Saturday, June 2, 2012

Defending Mick

I'm not a fan of Rep. Mick Mulvaney's politics and policy positions, but I do like the man. Even if I didn't like him, I'd have attest to the fact that not only is he intelligent, but also, a recent report to the contrary, a good public speaker.

A study cited in a story by James Rosen, the excellent Washington beat reporter for my paper's parent company, McClatchy Newspapers, analyzed and rated the speech patterns and grammar proficiency of members of Congress (see the link) and Mick graded out as speaking on an 8th-grade level.

Study: Mulvaney's speeches least advanced in Congress

I've been around my share of 8th graders and unless there's a particularly articulate study group Mick is being compared to, I'm just not getting it. I've seen him address a crowd and I've talked to him in private. There are educators and CEOs I've talked to who don't speak as well.

Now, maybe he's losing points for being colloquial and if that's so, it's unfair. His views may be stuck in the 1950s, but you can't fault the guy for adopting 21st century lingo. Communication evolves. Language evolves.

You can throw around the king's English all you want, but what's the use if nobody's listening?

Mick called the study "hogwash." I agree.


For anyone who was following the DEW saga, I had to go down there again and practically force an employee to take a check from me for the amount they over paid. Oh, and I had a fairly long wait prior to the privilege.

- 30 -

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Don't know if I should laugh or cry

Well, if the absurdity of the tangled bureaucracy known as the S.C. Dept. of Employment Workforce (stupid name, too) hasn't crushed my spirit by now, I just might be stronger than I realized.

The good news is, 1 month and two days since I began my furlough, the DEW finally paid the claim. Yep - they even direct deposited it into my account...but they did it twice. They paid for two weeks when I only claimed one. I'm honestly afraid to find out what comes next.

In the meantime, we're a sampling of an email thread  with a DEW supervisor in Columbia from the past couple of weeks:

OK, not sure if you saw my last blog entry about going to the unemployment office, but I have zero confidence in them. Beth may or may not have filed for me before she left (and there's no one to ask) but in any case, it has been such a cluster trying to collect my damn $300 (and now it's more about the principle than the money). Mostly, it's being run in circles, told contradictory things. That's when you can actually get ahold of someone to talk to!

So, being a stubborn reporter, I started making calls while at the same time using the DEW's online "support" form.

Here's an email string from that form...and as soon as I get my money, this will be my next blog entry on that subject:

From: Online Feedback Form from Web Site []
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 5:23 PM
To: UI Technical Services
Subject: Online Feedback Form

From: Michael Harrison
Email Address:
Claim Type: South Carolina Claim
Workforce Center: Rock Hill
Phone: 8039799087

I visited the Rock Hill Center today and was directed to create an account but the system was down. So I was told to go home and create one, which I did. when I got the email verification email and followed the link the authentication image and phrase were NOT the ones I entered so I did not enter my passwords (as the page said to do). Now I have no idea what to do.

Nutter, Tina
Mar 29 (6 days ago)

to me
What is the User ID that you created?

Michael Harrison
Mar 29 (6 days ago)
to Tina

But, just fyi, I created a new account at the DEW office in Rock Hill today. However, if you still want to investigate and see why I was getting that glitch i think it's a good idea! Thank you!

Nutter, Tina
Mar 29 (5 days ago)

to me
If you created a new account and received the validation e-mail and correct security pictures, just use your new account that you created.

Michael Harrison
Mar 29 (5 days ago)
to Tina

OK, thank you

Nutter, Tina
Apr 2 (2 days ago)
to Tina

I have been one a 1-week furlough since March 25. I've made two visits to the Rock Hill office, and according tot he instructions I was given on March 29, I attempted to file a claim today. However, the phone method did not work, telling me I needed to visit the DEw office!

to me

Please provide the last 4 digits of your SSN so that I am able to locate your claim information.  Thank you.

Nutter, Tina
9:03 AM (6 hours ago)

to Tina


to me

Your claim closes out after two consecutive weeks of not filing weekly claims.  You will need to re-open your claim either by reporting into your local workforce center or filing a new application online.

Nutter, Tina
9:03 AM (6 hours ago)

Michael Harrison
2:06 PM (1 hour ago)

to Tina

I did both! My furlough began March 26. I was in the office that week (last week) - twice! The second visit, March 29, I filled out a new application online at the office, with a DEW person sitting with me. When we were done, she told me to call in on Sunday, which I did, but an auto response told me I needed to visit the office!

I'll go back there, but I wonder if that is necessary. Also, My furlough ended at midnight Sunday. I went back to work on April 2.

Michael Harrison
2:52 PM (25 minutes ago)

to Tina

Ms. Nutter,

I just spoke with Jean Rimley at 737-3089. she said I indeed should receive benefits for the week March 31 (benefit year ending 11/5/12)

Nutter, Tina
3:07 PM (9 minutes ago)

to me

Ms. Remley is an Administrative Assistant in the Central Office here in Columbia.  Yes, once your claim has been reviewed by the Rock Hill Workforce Center and submitted into our system, it will be processed and if you are found eligible you will receive benefits for week ending 3/31/12.  Please keep in mind for lay off claims we have to give the employer 10 days to respond to our agency’s request for information regarding the reason you are not working.  If they respond before that 10 day time limit, the claim will be processed.  If they do not respond by the 10 days, the system will handle the issue automatically.

