December 30, 2015

Wondering, on Wednesday (v42)

Are you tired of year-in-review (YIR) posts and articles and emails yet, or do you still have some slim thread of tolerance for them?

I confess I haven't paid attention to half of the YIR notifications I've seen. I've been getting them for a several weeks now, it seems. I think some of them arrived shortly after the Thanksgiving tryptophan was finally out of my system.

The early arrivals leave me wondering, this Wednesday, how the authors would feel if something huge happened before the end of the year, leaving their YIR in shambles.You know, some horrible tragedy (heaven forbid) or some wonderful news like a major celebrity wedding, or the discovery of a new planet, or a famous politician's birth certificate or green card, or something like that.

Kind of like what happens when we have early voting well in advance of election day, which leaves open the possibility that a dead person could win by a landslide, or some similar bizarre occurrence. That would likely mean that a court would probably have to determine the winner. And we all know how that works out, right?

Given that my own attention span for these things is slim, I'll keep my YIR brief.

Before the end of New Year's Eve Day, I'll have had three major milestones this year:  my 25th anniversary at my day job; my wedding, and my husband's retirement.

On my 24th work anniversary, I did a post about the foolishness of the Tax-Free NY program, wondering why it was necessary for me to pay taxes as an employee of a 78 year old company, when some new kid can move in to the Empire State, hire me and I would not have to pay income taxes for ten years.  I thought it was unfair to me, and of course unfair to my company as well.

I just checked the STARTUP NY website, which is the official home of the tax free project, and realized that, for my Central New York region, the selling points for our Quality of Life include two pictures, one of fishing in the Salmon River, the other of Chittenango Falls. What's more, three other regions also feature water activities as one of their two pictures.

I'm wondering, are we trying to lure fishing-related industries here? Trying to net a big one, maybe?

The last of the three  milestones, my husband's retirement, happens officially next year, but for all practical intents and purposes, it's happening on 12/31. In the morning, we'll get ready for work and head off on the commute together, for the last time.

I'm wondering, if I'm honest, how much things will change. I've got a few more years to work, although the jury's out on exactly how many.  A lot of that depends on how much of a mess the current Congress and POTUS make of our somewhat encouraged economy, and what happens next year when the new gang is elected.  Will we be trickling down?  Will everyone be making double their current wage (if things go up in tandem with increases in the minimum wage)? Will my 401(k) keep growing, and will Social Security be gone when I get there?  So much to wonder about, with no answers anywhere in sight.

What I don't wonder about, though, is whether this is the right decision for him, and for us. After 20 years at his second career, he's done enough, and had enough, and I want him to be around when I eventually make the decision to retire. We are better when we're happy, and we're happier when we're better.

I'm sure I'll have a twinge or two of something (I'm not sure yet exactly what), come January 4th when I have to go to work and My Sweet Baboo doesn't. But then, that's something for the 2016 YIR.

A final note:  I would be remiss if I didn't talk at at least a little about this blog. Thanks to all who've hung in there with me over the past few years -- I appreciate your tolerance, your interest, and your feedback. To new readers, thanks for giving me a chance. Your feedback is also warmly welcomed.

Here are the top five posts from 2015, all of which are part of two new themes I introduced this year:
  1. My Middle-Aged White Lady Perspective: Don't Apologize for the Truth
  2. Wondering, on Wednesday (v30)
  3. Wondering, on Wednesday (v29)
  4. Wondering, on Wednesday (v28)
  5. My Middle-Aged White Lady Perspective: Words Matter
I'll still be a middle-aged white lady next year, and I'm sure I'll still be wondering, when Wednesdays roll around.

Hope to see you then!

December 29, 2015

Another Year of Tuesday's Numbers: 2015

Earlier today, I published the last Tuesday's Number post of the year, leading me to this, the annual recap.  How'd we do this year?
Let's take a look.

First, the final total for Q4 was $4,268,817, a little less than $500K higher than Q3, about $760K higher than Q2, but more than $1.2M less than Q1.

For the year, there were:

  • 806 judgments filed, totaling $16,401,925
  • 62 satisfied judgments, totaling $744,492 and
  • 44 bankruptcies, adding $1,394,994

The total of judgments plus bankruptcies less satisfied judgments is $17,052,427, some $7.5 million less than 2013's $24,607,933 total and $9.2 million less than 2014's total of $26,305,502.

The number of filings is also down significantly. In 2013, there were 1279; in 2014, it spiked to 1411, and this year there were only 912. I say 'only' knowing that, for the folks included in these filings, there's probably little comfort in knowing that there are fewer people in the same boat with them this year.

Satisfied judgments dropped again this year by just shy of $97,000 compared to last year. In 2013, the number was much higher - $2,447,163. I'd like to see this number starting heading higher, at the same time as the overall filings continue to drop; repayment of debt being a positive sign for our overall sense of well-being and for the actual well-being of the local hospitals.

Speaking of the local hospitals, how did they fare this year?

  • Crouse's total of $2,497,979 was down $3,085,456 from last year's total
  • St Joe's total, $1,055,099 was $1,766,370 less than 2014
  • SUNY's total, $10,740,987 was down sharply - by $7,195,576
  • Community's total of $149,278 was up by $31,405

A small portion of the differences stems from a change in methodology. In 2015, I started subtracting the satisfied judgments from the overall totals and from each hospital. In 2014, I was able to make that adjustment in the final totals, but not in the individual hospital totals. Even so, there was a good drop for all of the hospitals this year compared to last - and that's one of the things I've been waiting to see in the tracking. 

Whether we've really turned a corner remains to be seen, but the final numbers for this year at least give me a sense of hope.

Here's to a healthy economy and a healthy population in 2016!

Tuesday's Number: $303,319

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, the final Tuesday of 2015, there were 

  • 23 new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $303,319
  • no satisfied judgments and
  • no bankruptcies

Here’s the breakdown by hospital: 

  • Crouse had three, for $34,700
  • St. Joes had six, for a total of $60,042
  • SUNY Upstate had fourteen, totaling $208,577

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

I'll have the year-end summary later.

