Archive for November, 2006
Earlier today, I apologized to a friend that I was having trouble multitasking and I needed to take a few minutes to refresh. Unfortunately, I felt I did not have the time to spend a few minutes still, quiet and oblivous to the world around me while I collected myself. And then I saw them! Two fliers of coupons waiting to be clipped.
I convinced myself that I could take the time to sit down for ten minutes, flip through them, and cut the few that I save for future use. So I sat down in the sunlight of my bay window and began to browse. This time of year the browsing is so satisfying because of the holidays. The photos of smiling families at tables laden with scrumptious goodies waiting to be devoured reminds me of holidays at my childhood home with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and hordes of cousins. Now, those days are gone and my cousins have their own families as do I and we are on the way to making our own traditions, and just like in our parents’ day “our family” has grown to include friends and not just the nuclear family.
And then, there are the recipes on each and every page. Every Thanksgiving we always have the tried and true recipes from my mother’s cookbook. In fact, my daughter called to make sure that she had the instructions just right so that her husband and she would be well on their way to having things ready for the oven when we arrive in Tennessee late tomorrow night.
I told her that it really wasn’t necessary for them to continue to do it “just the way Grandma did”. We really could try new recipes. She, of course, disagreed. I guess I will try the “new” recipes on friends that aren’t as tied to my past, but part of my present between now and New Year’s Day.
And so it was that in a very small window of time cutting coupons and a short phone call from my daughter restored my equilibrium.
This phrase has stuck in my head since I was in college. My college roommate and I would always use it when we would start for the door of our dorm room at the same time. We would laugh, and then one of us would defer. Shirley Jackson’s story “After you, My Dear Alphonse” deals with the serious issue of stereotyping others and deserved another read, but I’m not sure if I am dealing in stereotypes or if people are just plain “out for themselves”.
Sunday afternoon Tim and I attended a wake in Lakewood for a good friend of ours. We then headed down Detroit Avenue to attend Mass at St. John’s Catherdral. We had an enjoyable ride taking in the changes and improvements along the way until we crossed the Detroit Superior Avenue Bridge and came to a dead stop.
It soon became apparent that no one in Cleveland adheres to the tenet of “After You, My Dear Alphonse” or even to the law of do not block intersections and crosswalks. I always thought that if you saw that the traffic in front of you was not moving that you did not enter the intersection until you were sure that you would not be blocking that intersection; obviously, I have been very wrong all these years. If someone did try to act in this manner, the horn blaring and the nudging from behind, soon made it apparent that no such behavior would be tolerated. Of course, the result became gridlock from West 9th until East 9th. It took us approximately 40 minutes to travel those short blocks because of the rudeness and disgregard that people had for others. It was nothing short of incredible.
But, I have a solution. It was obvious that traffic cops would have had a decidedly calming effect and they would have gotten the traffic moving the way traffic should move with little effort. Part of the reason that people acted in a totally selfish manner was because they could. Now, I realize we are a cash-strapped city, but there is a simple way to pay for these traffic cops after games and other events downtown-charge the venue having the event. Sunday’s event would be charged to the Browns organization. If any other event was going on at the same time, that venue should share in the cost of the traffic cops.
I am reasonably sure that anyone leaving the Browns game was just as aggravated by the length of time that they sat idling in line to leave the city as I was at sitting in traffic trying to get to mass. If we truly want to make Cleveland a tourist destination then we should make sure that there stay here is enjoyable from the moment they arrive until they leave our town.
There are other concerns to be considered as well. We should be concerned with the pollution dumped into the air while SUVs and Hummers waited to get out of town. If there was more of a police presence on the streets, people might be more willing to take public transit to the game leaving the streets and the congestion to out-of-towners who don’t have a choice. And what was the hurry to get out of town anyway?
Yesterday, my friend called and asked if she could come over because she had a case of the blues. The answer was, of course! Four years ago, she suffered from arthritis and asthma. Her primary doctor asked her to see a pulmonary specialist because her arthritis and asthma weren’t responding to the treatments she was giving her. My friend, although she was hesitant, did as she was told. The pulmonary specialist agreed that my friend was unique and sent her for some testing and suggested a few other specialists that could help pinpoint just what was going on with her body. She joked that she already knew what was going on “her body was seventy but she was only fifty”. Underneath it all, I knew that she was frightened beyond belief because my friend relies on Medicaid for her medical care. My friend’s coping skills are fantastic. I truly have never seen anyone deal with chronic illness the way she does. The bottom line is that my friend also suffers from multiple sclerosis, a neurological myopthy, and COPD-all conditions that mimic each other as well as the other two already diagnosed. When she heard the news, she told me that now it might be more than she could handle.
