02 May, 2010
In the past ten years alone, the IRS code (Title 26 of the United States Code) has grown by some 35,000 page or approximately 50% (thanks to Dorian Davis for this video factoid); if we presume that the IRS code grew 3,500 pages per year over the past ten years (using simple math--not trying to do complicate things), then we can say that it grew 21,000 pages over the past six years. In those 21,000 pages, how much would you like to bet that there are some new laws where marital status is a factor—and that's just in the IRS code, which constitutes only a portion of the United States Code surveyed to determine the number of laws where marital status is a factor.
How does this affect the every day individual—"Joe Schmoe," so the speak—you ask yourself? I present you with a real-world example of just how horrible things can go when one isn't afforded all of the protections conferred upon married couples by those 1,138-or-so federal laws:
which initially broke this sordid story on 17 April 2010), Andrew Sullivan, and Michaelangelo Signorile, to name a few), with the notable exception of The New York Times, albeit only on its blog site and only for the SF Bay Area, and only after three days of hounding by the LGBT media to bring attention to this barbarous story (as Mr. Sullivan so aptly puts it):
In the event that you've missed any of the reporting surrounding Mr. Greene, here's a quick update:
Clay Greene, a 78-year-old gay man from Sebastopol, filed a lawsuit against Sonoma County claiming he sustained spate of indignities at the hands of county officials during a bizarre estate battle that took place when Harold Scull, Mr. Greene's partner of 20+ years who was 88 at the time, fell and became hospitalized in 2008.
[As an aside, The New York Times points out that news of Mr. Greene's case came out just as POTUS Obama published his Presidential Memorandum on hospital visitation, which I've previously debunked as being pure rubbish and amounting to a hill of nothingness.]
Sonoma County (California) officials successfully petitioned the court to gain some powers of conservatorship. Then they “sold, kept, converted to their own use, and otherwise disposed of” almost $500,000 worth of belongings from the home shared by the two men — including furniture, art objects, and memorabilia from the years Mr. Scull spent working in Hollywood, as well as a truck and two cats.
Mr. Greene has stated that he and Mr. Scull previously had specified each other as executors in case either became incapacitated; however, Sonoma County officials ignored the couple's previously prepared legal documents and the history of their relationship, and at one point referred to Mr. Greene as Mr. Scull’s “roommate.”
Citing the state of Mr. Greene’s "mental health," Sonoma County officials then moved him—against his will—into a nursing home, and sold the rest of his belongings. He was not allowed to visit Mr. Scull, who died several months later, in August 2008.
Long story short: elderly gay couple, with all of the legal documents they could muster, because they were not allowed to marry, had the state trample all over their life and literally tear apart and obliterate their lives and cherished possessions. You can read more about the couple on The National Center for Lesbian Rights' web site in an article (hosted by The Bilerico Project) written by its executive director, Kate Kendell.
Also, be sure to check out the update posted by OutQ News where Sonoma County's response alleges that it was acting "in good faith" on a domestic violence claim—a claim that neither police nor the district attorney's office know anything about. Perhaps even more disturbing is the answer by Sonoma County that the county's bookkeeping records are "awful" and they haven't a clue as to where or to whom the proceeds from the auctions were disbursed!
Now, had Messrs. Greene and Clay been married, this, to quote the inspector from Woody Woodpecker, would never have happened. In those 1,138 or so federal laws pertaining or relating to marital status, there are protections for couples to prevent the government from making such harsh and punitive intrusions into a couple's life. Absent these protections (i.e., absent marriage), this same scenario could happen to anyone.
And, in fact, it did happen to another couple a few years ago. An unnamed couple living in Westchester County, New York, had a very similar situation happen to them. Unfortunately, I'm still awaiting details of their situation from a friend who personally knows them and their situation (*ahem*, LG, if you're reading this, please hurry?).
"So what can or shoud I/we do about this?", you may be asking yourself? The answer is very, very simple: demand full marriage equality for all consenting adult couples.
In the meantime, we can make some noise about the unfortunate and undeserving circumstances of couples like Messrs. Clay & Greene. As one friend on Facebook put it, it's:
TIME TO MAKE SOME NOISE:
Sonoma County, California has a board of 5 Supervisors, and each one of them needs to hear how ANGRY we are that something so heinous occurred on their watch! You can contact each supervisor by e-mail below (individual email addresses). If you would rather phone, they are reached through a common switchboard at (707) 565-2241. ASK THEM WHAT IS BEING DONE WITH REGARD TO THIS INSTANCE, AND HOW ARE THEY GOING TO ENSURE NOTHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS AGAIN. DEMAND THE FIRINGS OF THOSE INVOLVED.