December 28, 2015

More Money is Not the Answer

Common Cause New York has released the latest information on outside income for New York's legislators. There's a lot of it for some of our elected officials, who make a minimum of $79,500 for their part-time jobs (those in leadership positions make quite a bit more).

The chart at right shows where the outside money comes from, by industry. Not surprisingly, the majority of members with outside income are lawyers; after all, they're lawmakers. 

Common Cause notes that, on the plus side, some 60% of legislators elected before 2014 report no outside income, and they surmise that "many, if not all" of the new class of legislators no longer hold their day jobs. 

The group also believes that, in light of the recent guilty verdicts for former State Senate leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, the time is now to make some changes.  And up to that point, I agree with them -- we differ, however, on how to fix the problem.

Common Cause would like to see the following changes
  • A ban on outside income
  • a full-time legislature
  • a pay raise for members
Their thinking is, if we turned the legislators into full-time employees of New York taxpayers, and gave them a raise, they wouldn't need to have outside income. And if they don't have outside income, they can't be 'bought' by outside interests.

My thinking is, if they're ethical people, it doesn't matter whether they're paid more or work full time or are allowed to continue earning income as veterinarians or funeral directors or owners of ice cream stands. I don't think it's necessary for them to figure out ways to convert their businesses into trusts or whatever it is they'd need to do in order to remove themselves from their 'real' careers while they served part time as our representatives.

We need our elected officials to stop looking at their seats as permanent possessions, as jobs for life instead of what they should be: short-term opportunities to serve the public. I want them to have jobs and families and careers and lives outside their public service - because I think they'd be better public servants. I want there to be teachers or auction house owners and all the rest, working part time for the citizens of New York. I'm perfectly OK with that.

What I do have a problem with, is how long some of these folks have been in office. 

In the Assembly, Gary Finch, the funeral services guy, was elected in 1999. Will Barclay was elected in 2002. Stephen Hawley, the big winner in the outside income game, was elected in 2006. 

Over in the Senate, it's even more glaring. Kenneth LaValle was elected in 1976, the year I got out of high school.

Skelos, one of the Three Amigos our Sonofa Gov Andrew Cuomo giggled about earlier this year at his economic speech, was elected in 1984. Kemp Hannon, 1989; Mike Nozzolio, 1992.

Is it the outside income that's the issue, or is it the amount of time these folks spend in Albany?

Is it outside income, or simply that some of them can't resist the benefits that come their way, the money to keep them in office, or jobs for their kids -- benefits that come to them because of the power they have, the power that comes with longevity?

Is it outside income, or is it the unending need to raise money for the next election, money from big donors who stand to benefit from laws passed by the people who receive the donations?

If you ask me, we do not need full-time legislators with bigger salaries and bigger pensions. We need term limits and we need real campaign finance reform.

  • If a legislator is not worried about the next election, and instead is focused on serving the public for the term of the election they just won, we'll be better off. 
  • When a legislator doesn't need to protect a pension, and instead is focused on protecting the environment, or jobs, or dwindling tax dollars, we'll be better off.
  • When a legislator knows that they can't use campaign funds for whatever they please, we'll be better off. 
  • When a legislator knows that they have an equal opportunity to participate, and that their constituents will have equal representation, we'll be better off. 
  • When we elect people who know what the rules are, know they're going to be held accountable to the rules, and know that there will be no personal nest-feathering allowed, we'll be better off.

It all starts with term limits. 

December 24, 2015

Make Some Room at the Inn

The classic "reason for the season" story of the Christmas holiday is the one of Joseph and Mary reporting to Bethlehem to be counted in the Roman census. Being told there's "no room at the inn" when they stopped to rest, they ended up bedded down in the manger, where Jesus was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

Regular readers know I'm not a religious person; I will go to church tonight with my husband, as I have for the past few years. I won't take communion or anything - to me, it seems dishonest. But I will enjoy the peace and serenity and the traditional Christmas carols, including the one verse of Silent Night that we'll sing in German, a tradition at his Lutheran church.

History and tradition, wrapped in and around Christmas, as similarly the other seasonal holidays are steeped in their own history and tradition - not the same, but nonetheless important to those who celebrating.

I wonder, on Christmas Eve, how well we're doing given some of the common refrains we're hearing to today's carols. You know what I mean, right?
If you don't believe in (my) God, go back where you came from.
We've got enough fill-in-the-blank-with-your-pet-constituency now, we don't need any more fill-in-the-blank-with-your-least-favorite-fellow-man freeloading off of us.
If you want to live in America, learn to speak and act like an American. 
How well are we doing, when we want to 'return to sender' anyone who worships a different supreme being, or who doesn't worship one at all?  I honestly don't know where it is that I would "go back to" when the time comes for me to leave. And what does our country do when all of the doctors and scientists and professors and policemen and military members and athletes and musicians and everyone else are gone?  Who will do the work, and save lives, and cure cancer, and teach, and play football and basketball? What will happen to the fantasy leagues?

How well are we doing when the politicians who yell from our televisions and web pages and editorial pages and wherever else, the thousands of them dancing in the streets since 9/11, that we have enough homeless and hungry veterans and homeless and hungry children here in America that we can't take care of already, so we can't be the beacon of hope and light for the rest of the world anymore,  are the same politicians who work tirelessly to cut state and federal government budgets to the bone, slashing programs that could help the very same people they find so commercially valuable now? How are we doing?

How well are we doing when we rail against people from foreign countries, a very small percentage of whom may pose some threat to us, and at the same time we passively ignore or actively prevent opportunities to keep Americans who speak like us and look like us from imparting great harm on their fellow citizens, especially those who may look or act differently?

How well are we doing when we as Americans vow to restrict the rights of our fellow Americans, in the name of our faith? And when we confer greater rights on the unborn than we do living people? And when we're willing to take health care opportunities away from men, women and children?

On Christmas Eve, I have three wishes.

My first wish is that we find it in our hearts to make some room at the inn, to welcome all Americans into the fold, to offer warmth, and food, and shelter. To offer help, and hope, and opportunity.

My second wish is that we find it in our hearts to make some room at the inn for those who look to America as still the greatest country on earth, who reach out towards our beacon of freedom, and that we somehow can live up to their expectations.