For the past few years, she has been handling it rather well. There have been increased emergency visits because her medications no longer work and/or or her doctors can no longer prescribe the more effective medication because it is no longer on the approved list of drugs put out by Medicaid. She joked last summer that if she didn’t know better she would think that the government wanted her dead so they just didn’t have to pay her medical bills any more. I told her it appeared that way but it was probably more because someone in Columbus was making decisions about what is allowed and what isn’t allowed in a box. When she heard that other states had pilot programs that give recipients a finite amount of money in an account to spend as they see fit on their medical needs, she was hopeful that our state would look for alternative methods too. She said that she wished that she and her doctors could decide which medications to give her rather than having to rely on a preapproved list made with no consideration of her individual needs.
She told me Wednesday that her primary doctor had told her that pain management would become the order of the day that her condition was such that that was where “we find ourselves”. Her neurologist concurred that this was the best course of action. Both said that emergency room visits would become more frequent. She held out hope for her pulmonary specialist because he has pulled things out of his hat before that have staved off the worst symptoms of her diseases.
But then came Friday. She sat in the examining room waiting for her doctor to return with his magic potions written on a piece a paper that would help her for a bit more time. When she heard raised voices-her doctor and his nurse were comparing his prescriptions to the approved Medicaid drug list. “No! NO! What you mean No! Good Grief! They want my patients to die.” She then heard what appeared to be a box of medications thrown down. It was several minutes before her doctor walked back into the room with a bag of drug company samples in his hand. He told my friend that these samples would see her through for a month. He would write an affidavit to the state to see if the medications he was giving her today could be approved for her, but he wanted her to know that he was finding it more and more difficult to get approval for medications off the list. He also said that the pharmaceutical companies were on to him, and he was not receiving nearly as many samples as he did in the past. But he patted her knee and said together, we will do our best.
Having her doctor exclaim in exasperation what she had feared for years was more than she could handle. I told her that she was entitled to have more than one blue day. I know that she wanted more than that from me, but I couldn’t tell her that things would be okay that we would all get through it because I am having a difficult time myself seeing the light at the end of this dark tunnel we call our “health care crisis”. Many of you criticize my emotional comments and posts about these issues, but I say to all of you if we forget the human faces that live with our “on high” decisions we forget our humanity.
So, today Democrats are celebrating all over America. We are the majority in the Senate and the House. So just what does this mean? This means our party has the opportunity to bring this country together, but only if we learn from the mistakes that were made by the ones in “power” before us. First of all, 52-48 does not mean that you are in “power”. It means that you have a great responsibility to bring this country together. If economists are correct, our country and our people are going to need to be incredibly strong in the coming years. To me, that means more than ever we need Representatives and Senators that are able to “work both sides of the aisle” to get meaningful legislation passed that makes our country stronger. We no longer need the rhetoric of “God, Guns, and Gays.” Those debates may be passionate but at the end of the day there are few who will change their minds. We need meaningful dialogue about the health care crisis in this country, the Iraq War and the damage that it is doing to another generation of young men and women, and the economic future of our country which is tied closely to the education crisis that we face. These are the problems that need solutions. This is where our leaders should be looking for like-minded Senators and Representatives that can find common ground so that we can move our country forward, instead of polarization and stagnation.
Will our newly elected leaders heed this lesson from their predecessors and change the way that the Beltway does business? I can only hope. And I do have great hope because when I sat at a table across from Tim Ryan and later, across from Sherrod Brown I heard them both say that working with the opposite party was key to getting meaningful legislation passed. I hope that they keep that tenet now that Democrats are in the majority. And, I think they will. I know that I intend to continue to remind them that they said that an important factor to bring our country together was to work together. Because, we can no longer afford more of the same.