FIRST DISTRICT: Supervisor Valerie Brown
SECOND DISTRICT: Supervisor Mike Kerns
THIRD DISTICT: Supervisor Shirley Zane
FOURTH DISTRICT: Supervisor Paul Kelley
FIFTH DISTRICT: Supervisor Efren Carrillo
Additionally, we can write letters to the Editors of our local newspapers, asking them why this story hasn't run in their newspaper, and we can also contact our local press and news media offices, asking them the same question.
Bringing light to this issue will help educate the American public as to Why Marriage Equality Matters (note: this links to a PDF file) to us; it's not j!ust some abstract theory we're fighting for. This involves real people, and real lives. It truly is a matter of justice.
Just remember, there are over one-thousand, one-hundred and thirty eight reasons under federal law alone for couples to get married; Harold & Clay's story is but one of the myriad in which couples have suffered without these essential and necessary protections afforded to everyone else.
[Note: I am e-mailing each of the five Sonoma County Supervisors a copy of this blog article; any responses they provide will be published on my blog either as a comment herein or as a follow-up blog posting.]
[Note: This section was added after the initial posting, at 3:45pm]: A friend just reminded me of something: we can also ask our national LGBTQ organizations—those well-established organizations supposedly "have our backs", such as the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Lambda Legal, for starters, just where the *(!&_@! they have been during this tragedy. HCR, NGLTF, ACLU & Lambda are the oldest and most well-established organizations in the country fighting for LGBTQ rights. Just where have they been throughout Clay's & Harold's ordeal? And where are they now? The answer, to date: ominously silent.
We, as a community, should also direct our and and our outrage at our own organizations—the very organizations that are supposedly fighting for our rights. Well here sits an egregious story filled with unconscionable behavior, and the very organizations that purport to represent us are just sitting idly by (with the notable exception of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, of course, which has spearheaded Clay's cause), attending $30,000/plate dinners with POTUS Obama. What a farce they all are.
It's time, indeed, for new leadership, new organizations, and a new direction, if we ever are to achieve the equality that we so desperately seek and deserve.
[Updated 3 May 2010 4:55pm UTC] This is the full text of the 2004 report by the United States General Accounting Office [PDF].
18 April, 2010
They just don't make'm like this anymore ...
At this moment we are passing through a period of great unrest—social, political, and industrial unrest. It is of the utmost importance for our future that this should prove to be not the unrest of mere rebelliousness against life, of mere dissatisfaction with the inevitable inequality of conditions, but the unrest of a resolute and eager ambition to secure the betterment of the individual and the nation.
So far as this movement of agitation throughout the country takes the form of a fierce discontent with evil, of a determination to punish the authors of evil, whether in industry or politics, the feeling is to be heartily welcomed as a sign of healthy life.
If, on the other hand, it turns into a mere crusade of appetite against appetite, of a contest between the brutal greed of the “have nots” and the brutal greed of the “haves,” then it has no significance for good, but only for evil. If it seeks to establish a line of cleavage, not along the line which divides good men from bad, but along that other line, running at right angles thereto, which divides those who are well off from those who are less well off, then it will be fraught with immeasurable harm to the body politic.
* * *
As a matter of personal conviction, and without pretending to discuss the details or formulate the system, I feel that we shall ultimately have to consider the adoption of some such scheme as that of a progressive tax on all fortunes, beyond a certain amount, either given in life or devised or bequeathed upon death to any individual—a tax so framed as to put it out of the power of the owner of one of these enormous fortunes to hand on more than a certain amount to any one individual; the tax of course, to be imposed by the national and not the state government. Such taxation should, of course, be aimed merely at the inheritance or transmission in their entirety of those fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limits. Again, the national government must in some form exercise supervision over corporations engaged in interstate business—and all large corporations engaged in interstate business—whether by license or otherwise, so as to permit us to deal with the far reaching evils of overcapitalization.
* * *
No good whatever will come from that warped and mock morality which denounces the misdeeds of men of wealth and forgets the misdeeds practiced at their expense; which denounces bribery, but blinds itself to blackmail; which foams with rage if a corporation secures favors by improper methods, and merely leers with hideous mirth if the corporation is itself wronged.