My third wish is that the peace and love that are so present tonight on Christmas Eve and tomorrow on Christmas day will be as present the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Peace be with you.

December 22, 2015

Tuesday's Number: $179,016

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were 

  • fourteen new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $190,890
  • four satisfied judgments, for $32,371
  • and one bankruptcy, for $20,397

Here’s the breakdown by hospital: 

  • Crouse had eight, including three repayments, for a net of $15,903
  • St. Joes had four, with one repayment, for a total of $32,873
  • SUNY Upstate had six, totaling $125,102

A local orthopedic group had the remaining judgment, for $5,138.  

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

December 18, 2015

The Update Desk: Poor Ethan

Almost exactly two years ago, I did a post about Ethan Crouch, the spoiled brat who killed four people while he was driving in a drunken stupor down in Texas.

Poor Ethan. He was 'victimized' by his horrible parents and their habit of throwing money around instead of dispensing love, and their apparent lack of humanity.

Poor Ethan. Four people dead, and he was sentenced to 10 years of probation, not jail time, because of his affluenza. That's what it's called, when your rich parents and don't teach you right from wrong.

Well, to the surprise of practically no one, Poor Ethan is now missing. He hasn't been in contact with his probation officer in 'several days' and he's now been named the top fugitive by the Tarrant County Sheriff.

Poor Ethan. There's some thought that he fled because someone had him on video potentially violating his probation; he (or someone who closely resembles him) was playing beer pong at a party, which would be a no-no. Or, maybe he fled because his mother didn't want to hang around for another 8 years with her son in such a horrible situation: free to walk around, free to do basically everything that his victims will never do again.

When they find him, which I hope happens soon, he'll end up in jail; and hopefully so will both of his parents. As I noted in the older post, if the parents were to blame for how Ethan turned out,  they deserve to be punished right along side their son.

Poor Ethan. Let's bring you home, so you might get the chance to live the life that normal people live: a life where actions have consequences, where expectations abound, and where affluenza is not an excuse for murder.

December 17, 2015

Grains of Salt (v4): Never a Good Time

Our County Executive Joanie Mahoney has apparently been cured of her significant paycheck envy, now that she's getting a 27.3% raise.

Mahoney, in an exclusive interview with CNYCentral's Michael Benny, noted in the nicest possible way her dissatisfaction with the fact that she hadn't had a raise but others had.
Previous to my time in office, when Nick Pirro was the County Executive, there was a raise for the office every single year for the eight years previous to my getting there...
I would just point out to people that none of those raises came along the way so it's not like you're going to go back and make up for all of the years that there was no raise...
The CSEA employees were collecting those raises every year and the County Executive was not.
Every county employee that's full time including every elected official has gotten a raise within the last eight years with the exception of this position. 
Mahoney contends that, while many taxpayers apparently don't recall, this was addressed last December, so it did sort of meet her request that it be taken up before the election. And she basically blames her constituents for their "busy lives" and not remembering that this had been discussed, so there really shouldn't be any complaints now.

When it was raised back then, there was concern about the timing.  Here's what Joanie says:
At that time, some of the criticism was that it shouldn't happen mid-term and that it should be for a new term so they asked to put it off for a year. 
Mahoney also points out, lest we have forgotten, that this was discussed during her campaign last year, and for the legislators last year.
All along the way on the campaign trail, I was asked about raises, county legislators were asked about raises... The fact of the matter is, this was talked about all year long, it did go through the campaign process. You know, I had all of the lumps of a raise on the campaign trail, without having actually gotten the raise.
When questioned about having the County Executive get the raise, while some county employees don't yet have a contract, she noted that
... There's never going to be a good time. There is never a time that you would propose raises for elected officials that everyone would say "that's a great idea" so you have to sort of set that aside.
After pointing out (again) that the union contract included retroactive increases, but that she wasn't getting any retro pay, she noted (again)
...there's never going to be a time that people think it's a good idea.
Actually, Joanie, there IS a good time - if you agree that elected officials should get a raise at all, given that they get pensions (including those who hold part-time positions) and benefits, and given that they know going in what the position pays. In fact, there are a couple of them.

The Legislature actually came close to one of them just last year.

The law that was proposed last December and ultimately dropped earlier this year would have immediately bumped up the salary for the County Executive, County Sheriff, County Comptroller and County Clerk, but would have put off changes for the legislators until the beginning of the new term in 2016. A simple tweak - making all of the changes effective at the beginning of the next term, rather than having some of them be effective upon adoption of the bill, would have been a much more honest way to do this.

Couple the revised proposal with a public hearing or two, at different times when people could actually attend them, and get out some even half-hearted communications, and you could have a clean process, with public input, and it could have been included in the budget process. I'd be willing to bet that CNYCentral would love to have streamed the public hearings on one of their stations.

Another good time, and good way, to do this would be to put it to a referendum. For example, what if the ballot this past November included a question like this:
The Office of the Onondaga County Executive has not had a salary increase in eight years. The current salary for this elected position is $122,413. This position is not term-limited, and includes a pension and benefits. It is proposed that the salary be tied to the CPI-E (Consumer Price Index- Elderly) and changed each year in a percentage consistent with changes in Social Security payments to Onondaga County citizens.
Do you favor or oppose this proposal?
Similar ballot questions could be placed for all of the other elected positions, putting everyone on equal footing with the County Executive in terms of how and when their salaries could change.

I'm sure the wording could be tweaked a little, if needed, although the statement as written is factual. And I'm sure there's probably a way to get the referendum at the top of the front page of the ballot, where people could see it easily.

If the majority of the citizens you and the Legislature represent voted in favor of this proposal, you'd get the same percentage of raise that my elderly mom gets; and sometimes, as she does, you'd get nothing.

Back to Joanie. When pressed by Benny on whether citizens should have some opportunity to chime in, to have a 'community conversation' on this issue, she - like most politicians who are not subject to term limits, and who have the overwhelming benefit of incumbency -- offered one last shot:
Oh absolutely, and that's why voters have the right every two years with the Legislature and every four years with the County Executive to make their voices heard... 
Thanks for the reminder.

