July 29, 2007

Learn and Earn: A post-mortem on that adventure

Today is the one-year anniversary of my termination from Ohio Learn and Earn. I'm pretty sure that the non-disclosure period has expired. When I was terminated from the Learn and Earn campaign for this post I was required, along with the other 2 office managers, to sign a non-disclosure agreement and as I've said, I believe the non-disclosure period has lapsed.

With that said, it's time for news from the office, and I mean beyond how our toilets were usually brimming with feces and urine, how soap was never available, how I paid a worker $300 out of my pocket because the company wouldn't, and how many unscrupulous people we employed.

Working for Ohio Learn and Earn was one of the most stressful periods of my still young life. From the time I began office work until the point of my termination, I put in 100-hour work weeks, frequently not arriving home until 1-2 AM after having arrived there at 8AM, seven days a week. I find myself torn between hating it and not hating it: I surfed the internet freely for hours on end, fell asleep in the office on a couple occasions, read a lot, but at the cost of nearly losing my girlfriend and my best friend. We hired any schmuck off the street, registering them to vote, making sure they had a driver's license and a social security number. I filled out their I9s and W4s, made them sign on the dotted line, and passed the information along to campaign HQ in Columbus. Interviews were cursory: Could you walk up to people and make sure that they were registered to vote and make them sign a petition? Are you an American citizen? A resident of the state of Ohio? If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, you can work for Ohio Learn and Earn.

My employment began in May of 2006, around the time I should have graduated from BW, at the Cleveland office, located on St. Clair Ave. just outside of downtown. I help my boss, MVS, open up the office. My position was of a team leader, getting paid $15/hr to oversee people petitioning and petitioning myself. Every day for roughly 3 weeks I would drive from Munroe Falls to Cleveland to carry around my clipboard, ask for signatures, and coordinate our groups. Given how I wasn't terribly proficient at gathering signatures, my time with the Learn and Earn campaign nearly came to an early end and maybe that would have been for the best.

But I took a transfer to the Akron office, at that time located on Exchange Street. The first day in Akron took me to Youngstown - and I now gather that's where it should have ended. We sent people from the Akron office all over the Southeastern tier of the state, from Youngstown to Cadiz, in addition to local places like Fairlawn and Highland Square. My new boss, AC, seemed to take to me much more than MVS. A position in admin opened soon after I arrived - and the place was a wreck. The office holder prior to me had records everywhere and people weren't getting paid.

People, working for a campaign that was supposed to espouse "progressive" values, managed to not get paid. I went down to Columbus for one weekend to sift through all of the files from the office and compare them against records at headquarters. Slowly people managed to get paid, but some sores still laid open. After three weeks of one petitioner - who had quit - not being paid, after every angry phone call received and pleading phone call made to correct the error, after every "the check is in the mail" response I got on this woman's behalf, I took $300 of my own money and paid her for the hours she had worked in the pay cycle. An employee, who I will only ID as Steve, had similar issues. Entire days were missing out of his payroll when there was documented proof of his working. On my last day Steve told me not to worry about them and that he was hiring a lawyer. On multiple occasions, AC was forced to call the police and have them resolve issues with angry employees. These people were angry.

Rightfully so.

I was angry for them.

Following a comment I had left on Plunderbund, officials at Ohio Learn and Earn followed a link to this blog and found the previously mentioned post. I didn't try too hard to justify them keeping me, by that time I was too exhausted to have any fight. I accepted being terminated and on the last day, signed the non-disclosure agreement. I packed up all of my personal office supplies into the back of the car and I left Ohio Learn and Earn not wanting to deal with politics for a long time, at the very least.

I got a call immediately after the election from a coworker, JD. He had continued working in the Akron office after petitioning had been completed and did actual campaign work for Ohio Learn and Earn as an internship w/ U of A. He appeared on a Cleveland-area news channel to inform the burden of Learn and Earn: campaigners had not been paid after the election, the office was closed up, and a sign... that the check was in the mail.

Such was Learn and Earn.

The check's in the mail.


July 11, 2007

Go see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Holly and I went to a midnight showing in town. Needless to say I'm a little tired right now, but that's nothing a little (lot) of coffee can't fix. The movie was really good. There are some minor omissions and minor changes, but the production of the movie was good. Of course, the acting was great - and Alan Rickman is still a BAMF.

