Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lawmakers questions salaries at nonprofits

I was shocked to read this story in the NY Times online today.

Apparently even during these times of dwindling profits and services rendered, chiefs at Boys and Girls Clubs and the American Heart Association are making close to a million dollars a year in salaries and bonuses.

This is an outrage when one considers that many of these organizations receive tax dollars to sustain and support them - yes - that's yours and mine - cold hard-earned cash - given to agencies with a propensity to overpay their chiefs in this economic downturn.

Lawmakers are thankfully looking into these issues and are doing what they are supposed to do - look out for the best interests of the American taxpayers.

I want non profits to have the best and the brightest - don't misunderstand what I am saying - I just think we need to do this the right way and with appropriate renumeration.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The ADA celebrates 20 years

For most of my life, I lived as a "normal" person. I empathized with people with disabilities, seen and unseen - I am that kind of person.

I suppose it is no wonder that when I became a person with a disability, I was surprised at how many "friends" quickly disappeared.

On reflection, they might have been friends with me because I had a high profile job and wanted the "ins" that came with such a position. I was naive enough to think that my "friends" would stand by me during my times of trials.

I remember in particular a remarkable couple of friends who came with my son, Tye to visit me in the hospital after one very serious Bipolar episode - Peter and his husband, Peter. They came with toiletries, treats and even came to my home after I returned from the hospital, complete with wine and pasta for dinner - they called themselves the "visiting creatures" - we laughed and I was grateful that when others had forsaken me, the few in my inner circle had not.

I am thankful for my disability and what it brings to my life. While I would not choose to be Bipolar, I am grateful for my perception, sensibilities, ability to write and make music, my outreach and community work - all of which I would not be able to do were I a "normal" person - my sensibilities are simply heightened and I embrace them.

It is a blessing that the ADA was passed, and while I was forced from my beloved job with the Salt Lake City Mayor some three years ago, I am grateful for the safety net that was in place here in New York.

I am in school full time, work part time, subsidized by SSI and living a full and joyful life thanks to the benefits in place by law and the passage of the ADA.

I hope that those who merit it, receive the benefit of SSI assistance as they transition to work.

If you know of someone with a disability, seen or unseen, please reach out to them so that they know they are not alone.

Happy disability week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Surrogate parents

I am the proud mother of 4 wonderful sons. They have been a joy, a blessing, a challenge and my greatest achievement.

I was married to their father for some 15 years. My regular readers know that my former husband and I divorced because he was/is gay - long story.

That stated, I have often spoken with gay couples who cannot have children themselves - those in my close circle were mostly divorced and LDS so they had children from their heterosexual marriages. For those in gay relationships and marriages, there are few choices open to them when they want to have children.

In Utah, for example, it is against the law for gays to adopt. Such limited vision is one of the many reasons I left the state.

I heard two stories recently that I found encouraging: Two associates of mine, one male and one female became surrogate parents for two different gay couples so that their families could be complete - one is Christine Johnson - a Utah State Legislator - someone whom I know and love and the other is a close friend who shall remain nameless.

To think of the unselfishness of these two individuals is quite overwhelming and tends to boggle one's mind. I have thought of these purposeful acts of kindness a great deal since being apprised of the situation and wonder whether I could have, or would have done same in my younger years.

I came to the conclusion that I would have. With all the hatred and venom being spewed against gays these days, it is refreshing to know that their are gay and straight allies who are willing to help couples become families.

In a recent report, the children of lesbian couples are outscoring their peers in standardized tests in schools - one wonders then, why is the state taking the position that gay couples are less stable and do not deserve the basic right to a family?

Just curious.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A mosque at Ground Zero

I have been watching this story unfold.

Some wealthy investors who happen to be of the Muslim faith are proposing before the NYC Landmark Commission that a mosque be allowed to be built at Ground Zero.

I have conflicting thoughts on this issue. On the one hand, I completely respect that people should be able to worship how and where they may. Be that a Jewish temple or synagogue, a Mormon temple, a Catholic or Protestant house of worship or not to worship at all.

That stated, to build a Moslem mosque at Ground Zero is raising voices on both sides of the issue in this town that I love. This town that experienced the horrors and ravages of 911 and lost thousands of police officers, firefighters - life will never be the same in the greatest city of the world - security officers are all over - police and soldiers patrol subway and rail stations and bus depots. It is a small price to pay - vigilance comes at a price that we should all be willing to pay.

To be against the building of the mosque does not necessarily a bigot make, but some sensitivity on this issue is needed. This is time for a candid discussion on interfaith issues and how we treat each other based on religious beliefs.

There will be a special meeting of the Planning Commission in NYC later on today - I hope that wisdom and cool heads will prevail in this instance.

LeBron makes his decision - now let him live with it

LeBron James is one of the most gifted basketball players of our time. When his contract was up, he became a free agent and was thus able to decide where he wants to spend the next stretch of his pro basketball career.

I was sad to read that he was recently booed here in NYC by Knicks fans who were outside a wedding he was attending. Not only was this in poor taste, but it reflects badly on what we know New Yorkers to be - good and decent people - a wedding is a time for celebration and joy - not a time to protest, no matter the reason - some things are just sacred, after all. Come on, did we really think he would choose the lackluster Knicks purely for money when he can do better elsewhere?

He has chosen his path and we should respect his decision.

Mel is ranting again

I was not impressed with Mr. Gibson's rant against Jews a while back. It was no surprise to me that he tripped over himself to apologize to his Jewish "friends" - what an idiot!

Fast forward, Mr. Gibson left his longtime wife and took up with a beautiful and much younger Eastern European woman. His recent rants against blacks, women and others add further fuel to the fire that would indicate that Mr. Gibson is noting more than a bigot.

I stopped having any respect for this former upstanding actor and father of many, devout Catholic after he spewed forth such hatred for Jews.

Let's see how this plays out.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Is Mayor Bloomberg talking out of both sides of his mouth?

As the NYC budget was unveiled this week, gasps of horror and dismay rippled through the walls of nonprofits and social service organizations across New York City. Social workers and other advocates for the elderly, homeless and mentally challenged residents of the city struggled to make sense of what this would mean to their programs that they had so carefully worked tirelessly to build up over the years.

Mayor Bloomberg has been at the forefront of the immigration debate - indicating his support for immigrants and saying that their skills and vibrancy are a vital part of New York's economy and yet in his budget he eliminated most funding for ESL programming - we all know how frustrating it is to try to communicate with someone who does not share our common language, be that a restaurant server in this country, or when traveling abroad - what is his honor thinking exactly?

Mayor Bloomberg claims to be a catalyst for social change and yet his decisions continue to reflect those of the Republican party and favors the ueber wealthy.

I exhort all who have been or will be impacted by his cuts to clog his switchboard and email box and snail mail box so that he will hear our voices loud and clear: it is not ok to marginalize the already disenfranchised and marginalized in this great state of New York - yes, budgets must be balanced, but we also recall the huge pay raises he has bestowed on his inner circle. Yes, it is long and hard work to be a political appointee - I speak on a personal level as a former political appointee to one of Mayor Bloomberg's associates - the amazing Ross Anderson former Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah - the pay was not great and certainly did not match the hours that I put in during my 5 and one half year tenure. I laud the Mayor for recognizing that too often public servants are over worker and underpaid and not appreciated.

May he not forget the "little people" and certainly not those who live on the fringes of society, barely eking out an existence, working in subsistence jobs - who can live on $7.25 an hour - the prevailing minimum wage in New York, after all?

Please friends - call or write to the Mayor and ask him to restore funds to aging programs, homeless programs and those that serve the disabled - if not from the budget proper, then perhaps his honor can look into his own personal finances in the billions and award monies in the forms of grants to aid in this stop gap measure.