Soldiers On The Water

You know the old saying “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work”?  Saturday I had a great day of fishing, which made for an even greater day of work (well not really work in my eyes).

Normally getting up at 5:30 AM is not high on my list of things to do, but this time I was looking forward to it because I was meeting up with Soldiers on the Water to shoot photos. Soldiers on the Water is a program started in 2010 by Bob Jett and Kandie Candelaria of the Canyon Bass Club of San Marcos as of way of saying thank you to those who have done and sacrificed so much for our country.

As we cruised around the lake the smiles on the faces of the soldiers was a wonderful sight.  Fishing was so good in part because of the volunteer Captains/Guides from the Bass Club who took the soldiers out and help them find the best fishing spots.  For some of the soldiers it was the first time they had ever been fishing and the smiles on their faces as they landed their first fish was as big as the Texas sky, very cool indeed!

The day included lunch from Johnny Carino’s, served up by a San Marcos Boy Scout troop. This was followed with awards for the various fish caught along with a drawing for prizes.  I manage to score a prize or two myself. There is one I consider an honor; I will cherish and wear with great pride, a Soldier’s Angel pin. Thank you guys and gals you made my day.

A voting First

Today I had several folks tell me “I don’t know who to vote for, I don’t trust either one”. A fair assessment I think all things considered.

But for me a first …in my 40 years or so of voting I will make a stand I have never made before or I ever thought I would.

I have been fiercely independent in my voting over the years; always voting for whom I thought would be best regardless of party affiliation. I have worked for both Democrats and GOP elected officials. I always felt if your government asked you for help, well you should step up. I get accused of being a lefty radical, but I feel I am more of a progressive independent with my values leaning towards people and what is best and fair for the average person on the street, you know the majority of us.

I truly have been like Forest Gump and worn a lot of shoes in my life.  I have been a firefighter, a union officer, worked in a program helping Native Americans, worked in government during Presidents Reagan and “W” as well as Clinton. I even worked in the entertainment industry and toured nationwide. I have been a small business owner with a bicycle shop and sunglasses company. I’ve been lucky to travel extensively in my work, so I feel pretty lucky to have experience all that I have.

I left politics for a while, almost 10 years, but I got yanked back by several things that had a pronounced effect on me.

I was once involved with a national study on firefighters who were dying very young. We made some startling discoveries and suggested some changes in the way things were handled. Later this led to my helping write some legislation concerning the health of firefighters. I was met with strong resistance from GOP House members who just decided and I quote “If firefighters aren’t healthy enough to do the job we just need to get rid of them.”  This led to a change in the civil service rules for government employees signed by “W” that allowed states to deny benefits to injured civil servants if they could not come back to 100% duty in six months after injury or illness. They just cut them off cold.  Most recently I supported the health coverage for the first responders who were stricken with illness from 9/11 and the Twin Towers collapse. I was appalled that GOP Senators including those from Texas tried to filibuster the bill to help those firefighters/police/paramedics. It took a tremendous amount of public pressure to force them to let the vote go through.

While I was traveling, working in the entertainment industry, my mother had a heart attack and then a stroke.  She survived but requires 24-hour care and is in a wheelchair now. Before the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare her insurance provider told us she had reached her maximum in coverage.  Combined with cuts in benefits, again signed by “W”, our family was in a bind to get her the care she needed. Without the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare my mother’s care is at risk.  Yet the GOP wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act because they claim it is stifling small business but I have read it, not so. There is no requirement for business with less than 30 employees, and there are waivers for startups and the smallest business. The real reason the insurance lobby wants bigger profits.

In my travels as I toured the nation prior to 2008, I started to notice the decline in the nation. Slowly one by one I saw entire towns and communities just die, become ghost towns. Clubs and events we were booked at for years started to suffer, many went under. People were losing jobs as many manufacturing jobs went over seas; others just had to take cuts in pay and a loss of benefits. It was not a pretty picture. In Texas we were isolated from the extreme losses, but still many folks I know suffered. The fleecing of the nation by the GOP was going strong under the guise of fighting wars for patriotism and against “evil doers.”

I don’t think the Democrats are without some blame. There are bad politicians on both sides. Truth be told I have much more in common with the Green Party, but I am not naïve. I know a vote for the Green Party is a vote for the GOP. You see the Green Party attracts those who might otherwise vote for Democrats. That is one reason the GOP gives money to the Green Party, it means less votes against them by diluting the Democratic vote, sad but true.

