The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Nation, The University, The City

1. The Nation

Did you notice that I made no comments after the president’s State of the Union Address? I was just so glad that it was the very last time we have to be subjected to that type of event with him in charge.

But Tuesday night was a different story. Tuesday itself was full of Biostats and such, and I anticipated coming home to relax. (Even with two tests on Wednesday). But how can one relax when their candidate is experiencing a huge win in Florida?

No delegates for the democrats, you say? That will be argued later when the Florida Party officials are lobbying to have their delegates credentialed. No, this vote was very important because of this >>> The candidates did not campaign in Florida…but Florida voters are not without televisions, computers or newspapers. They are well aware of the bickering between the candidates, the media bias, and of Barack’s big win in South Carolina. And they still are giving Hillary a 17% win, with 50% of the vote.

The Floridians had the same amount of candidate contact that most of the Super Dooper Tuesday voters will have. We for the most part, across the 24 states, have to depend on media reports…and word of mouth from friends and neighbors. We will not have candidate saturation like South Carolina had. People interviewed from Florida said that is what they did, and they propelled Hillary Clinton to a huge victory. And as a result, she got great air play from her win and her speech last night.

I just learned that John Edwards has dropped out of the race. It is hard to judge who this will help, the "white" vote might go to Clinton, the "anti-Clinton" vote will go to Barack, some will stay home (but come back out to vote in November). But it does mean we will have a one on one debate tomorrow night between just Barack and Hillary.

2. The University

UAB had a “Free Food For Thought” yesterday, a forum in which students, faculty and anyone else can come and get free food in exchange for participating in a round (rectangle) – table discussion. This month’s topic was “Is UAB Committed to Diversity?” On the flyer above the word “diversity” was a rainbow colored graphic, and also a collage of diversity was pictured. UAB does mention sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy.

The event took place in the Ryals Building which houses the School of Public Health, so it was easy for me to attend. The School was well represented, but there were also students and staff from the School of Medicine, undergraduate, the radio station and more.

One important point brought up is that the appearance of diversity does not indicate diversity in reality. The student who mentioned this used the Bush administration as an example, but even among the public health students this was noted. We are probably the most diverse School on campus, attracting students from around the world, with many students from various African countries along with India, Iran, Bangladesh and more. We are represented by Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Christians and more. Sexual orientation is understood (as presented in various classes) as a part of the normal spectrum of people.

So I was surprised to hear my fellow students voice opinions that did not reflect this. Too much Christianity an American said. Too much gathering of Indians with Indians and Blacks with Blacks and Whites with Whites in the hallways, another said. Yet another public health student said the biostats all hang together, the epi people all hang and the maternal and child health people do the same.

My feeling is that none of that reflects the University’s commitment to diversity, rather the natural tendency of people to associate with people like themselves.

But I was able to bring up an issue that reflects the University’s lack of commitment, or at least their lack of realization that they are breaking their own anti-discrimination policy by refusing to offer benefits (insurance) to same sex (or opposite sex) unmarried partners of employees who are insured. A commitment to diversity should include all people and treating all people equally.

Don’t let UAB tell you they can not do that because the administrator of their plan does not offer it. I am not sure if Blue Cross Blue Shield is the administrator of their (self insure) plan or not, but regardless, other “self insures” like Wachovia, RBC Bank, and Southern Progress offer such benefits, and I think they are administered by BC/BS. Correct me if I am wrong.

Then others like Terry Kellogg from BC/BS who spoke at the Over The Mountain Democrat forum a couple of weeks ago say economics will not allow it, but that is a fallacy. Studies show that costs are less for most same sex couples because most of them do not incur health care costs for things like pregnancies and childbirths.

What’s in it for UAB if they offer insurance benefits? Many top professors and research scientists overlook UAB for this reason. They may not be gay themselves, but they want to work in a place that offers equality. Some probably realize that if one group is discriminated against, it might not belong before another will be.

I made those points in about four sentences, and no one else commented on it, but I did notice some nods from some faculty types that were there. And sexual orientation was mentioned by a couple of other people as being a part of diversity.

All in all the forum was worthwhile and the food (Mexican) was good.

3. The (little) City

Bessemer is trying its best to become "Little Birmingham." (not to be confused with the liquor store by the same name on the outskirts of Panama City Beach that was the first stop on the beach road for our family vacations when I was growing up!)

I mean, here is Bessemer about to turn control of their water filtration plant over to an outside agancy with no control reserved for the city, like the Birmingham Water Works, sort of. Then, last night at a Council meeting during which the public turned out to voice concerns, Mayor Ed May, Council President Jesse Matthews, Councilors Dorothy Davidson and Earl Cochran, and others, put on an embarrasing display of childish behavoior, arguing and raising their voices until finally the meeting was adjourned having accomplished nothing.

I take that back. Something was accomplished. Information that I learned at the Bessemer Neighborhood Association meeting Monday was released. $3 million or so is missing. This is bond money that during Quitman Mitchell's administration was supposedly placed in irrevocable trust to draw interest to later pay on the $56 million bond issue that GUSC has only been making interest payments on. Money that was to be used now, or in 2009, to make the principle payment that everybody is worried about.

Those of us who wonder why only interest has been paid also wonder where the $3 million went. We do have copies of a resolution from 2000 which authorized GUSC to make "the first four payments of the $3.7 million from GUSC" to "the City of Bessemer General Fund..."

Alice Martin where are you?


Anonymous said...

Do you think Mitch stole the money?

Anonymous said...

No way to know at this point. That is why we need Alice Martin.
But the resolution I mentioned (Resolution No. 624-01) was signed by Louise alexander (Presiding Officer), attested by Otis Smith (City Clerk) and Approved by Quitman Mitchell (Mayor)

Trey said...

John is out, eh? Is he once again the inevitable vice-pres candidate? I guess this means that the nomination of a black man OR a woman is virtually inevitable. I kinda thought everybody might chicken out at the last minute.