December 16, 2015

Social Media and Terrorism

Much has been made lately about using social media to combat terrorism. What people say on their pages, and in their comments, and in their emails and what not can (and should) be used to identify potential terrorists, those radicals who would do us harm, we're told.

See, we coulda stopped that Muslim woman, that foreigner, from killing 14 people and wounding 22 in San Bernadino if only we had been paying attention to what she had been saying and looking at and who she had been talking to on Facebook. The fact that her fellow trigger puller, her husband, was born and raised right here in The Homeland, well, let's not talk about that.

Just like we won't talk about Scott Anthony Orton, known as 'Joseywhales' on multiple social media sites. He's an American, a white man from Washington State, and he's an honest-to-goodness terrorist, even though I suspect no Republican presidential candidate would agree with me on that.

Orton was arrested for making threats against employees of StemExpress, the biotech firm which gained fame and notoriety earlier this year when the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees talking about baby parts came out. StemExpress is one of the companies on the receiving end of the aborted tissue, which is used by researchers for things like, you know, trying to cure cancer and find other ways to save lives, as opposed to the videos themselves which are used to inflame people like Orton, and the American terrorist who killed three people at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, and those aforementioned Republican presidential candidates.

Orton threatened people in California using social media from his terrorist base in Washington, saying things like:
The management of StemExpress should be taken by force and killed in the streets today.
Stop the death of innocents, Kill the killers.
Now you might think that's OK  -- I mean, what's a little free speech among friends, right?

How about this:
Kill StemExpress employees. I'll pay you for it.
StemExpress your lives don't matter nearly as much as your deaths do.
Or this:
The (specific person) of StemExpress is a death profiteer. The (specific person) of StemExpress should be hung by the neck using piano wire and propped up on the lawn in front of the building with a note attached.
Or this:
(Specific person) must die. End of story. If we as humanity accept her actions, we're to be judged in the harshest manner.
He had also threatened a specific Planned Parenthood employee. And another Fox Fanatic. And the FBI. And get this: the FBI has known about him, they admit, since 2009. That was when he sent threatening emails to the city council where he lives.
I am coming for you, creeps. You have committed crimes against freedom. You MUST be put out of office, permanently, and I loathe you for your deeds.
Guess who else he's threatened?
I'll pay $10,000 to whomever takes out Marilyn Mosby (the prosecutor in  Baltimore's Freddie Gray death-in-police-custody case).
 I'd pay to have a hit on Mosby. She needs to be taken out.
I'll pay ten thousand dollars to the one who fires the shot that takes out Marilyn Mosby. 
Or this one:
N----- Holder you are a dead man you are a dead man walking. We got us a dead man walking here. Dead man walking.
And then there are these:
WE NEED VIOLENCE AT 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVE!
Hey Barack ever seen a skull explode?
Hey Barack you should face a firing squad.
Hey Barack, you should hang by your neck until your feet stop kickin.
Everyone knew this guy was a terrorist. Fox certainly knew it, since he was a very active participant on their comment boards. Everyone knew he was threatening all kinds of people on multiple social media sites. Screen captures had been done, they'd been reported. For six years, this guy has been terrorizing American citizens, including FBI agents, a (black) prosecutor, the (black) Attorney General and the (black) President of the United States.

The argument can be made that this was just talk, he's not a real threat, he was just shooting his mouth off, I mean, does this guy even have $10K? Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, and all. It's just free speech.

When Orton appeared in court, the prosecutor asked that he be held without bail. Despite that request, and despite his history, he was released on an appearance bond and told to come back at the end of December.

After all, it's not like he had a Pakistani wife or anything.

If we're really going to use social media to combat terrorism, we need to open our eyes, accept the fact - and deal with the fact - that terrorism doesn't only come from outside our borders, and that it's not only radical Islamist jihadis that we need to worry about.

We ignore that at our continued peril.

December 15, 2015

Tuesday's Number: ($113,082)

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, a slow week to be sure, there were 
  • six new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $58,530
  • one satisfied judgment, for $171,432 and
  • no bankruptcies

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:
  • Crouse had two, totaling $22,900
  • St. Joe's had one, for $6,283
  • SUNY Upstate had four, for a net negative of $142,265

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

December 8, 2015

Make America Great Again

I will not speak his name in this post.

I hope I have the strength to never speak it again, but I anticipate I will be weak, as I am when there's an unarmed jar of peanuts or perhaps some kettle chips in the house.

That we have a person leading the field in the race to be the next leader of the free world who says what this man says, and perhaps worse, believes what this man may actually believe, is frightening. It's maddening. It's incomprehensible. It's a crying shame.

I can't take it any more.

He is the Mr Potato Head of candidates: a eye or two of racism, a mouth full of hate, a nose for the news, a couple of hands full of angry-white-man bluster, and two feet covered in age-old fear of the different, fear of a changing world.

Make America Great Again, he says, his brand splattered across "Made in Your Pick of Foreign Countries" clothing, and that hat.

Make America Great Again, he says, as he insults all of our allies; as he speaks to Jewish Republicans and laments that he's not able to get in touch with his daughter on a Saturday now (her husband is Jewish), ha ha ha.

Make America Great Again, he says, publicly blasting anyone who questions his ridiculous statements, who challenges his truly bizarre statements, threatening anyone who dares defy him.

Make America Great Again, he says, with his plans to build an actual wall, as well as a numerous 'virtual' walls, between us and the world, between us and sanity, between us and our future.

Make America Great Again, he says, he's a friend of the blacks and the Mexicans and the Muslims and the Jews and the veterans and the women he says, as

  • he encourages his supporters, his thugs, to physically assault people who dare exercise their free speech rights at his campaign stops, because they deserve that and more for distracting people from his sacred words of wisdom, and 
  • as he insults women and "blood coming out of their wherever" but he didn't mean THAT, oh no, he would never say anything like that, he loves the women, and
  • as he asks people of color to perform, as if minstrels, on stage (snicker snicker) and
  • as he tries to coerce a donation to veterans from a television network, this from a man who has never served his country, but only himself.