The only public servant who can be trusted honestly to protect the rights of the public against the misdeeds of a corporation is that public man who will just as surely protect the corporation itself from wrongful aggression .
If a public man is willing to yield to popular clamor and do wrong to the men of wealth or to rich corporations, it may be set down as certain that if the opportunity comes he will secretly and furtively do wrong to the public in the interest of a corporation.
But in addition to honesty, we need sanity. No honesty will make a public man useful if that man is timid or foolish, if he is a hot-headed zealot or an impracticable visionary. As we strive for reform we find that it is not at all merely the case of a long uphill pull. On the contrary, there is almost as much of breeching work as of collar work. To depend only on traces means that there will soon be a runaway and an upset.
The men of wealth who today are trying to prevent the regulation and control of their business in the interest of the public by the proper government authorities will not succeed, in my judgment, in checking the progress of the movement. But if they did succeed they would find that they had sown the wind and would surely reap the whirlwind, for they would ultimately provoke the violent excesses which accompany a reform coming by convulsion instead of by steady and natural growth.
The quotes published above by President Theodore were given during his “The Man with the Muck Rake” Speech on Sunday, 15 April 1906, at the laying of the corner stone of the Cannon Office Building in Washington, DC. (it truly is an awesome & awe-inspiring speech!)
It's so sad how much of what President Roosevelt said in his speech is still true today—over a century later!
15 April, 2010
This is not an order; it's a memo, and there's quite a big difference between the two. If Obama wished to place impetus into his words, he would (or should) have issued an Executive Order, NOT a memorandum seeking advice from the Dept of HHS on how it should be doing its job. In other words, it's a request, a comment, a call to action--not the action itself.
Yet, people continue to create fanfare and hoopla and praise Obama for barely lifting a finger. IMHO, this is not NEARLY as big as people are making it out to be. Essentially, this is Obama saying something along the lines of, "yes...well, people shouldn't be discriminated against and they should be allowed to have visitation rights but I'm not going to force the issue and start ordering people & hospitals to comply with what I'd like to see happen...."
So just what does it all boil down to you ask, boys & girls? Try this on for size:
The Dept of Health & Human Svcs basically can tell Obama to bugger off; if Obama had issued an Executive Order, things would be *quite* different. But this is, quite literally, the LEAST POSSIBLE ACTION that POTUS could take w/ respect to their admin.
And that, as they say, is that.
[TEXT AFTER THIS POINT ADDED 16 April 2010 5:00am UTC -- you folks just couldn't deal with me writing a short post to my blog, could ya? ;-) ]
I've been accused by some of being factually incorrect in stating that Obama has not ordered the Director of the US Department of Health & Human Services. I linked to the Memorandum as published by the US White House Office of the Press Secretary; however, just to clear things up (because apparently, most folk haven't taken the time to click through and actually read what Obama wrote), here is what President Obama actually wrote in his memorandum (this is a direct quotation from the Memorandum over which everybody is making such a great, big fuss):
By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:[emphasis supplied; hyperlinks provided]
- Initiate appropriate rulemaking, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient's care or treatment.
- Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients' advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients' representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients' care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.
- Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
Now let's examine the language that President Obama used (please note that "emphasis supplied" means that I altered the appearance of the text by adding bold-face/italics to it; otherwise, apart from any formatting snafus, the text remains exactly as it was published by the White House Office of the Press Secretary):
As can be seen in the first sentence that is quoted, President Obama has requested that the Director of the US Department of Health & Human Services perform three actions, which he outlines. Within those three actions, he reiterates that he is requesting her to perform these actions. I think it's time to take a dictionary break:
–verb (used with object)
6. to ask for, esp. politely or formally: He requested permission to speak.
7. to ask or beg; bid (usually fol. by a clause or an infinitive): to request that he leave; to request to be excused.
8. to ask or beg (someone) to do something: He requested me to go.
1. to put a question to; inquire of: I asked him but he didn't answer.
2. to request information about: to ask the way.
3. to try to get by using words; request: to ask advice; to ask a favor.
4. to solicit from; request of: Could I ask you a favor? Ask her for advice.
5. to demand; expect: What price are they asking? A little silence is all I ask.
6. to set a price of: to ask $20 for the hat.
7. to call for; need; require: This experiment asks patience.
8. to invite: to ask guests to dinner.
9. Archaic. to publish (banns).
–verb (used without object)
10. to make inquiry; inquire: to ask about a person.
