Archive for the 'Socially, Economically, or Politically Related' Category

The Big Box Ballyhoo

This morning I was perusing my local paper (if you can call it that), The Morning Call, and felt a sinking disappointment that is hard to adequately explain.  The business beat reporter, Tyrone Richardson, devoted his entire weekly column to complaining about the lack of national chain restaurants in the Lehigh Valley.  He gives a brief mention to some local businesses that are okay in a pinch, according to him.  Now, look, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be overjoyed if Costco decided to open shop nearby, and I certainly understand why many people are clamoring for some of these national names.  But, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon that Jeff Pooley has been driving and give Tyrone a little back talk.

Tyrone, its not news that the Lehigh Valley isn’t a top destination for major retail chains, we’re not a major market.  What is news is that within my relatively-short lifetime, we in the Lehigh Valley lost our two biggest employers and somehow both Allentown and Bethlehem have managed to diversify their economies enough to not have a devastating loss of population.  As Tyrone mentions in his article, the Lehigh Valley is a growing region that attracts people from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and elsewhere.  Both cities have abundant entrepreneurs who have literally led the way to this diversification, opening small businesses in the retail, service, manufacturing, and technology sectors that would make people in many parts of Ohio, Western New York, Michigan, etc double over with envy.  Its news that even in this hideous economy, many of these business owners are digging in and hanging on, while big name national chains like Quizno’s make their quick exits.  Its news that against all odds, new small businesses are opening, while big chains put the brakes on their expansion plans and decide to wait it out.  Just something to think about the next time you decide to devote 100% of your precious column inches to writing about big name retail and why there’s not more of it in the Lehigh Valley.

I’m preparing to leave this week for my annual vacation in Saratoga Springs, NY.  I could, and probably will have a whole separate post on the numerous reasons that this is my favorite town to spend time in, but the primary reason is the awesome power of its downtown – home to dozens of independently-owned restaurants, shops, bars, galleries, and cafes.  When I stroll down Broadway looking for Breakfast on Thursday morning, I know for sure that I’m not going to have any regrets that I can’t enjoy a Dunkin Donut.

North Whitehall: Prepare to never go anywhere again

WalMart is coming.  They have no intention of helping the township preserve any of its rural charm, calling efforts to improve the quality of that gray cinder-block facade “gingerbread.”  They also are brushing off the potential of a 21% increase in traffic on an already congested strip of 309, but the good news is that the company will be building a sidewalk on their block of route 309.  So, you know, when your car is stuck in a traffic jam, you will be able to safely park it in the middle of the road and walk on a paved sidwalk to get up the road.

For the record, I am almost universally in favor of sidewalks, but the idea of there being a sidewalk that runs the 2000 feet in front of WalMart and that’s it strikes me as sad more than anything else.

I’m a little livid this morning

Sometimes people ask my about feminism, and this post touches on that topic. Its long, but its important to me, so I didn’t put it behind a jump.  Live with it!

So, recently a friend of mine and I were talking about how in some political circles, people can do really crap-tastic things, and face no repercussions because they are so good at lobbying or campaigning or whatever the hell it is political operatives are responsible for.  I told him about my run-in with Bernie Kieklak on the blogosphere in 2007, and how at the time I was torn between wanting to remain anonymous and wanting to storm into Lisa Boscola’s office demanding an apology from the both of them and her acceptance of his (meaningless gesture) resignation.  In hindsight, I should have chosen the latter of those options.

My friend was pretty shocked to hear that Kieklak kept his job, given the extraordinarily offensive, misogynistic, and disgusting comments he made on Lehigh Valley Rambings to/about me, and about Sam Bennett.  In the private sector, that kind of outburst would lead to a same-day firing, most likely.  In political work, apparently no one cares – or at least not Lisa Boscola.  If the Morning Call and Express Times had not picked up and rolled with that story, he probably would not have even been encouraged to seek help (another pretty meaningless gesture in my opinion) or told to discontinue blogging.

This morning’s Morning Call features an article by capitol-beat reporter John Micek, outlining how legislative staffers make more than their bosses.  This doesn’t surprise me, since staffers are really the ones who do the majority of the work in most political offices, but some of the salaries were pretty outlandish.  In any event, on the website, there is also a link to the full list, and I, of course, had to go and see what Bernie Kieklak made in 2008.

Not only did this guy NOT get fired, or demoted, or in any way punished for his outburst, but the creep got a RAISE!

UPDATE: For posterity’s sake, I’m also inserting a blog I wrote on another blog when this all took place, which I think articulates how I felt and still sometimes feel about the misogyny that I, and women everywhere, face, on a regular basis.  There is some offensive language, so… FYI (but he started it).

Hi, Janet. I’m sorry it took me a while to respond but quite frankly I’ve been very conflicted about everything that has happened.

Admittedly, when the story first broke I wanted it mostly to go away. I was glad that he had been called out, but I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of it being a big story. Not because I thought what he said should have been ignored or condoned, but just because I thought, in the grand scheme of things, this really doesn’t mean much.  When I think of the many, many injustices in the world, being called a slut by a middle-aged political hack doesn’t really make the short list of problems I care about.

As it turns out though, I guess I do care.  Boscola called both Sam and Charlie to apologize, but makes no mention at all anywhere that she’s sorry that her chief of staff verbally attacked a 23 year old private citizen. I guess maybe as far as they are concerned its no big deal that I was spoken to this way since neither of them will ever have to convince me to give them funding or support for a bill. I’m not saying I want a phone call from Boscola apologizing to me – I want Lisa or Bernie K to stand up and say “Its inappropriate for him/me to speak to anyone the way I did, not just other elected officials or candidates.” One of my coworkers said to me yesterday “well, they’re all just missing the point.”