Make America Great Again?  Please. This man who professes to be Christian as he slams the faith of actual Christians, and lies about being a member of a church, this great Christian man who ogles his own daughter on national television, she's hot, I'd date her if she weren't my daughter, har har har.

Make America Great Again?

Make him go away, and maybe we stand a chance.

Tuesday's Number: $217,765

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were

  • eleven new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $210,265
  • no satisfied judgments, and
  • one bankruptcy, for $7,500

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:

  •  Crouse had four, totaling $38,136
  •  SUNY Upstate had seven, totaling $174,424

A home health services company accounted for the remaining $5,205. 

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

December 6, 2015

My Middle-aged White Lady Perspective: Why Not Treat All Laws the Same?

Robbery, assault and battery, the felon and his felony.
Robbery, assault and battery, the felon and his felony.

Criminals will always be criminals, they say.

They will still get guns, the story goes, and so we don't need any gun laws, or better gun laws, or more gun laws, because criminals will always be criminals, they'll get their guns, there's nothing we can do about it, laws only punish the law abiding, do you think people who are contemplating committing a crime even care about the laws or the punishment? They're criminals for heaven's sake. (Or they're mentally ill, or angry, or prompted by rhetoric, or racists, depending on circumstance, ethnicity, and who the victims are, it seems.)

Using that logic, here is one middle-aged white lady's take on some other laws we can get rid of:
  1. Driving while intoxicated, and under-aged drinking, selling alcohol to minors, and the like. The only people who do this are bad people and they'll continue doing it anyway. Because they're criminals. Or teenagers, which is really just the same thing.
  2. Robbery, Assault, and Battery. Yeah, I know, it's a Genesis song (hence the lyrics at the beginning of this post). But in reality, there's no need to have any laws related to this, because people who rob, assault and batter will do it anyway, and what the heck, the rest of us would never do that, because we're good people. Throw in breaking and entering too. These people are criminals, they will not be deterred merely by having laws on the books.
  3. Selling drugs. Another whole category of laws that we don't need. I mean, if people wouldn't buy drugs, they're would be no one selling them, and only bad people buy drugs, right?
  4. Rape, domestic violence, sexual assault. Come on ladies and gentlemen, just relax and give in, and you won't get hurt. You might enjoy it, or whatever the hell else the Republicans have been telling us for years. 
  5. Airbag and seat belt laws. And speed limits. And passing school buses with their red flashers on. Sure, these laws save lives, but only stupid people would ride in or drive a car without wearing their seat belts or without airbags. They deserve their fate. And speeders? They're just asshats, like the people who pass school buses some 50,000 times per day according to folks in New York.
  6. Murder, manslaughter, and the like. 
  7. Laws against pedophilia and other sex crimes against children. Adults will be adults, and they'll always prey on children, and that's just the way it is. Criminals will be criminals. And while we're at it, they should be allowed to live anywhere they please, be janitors in elementary schools and stuff. And that whole teachers-can't-have-sex-with-their-students thing?  Yeah, we don't need those laws either, because you know (wink wink), good for them (nudge nudge), and the kids must think it's awesome, right? All that attention, especially if Mr English Teacher or Ms Math Teacher are the school hotties!
  8. White collar crimes, medical fraud, pyramid schemes, identity theft, and all of those. Listen, the fact that our technology has advanced to the point we can practically pee and poop with our smart phones, that's just the way it is. People keep figuring out ways to get ahead of the technology and steal money, or identities, or medical information and collect billions fraudulently and so on. Well, more power to them for figuring it out and taking advantage, there's certainly no need for laws on this. It sucks, but only criminals and foreign governments do this kind of stuff anyway. Just move on.
  9. Any laws related to abortion, or keeping people alive on machines against their will, or frankly any laws about any other medical procedures, devices, facilities or practitioners. Unnecessary, one and all. I mean, who comes up with this crazy stuff? We would never ask anyone else to go through this to participate in a legal activity, right? Get rid of them.
  10. Laws related to voting. Only cheaters and criminals would try and vote illegally, and we know they're out there but there's no reason to make it harder for any law-abiding citizen to vote, right? No restrictions on polling places, or voting hours, or early voting periods. All voting districts - rich and poor, black and white, predominantly Republican or predominantly Democratic, etc. - would have the same rules: none.  
This isn't rocket science, folks. Heck, if we just got rid of all these laws, and the other ones on the books, we wouldn't need all those cops and judges and Lawyers, Guns and Money. Oh wait, we'll still need the guns and money. 

The cops, judges and lawyers? They can go on public assistance.

December 1, 2015

Tuesday's Number: $1,158,080

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were

  • five new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $1,164,316
  • two satisfied judgments for $16,630 and
  • one bankruptcy, for $10,394

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:

  • Crouse had two, totaling $13,666
  • St. Joe's had one, for $10,394
  • SUNY Upstate had two (the satisfied judgments), for a net negative $16,630

Where’s the rest? An infusion provider ($6,352) and a surgical practice ($6,330) had some of it.  

The balance was a filing by a rehab center/nursing home for $1,137,968 against the estate of a former patient. I can't even imagine what it would be like to get that bill, and to have had a loved one need care of that nature for such a period of time that a bill of that amount could be accrued. 

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

November 25, 2015

Happy Thangksiving

I thought about doing an all-new Thanksgiving post again this year, but in the end I decided against it. Not because I have nothing to say - like that will ever happen! -- but because there are thousands of bloggers who will be posting millions of words  today and tomorrow, and ultimately we're all probably going to write about the same themes.

You know: family and loved ones (those still here and those who have passed); memories of holidays back in the day; lists of things for which they are thankful; and the obligatory pictures of cooking, dinner tables, and the aftermath, the men sprawled on various couches in various states of turkey- and carb-induced torpor. Buzzfeed has some examples if you need a chuckle. Slate also chimes in on this.

Instead, I took another look at posts I had done for Thanksgivings past.