11. to request or petition (usually fol. by for): to ask for leniency; to ask for food.
–verb (used with object)
37. to give an order, direction, or command to: The infantry divisions were ordered to advance.
38. to direct or command to go or come as specified: to order a person out of one's house
39. to prescribe: The doctor ordered rest for the patient.
40. to direct to be made, supplied, or furnished: to order a copy of a book.
41. to regulate, conduct, or manage: to order one's life for greater leisure.
42. to arrange methodically or suitably: to order chessmen for a game.
43. Mathematics . to arrange (the elements of a set) so that if one element precedes another, it cannot be preceded by the other or by elements that the other precedes.
44. to ordain, as God or fate does.
45. to invest with clerical rank or authority.
–verb (used without object)
46. to give an order or issue orders: I wish to order, but the waiter is busy.
1. to manage or guide by advice, helpful information, instruction, etc.: He directed the company through a difficult time.
2. to regulate the course of; control: History is directed by a small number of great men and women.
3. to administer; manage; supervise: She directs the affairs of the estate.
4. to give authoritative instructions to; command; order or ordain: I directed him to leave the room.
5. to serve as a director in the production or performance of (a musical work, play, motion picture, etc.).
6. to guide, tell, or show (a person) the way to a place: I directed him to the post office.
7. to point, aim, or send toward a place or object: to direct radio waves around the globe.
8. to channel or focus toward a given result, object, or end (often fol. by to or toward ): She directed all her energies toward the accomplishment of the work.
9. to address (words, a speech, a written report, etc.) to a person or persons: The secretary directed his remarks to two of the committee members.
10. to address (a letter, package, etc.) to an intended recipient.
–verb (used without object)
11. to act as a guide.
12. to give commands or orders.
[source: Dictionary.com, an Ask.com service]
So as we can see, there is a clear—and significant—difference between the words "request," "order," "ask," and "direct": to request and to ask are synonymous with each other; likewise, to order and to direct are synonymous with each other. With the first group, the connotation is such that one is seeking another to perform an action, without having authority to require such action of said individual. In other words, the decision on whether or not such action is to be undertaken is left with the person upon whom such action is being requested.
Contrary to the non-authoritative, permission-seeking words "request" and "ask," the words "order" and "direct" connote authority from the individual issuing such directives such that one can be fairly certain that the missives being commanded will be carried out. In other words, the decision on whether or not such action is to be undertaken is left with the person who is commanding such action.
I now bring your attention to the very last paragraph and sentence of Obama's Memorandum:
You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.[emphasis supplied]
Unlike the earlier paragraphs, where Obama requests the Director of HHS to undertake certain actions, here we see Obama directing the Director of HHS to take certain action.
Clearly, President Obama knows the difference in meanings among these words and has chosen the wording of his Memorandum very carefully. If you have any doubt as to this, then ask yourself, "Why did he only request that the HHS Director take the enumerated steps but direct her to perform other actions?" The answer should then become quite obvious, as I've implied above: President Obama has done the very least he could possibly do in order to throw some bread crumbs to the LGBTQ community, in an effect to begin soliciting funds for his fellow politicians so that they all may return to their thrones of power in this coming November's mid-term election.
I'm not going to get into the fact that Candidate Obama promised, upon his election, a repeal of DADT and a repeal of DOMA. To date, neither of his promises have been given even a scintilla of veracity by him.
Oh, and before I get to my next point, I do need to bring this to your attention once again (even though I've hyperlinked to the text and quoted it above, I set it apart here for your inspection).
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.And there you have it, in black & white. President Obama states, quite clearly, that his intention is not to actually confer upon any individual any right[s] or benefit[s] that can be enforced by any sort of legal mechanism, whatsoever.
If there is any doubt in anyone's minds that President Obama has absolutely no intention of having the Director of the US Department of Health & Human Services effectuate any of his "requests" then perhaps this will prove more probative in convincing any such individual.
