Friday, December 19, 2014

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In Between (for now)
Diana Ross
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Sunday, November 2, 2014


I drive myself nuts with my need to be thorough.  I posted some individual photos today of the front yard.  In one comment, I referenced the neighbors' hydrangea.  While looking for something else I came accross an old photo of the hydrangea.  Since I just referenced it, wouldn't it be cool to move it up to where the new photos are,  But I could not find an option to do that.  i did find an option to move it to a different album.  But when I tried to create a new album it brought up my photos folder on my computer leading me to think I had to start a new album from the computer's  photos file unless  I created the album upon posting the photo.  Not finding that photo I posted any old photo to start because i know how to delete it.  Then I started adding today's photos and the old one to the new album.  But I noticed one of the new photos had lost its caption and most of the photos had captions that would be deleted if I moved the photo.  Then I noticed that the old hydrangea photo kept its caption.  Then I thought about cutting and psatig each comment to a Word document and reposting them into comments.  But I am not able to re-install Word until the computer is fixed. Then I realized that i could paste them into the blog and delete the blog post later.  And all because FB can't manage to keep a caption with a photo.  Sure I could wait till my computer is fixed.  But it's not fixed now, and I'm alive now, so I am doing shit now, I don't have time to put off my life because FB is incompetent or inept or just plain evil.  I need to get shit done today not next week.  I'm trying to stop myself from doing everything at once and achieve balance by doing a little each day as neighbor Molly advises but after this break I got posts backed up i my head that could take months to get.  About every 20 minutes I remember another one.  I still haven't gotten to Day of  the Dead and that was yesterday!

So Folks, next time I take  FB break, consider that I needed to escape from the confinement of the evil internet world that exists only in a computer, and wanted or needed to live and breathe in the real world for a moment, pulling real weeds, cutting real flowers, or just sitting on the patio looking at the actual sky and real earth, and playing with my real dogs, getting shit done!

Fresh this morning. For all who sent their thoughts during my absence I am calling my personal at home garden sabbatical focused on me, my life, my issues, past present and future, allowing myself to think deeply of my life so far, and to finally accept the pointless futility of judging whether I pushed too hard or not hard enough, was too strong or too weak, did enough or could have done more. So that finally I could let go of all the angst, negativity, doubt, drama, useless speculation and misleading judgement. I did what I did, I'm glad i did it, I pursued what I wanted to do, every moment was challenging and stimulating and growth inducing while also sometimes productive and some times not, sometimes successful and sometimes not. The only way to clean out the past was to reflect upon and address it. So I could now stop looking back and just keep looking forward having cleared out the old to allow room for the new and to find buried under all that garbage what's left of who I was when I started and improve on that. And to build up sufficient inner strength now to face, be present for and process the pending close personal losses that are not imminent but are approaching as the natural order of things and that I have to expect will occur sooner rather than later and that get closer with each passing day. As I now just brought forth to my consciousness, I am much more familiar with the wrenching pain wracked premature death of a vibrant promise filled and denied life not even half lived, than with the natural passing after a long lived fulfilling life. Better I start this now than late.r

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Friday, October 31, 2014


BROCKWORLD      (323) 868-8295 (cell text)

After all the work I've done and the lengthy break, the house has never been cleaner and the yard never looked better and I am financially, and mentally ready to welcome both local and out of town visitors who would like visit, hang out or stay.

I like that heading; I just thought of it the other day, don't know why it took me so long.  It will now be the new title of my blog and the title of this main page which will contain personal updates and musings.  I have resolved now to at least try to check all my email accounts, message sources, and phones once a week to maintain a more consistent contact with those who still wish to communicate with me.  

I have been trying to convince myself it's time to return to social media and writing as I haven't written all summer.  But I have been thinking and reflecting a lot and now am ready to write about it and maintain a presence on a more consistent basis.  And I have done a lot of work on the yard and have tons of photos to share.  

Earlier this week I finally relented and allowed itunes and quick media player or something to update and i never got my computer to restart ever since.  Having everything on my seagate drive is wonderful.  Consulting with a friend I decided to reinstall or reboot from the factory disk.  That worked but now it says there is no room for anything perhaps there is stuff there that is not needed or duplicative.  Hope to resolve that and reinstall my virus protection for which it says there is no room by tomorrow but I have thought of something that might resolve that.  Trying to finish this update on my recent reflections and break tonight.  Now that I have 'finished' thinking of this stuff or at least reached some conclusions I have to write it down, not so much to remember but so my brain won't burst open before I let it all out.  