In 2013, I relived the story of Thanksgiving 1978, when I was an insecure college dropout traveling to my six-years-older-boyfriend's family gathering, something for which I was hopelessly ill-equipped, but which didn't kill me. And you know what they say about things that don't kill you: they make you stronger. And more appreciative of things. Here's an excerpt:
I remember being dropped at the bus station, and wondering if I was doing the right thing, not being home for Thanksgiving. I remember getting a small floral arrangement, a peace offering for his mother, And holding it on the bus from Syracuse to Jersey, trying hard not to spill it (it spilled). And it seemed so puny once I handed it over to her.
Last year, the post was a little different; it fell nicely into my Wondering on Wednesday theme, which (note to self) I just noticed I haven't been keeping up to date. Rather than the nostalgic musings of the year before, this post was full of pressing questions, such as:
If a male turkey's name is Tom, what's the female's name?  
Nobody answered me on that, so if know the answer or you've got a good guess or a suggestion, drop me a comment.

This year, I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner -- for the first time in 20 year or so, maybe even 25 years. I'm struggling a little - it's just always been 'my holiday', if you know what I mean. The special platter, and the special candles, and special dishes, and the little $5 antique potato masher that my Sweet Baboo - my now husband - loves so much.

But it will be fine, and it will be fun, and we will make new memories, just as we would if I had been the one slaving in the kitchen for days. Hmm... maybe I have the theme for next year's post?

Happy Thanksgiving - safe travels, wonderful memories, and well wishes.   

Politically Incorrect? Or Just Rude?

Have you seen this one yet?

This is the sign that a the owner of a bakery in Springfield OH put up, alerting potential customers to his self-proclaimed politically incorrect beliefs.

Now, we all know that the store itself is not politically incorrect. It's just a bakery after all, with a nice tile floor and a pretty sign on the door. Stores don't have beliefs, after all.

And you know what? I don't think the owners are politically incorrect, either. They're just exercising their First Amendment rights, which would be politically correct, wouldn't it?

Now, some people are getting all up in arms about this, for example pointing out that there are 30-some-odd celebrations in December, and over 4000 religions in the world, and how being Christian is not the only one that matters or the best one, and so on -- keeping the focus on the religious aspect of this.

My first reaction?  Seems pretty rude to pretend that it's not possible to love our country and be thankful for those who serve without also being a Christian or having 'Merry Christmas' as the December greeting of choice. These are not mutually inclusive, or mutually exclusive; I presume the bakery owner knows that and opted for self-persecution and rudeness as way to express frustration with (or, in the case of some political candidates, support for) the current state of religion in general and (supposedly, per Fox News) on Christians in particular.

On the slim chance that he's truly unaware, I can assure him that people of many faiths (or without one) can and do love America, and serve in the military or as first responders; they die for our country on foreign soil and right here at home, right next to the Christians who do the same.

They buy doughnuts. They run for office, teach school, drive trucks, process insurance claims, bag groceries, wait tables, lead companies, build homes and skyscrapers, deliver babies, cure diseases, act in movies, sing their hearts out, own guns, vote, give to charity, write poetry, create great art, go into space, pay taxes, serve on school boards, take care of their homes, raise their families, and so on, right smack dab in the middle of all the Christians. They're Muslims and Buddhists and Satanists and Jews and atheists and Sikhs and tribalists and whatever else -  and they are Americans.

They pledge allegiance to the flag (maybe skipping the 'under God' part) and spend money just like Christians do - even when the money says In God We Trust, and when they don't believe a word of it.

Here, people can have religious beliefs, and can express them as they choose. They can also not have religious beliefs, and express or not express that, as they choose. Equally, people can choose to be rude, and can choose to think that there's only one way to love America.

Me? I'm a Happy Holidays kind of gal, for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which are that it's easier, and that I don't really think about it all that much. I'm not religious but I love America just as much as the guy who put up this sign wants us to believe he loves America.

I also respect those who currently serve, and those who have served in the military, and respect police and firemen and people in all different professions and religions, even though some folks, regardless of profession or faith, have shown they're not worthy of that respect. They -- as individuals -- no longer get mine, but I don't stop respecting the whole kit and caboodle of them.

The best part? As an American, I get to pick and choose where I'm going to buy baked goods -- and if I were in Springfield, I'd hope there was another bakery, because I would not patronize this one. Not because he appears to be a Christian and I'm not religious, but because I  think he doesn't want my business, and I don't want to offend him by patronizing his shop.

I do appreciate that he puts his attitude on the door, though -- that'll save me a trip.

November 24, 2015

Has Christie Lost His Cojones?

Donald Trump shot his mouth off about watching thousand and thousands of people in New Jersey cheering when the twin towers of the World Trade Center came down on September 11th.

The way Trump  initially said it, in a speech in Alabama, you would have thought he was actually in Jersey City on 9/11 with these alleged celebrants, not watching them on television, which is what he clarified for various media outlets.

I really wanted to hear New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tell Donald Trump to get the hell of the news shows and stop badmouthing Jersey, like he told tourists and residents alike to get the hell off the beach when Hurricane Irene was taking aim at Asbury Park.

Instead, Christie wimped and mamby-pambied and wishy-washed and chose his words oh so very carefully:
I do not remember that, and so it's not something that was part of my recollection. I think if it had happened, I would remember it, but, you know, there could be things I forget, too.
Really?  That's all you've got, Governor?

Are you the same man who got in a shouting match with a former Navy SEAL?
If you decide what you want to do is put on a show today, let me tell you something, I can go back and forth with you as much as you want. And let me tell you something, after you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end's gonna get thrown in jail, idiot."
Or the guy who shouted at a teacher to "do her job", or who said that
You can treat bullies in one of two ways. You can either sidle up to them, or you can punch them in the face. I like to punch them in the face.
Maybe Christie was that guy when he was only the governor of New Jersey. Now that he's fighting an uphill battle to remain (become?) a viable candidate for the presidency, it seems he's lost his punch.


Even former NY Governor George Pataki responded more strongly than Christie, for heaven's sake.

The R's are all about being strong in the fight against terrorism -- but it seems they are uninterested in or unwilling to take that same approach when addressing things their fellow candidates say - even when it's something as outrageous as this.

While it's now clear that candidate Chris Christie doesn't remember what happened in New Jersey on 9/11, there is no way that Governor Chris Christie would have forgotten it had thousands and thousands of residents of his state, regardless of their nationality, had cheered the terrorism of  9/11. He would not have forgotten if it was only hundreds, or merely dozens of people.

Those actions would be etched in his brain, and in his heart, as the governor of a state that lost 674 residents that day. And you could be sure that if anyone was going to call out Jersey City residents for their behavior, it would have been Christie, and there would have been film.

Candidate Christie? His response was a kiss on the cheek of Donald Trump, and a slap in the face to the people of the state he currently represents.

Tuesday's Number: $219,165

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were

·         14 new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $230,706
·         two satisfied judgments for $11,541 and
·         no bankruptcies

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:

·         Crouse had three, totaling $423, after the credit for the satisfied judgments was applied
·         St Joe’s had five totaling $76,042
·         SUNY Upstate had seven, for $136,434

A local dentist filed the remaining judgment for $6,266. 

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

November 22, 2015

Point/Counterpoint: Syrian Refugees

Below are a number of comments made by various presidential candidates regarding Syrian refugees. Not surprisingly, there are a wide range of opinions, which allows me to classify this as a Point/Counterpoint post.

Can you match the contender with the statement? Answers at the end of the post - no cheating!

Here we go:
(a) We have welcomed refugees, the tired, huddled masses for centuries, that's been the history of the United States. We should continue to do so. We have to continue to be vigilant to make sure those coming are not affiliated with the terrorists, but we can do that. 
(b) I support the call from humanitarian and refugee organizations for the United States to accept at least 65,000 Syrian refugees next year. If Germany - a country with one-fourth our population - can accept 800,000 refugees this year, certainly we - the nation of immigrants and refugees - can do more. 
(c) You have the refugee organizations that are overwhelmed; I think it's in our national security interests to try and get ahead of this problem. My goal is to make sure they don't have to flee their country... They're not coming here because they want to. People leaving Syria are fleeing tyranny, not to get jobs. 
(d) We're facing the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II and I think the United States has to do more I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000 and begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in.  
(e) I'd sit down with our allies and figure out how we can help, because America is a compassionate country. We saw the image of that four-year-old little boy drowned in Syria (sic) and we can't have those kinds of things. I can't come up with an exact number. You'd have to sit with our allies and work together.
(f) We should take our fair share. We are good people. I don't think the average American has any idea what it's like to live in the Middle East right now. I don't see how you can lead the free world and turn your back on people who are seeking it... 
(g) I'm putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, they're going back. They're going back. 
(h) Are they really escaping tyranny, are they escaping poverty, or are they really just coming because we've got cable TV? I don't mean to be trite, I'm just saying we don't know. 
(i) Send them back to a hell hole? That's not the proper policy for the United States and it's certainly not an exhibition of leadership. 
(j) I think it's impossible to give a proper number until we understand the dimensions of the problem. People are leaving Iraq, they're leaving Syria, with just the clothes on their backs. The world has got to respond. The United States should be part of the response. 
(k) We've always been a country that's been willing to accept people who have been displaced, and I would be open to that if it can be done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not...people who were, you know, part of a terrorist organization that are using this crisis. 
(l) We are a welcoming nation, and we have accepted a lot of refugees, and I think we will continue to to do. But we also can't accept the whole world, so there are some limits. 
(m) The United States, I believe, has done it's fair share in terms of humanitarian aid...I think the United States honestly, sadly, cannot relax our entrance criteria. We are having to be very careful about who we let enter this country from these war-torn countries to be sure terrorists are not coming.  
How'd you do? Were you able to tell then apart?

Kudos, I think, to those who have maintained consistency in their positions and who have not jumped on the bandwagon simply to stay in the game. For those who previously said one thing and are now, post-Paris, saying something else, do you think they remember where they used to stand on this only a couple of months ago?

And, perhaps more importantly, do you think any reporters are going to call them on it where they're being inconsistent?


(a)  Ted Cruz  (b) Martin O'Malley (c) Lindsey Graham (d) Hillary Clinton (e) Chris Christie (f) Graham (g) Donald Trump (h) Mike Huckabee (i) Jeb! Bush (j) Bernie Sanders (k) Marco Rubio (l) Rand Paul (m) Carly Fiorina

November 21, 2015

The Update Desk: Double Dipping

Earlier this week, in my Grains of Salt (v3) post, I talked about the chief law enforcement officer of Onondaga County who, it appeared, had broken a campaign promise to not take both his taxpayer-paid pension and his taxpayer-paid salary.

Gene Conway, the double-dipper, was the Town of Dewitt police chief before being elected Onondaga County sheriff in 2014; before that, he worked in the sheriff's department for over 20 years, which is where he earned the pension that is the subject of the double-dip.

As police chief in Dewitt, he legally collected his pension in addition to his salary. When he ran for sheriff, he told us that he wanted to set an example, and that he would not take take his pension if elected.

As I noted the other day, reporters for the Syracuse Media Group (which includes the Post-Standard and Syracuse.com) discovered that Conway did collect a pension this year, from January to April, and that he received additional pension payments covering April through October after the reporters investigated with the state.

Conway wrote a letter to the Post-Standard in response to the earlier article, trying to explain how he had in fact kept his campaign promise not to take his pension. In the letter he stated
(That) is why I see it as vital to add several major corrections to the stories published on Syracuse.com regarding the allegation that I broke my promise to forgo my pension while sheriff.
Here's one his those "major corrections" from Conway
As a member of the New York State Employees Retirement System, I am guided by the regulations of the Retirement and Social Security Law.  After taking office earlier this year, I notified the system of my intention to suspend my pension benefits, based on my campaign pledge. This was verified by a copy of that correspondence contained in the story.
It is true that he asked for his pension to be suspended, but it had nothing to do with the campaign pledge. His letter stated in part
On or about April 10, 2015 I will reach the limit of $30,000 in earnings. Therefore I am requesting that my pension be suspended at the time it reflects my earned income limit.  
He doesn't point out in the letter to the newspaper his intention to resume his pension again next year, but he did include it in the letter to the retirement system.
I understand and request that my earned benefit will again resume as of January 1, 2016.
We now know that Conway can't have his pension suspended; that opportunity is not available to an elected official (something his opponent, Toby Shelley, seemed to know). But it's not his lack of knowledge on the pension laws that the issue here -- it's his contention that suspending his pension is what he promised during the campaign.

In a live chat facilitated by Syracuse.com back in 2014, the following exchange occurred. In reference to the double dipping Conway was doing at the time, a person asked
If it's wrong then why is it not wrong now and why don't you stop now? 
Conway responded
I currently receive a waiver to collect my pension. That waiver is legal and is actually applied for by the employer, which is the Town. It allows them not to have to pay 25% of my salary to the pension system. I have stated that I will not seek a pension as sheriff for two reasons - because I will be trying to set an example and there would be no savings to the county as I was previously employed there.
This was not the only time Conway vowed that he would not collect both his pension and his salary if elected.  Here's an excerpt from an interview published in the Eagle News Online, in which he was given the opportunity to tell voters about his plans regarding double dipping:
I presently collect a salary from the town of Dewitt as their police chief  I also collect my pension. I would not collect both as sheriff
And there's also this article, again from the Syracuse Media Groups outlets, specifically addressing the pension and salary issue:
Conway said he has already decided he would stop taking his pension if elected sheriff because he did not want it to become a political issue in the campaign. 
He also noted in another conversation with local reporters
I do not want it to be a factor for people in the community. I don't want it to be an issue in the campaign. This job is that important to me. 
And here's one last reference, from an interview with Dan Cummings on Newsmakers, where he was asked (just before the 14-minute mark) whether he would continue to draw the pension or do something else with it:
I've already stated publicly and consistently from the beginning that I will not seek that pension. Dan, straight out I won't take that pension. No double-dipping.
Nowhere do I see -- except in the letter to the editor -- any comment about suspending the pension. All of his statements are about not taking the pension.

Straight out Gene, I don't believe that saying you broke your promise is "misleading, unfair and incorrect" nor do I believe that your statement today "brings clarity to the matter at hand."

Clarity will come when you take yourself out of the retirement system until you fully retire, when you apologize to the Onondaga County community for breaking your repeated, consistent promises to not double-dip.

November 17, 2015

Grains of Salt (v3): Two Scoops, Please

It's hard to imagine that it's been almost a year since I did a post on a local elected official here in the Syracuse area double-dipping, taking both a taxpayer pension from a previous position and a taxpayer salary from their current position.

Last time, it was state Senator John DeFrancisco, who had resisted the urge to double dip as long as he could stand to, and then, in our best interests, decided that two scoops are better than one. He didn't mention it during his last campaign, mind you; rather he dropped it on us towards the end of the year well after he won re-election.
Granted, I could simply retire and not serve any longer. However, now that Republicans have regained control of the State Senate, Central New York would be better served by my returning to my senate seat, as a majority member and chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Ah how sweet the taste...

This time around, it's Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway, who replaced notorious double-dipper Kevin Walsh. Walsh blamed us for not knowing he was going to double dip - because we didn't ask him if he was going to, silly us.

Conway won election last year as Onondaga County Sheriff in a reasonably close race against Toby Shelley who had promised that he would not collect both his pension and salary, or that he would donate his pension to charity if he won election. John Balloni, who lost to Conway in a primary, admitted during the campaign that he'd take both.

Conway, aware of the controversy with his predecessor, told us he would not take both.
I have stated that I will not seek a pension as sheriff for two reasons, because I will be trying to set an example and there would be no savings to the county as I was previously employed there. 
And yet, seek a pension he did. He took steps to suspend his pension once his sheriff's salary reached $30,000, which is allowable under the rules as long as the pensioner is not an elected official. But since he is an elected official, the state had to pay him for the missed payments from April through October.  And, going forward, he'll get both, unless he leaves the pension system, according to a State Comptroller's office employee.

"I will be trying to set an example," Conway told us; he might have tried, but he did not succeed. He also hasn't had much to say on the issue, when contacted by the media.

Time will tell if he'll take the necessary steps to actually become the example we expected.

Tuesday's Number: $552,544

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were

·         24 new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $525,314
·         two satisfied judgments for $15,455 and
·         two bankruptcies, for $42,685

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:

·         Crouse had three, with a net credit of $4,215
·         SUNY Upstate had eighteen, totaling $458,509

A local rehab center (six filings, $90,451) and Catskills area hospital ($7,799) accounted for the other $23,250. Crouse had the net negative because the two satisfied judgments were greater than the single open judgement filed this week.

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

November 16, 2015

Point/Counterpoint: Christians and Muslims

Words of wisdom, or something: from two who want to lead the greatest democracy in the history of the world, and from one who plays a game for a living.

Jeb Bush notes that, while we should be making it safe for people to stay in Syria and not have to leave the country and flood Europe and the US, and we need to secure our borders,
original photo Jeb!2016
There are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They'll be either executed or imprisoned, either by Assad or ISIS. And I think we should have - we should focus our efforts as it relates to the Christians that are being slaughtered. 

Donald Trump, meanwhile, echoed comments that folks such as Britain's PM David Cameron had made earlier this year, and that some in the French government have made more recently, regarding closing some mosques:
I would hate to do it but it's something you're going to have to strongly consider. Some of the absolute hatred is coming from those areas. You're going to have to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talking is going on at the mosques.
Not surprisingly, there were no calls from His Hairness, or the rest of the Republican candidates, to shut down Christian churches when there was so much vitriol and hate spread from the pulpits about marriage equality or contraception. Or for calls to shut down Catholic churches during the time of the terrorist pedophile priests.

Anyway -- moving on.

After a jerk yelled "Muslims suck!" during a moment of silence at the start of the Green Bay Packers - Detroit Lions football game on Sunday, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers minced no words:
I must admit I was very disappointed with whoever the fan was who made the comment. I thought it was really inappropriate during the moment of silence. It's that kind of prejudicial ideology that I think puts us in the position that we're in today as a world.
Lead from where you are, they say. One of these three did exactly that.