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Jul 19 2016

Twelve men, mid- to late-seventies, all from my high school year or a couple before. I’m about the only moderate (and the only one who votes for Democrats) in the room. We sit around an oval table in one of the restaurant’s private rooms. Invariably at these reunion meals, someone brings up politics.

A man to my right said he’d heard Loretta Lynch say that the police shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas were “just the blacks getting revenge (against the police),” as if she condoned them. I confronted him about passing on unsubstantiated rumors, and, while he stopped, he said in pretty plain language that he’d heard it so it must be true. Reminds me quite a bit of the unfinished innuendos that Donald Trump drops in almost every speech. “I don’t know this to be true, but you can draw your own conclusions” sort of statements.

I have been at previous gatherings where Obama bashing and Hillary bashing have been the blood sport of the evening. I’ve had to walk away from conversations and either stand alone or talk to some of my classmates with whom I can have discussions about ideas. I have no issue with opposing political views and I realize most of my classmates are life-long Republicans. It’s the venom. It’s the stating of rumors. It’s the untruths that bother me. It’s the “I’m right and you’re wrong” that bothers me. Guess Donald would call me a loser. Ah, well.

When I left lunch, as we exited a classmate’s car in front of me sported a Ben Carson sticker.

Nov 05 2015

I attended a meeting of the City Council of the City of Chesterfield, Missouri, last night. The subject of the meeting was a motion of censure by Council against Mayor Bob Nation. For those of you who read this and do not have background information on the mayor’s conduct that brought things to this stage, I commend you to read the charges, which were the result of an independent investigation about allegations regarding the mayor’s conduct.

http://www.chesterfield.mo.us/webcontent/CouncilPackets/11-4-2015_City_Council_Packet.pdf

It was all initiated by a city employee who was subjected to an expletive-laden rant against her superior by the mayor who had come into her office and shut the door behind him. She felt threatened and stood up for herself as did another employee who was likewise harassed by the mayor and filed charges with the City. In the course of the investigation, a history of abusive behavior and bullying was revealed.

So, to cut to the chase, last night was the culmination of these events which led to a 7-0 vote in favor of the motion to censure by the Council. After the vote, citizens were given the opportunity to speak.

The mayor and his supporters tried to make the case that this was all a vendetta against the mayor because he was a fiscal conservative. His actions were portrayed as just “salty language” and no big deal. The crowd in attendance included many who support the mayor. When people spoke in his favor, they received a hearty round of applause. When people like me spoke about his behavior being unacceptable, him being a bully, him trying to intimidate others, his long history of these outbursts and conduct, we were greeted by boos as was the vote by Council. For me, this just underscored the lack of civility the mayor has exhibited toward others, toward city employees, and towards our citizens.

Here is what I said at the meeting:

President Pro-Tem Fults, Members of Council, City Attorney O’Rourke, Mayor Nation, fellow citizens:

  • The people on the dais know me, but for the record:
  • My wife and I have been citizens of Chesterfield since its incorporation;
  • In 2007, I was honored as the city’s Citizen of the Year;
  • I have served on committees and commissions since the city was born;
  • and I served two terms and for four years was chair of the Planning Commission.
  • It grieves me to be here tonight. I have had good personal relationships with the mayor, but I am not going to parse words.
  • This isn’t about politics, it’s about ongoing unacceptable behavior.
  • This isn’t about foul language, it’s about abuse of power.
  • This isn’t about an angry outburst, it’s about bullying.
  • This isn’t about speaking your mind, it’s about intimidation.
  • This isn’t just about now, it’s about a long history of actions.
  • This isn’t just about the mayor, it’s about the city and its citizens.
  • So, I am sad for the city, its citizens, its employees. And sad for the mayor.
  • But, at this point, if you were a city employee, how would you feel if you interacted with the mayor?
  • If you were an elected official from another city in St. L. or St. C County, how would you feel about our city and its mayor in general or in meetings that included him?
  • Same if you are a businessperson here.
  • If the mayor has a sense of decency and cares for our city, he will put his ego aside and resign.
  • Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

And my “I am not going to parse my words” in the above was aimed at opposing attorney who was disrespectful of the independent counsel, of the city’s attorney, of members of the City Council. He was condescending. Did he make points with the red meat he flung out to the mayor’s supporters? Sure. Was he trying to throw sand, blow smoke, get around the basic issues? Yep.

The mayor’s supporters dwelled on what a good mayor he’s been for the city and the things he’s fought for as well as excusing his well-documented and ongoing unacceptable conduct as a minor thing … you know, people curse in the workplace, no big deal. Some even tried to shift the blame for the outbursts to another city employee … not the mayor’s fault, he was frustrated.