Then I have tons of photos to post on all the yard work and accomplishments during my social media break.  I am more determined than ever to focus on the blog more than FB and maintain the discipline.  I'll use FB as it was intended for brief posts.  I'll also post links on FB whenever I update the blog.  More than ever I wish I had bought a laptop during that brief post retirement spending binge.  But I am doing much better financially - I had money this last week of the month for the first time in months!  I shouldn't say that.  

But I can't put off computer replacement beyond Spring.  Tablets and such are cute but I want to use the portable device as i use the computer - for everything - and be able to use it in any room of the house or the patios.  So for that I believe I need laptop with a lot of capability and storage.  I do have a 1.8 TB Seagate storage unit which has ALL my music, documents, photos, etc, with 1.56 TB still empty and available.  So if I get this ideal laptop, do I need a new desktop computer?  Now I wonder if part of  the space problem is  because the operating system disk has been in the drive all day.  Still my C drive is completely full so there must be stuff there that shouldn't be.  

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Last Spring I decided to take a few weeks off from FB and do other stuff.  It seems i could sit here all day, get nothing done, and not even work on the blog while I post and respond to FB bs.  Then it gradually occurred to me - I am still doing too much and if I really try, I believe I could do LESS, much much less!!!  Sure I reduced my activity and intensity from the 40 year non stop barely had time to breathe mission to fix the fed. govt, end or transform bureaucracy as we know it and instill common sense and progressive supportive politics in our institutions, for the good of the common decent unrich folks, end discrimination, enforce civil rights laws as they were written and meant to be enforced according to law and in doing so honor or at least respect those whose blood sweat and tears literally fueled the legislative and judicial adoption of equal rights and social justice in the US  during the '60s and beyond.  As the evil opponents having lost their battle to preserve legal discrimination and maintain their preferences and adopted a strategy to chip away at them, reducing revenue, belittling reducing and sabotaging enforcement, and trying to convince the public and the courts that doing away with separate access to public accommodations facilities and services had resolved over 200 years of degradation so we didn't even need these laws cuz hey, everyone's equal now.  

But I needed to take a break, allow others the opportunity to save the world, at least for the time it takes me to stop and focus solely on ME, for once in my life.  After all, I am free, mostly financially self sufficient, and I really don't have to do nothing, no one can make me do nothing, so I am going to do NOTHING for awhile.  That lasted a week but it got me thinking about getting back to basics - what do I need to do, what do I want to do.  So I focused on the basics- cooking, eating, shopping, meeting the dogs needs, giving Beau more attention, trying with Mom but here's a hint- the more someone complains no matter how much or little you do, and always asks for more when you do try - eventually one will do less because the efforts seems useless, ineffective and unappreciated.  I was also wondering if Mom and Beau would pass on  in close proximity - it really bothered me for awhile and I needed to be prepared to accept loss while supporting life.  And if there is one issue i try to avoid - in fact there was a time - maybe I'll write about that someday - about individuals having different abilities and strengths to tolerate cope and accept loss or turning to self medication when the pain of loss after loss does not seem bearable.  

But this is natural, at 90 years and still going for Mom and at least 14 for Beau.  And they may both remain for quite some time.  Beau was starting to cling, to rub me, and wanting me to walk with him from room to room or up or down stairs instead of just making eye contact to let me know where he is.  I wondered about hearing and eye sight loss knowing his sense of smell is stronger than either and he has no problem maneuvering.  But he does notice if a chair is moved.  But there are indications he can hear or see  what he wants.  Last Saturday watching those wonderful Italian cooking shows on PBS, every time the food could be heard sizzling in the pan through the TV he lifted his head and looked around for the source.  He still has the growth in his leg but at a certain point it stopped growing.  Vet visits are going to be my highest priority.  

Where was I?  The health update distracted me.  Oh yeah, back to ME!!!!! So in resetting the pace I realized there is always a dust to broom, or is that broom to dust, a flower to cut, a week to pull.  Somehow that led to moving furniture and thorough cleaning.  Then the yard.  I added new irrigation canals, completing my goal of one running across the yard east to west, two main north-south channels and several tributaries.  That led to the fracking project that resulted in water soaking through the 3 foot drop at least below the retaining wall until reaching a drainage pipe wisely placed at the bottom of the neighbor down below's yard.  That's a lot of water.  

Well I wasn't exploring for gas, but tired of ineffectively digging up the surface weeds strangling the roses that attach to the top 'soil' and until it's hard as cement, i realized that holding the hose beneath the soil was effective at breaking that up.  After weeks of that i realized, I have a new high pressure nozzle for the hose which I wasn't using.  That was very effective.  As a result of that and digging for the canals and the weed and earth removal, I unearthed 2 blocks of cement that have annoyed me for years.  I realized the one below the grape vine did not mark a buried treasure, old retaining wall, ancient civilization or burial ground, no someone had cement left over from a project and dumped it there.  I will need a bigger sledge hammer to finish breaking that up.  