At least from my perspective, the really BIG point was not that Kieklak had nasty things to say about Dent and/or Sam, but that when he responded to my original post, he attacked Dent for political/personality issues and attacked both me and Sam Bennett over our sexuality and our bodies. I’m not saying its cool to call Charlie a shitbag, but if he’s going to call Dent a shitbag, I want him to call Sam and I the same, instead of calling me a slut and Sam a whore. The Express Times headline was about Bernie K’s comments about Charlie Dent. Really, THAT was the story?

So officially there is no fallout from all of it, and the solution will be that Bernie doesn’t post on blogs anymore – which is a fine solution to the problem of a State Employee using vulgar language on the internet, I guess, but is no solution to the misogynistic attitude displayed in that comment. And to be honest, I don’t really care if people curse on the internet, state employee or not.

Anyway, to respond to your post on the LV Political Blog, I don’t like anyone speaking for me – man or woman, I think that its dangerous for anyone to assume that their position is representative of a larger group of people, but I do see what you are saying sometimes in the posts on local blogs by men. Often I feel that a female perspective is lost, or brushed aside. The women who do post, myself included, seem to adopt a more “ballsy” style (or so Bernie K would say) of posting, but that is also disturbing.

in the original lehigh valley ramblings thread, Bernie O’Hare chastised Bernie K for his comments to me, and someone annonymously made this comment:

I respectfully disagree with your comments on BTNP and women bloggers. It is like anything else in life if you bring it, you can expect to get it. Besides, annonimity on the blog should boost confidence. Politics is a blood sport for men and women. Some of the most vicious pol’s are women…… Sound advice for both men and women, you want to play the game , wear a cup.

I hate this kind of thinking. Why should women have to “man up” to participate in the conversation? You know why its stupid for me to wear a cup? Because I do not have a penis, and its sexist to imply that in order to be in the room I have to pretend like I do. I am not the kind of feminist who wants to pee in the men’s room. I am the kind of feminist that wants there to be a ladies room in the club! I don’t mind bringing it and getting it back, but see my above problem for how I brought a well thought out political question about a congressional race and got told that I spend 4 hours a night deciding whether to wear the ‘fuck me like the pig that I am’ pumps or the ‘fuck me like the slut I am’ pumps. I think its fair to expect that someone will argue with me point for point about any blog or comment I make, but its ridiculous for someone to tell me that I need to accept being spoken to that way because politics is a blood sport.

What is wrong with North Whitehall?

I won’t spend a ton of time on this subject, since it has already been covered pretty well here, here, here, here, and most extensively here, but I’d just like to say that it is MIND BOGGLING to me that the North Whitehall Township Supervisors could be so short sighted as to invite Walmart into their once-lovely community.   Continue reading ‘What is wrong with North Whitehall?’

A Story About Job Searching

So I, like almost 3 million other Americans, am unemployed.  

Recently I applied for a job at a small company which provides awareness programming around issues such as sexual health, body image, diversity, dating violence prevention, etc… totally up my alley.  They are also affiliated with a nonprofit which promotes awareness of sexual assault/violence, and this job would have involved both.  So, I was excited.  I was even more excited when the director called me and explained that she wanted someone brainy and skilled and creative and passionate (that’s me!) who is interested in working towards positive change (again, I’m just exploding with ideals and naive hope for a better world).  So I thought “hey here’s my chance!”  We scheduled an interview for this Friday.

THEN, in my email, I receive a “questionnaire.”  I opened it, intending to fill it out right away and return it.  I was kind of startled to see a long three-component document, most of which has been obviously copied and pasted from various sources into one piece.  The first section was normal enough, she asked me to rate my capabilities on a variety of tasks.  I finished that and then moved on to section two.  Section two was a little bit more eyebrow raising.  It was a personality test.  As I was reading, I realized this was not just ANY personality test, but a particularly absurd one.  So I googled it and I found it online:

In case you wanted to take it yourself, go here.

Although the questions were copied verbatim, the format changed.  When you take the test online, the idea is that you place yourself somewhere along the line between the two statements.  In the email it was an either/or scenario, as in “pick one, black or white.” I decided it would be better to save this section for later and moved on.

Section Three was the killer… I’ll just copy and paste it here, because I can’t do it justice any other way.

Please answer the following about yourself:

Do you have children and their ages? 

Are you married/Domestic Partner and how long you’ve been together?

Do you attend religious services weekly?

Have you missed work/school because of sickness? 

Would you be willing to work up to 80 hours per week if you knew you would be making $50,000+ in 3 years?

Do you plan to have children in the next 3 or 4 years

So, where to begin?  The ONLY question that isn’t illegal to ask is the very troubling question about working 80 hours a week for the chance to make $50,000 three years from now.  I mean, I’ll be honest.  I’m not really interested in working 80 hours a week, period.  I’d have gone to law school if that was the case.  I also borrowed almost $100,000 to go to college, where I received an outstanding education, and I did so in part because I bought into the idea that a college degree means that you can make a better living than not having one.  Even if the question was “would you work 80 hours a week for a $50,000 annual salary, starting this year?”  I would still say no, in part because that’s about $12 an hour.  Don’t get me wrong, in this economy I’d take a $12/hr job and count my blessings twice.  But I wouldn’t work 80 hours a week for it!  

Every other question asked was illegal, and violates my civil rights and the civil rights of any other applicant for the position.  I almost felt like it was made up because I feel as though even if you have NO knowledge of HR, you still know that you can’t ask questions like that.  

But apparently it wasn’t, because after returning the questionnaire with those questions left unanswered (I did explain that I was leaving them blank for a reason and that I’d be happy to discuss it further with her in the interview), she wrote back and cancelled my interview, telling me I am no longer being considered for the position.
The end.