In his Memorandum, President Obama quotes four (4) distinct sections of US law:
42 U.S.C. 1395x
42 CFR 482.13
42 CFR 489.102(a) and
42 U.S.C. 1395cc
Let's take a brief, quick look at these sections of United States Law:
42 U.S.C. 1395x consists entirely of definitions used in "The Public Health and Welfare" section of United States law (Title 42 of the United States Code)
42 CFS 482.13, to the best of my knowledge, does not exist.
42 CFR 489.102(a) is a very short (three-columns) section of law pertaining to the requirements of providers of health services who accept payment from Medicaid and/or Medicare, particularly with respect to advanced directors. Unlike health proxies, advanced directives are generally used to confer upon another individual their wishes with respect to remaining or being removed from life support, should they ever find themselves in such a situation. Advances directives therefore usually are very limited forms of a health care proxy in that there is only one decision to be made: whether or not to continue life support for an individual (usually in some form of a vegetative state) who is unable to make that determination for themself. Oh, and about 1/3 of the text in these three columns provides exemptions from adhering to the wishes, desires, commands, directives, and orders from such health care proxy with respect to an advanced directive on the grounds that it is contrary to the provider's religious beliefs.
Finally, 42 U.S.C. 1395cc deals with billing agreements with health care providers who accept Medicaid and/or Medicare as a method of payment for the health services they render.
So, what do we really have here?
President Obama, approximately six months before the mid-term elections, throwing a few breadcrumbs to the LGBTQ community, as political strategy for fundraising efforts that will enable the return of the Kings and Queens in Congress to their respective thrones, asking the Director of the US Department of Health & Human Services to implement some vague changes that 95% of the nation agree should have been made ages ago, referencing some pretty irrelevant sections of the laws of the United States of America and perhaps even throwing in another reference just to make it look better, all the whilst stating that he has absolutely zero (0) intention of actually making any real changes that would actually benefit or confer a right upon anyone with respect to what he's requesting the US HSS Dep't director to do, and then commanding her to publish his so-called intentions.
In other words, what we have here is a big, fat, bulking heap of ...
[Time Stamp - insertion of new section completed 16 April 2010 6:45am UTC]
12 April, 2010
This topical explanation may be of help in understanding the recent UK budget!
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for allSo to all of you in the USA who think you have it bad, just think how things could be...
ten comes to £100...
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go
something like this...
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7.
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.
So, that's what they decided to do..
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with
the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.
"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to
reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20". Drinks for the ten men
would now cost just £80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.
So the first four men were unaffected.
They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men—the paying customers?
How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his
They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they
subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the
sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each
man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the
principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to
work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.
And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100%
The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four
continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began
to compare their savings.
"I only got a pound out of the £20 saving," declared the sixth man.
He pointed to the tenth man,"but he got £10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a pound
too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get £10 back,
when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get
anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine
sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to
pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have
enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is
how our tax system works.
The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the
most benefit from a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may
not show up anymore.
In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is
11 April, 2010
While Ms. Carter was an extraordinary actress on the stage and appeared as a star in numerous Broadway roles, she most likely will be remembered for her role playing "Julia Sugarbaker" from the hit 1980s American television sit-com, Designing Women.
Following is a video clip from the hit show, which shows not just the strength of character and talent of the show but but that of Dixie Carter, as well. Having seen Ms. Carter perform in person, and having watched various interviews of her, it's quite hard to make a distinction between Dixie Carter and the role that she plays as Julia Sugarbaker in the clip below.
And just because this is such a wonderful, moving, and relevant speech, I have transcribed it. Please note, that this was the 46th episode of Designing Women, which aired during its third season in 1989 -- 21 years ago (it was the 2nd episode of its !
Dixie Carter (as "Julia Sugarbaker"): No, Mr. Brickette, I have not forgotten. I was thinking that you seem to have forgotten the phrase, "Separation of Church and State." But the one thing I did forget was just how divisive and dishonest and distasteful someone like you can be. I've sat here today and listened to you pander to these people but you don't actually care about them or you wouldn't be sitting here reinforcing their ignorances and prejudices.
Jason Bernard (as "Mr. Wilson Brickette"): You heard that, callers. She just called you ignorant and prejudiced!
Dixie Carter (as "Julia Sugarbaker"): I do not think that everyone in America is ignorant—far from it! But we are, today, probably the most uneducated, under-read and illterate nation in the Western Hemisphere, which makes it all the more puzzling to me why the biggest question on your small mind is whether or not little Johnny is going to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.
And I'll tell you something else, Mr. Brickette: I have had it up to here with you and your phoney issues and your yankee-doodle yakking. If you like reciting the pledge of allegiance every day then I think you should do it in the car, in the shower, wherever the mood strikes you. But don't try to tell me when or where I have to say or do or salute anything because I am an American, too–and that is what being an American is all about.