Although I have put the “with great power comes great responsibility” phrase at the feet of elected officials, I would challenge the voting public that the greater power is yours-we all demonstrated that fact yesterday. And now, the greater responsibility is ours. We need to make sure that these elected officials understand that they work for us, and therefore, we need to make it known to them the issues where we want them to focus their efforts. Because when they enter the beltway, life changes. It is our responsibility to remind them of their roots and their vision and why they said they wanted to serve us. When you get far away from home, sometimes you forget things and you need to be reminded. That is our role and responsibility.
Tim tells me that the phrase above should be attributed to Uncle Ben talking to Peter Parker, Spiderman Comics. I thought it came from some great stateman. Maybe it did, but it made its way into Pop Culture and that is a good thing. Doesn’t it just put it all in perspective? We should never take ourselves too seriously, and we should always remember that the ability to laugh at ourselves and to see the irony in life makes it easier to take when the going gets tough.
Yes, I survived my 17 hour marathon yesterday to blog today. Let me first say, that these are my own personal observations, thoughts and experiences on election day. I am sure that many other people have different thoughts about their experience of yesterday. I hope that they comment here so that I can take these concerns forward to the Board of Elections because I intend to inform them of what I saw that went right, what could be greatly improved, and those things that definitely need to be fixed. My hope is that this post serves as an education piece on how we can do elections better and find the positive points in a day of long lines and frustration for many people.
My assisting judges, EDTs (Electronic Device Technicians) and my student poll worker. I was lucky I had a full complement of judges, TWO EDTS and a super student poll worker assigned to my precinct.
The first time voters. We had a huge number of young people with those strange driver licenses show up to VOTE! It was great. The other good thing was the number of parents who accompanied these first time voters and proudly told their friends and neighbors that their son or daughter voted for the first time.
The number of voters. Personally, I think it must be a near record for a midterm election. The numbers at our precincts were close to presidential numbers. If you add in the absentee votes cast, I bet we do rival those numbers. Over 1000 people voted at our polling place!
The voters who brought the brochure they received from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. It had the Precinct prominently displayed by the ward. And also, the ones who brought well-worn cards that they have had for years.
The civility of the people who live in Old Brooklyn. Many people stopped by to thank me for working the polls and commented that they thought we all were handling the crowds and complaints quite well. The way they used their waits in line to catch up with neighbors and friends making the best of what could have been a bad situation.
The voters who just like me were okay with lots of people and waiting on line because it meant that a LOT of people were voting.
To all of you who thought about leaving but stayed because I told you the wait really wasn’t that bad, and please don’t leave because you’re here now and the line might not be shorter later. I apoligize. I know that your wait was probably longer than you intended, but thank you for staying and voting.
The policeman who helped me by explaining to the voters that double parking could not be allowed in the parking lot. And who told me that I should call the Second District if I had any more problems. He would make sure that they were aware that we were having a problem.
And to the man that I could not help for his thank you. He said that it was enough that I had spent time that I did not have to listen to his complaint He said that the whole time we talked he never felt like I wanted to be anywhere but there. He said “you listened, and that is enough!”
The luck we enjoyed. Our machinery worked. We only had three hours of long lines of voters and even then from some of the things I’ve heard things still went relatively smoothly at our polling location.
People who commit to being a poll worker and then do not show.
I lost my provisional vote judge and my student poll worker to another precinct who had one lone woman to man the polls. Without their help, there is no way the woman could have handled her precinct. I was glad that I had a full complement so I could share.
Poll workers that decide that treating a polling location like a waiting room is a good thing.
People who do not know their voting precinct. This would be my number one reason for the slowdown of voting. We needed a better way to determine precinct designation.
People who come to vote after work and expect no line. How could this be? After work, is always the busiest time. Although I realize that some people can only come after work, is it really necessary to blame the long lines on disorganized polls and inadequate poll workers? More people, longer wait.
The small room that previously held two precincts with an approximate vote tally of 700 voters from previous vote tallies I have seen now held THREE precincts essentially adding another 350 voters. It was a tight squeeze, but we survived.
The extremely ugly:
A precinct map that was printed on October 25, 2006 was incorrect. Our precincts M.N. and G had apparently a superimposed map of we believe Fairview Park because for some reason W.220 and other 200 streets appeared as our numbered streets. Our actual numbered streets are eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth. Hence, the difficulity of determining what was the voting precinct. We used an elector worksheet throughout the day but this became extremely difficult as the crowds grew. It would have been helpful to have had the map so that people could determine for themselves.
Provisional voting. Only one precinct had the luxury of a fourth judge to serve in this capacity. But the biggest problem was the contridictory instructions on how these votes should be handled. Enough said for now, but I intend to help in any way I know how to make this part of the voting experience better. I will first offer to help the Board of Elections. I will keep you posted. And for those people who voted provisionally at our polling place, I intend to be your advocate to see that each and every one of your votes are counted.
I don’t think that we lost many people because they saw large lines. I hope not. That would be extremely ugly.
And, in conclusion:
All in all, my first experience as a poll worker was a good one. The number of gracious people certainly outweighed the handful of disgruntled people. Of course, there is room for improvement in the process but after all, there always is room for improvement. In fact, I would like to bring back the tradition of posting the number of votes cast in each precinct at each polling place. I believe that this would be a good place to start building trust and integrity with the voting public. And frankly, I don’t understand why we are not doing that. When you are staying until ten o’clock anyway what is ten minutes more?
And, my wishes were granted. People voted! My other wish was that I would have a good group of people to work with and that together we would make election day an experience to remember. To all of my co-workers at the polls yesterday: You are a great group of people and without you, I would not feel the sense of accomplishment I feel today. Thank you!
Any of you who know me well knows that one of my passions is getting people to vote and to make sure those votes count. So this year, I decided to take my dedication to this cause one step further. I signed up to be a poll worker. Little did I know that my first time out of the box would be as the presiding judge of a precinct. I’ve had my training and my poll worker manual is ready as well so tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. I head out the door to begin my own kind of marathon–a fourteen-hour day that hopefully will go smoothly . Tonight was our organizational meeting and the bottom line for all of us there was that the voters will have a good experience voting at our polling place. If enthusiasm and eagerness mean anything, we are going to be a winning team. I believe that unless we as a group work to put trust and integrity of the system back into the equation, voting stats will continue to decline. We need to turn this around now and make sure that we VOTE!
So now, my poll workers are in place and we are ready for you the voters to vote. We will be there tomorrow bright and early–the polls open at 6:30 a.m. and we will be there until 7:30 p.m. for you to vote. If you have not already voted absentee, please come and see us. We need your voice and your vote. Expect the Board of Elections to do it better than they did in May. My fellow pollworkers who received the training and worked the polls in May say that already things are looking better than before so let’s be optimistic. Believe me, I have ideas on how things should be done and I intend to talk about them to whomever will listen after the election. But right now, I need one election under my belt before I make any suggestions.
When I think of the elections around the world where people literally risk their lives to cast a vote, and then I read in the newspapers that our voting stats fluctuate with the weather, I am truly sad. Are we so far away from those patriots who risked their lives so that we would not sing “God Save Queen” but instead we would sing “My country ’tis of thee”? Have we forgotten the freedom marches that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led and all the lives lost so that the Voting Rights Act would become law and that it would be enforced? Have we forgotten the soldiers and sailors that have given their lives so that our country would remain free and that other countries would have the right to vote? Yes, early voting has a place and yes, we should use it, but is that enough of a reason not to take the time to vote tomorrow? I think not.
Lately, we have heard much about Ohio being a bellwether state. I think that we should take the opportunity to raise the bar on how many people vote in a given election and see if other states are up to the challenge. So whether you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, please vote.
Dear Learn and Earn:
With all due respect, what a bunch of b***sh***. Proponents of gambling have tried twice straight up to get gambling in the state of Ohio with no go. Education is a HUGE HUGE issue on the minds of Ohioans and therefore, this time the gambling wonks decided that this would be the way to get gambling into Ohio. Education has never been the issue with these people pushing gambling in Ohio. If it were, why have they been so silent on the unconstitutionality of educational funding in Ohio and pushed for reform?
You can dress up a pig, but a pig is still a pig and this CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT is about gambling, not education.
And maybe telling yourself that helps you sleep at night, but please don’t try to get us to buy the drivel.
Those words that you wrote here is why so many people find this campaign so deceitful and dishonest. You even lie to yourselves.
When will you all realize that the voters in Ohio are not as stupid as you believe we are.
Of course, when you push ads for Issue 3 that promote only education and don’t reveal the other side of the coin gambling how are voters to believe anything you say.
My only hope that voters in Ohio will act as most prudent voters do when in doubt vote no or pass.