People like me concentrated on his conduct. I have had personal experiences with him. He tries to bully. He tries to intimidate. He is a retired airline captain. As such, I think when he told his crew to “jump,” bet they were already in the air and only wanted to know “how high, sir?” This is not acceptable for a mayor.

While the mayor acknowledges his language and has apologized for it, he and his supporters have never acknowledged his rude, bullying, intimidating behavior not only in the incidents reported in the investigation, but a history of this conduct. I believe this is the third time Council has had to take action against the mayor, only this time it was public.

If I were a city employee or a member of Council, I’d make sure to have a recording device with me at all times I was with the mayor and never meet with him alone. It’s a sad state of affairs for our city. We shall see how those who want us to just “move forward” will be rewarded.

Jun 19 2015

There was quite a bit of controversy recently when Indiana passed a law that looked as if it infringed on the rights of LGBT citizens. There was a mood to boycott Indiana. Organizations like the NCAA weighed in as did businesses. In some minds, even though the original law was amended, the fact that the Indiana legislature passed and the governor signed the original law was evidence that regardless of any backtracking, this is a state to be avoided for tourism, sports, business – boycotted.

Now we get to the Charleston massacre. It’s clear this was a domestic terrorism attack. Here is the FBI’s definition:

"Domestic terrorism" means activities with the following three characteristics:

  •                Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  •                 Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  •                 Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism-definition

So we have a domestic terrorist from South Carolina, a state that flies the Confederate Battle Flag at its statehouse. Some thoughts on the flag itself:

“The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans' groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election.” Martinez, James Michael; Richardson, William Donald; McNinch-Su, Ron (2000). Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. pp. 284–285. Retrieved 2 April 2015.

“It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads.  They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty.  They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals, i.e., “that the negro is not equal to the white man.”  The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate.  But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?” Rhea, Gordon (January 25, 2011). "Why Non-Slaveholding Southerners Fought". Civil War Trust. Civil War Trust. Retrieved March 21, 2011.

This is not just a single law as in Indiana. It’s a pervasive longstanding symbol of discrimination, as repugnant as the apartheid flag patch and the Rhodesia patch the terrorist wore on his jacket. Where is the same censoring of the State of South Carolina (long overdue) for its display of the symbol of slavery? We boycotted South Africa during its apartheid era. How about South Carolina?

Aug 13 2015

Notice came on my iPhone this AM that there was a charge to one of my credit cards for a bit over $100 from “Travel Reservation USA.” Not anything I recognized. So I called the credit card company for details of the charge to see if it was legit. All they could tell me was that it was through Expedia. They had no other details, but said they’d call Expedia to find out more. Time passed and the agent told me that the wait time for their call to Expedia was over 30 minutes, so he’d call me back once he could contact them.

Later in the day, I contacted Expedia directly. I got myself in line for a call back in 30-40 minutes and indeed got one. Problem became that all the information I had was what was on my credit card site – Travel Reservation USA and the dollar amount. Of course, I had not received any confirming email from Expedia nor does the credit card site show any transaction number. The agent said she could not just look up my name without knowing was it airline, hotel, etc. Of course, I don’t know what it was since I didn’t make it. I asked for a supervisor to see if that would do any good. Had to wait on hold for over 20 minutes. Supervisor was good. He took my name and credit card information and, lo and behold, they show no such charge to my card. And he said he didn’t know who or what Travel Reservation USA was. Thus, deadend here.

So, I called credit card company again. Talked to Fraud person who told me that the transaction was through a company in Nevada and not Expedia she thought. She called the numbers they have on the charge to inquire. Of course, I had to answer the obligatory questions about whether anyone else had my card, access to it, knew my numbers, etc. Card only leaves my wallet when I take it out to charge something!

Another 20 minutes passed while I was on “hold.” So, I cruised the Internet and found Trip Advisor persons who had the same problem I have had. But a response said that Travel Reservation USA was how Expedia’s charges come through. The credit card agent came back on the line and she had gone in circles with Expedia/Travel Reservation USA and could not get an answer, just voice mail. Consequently, I had to take the “nuclear option” and cancel the card, notify those who have automatic charges to it with a new number when I get it. And wait for the fraudulent charge to be credited in a few days. 

Feb 27 2015

Mom and Dad’s wedding 1933

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o70TJ6I0zRQ

Mom and Dad in 1982: He was 76+, she 69+, I was 41+

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivCGeDvmVI8#t=828

Bud’s “Sorry Don’t Mean a Bag of Beans”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMJYeoJ3kIc

Bud’s “Crepe Fromage”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PodNx_2zr94

Jeff’s Moments in Time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrvUQJvUOd4