Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Possible Upcoming UFT Election Surprise

 I think there is going to be a big surprise just before the UFT elections. Call me jaded, call me a cynic, but the UFT never does anything without a reason. 

Think about this. We lost our spring vacation almost two years ago. April 2020. Twenty months ago. At the October 2020 town hall Mulgrew said...

When arbitration is back up, we will move forward on Spring Break. Medical accommodations are based on a medical condition. We would have to do another one in Jan. Same documentation and everything.

The September 2020 town hall Mulgrew sayeth to the masses...

Dealing with the craziness that included Spring break which still needs to be dealt with.

I asked this almost a year ago on December 27, 2020...

For the answer President Mulgrew gave at the town hall of October 15, again, it seems that arbitration is now back up. Where in the pipeline is our monies? How long does the process take?  

We were told not too long ago that the final arbitration on our spring break pay will come this month, December 2021. 

But a question remains. If the arbitration is a victory, when will we get the money? 

The Crack Team has been trying to crack this mystery. There were many a late night session in which there was bickering and disagreement. Many a late night were had. Finally, a member of The Crack Team decided to go the computer. The algorithm was fed and the results were spat out.

Some might say The Crack Team's computer and/or the algorithm is skewed. Or, the information fed to the computer was jaded and cynical.

We will get the monies owed in our direct deposits week or two before the UFT election. And of course who gets to call the date for the election? Of course. UFT/Unity.

The computer must be right. Think about it. Why wouldn't it be?

Thousands of teachers get thousands of dollars they are owed for almost two years. Guess who will puff out his chest and say, "See what I did? I fought for you! I made you whole again!" 

And UFT/Unity will be like Justin Trudeau and call for early elections in just a few weeks. Or, and this is even more cynical, the election date will be already called and the checks will be mailed out just before the election starts. But either way, teachers will vote while having several thousand dollars more in their accounts and the great many of unwashed will thank UFT/Unity. And then vote Unity.  

But when these teachers vote for those that blessed them with money, what will they say when they want to see Dr Vinnie Boombotz for a prostate issue and find out he doesn't accept any Medicare (Dis)Advantage  patients?

I hope the computer is wrong. We shouldn't need to feel jaded and cynical when it comes to our union. We should feel we are partners with our union. We shouldn't have waited almost two years for A HEARING for our monies. 

But watch. The spring break money and the election will be intertwined.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Possible Roadmap to Beat Unity (Or At Least to Hurt Their Vote Total)

 The UFT elections are right around the corner. It will be hard to put a dent into Unity's vote total, let alone to win the entire thing. I do believe that if certain things are done, serious headway can be made. 

My dad was in advertising and marketing. He had a one man business in the basement of our house. I
learned a lot from him. I shared some of these ideas in 2016 but was shot down. I understand not everything is feasible, but the thinking has to be akin to throwing against the wall. Some things will stick, some won't. 

Too much of what I see on Facebook and Twitter is being done in a vacuum. Most teachers who are in the FB groups of the UFC are teachers that DO WANT CHANGE. We are just preaching to the choir. The base needs to be expanded. Memes are swell, but there is so much more that can and should be done. 

1. Yard Signs

Cheapest and easiest way to get the word out. This website offers 100 yard signs for $84. There is not much room on a yard sign and the message has to be clear and readable. But if yard signs are strategically placed throughout the boroughs and the suburbs teachers will be in informed of the upcoming election.

For example; a yard sign touting the United for Change at every exit ramp on the Major Deegan Expressway (I am going to use the Deegan as the example because I take it every day). Teachers in their cars will see these signs every day. They will be sitting at the red lights on the exit ramps every day. They will read the yard signs everyday. Whatever message is put on the yard sign will get ingrained. It will sink in. 

Same for the Dunkin Donuts on the southbound Deegan. Teachers stop there early to get their coffee. A couple of yard signs at the entrance or exit can be effective. 

This can be done on all major highways in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Each exit ramp with a yard sign. The same with any and all rest stops. If memory serves there is a Mobil Station on the Grand Central Parkway.  

2. Leafleting 

Leaflets need to be to the point and quick to read. There are too easily disposable. I once suggested giving a homeless person $10 and leaflet the cars that are parked with placards at each school. Better, leave leaflets in stores teachers frequent in around the neighborhood of a school. Or better, ask a shop owner if something can be put up in a window. 

3. Talk It Up to Anyone

Think where teachers spend time and money. Staples, education stores, bars. Go to these places and not just hand out leaflets, but talk to the teachers. Sell the teachers on what UFC has to sell. I did this back in 2016. I hit a couple of the bars in the Bronx where teachers congregate and talked up the elections, talked up why Mulgrew must be voted out. I did the same in front of Lakeshore Learning Store on Central Ave in Greenburgh. I don't know if all I did was effective, but contacts were made and got plenty of email addresses. But speaking to one teacher brings out the possibility of those teachers talking to another teacher and so on.

Last Sunday I was on line waiting for my booster shot at CVS and got talking to someone. Turns out he is a teacher at Bronx Science. What do you think I did?  

Set up a information stand in front of Madison Square Garden on 7th Ave before a game. Same with the Barclays Center or UBS Arena, or anywhere which draws large crowds. 

Have mixers, meet and greets in the suburbs on Weekends. A SBSB fanboi and myself have talked about having one in Ardsley.

Which leads me to...

4. Think of Getting Votes as Multi Level Marketing. 

Speak to one teacher ask them to speak to ten teachers. Give them enough leaflets, information, websites, emails, to share with their colleagues. United for Change must think of itself as Amway or Mary Kay.

5. Direct Mail

I've said it before, and I will say it again. I have a friend who is in direct mail. Let's see what he can do for UFC. 

6. Real Social Media Ads

Ad buys on Facebook and Google will be more effective than memes on a closed Facebook page. 

7. Go to Hospitals

But don't go inside. The UFT represents nurses at (I forget how many) city hospitals. Don't go in the operating room but rather linger outside and follow some of the above ideas. And go to other non education places that the UFT represents. 

8. Raise Money!!!!

For the life of me I do not understand why there is not a GoFundMe for UFC. Or have a car wash, a bake sale, or better a golf tournament; the United for Change Pro-Am.

9. The Message

Veteran teachers close to retirement shouldn't hear the same message as new teachers. Veteran teachers want to be assured about their pensions, and now, this debacle going on with Medicare (Dis)Advantage. New teachers are concerned about tenure, job security. Speak about what will be done in contrast to what is being done.

Keep everything to the bread and butter issues and what will keep food on the plates of teachers families. I am hearing from several sources that some are spending time just bashing Unity as a reason to vote them out. Sources are sharing that this has been turning members who want to hear the issues. 

That's it for now. I have several other ideas but can't share those ideas here. But isn't time to try a different way? The same old way hasn't worked in the past. Time to think outside the box.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Friday Night Videos: It's Just a Step to the Right (Time Warp)

 The first time I saw Rocky Horror was my senior year in high school back in 1982. It was a midnight showing at, I believe, the RKO Proctor in New Rochelle.

We brought all the props. I just really remember the water guns and throwing the toast. I don't recall much of the movie other than a shitload of people dressed as Dr Frank N. Furter and other characters up in front of the screen acting out the movie word for word.

Flash forward about 39 1/'2 years later I finally went to see Rocky Horror for the second time. This time in Peekskill. But sadly, the water pistols and the toast were not allowed. But the other props were. 

And the call outs! I forgot all about them!

"He's got no fucking neck!"

"So's Brad!"

"What the heck is a radio picture? It’s a picture of a radio. What else?"

And there are others...

So in honor of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, let's do the Time Warp!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

My Own Story Why I am Wary of Medicare Advantage

 I'm 57. I will be 58 in April. I am getting thisclose to retiring, or at least contemplating it. One thing I was looking forward to was continuing to have a great health plan when I turned 65. But this Medicare (Dis)Advantage that might be awaiting be is making me nervous.

I have two concerns how Medicare (Dis)Advantage can affect me if and when it comes into effect.

The photo on the right is my right shoulder. Actually, my new right shoulder. 

In 1987 I fell hard on it and tore the labrum. Bad. My shoulder was unstable for years. Arthritis set in. Pain. It was bad. I didn't have insurance when I hurt it and I suffered the consequences. In 2002 I had it scoped out but all it did was put off the inevitable.

In 2019 the pain was the worse it had ever been. I was popping Aleve like M&M's. I went to a shoulder surgeon. He said I needed a new shoulder but want to give physical therapy I try. I had bone on bone. How the hell was PT going to help?

I went to a second doctor. He said PT was a waste of time, but agreed I needed a new shoulder. However, I just didn't feel right with him.

I went to a third doctor, Dr Young Kwon at NYU (Yes, a shameless plug, but he is the best shoulder surgeon!). He saved me. He made me feel whole. 

Here's my issue. Artificial shoulders last from 10-15 years. I'm lucky, I'm a lefty. The artificial joint is in my non dominant arm, but you never know. Dr Kwon even told me that I was a bit too young for shoulder replacement.

What happens when I am between 65 and 70, on Medicare (Dis)Advantage and need another shoulder? I will need to get pre-approval? Will I be considered too old to get a replacement? I might be told since it is my right shoulder and that being left handed, a new joint is not a priority. Heck, will I be allowed to see Dr Kwon again? 

My dad had his hip replaced at Special Surgery at the age of 74 in 2005. My step mom was retired from DOE and everything copacetic. No fuss, no muss. 

Will Medicare (Dis)Advantage let me visit three doctors? I doubt it. 

My other concern is I am Type 2 diabetic. My numbers are great. My A1C is very close to where it should be. My weight is the best since high school. I go to the gym three times a week. I eat better than I have, but of course I can do better. But I am on several medications. I'm not on insulin and don't plan on it. I see the eye doctor every year. I don't want anything chopped off or to go blind.

But what happens if  insulin is needed? Will I be sufficiently covered? Will my medications be covered? Even if I am covered what out of pocket charges will I face? I see my endocrinologist every three months. Will I be able to continue this? Like Dr Kwon, my diabetes doctor is one of the top in her field. Under Medicare (Dis)Advantage will I still be able to see my doctors or still be able to choose from the best physicians? Or will I be left to choose between Dr Nick and Dr Hartman?

I don't like what I have read or heard of Medicare (Dis)Advantage. Someone, somewhere is getting rich over this being forced upon us and it's not someone at Emblem/Blue Cross or Joe Namath. 

I have a fantasy of moving to Corning NY, for a year after I retire. How many providers will I find there? One? None? Or maybe Hudson NY. There might be three providers in Hudson.

I don't need nor want a Fitbit. I don't need or want rides to and fro. I don't want meals sent to me. There is one thing I want with my health insurance when I am 65. 

I want certainty. And I want myself and my health professional to make the decisions what is best .

Sunday, November 28, 2021

United for Change and UFT Solidarity Bronx Happy Hour on December 10


 It's that time of the year. No, not the traditional holiday season, but rather the UFT election season. And what does that mean? Plenty of opportunities to partake in adult beverages, fine food, and good people. 

For those not aware, UFT Solidarity, ICE/UFT, New Action, Educators of NYC, Retiree Advocate and the MORE Caucus have formed a coalition slate to run against Mike Mulgrew and his Unity caucus in the upcoming spring UFT Elections. Henceforth to be known as "United for Change".

United for Change is kicking off it's first Bronx Happy Hour on December 10, 2021, at the 
G Bar which is below Giovanni's at
579 Grand Concourse in the Bronx @149th St from 3:15 to 7:30. The entrance for the G Bar is on 150th St.

G Bar is easy to get to and easy to get home. The 2/4/5 trains are a few blocks away 149th St. If you are coming by car G Bar is just a few blocks away from the Deegan, Yankee Stadium, and the 149th St Bridge. And there is a dedicated parking lot on 150th St. Use this form (click here) to RSVP and let us know you are coming. The form just helps with the head count. If you don't want to fill out the form just show up and come have fun while hanging out with some great people. 

This is just a start. Thus far there is a Westchester County Happy Hour already being planned for January, as well as discussions on the possibility of a Saturday afternoon something in Orange and/or Rockland counties. So be on the look out for that!

Remember, Friday, December 10, at the G Bar which is below Giovanni's at 579 Grand Concourse in the Bronx @149th St from 3:15 to 7:30. The entrance for G B around the corner on 150th St.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday Music Videos Featuring Les Claypool

It's Friday. It's a slow news day here at the SBSB offices. What to do?

Back in June I was counting down to the last day of school on these pages and accompanying the posts with music videos that touched on that days theme. One fanboi commented...

I liked the countdown better when you stuck to music!

I retorted...

Tell you what. For you I will make every Friday through the summer "Music Friday" and find a song that fits into some educational theme. Even if I have to shoehorn it. So next Friday, July 5. OK?

The fanboi replied...

Sounds good! Enjoy your Summer Pete!

July 5 came and went and so did the rest of July, August, September, October, and almost all of November until today. 

Back on September 26 I was able to see live music for the first time in almost 18 months. Who did I see? I saw Primus. It was my first time ever seeing them.  Why did I go? Because they were to play Rush's 1977 album, "A Farewell to Kings" in its entirety. The show was at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, CT where they were supposed to play in July of 2020. But due to the COVID craziness everything was postponed. 

But being there is no more Rush ever again (Unless Geddy and Alex can recruit Ringo to take over the drums or maybe even Mike Portnoy) I need to get a Rush fix whenever possible. Les Claypool took care of it for a night. By the way, I really enjoyed the show and I like Primus.

So I am embedding the the first three songs of AFTK. The title track, Closer to the Heart, and Xanadu. Enjoy. 

I will continue, or at least try to, this new Friday "tradition." 






Saturday, November 20, 2021

Mulgrew's Conniption. Now How do we Battle Apathy and Ignorance?

I'm supposed to be with my high school friends right now. Right now I am in a hotel room in Schenectady spending the weekend at the Rivers Casino. But I was checking the blogs and came across James Eterno's ICE blog. I was reading about the disaster Mulgrew had at Wednesday's Delegate Assembly meeting and
decided to take the laptop out. 

Since I am no longer a delegate, I now have to hear about things through the blogs or second hand. From what I have read it is about time something like this happened. 

Back in 2019 I wrote how to make the DA more transparent and more inclusive. Two ideas that I had were to allow live streaming of the DA to all members. There are many platforms available and at not really much cost. Well, that seemed to have happened Wednesday when someone, somewhere transmitted the live DA to opponents in front of 52 Broadway. Good. About time. But the dirty little secret is; this has been happening for some time, especially the last 18 months when the DA's were phone based.

Oh yeah. The UFT will say, "Anyone can watch." Sure, anyone can. If they schlep down to 52 Broadway and then whisked off to a cold room with a live feed off of a shit poor monitor. The time is now to make all DAs available on the UFT website, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else possible. Want us to sign in with logins we use to go on UFT website, fine. There are methods to keep non members out. 

As for the voting? I love the voting system that is used by phone. It's awesome. True democracy. The ability for delegates to not fear reprisals. However, one should wonder if the union knows how someone  voted by phone number. 

It's time for the delegate assembly to enter the 21st century. The UFT has an app, let delegates vote by using the UFT app. I can get a high school student to help the UFT add such abilities. In fact, the same high school student can also help the UFT add any possible bandwidth it might need.  

Is this damaging to Unity in the long run? No, not really. It might change some people's minds. Those who stay on top of what is going on with the UFT. Delegates, bloggers, people who read the blogs, other activists, but that is not enough to cause a major disruption. The people who already give a shit are out there. Be they on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media. 

How do you reach the apathetic or the ignorant? No one has come up with the answer. I think I have and I tried. I tried in 2016 but was brushed aside with "we have memes." The memes being read by the same people that already share the same views. Nothing is better than campaigning in an echo chamber. 

A few weeks ago in my school we had an election for a vacant delegate position. I threw my hat in at the last minute. Someone ran against me, a teacher that has been at the school for several years. I have been at the school since September. I lost. I got six votes. The other person got 13 votes. Twenty people voted in a school with almost 100 UFT members. No one cared nor did anyone really know what a delegate does or why a delegate is important. Why? Many, many young and new teachers. Will these teachers be voting come the spring when the get their ballots at home? Will they take the time to not only fill out the ballots but to mail the ballots as well? 

How to get to the apathetic? They need to know there is a choice and a reason to vote. They need to be identified. Think of multi level marketing (This is the only idea I am sharing). Each person speaks to ten people. Talk to their needs. Listen to their needs. MAKE THE MESSAGES to their needs. This is why the Democrats are losing the rural areas. They don't talk to nor do they listen to the needs of other voters outside of their own bubble. This has been the problem for the last several elections by some. Some refuse to get out of their comfort zone.

There must be a recognizable name at the head of the ticket. A name that is known and has experience advocating for the rank and file as well has had run in previous elections. A veteran teacher. A teacher that has been through the ups and downs of the DOE. A teacher that has been on national TV, not once, but several times. 

Unity will be very, very hard to beat. But to even put a sizeable dent will take more than just leafleting schools. It will take rolling up the sleeves and thinking outside the box. But sadly, I am seeing some want to cut off their noses to spite their faces and refuse to play with others. Those others who know how to fight. Know how to roll up their sleeves. And those that really and truly want to win.

Thank you. There is a $5 blackjack table awaiting me.