I have spoke to the Claims Supervisor in the Rock Hill WFC and they will be reviewing your claim either today or tomorrow.  Once the claim has been submitted, you will be able to file for claim week ending 3/31/12 so that it will be in the system to be paid, if found eligible, once the claim has processed.

Tina Nutter

to Tina

Michael Harrison

3:11 PM (6 minutes ago)

to Tina

OK, I appreciate the update.
Now, I do have another question: Do I still need to call in to 1-866-831-1724 on Sunday as previously instructed? If not, do I need to take any action whatsoever? That part remains unclear.

Again, thank you for your assistance.

Nutter, Tina
3:19 PM (39 minutes ago)

to me

My suggestion would be to try calling in tomorrow as hopefully they will be submitting the Internet claim today.  If you are not able to call tomorrow, I would keep calling each day until this coming weekend.
 Nutter, Tina

3:22 PM (36 minutes ago)

to me

The tel-claim system won’t recognize your call-in for CWE 3/31/12 once the Internet claim has been reviewed.

Michael Harrison
3:57 PM (1 minute ago)

to Tina

OK, will do. Thank you again for your help

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just plain folks

My newspaper didn't cover then-candidate Rick Santorum's visit to fort Mill this past winter (which doesn't seem all so long ago). Our sister daily, The Herald, was covering it, so using our reduced resources there would have been redundant and we likely would have had to sacrifice a local story neither of us was covering that week.

Now that he dropped out, what would have been the point, really? It won't be of much historic significance - although someday it will make for an off the beaten path bullet point in the weekly look back at news we published in past decades. But Santorum quitting the race - not expected - brought something to mind today. Although I really can't stand the guy and its obvious his own extreme views cost him any chance at the GOP nomination, I do admire that he was among the few candidates for President who truly comes from a background I can relate to.

Outside President Obama and before him, President Clinton, how many candidates have run for the office who actually knew what it was like to worry about making ends meet? About paying the car insurance or the the rent? Lights or lunch?

Santorum (I'm not sure about Ron Paul, but he's really a non factor). Gingrich and Romney both grew up not knowing the anxiety of not having enough money (and both have enough to literally burn without sacrificing a thing).

Can't say that about Al Gore or W. Not Kerry, either.

Now Dole, he lived through the depression. I think of Nixon and Truman (Ike - I'd have to look up).

Add them all up and it seems very few of the serious candidates were not among the privileged. I'm not sure what it means, but it makes me think. How about you?

p.s. New post coming soon about our wonderful S.C. unemployment office personnel (sarcasm off).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

This is where libertarians ar born

OK, I'm getting off the journalism track here for this one, although my experience at the unemployment office the last two days might come in handy when writing about government and bureaucrats some day.

I'm on day 4 of my week-long furlough and, unlike my last furlough in November, I'm determined to collect the benefits I've been approved for. It's not much - less than half the week's pay I lost this week - but hey, it will pay some bills.

The fact that I had to go back there a second time could be a rant in itself; on my first visit - and apparently, if there wasn't some glitch between my employer and the unemployment folks didn't occur I wouldn't have had to visit there at all - it seems their system crashed, so my choice was to wait indefinitely or go home and try to their system from there.

What's that you say? That if I could do what they need me to do from any computer, why did I need to be there in the first place? I'm still waiting for an explanation on that.

A real telling moment was when I finally (as if I had been speaking an alien language and suddenly started speaking English) convinced a worker there that I am on a furlough and going back to work on Monday. Documents from DEW that were sent after my first furlough, the papers that pretty much spell out my status and what the procedures were apparently tainted by some toxic substance, judging by anyone's reluctance to handle them or even look at them.

The one that made me rally sigh was when two workers couldn't decide on what one is supposed to do first when applying for benefits. This chicken/egg debate made me conclude that I must have been lucky enough to draw two workers who were on their first day on the job.

Now, keep in mind these are STATE not Federal workers. But just the same. I walked out of their wondering how many Democrats walked in their and left as Republicans...or libertarians.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letting go

So, I'm in Day 2 of a week-long furlough and (outside of the loss of pay) the toughest thing is not being a part of the newspaper. Not that there aren't qualified people to get the job done while I'm away, but when you pretty much structure your life around your job and your job is in the public eye, it's difficult to let go.

I'm doing better than I did the last time I was away though. I suspect I was annoying the folks filling in with my texts and emails with suggestions and questions, but it was almost like an addiction. that time, however, I was on vacation. Laws and rules governing furloughs prohibit me from doing even that, which makes it easier, I suppose.

It's easier today than it was yesterday.

There are no rules from me checking out our website or picking up the paper tomorrow, but it might be best just to pretend they don't exist for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blinded by science

A few posts back I mentioned that I need to explore what technology is out there to help a reporter digitally record interviews so notes can be uploaded as voice-to-text as opposed to me transcribing (and deciphering) handwritten notes the old school way.

Well, one Google search later, my mind is reeling. Not only is there a dizzying area of options, but it's necessary to figure out what's compatible with my computer (I'm a 'Mac'). Who's got time for that? Not me.

But, it's a necessary task. Just wish I had an assistant.

Will keep ya'll posted.