So what’s my point? In all my years I have never seen such mean-spirited anti-America behavior from a political group.  In my opinion the GOP has earned the name American Taliban. They have tried to systematically disenfranchise minority voters – I was one of those questioned if I was a legal voter. The GOP has worked to deny women the right to decided their own health issues, cut education funding, cut funding to Planned Parenthood saying they don’t want taxpayer money used for abortions – never mind it has long been against the law to do so and they deny healthcare to low income women. The GOP has worked to repeal minimum wage and worker rights, promote racial profiling – again I have been caught up in that one several times. All this was done in the name of decreasing the nation’s deficit and increasing national security. Top that with the Birther Movement, the Tea Party, denying global warming, filibustering and holding job bills and tax relief bills hostage and lie after lie about Obama. It is no wonder we are in such dire straits. I hold them responsible for 90% of the mess we are in now.  I watched in dismay how time and time again the GOP did everything in their power to stymie Obama after he took office – I watch a lot of C-Span. I keep track of what happens and who is doing what and I don’t like what I have seen the GOP become and what they are doing to our nation is a crime

So for first the first time ever in my life I am voting a straight Democratic ticket. I encourage you to do the same, let’s stop the hate, the lies and the bleeding of our country.

My Life with UT Football

I have worked for UT for many years. I started working UT EMS back when I was a firefighter; those were often interesting times. Most of the time I was caring for drunk fans who fell. Once I did have a woman go into labor during the game…no the baby wasn’t born in the stadium. Back then UT was very nice to the folks working the game paying them well, giving them rest breaks when they needed it. We work long days 8-12 hours; most days we are there 3-4 hours before game time and leave 2-4 hours after the game ends. Still most of us enjoy being part of the whole thing of helping 100,000+ folks support their team; it is an electric atmosphere.

These days I work with the VIP folks up in the Touchdown Club and private suites….very nice digs. Over the years the attitude at UT has started to evolve to a harder stance against the very employees who work so hard for them. Pay has gone down or not moved in 20 years, benefits have diminished and the attitude towards the little guys is meaner. Sort of like you are so lucky we let you work for us.

In the “old days”  folks would get breaks, they were allowed to sit when the situation allowed, go the restroom when needed, grab some food or drinks/water during your break. We were one big happy family, not so much anymore.

The first thing to go for many folks working during games was no sitting – ever…I am allowed to sit but folks in other sections. no way Jose. Then it was no food – they backtracked a little this season and give out $10 tickets to spend with the outside food vendors, but no eating any of the food in the VIP or hospitality areas…unless you are a UT staff, EMS or Law Enforcement; the rest of us get to watch them eat. Then it was no drinking from the drink containers in the VIP/hospitality area.  We had an Igloo cooler to drink from if they remember to bring one out and refill it when it goes dry, but just one for about 150 of us on my floor. Next it was only one 15-minute break during your entire shift.  You have to eat, go to the restroom and get back to your station in 15 minutes or you will be fired. Just to make it more challenging as of last game we are not allowed to use the elevators . . . I work on the 8th floor. Have you ever tried to run down & back up 8 flights, stand in line at the concession stand, eat, use the restroom all in 15 minutes? Good luck!

UT has taken the new corporate model of employee relations, that is to treat it’s employees as slaves.

I know they say they are just trying to control costs. I mean they have to come up with those $5 million bonuses for coaches somehow 🙂

But here is the catch, I see them throw away tons of food every game and I do mean tons, just dumped. And what really got me yesterday…. I was asked to work extra late to supervise the closing. You know those recycle conatiners you see all over the stadium, because UT is all about being green, it’s a lie. I watched them dump all of the recycle conatiners into the trash..WTF. When I approached a UT supervisor about that I was told “yeah I know, they are supposed to sort it but . . . .”

*A note to Mr. Powers & Mr Dodds, you guys should be ashamed of the scam you run on the folks who work so hard to make you look good on national TV. Instead of throwing all that food away maybe allow your employees to grab a bite to eat of decent food or donate it to a homeless shelter, give your employees breaks long enough to be a true break. Finally if you are going to collect recycleables…recycle them, damn it!

 

I think this is my last season with UT.