In other news: gas is about tip $3.00 again for the first time in about a month to 45 days. My wallet and I are not looking forward to the implications.

Don't really have much else to write about.



July 7, 2007

Saturday morning relaxination

This Saturday morning constitutes a total and complete day off that I haven't had in quite a long time. What is a bored blogger to do?

* Visit his hometown's website and recall the days he used to dream about redesigning Dodge Memorial Library.

* Catch up on the news with Google Reader and muse upon John McCain's cash pinch.

* Think about that pile of paperwork awaiting him at work.

* Read the Epic of Gilgamesh and parse its flood story - you know, the one that's just like the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible's, just a thousand years older.

* Cook up some spaghetti squash for dinner and eggs benedict for brunch.

* Listen to music.

Yup. That's what a young blogger is to do for now.


July 6, 2007

Keith Olbermann is peeved. I am too. So should you.

The always well-spoken Keith Olbermann has words of justice for the President.

And as the sun goes whipping by...

(H/T to Donklephant for this gem)

An excerpt from the Times:

Dr. Miller's data reveal some yawning gaps in basic knowledge. American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.


He had firsthand experience with local school issues in the 1980's, when he was a young father living in DeKalb, Ill., and teaching at Northern Illinois University. The local school board was considering closing his children's school, and he attended some board meetings to get an idea of members' reasoning. It turned out they were spending far more time on issues like the cost of football tickets than they were on the budget and other classroom matters. "It was shocking," he said.

The article.

Good on ya, America! Who needs to know what radiation is when Britney Spears can save you! And DNA? Pfft. All we know is some dude got his DNA into Paris with night vision technology. The Earth revolves around the sun? Hogwash! You know, when Zeus created the Sun with Hercules holding up the Earth... in 168 hours (that's 7 days for all you non-mathy people out there.) But don't forget, there are 300 feet in 100 yards, and that's where you can find the end zone! Don't bother thinking about how hard the wind is blowing when you need to punt the ball on 4th and 25, either. How much for tickets? $15? Too much!

Okay... that snarky kvetching out of the way, here are my questions:
1. What was the sample size?
2. What were the demographics of the universe?
3. What was the average education level of the sample? (I suppose that ties in with 2.)
4. Um... what? How does this compare to 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago?

and finally...

5. Who is at fault for the dumbery of the Ameripublic?

Yay! Let's go to Mars and watch the Sun revolve around it, too!


July 5, 2007

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and justice of that estate

Blowing the cover of an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency can't even get you the time you were sentenced, some reduced knock-down rate since you were caught doing the Vice President's dirty work, as long as you are one of the President's Men. I've been wanting to write about this for a couple of days, but I've been feeling too disappointed in the whole damn system to bring myself to it.

Here's Libby: a man who $2,000 to the RNC and $1,000 to George W. Bush in 2000 and found himself inside a dark circle, one lined with Dick Cheney and cardboard cut-outs of Dick Cheney. (This reminds me: I had a dream last night about driving through some largish - er... large-ish? - French city with Holly and buying cheese... strange dream it was.) Was the fall man for one of the cardboard cutouts. (The word on the street has it that at least two other cutouts were in separate undisclosed underground lairs, asking for sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads. Oh, and the actual VP shot another donor in the face and had a 5426409840298567th heart attack.) BUT THAT'S NEITHER HERE NOR THERE! Libby got off! He got off on a sentence where it could be claimed that he had already gotten off! Talk about the taint in Washington! It went right to Libby's jail cell.

So the President commutes his sentence, so what? Isn't that the President's Royal er... Executive Privilege? Didn't Hickory Bill Clinton pardon Marc Rich right before leaving office in 2001? Didn't he manipulate the price of oil during the oil crunch of 1973/1974? Yep. And Clinton got him off... with the help of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. I won't touch Clinton's pardon's, though... those are just dirrrrty business.

What I've never understood is how the President, as the Executive, gets to play the role of the Judiciary in issuing pardons. Looking at Clinton's list, one must be absolutely befuddled to reason why these pardons occurred, beyond the "friend" aspect of them. But politics is no place for reason! And for that reason, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and the people of that estate continue to walk free.