And another thing: I am sick and tired of being made to feel that if I am not a member of a little family with 2.4 children who goes just to Jerry Falwell's church and puts their hands over their hearts every morning that I am unreligious, unpatriotic and unAmerican because I have news for you, Mr. Brickette: all liberals are not kooks any more than all conservatives are fascists!
And the last time I checked, God was neither a Democrat nor a Republican.
And just for your information, yes—I am a liberal but I am also ... a Christian. And I get down on my knees and pray every day, on my own turf, on my own time. One of the things that I pray for, Mr. Brickette, is that people with power will get good sense, and people with good sense will get power, and that the rest of us will be blessed with the patience and the strength to survive the people like you in the meantime!
Rest In Peace, Dixie Carter!
Last night, I cooked a package of chicken wings (contained about 30 wings) belonging to my roommate. As I state in the e-mail, I'm now in a "tit-for-tat" mode of dealing w/ him: getting him to ask me before he just goes and eats my food hasn't been working, so now I just take what I want/need of his (and still, the balance is much more in his favor, as he consumes far more of my food products than I do of his). I ate about 4-5 wings, then went to sleep. Woke up to find that he'd eaten the rest of the chicken. Now granted, this was his food but now I'm left with absolutely nothing to eat but four boxes of pasta.
He finished off the rest of my butter, cooking oil, and whatever other ingredients I had left that I could use to make any of the boxes of pasta with.
People owe me money, and looks like I might just have to get a bill collector to start getting it from them. What fun!
Here's the e-mail that I sent, filing an official complaint with the agency (I redacted individual's names to protect their privacy but those were the only changes I made):
8 April 2010
I am writing to file an official complaint with you regarding my roommate, K, and three very specific issues that I have repeatedly brought up with you during our meetings (and with which I repeatedly engage Kenneth in conversation): (1) unsanitary bathroom conditions; (2) consumption of food products purchased by me; and (3) leaving the apartment door unlocked when he leaves.
First, I repeatedly have asked K to either raise the toilet seat or sit down when he urinates. While he has gotten better at this, after a few days, the bathroom indubitably falls into a condition whereby K's urination on and around the toilet comes to a point where it becomes quite uncomfortable, unsanitary, and extremely distasteful should either a guest or myself need to utilize the facilities. He continues--especially in periods of my absence--to urinate without regard as to whether or not his bodily fluids end up in the toilet bowel or on or even outside of it. As I have previously advised you, K's urine is very strong-scented and sticky (which you surmised was from his being diabetic).
Second, K continues to consume my food products, groceries, and cooking essentials without first asking me. As with the situation about his urinating in the bathroom, I have had numerous, multiple conversations with him about this. He sometimes admits and sometimes denies consuming my groceries. For instance, right before I left to visit with my sister, I had purchased four jars of pasta sauce and five boxes of Ronzoni pasta. I used ONE of each of them (i.e., one jar of sauce and one box of pasta) before leaving. When I returned to the apartment approximately one week later, I found one-half box of opened Ronzoni pasta left, as well as one-half jar of pasta sauce, sitting in the pantry. K admitted to using one-half of a jar of sauce but said that he put the portion he didn't use back into the pantry; this leaves two jars unspoken for.
Speaking of placing partially-consumed items into the pantry, I have a number of marinades and salad dressings that have been in the kitchen cabinet, unused. I recently went through them and discovered that almost all of the bottles toward the back of the cabinet have been opened and partially consumed.
Aside from the fact that no one else -- to my knowledge -- has been in our apartment (and even if they were, they wouldn't have consumed my food without letting me know about it), any and all of my friends would know to place the unused portion of pasta sauce from a jar, the unused portion of marinade sauce or salad dressing in a bottle, into the refrigerator and not back onto the shelf or into the food pantry.
The other night, he purchased ice cream for me because he had consumed most of the ice cream that I had purchased. I went to the freezer to get a dish, and couldn't find it. I found the ice cream sitting in the refrigerator, and asked K about this. He advised me that he thought it would be OK in the 'fridge as it would keep the ice cream (now soup) cool so it wouldn't spoil.
I have attempted conversations with K about these matters to no avail. He states that he will replace the items he has consumed, which he sometimes does, but never all of the items. I have attempted assuming a "tit-for-tat" mode of operation with K, to no avail (the difference, however, is that instead of having him have to ask me if I've consumed any of his food purchases, I would tell him (were he home at the time, or the next time I see him) that I had consumed X of his because he had consumed Y of mine and hadn't replaced it -- to which he responded "Oh, okay."
