:

“I talked to someone (?) this morning that basically said that when a player is one of your highest paid players in the Eagles’ organization, especially with the new culture and the new attitude, the new direction they’re trying to build now in Chip Kelly’s regime,” Gunn said, “they expect you to hold yourself to a certain standard both in the locker room and outside the locker room as well.” 

You could almost see Chip Kelly’s hand in D. Gunn’s back manipulating his mouth. 

“And there’s a lot of stuff (really, someone and stuff?) that probably hasn’t even come out about DeSean yet (and it never did) that we’re going to find out in the days, weeks, months and even a year from now that we’re going to learn about, but he was not the kind of player in the locker room that the Eagles wanted to have an influence on the younger players.” and…“I was told by a couple of sources that he did not have the best work ethic in the locker room.

So D. Gunn, gives us “someone?”,”a lot of stuff?” and “couple of sources?” See any Pulitzer Prize winning journalism there? I realize that DeSean Jackson getting cut is an old story, but this story says more about the not so ethical environment that exists in the world of sports talk radio, internet reporting, and even TV news and talk shows. And let’s not be naive, sports teams use these guys all the time to advance their own agenda. And the media knows it, sometimes they have to walk a thin line between what information the team wants released versus the opportunity for future stories.

Remember all of those book reports and term papers we did in school? If we wrote that something was a fact, we had to list the source of that information, be it encyclopedia, newspaper article or some other source. “A lot of stuff” wouldn’t have been accepted as fact, and “unnamed source” wouldn’t fly as a reference. When did members of the media decide that this fundamental rule no longer pertained to their reporting?

I know, I can hear the battle cry now, ” We have to protect our source. If sources can’t remain anonymous then we won’t be able to get the information needed for the article. After all dear reader (or listener), it’s all to keep you better informed.” I have a different theory. How about the lack of naming a source comes down to a couple of simple factors…

…the unwillingness of the reporter to keep digging for a credible source who will go on the record and the competition between news agencies to….get it first!

Honestly, I can’t see how it matters who got a story first with the way the the news is reported, especially in the case of sports, where stories are hashed and re-hashed by multiple hosts over and over again on multiple media outlets for days and weeks at a time.  After beating a story like a rented mule for a day or two, most fans don’t remember or care who got the story first. And if you listen to multiple stations as I do, often times you can recognize the same caller on those stations voicing the same ideal or opinion. Over and over and over…To be honest, it must be difficult for some sports talk hosts to show up for work everyday given the repetitive nature of their industry.

So in the true spirit of some of today’s media employees…

“Unnamed sources with first-hand knowledge of the decision, say the Sixers are considering trading this year’s first pick in the draft Ben Simmons, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Cavaliers 2017 and 2018 first round picks. Someone said he believes the Sixers need more assets if they are going to make a run at the 2022 playoffs. The source also said Sixers coach Brett Brown couldn’t be happier and is excited about starting the 2016 season with the same team that finished last year.”

There, see how easy that was? I didn’t even get off the couch or call anyone. And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll just blame it on my source, that I can’t name. You heard it here first!

Like many sports fans I listen to sports talk radio during the course of my workday. I understand that interviews are a part of the job, but isn’t it somewhat disingenuous for a host to call for the dismissal of a team’s general manager or openly criticize an athlete’s play (pick a player, any sport) then fail to bring up those criticisms when interviewing that front office person or athlete? Consider the end of Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro’s tenure with the team. Talk show hosts openly called for his immediate dismissal daily, then complimented him on his “honesty and his availability to the fans”. A typical interview might consist of a question or two about what to do with Ryan Howard, the teams current home stand or road trip, and maybe a hot prospect in Reading or Lehigh Valley. In other words, largely vanilla and lacking any controversy, and filled with clichés like, “one game at a time”, ” I can’t say enough about him”, or “he always gives 110%.”

Some members of the media bill themselves as the voice of the fans…and I guess that’s true, however with that claim comes the requirements of objectivity, accuracy, fairness, and accountability. And adhering to those principles are where some members go off the rails.

Don’t be too hard on yourselves sports media, at least you’re not sensationalizing the weather like our local TV/radio stations or The Weather Channel.