Finally, I need to bring up the third issue with you. When K leaves the apartment, he does not lock the apartment door. This leaves the apartment exposed as an easy target for burglars, considering that without locking the deadbolt on the doorknob, one can easily break into the apartment using a credit card or similar instrument to bypass the doorknob-only lock. K thinks that the doorknob-only lock is enough to prevent invasion into the home by individuals seeking to steal the contents therein.
Additionally, this creates an additional problem, as K often locks himself out of the apartment. As before, I have had numerous conversations with K about locking the front door, explaining to him that without throwing the deadbolt lock utilizing his key, it leaves the apartment exposed to greater risk of theft. I told him that if he put his key into the lock before he closed the apartment door, it would assure him that (a) he had his keys with him and wouldn't be locked out and (b) the apartment would be more secured. Now that warmer months are coming, I expect the return of individuals to the building and its environs who come to the building for illicit purposes and who do not belong here, and whom my neighbors and I chase away whenever we see them. If they gain knowledge of the items belonging to me that are in the apartment and the easy access to the apartment, I can only imagine how devastating a loss it would be to me, both emotionally and financially (I have advised you that a great amount of the items I keep in my apartment are the legacy I have received from my grandparents, donated to me by my sister as she did not want them; therefore, there is great emotional attachment to these items).
Then, there is the aspect of personal safety; with such easy access to the apartment by using a credit card to bypass the doorknob lock, and the flimsy door that serves as a barrier to my own bedroom and private space (it's one of those hollowed-out wooden doors that uses perhaps 1/8" wood on each side of the door, with nothing in-between, and a simple, pickable, bypassable lock to gain entrance therein), who's to say what may happen to me when K leaves very early in the morning to go to his program (sometimes as early as 7am) while I am sleeping (or even not sleeping). Being physically handicapped, I would be at a great disadvantage were a burglar to enter my apartment and especially my bedroom in search of loot and I feel an increased risk for my own, personal safety every time K leaves the apartment without locking the door behind him.
I would hate to have to file a claim against Cluster in such an event of loss due to burglary, given the number of items of value that I own which are stored in the apartment, and in the even more severe situation should I come unto undue harm due to the lack of my roommate properly securing the premises upon his departure therefrom.
As has been the case with my last two roommates, K is not paying his portion of the cable bill (the agreement with which we had finally worked out, months after he has been living here) in a timely fashion. He is in serious need of money management skills and assistance. I have witnessed his CD / DVD collection grow from nothing to nearly one-hundred various CDs/DVDs in the six months or so that I have had K as a roommate. (You will recall that I have asked K to pay $10/week for cable--he hasn't paid in I believe it is three weeks, and considering that the cable-only portion of my cable bill is around $118/month, even you agreed that having K pay ~1/3 of that amount is quite generous of me--I pay for 100% of the Internet/VOIP portion of the cable bill).
Finally, I need to point out to you that contrary to a New York State Law which went into effect on 22 February 2010, there is no carbon monoxide detector installed anywhere in the apartment (for that matter, I believe that no such detectors are installed anywhere within the building).
I cannot continue to live under these conditions, and I never had to deal with such conditions with either of my two previous roommates. I never before experienced issues with my roommate consuming my food (or my consuming theirs) with either Fred or David; I haven't had to deal with them not locking the door when they leave the apartment (if anything, it was the opposite), and I never had to deal with unsanitary living conditions in the common/shared living areas.
I get along with K and I think he's a nice guy; however, I believe that he's in need of serious help and greater supervision. I haven't had these problems with my two previous roommates. I mean, putting my ice cream in the refrigerator after taking some, and thinking it would be OK?
I hope that we will be able to achieve a swift resolution to these issues.
As I have been doing since returning from holiday during the holidays, I am making a more concerted effort to come to the office at least once per week either to see and meet with you or to attend the weekly housing meeting. I will continue to keep to this commitment; however, please do be advised that I have as of yet been unable to resolve my inability to obtain my prescription medication (antidepressants) due to an increase in my Medicare Part D deductible and cannot afford the $216 that CVS is charging for the four generic prescription medications I have been taking and, as such, ran out of meds over the weekend and have begun going through SSRI withdrawal. As such, I've been feeling, to be blunt, like horse-dung.
Thank you for your time and courteous cooperation.
-Peter C. Frank