At the end of the rose bush planter consulting with my neighbor regarding all the rocks I was finding I realized I discovered the fire pit that every back yard had to burn garbage prior to municipal garbage collection.  That is an ideal large piece of flat cement that I can move and double the size of the flooring of the new outdoor (yet to be completed shower) (adjacent of course to the new hot rock sauna) that occurred to me while covered with mud from my projects throwing the (minimal) clothes into the washer and hosing off before entering the house.  I  have a new doggie and stoner's patio with pillows and rugs added on to the patio outside my bedroom.

Back to the roses - I got rid of the weeds but the roots are exposed and I sense that I need to get to home depot next week to cover them with good soil.  And for the first time all year, I have roses for the last month.  I have way too many photos to post to illustrate the above.  

I think I have survived and am arising from the first phase of my retirement which I see now was ridding my body and mind of a lot of negative energy, doubt, trauma, and stress to find the inner peaceful happy positive happy being that was half buried by the detritus (that's a word, right?) thrown my way while I fought to make a difference and achieve or at least address the lifelong goals instilled in my at an early age by who will ever know what force of nature spirit or energy.  

There are some songs on Prince's new album with lyrics instantly drew my attention - esp that one about recovering from 45 years of societal delusion and negative messaging or something. I wanted to find the lyrics and post them.  While some of the effect has worn off, it's an impressive piece of work writing and music that is as topical and on point as anything released in the last 40 years.  

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The rest may not be as interesting, if you even made it this far, but I wrote it earlier so I may as well post it.  I am too tired to determine if it flows and is well constructed.

I have been thinking a lot about the period in my life after I left college prior to graduating and before I started my government career.   It seems so similar to this period of my life it is rather eerie, but with some important differences.  Now I have a house and security, an identity, self awareness, confidence and strong belief system.  What's similar is it seems I am just as broke now as I was then.  And I still haven't cut my hair so it is just as long.  I was starting to realize and accept that I would likely leave college after 2 years at the University of California, Berkeley.

I had fled to Berkeley ASAP after graduating from my small all boys high school in Pasadena run by the Christian Brothers, a Catholic order founded in France and devoted to educating 'young men.'  The school had a tradition of seniors 'hazing' freshmen the first week of class.  Just silly stupid stuff on campus, tug of wars in the mud.  The climatic event occurred in the open area in the courtyard on Friday which was to be the last day surrounded by teachers.  I am not sure what they planned to do.  But it was the 1960's and the freshman class organized with the mentorship of Brother Lawrence, a tall kind thoughtful teacher of Latin, Greek, philosophy, ancient Greek culture, and Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel.  When I told this to a therapist long ago he was impressed that a Catholic school taught Jewish folk music.  He put our chairs in a circle and we talked and discussed issues.  If only he had taught Spanish, I could be fluent today; instead I took Latin and Greek.  It was only a couple years since retiring as an altar boy and wanting to be a nun.  So with Brother Lawrence, me my 2 friends and others, we arranged a signal 5 minutes before the seniors were released for lunch.  The freshmen ran from the classrooms formed a circle in the courtyard around Brother Lawrence and we sang protest songs, like "We Shall Overcome".  We locked our arms together and refused to move.  The seniors were apoplectic; I think they might have surrounded us screaming for an hour.  The juniors were just as livid, as I discovered during family dinner that evening.  The school announced the end of the hazing tradition.  My brother, like all juniors, were awaiting their opportunity the next year to haze the freshman, but he Class of 1970 ruined that.  Senior year my best friend, a liberal hippie, was elected student body president by about 5 votes over the conservative popular, and very hot campus jock.  The culture wars were starting.  Me and our other friend became his top advisers.  We had regular meetings at Bob's Big Boy off campus in Pasadena or at the beach, on Fridays, usually timed to coincide with the weekly Mass in the gym which we were tiring of despite the folk music. We would debate whether to volunteer for Bobby Kennedy or Gene McCarthy and came out 2-1 for Bobby.  And we attended the huge anti-war moratoriums at USC that fall.  I was so ready for Berkeley. They were going to UC Santa Barbara but realizing my mother could, and would often, get there in 2 hours, and that I wanted the space away from them to discover and determine why my attraction for men seemed to get stronger every day.  As it was, one night in Berkeley living in a commune on a street where every house was a commune, I seem to remember being tracked down in someone else's bed down the street, who I still know today.  Or was it.... Anyway I am sure I was in flagrante, about 20, and my mother who lived 400 miles away was at my door unannounced.

 At Berkeley I completed upper division courses in politics and government and a few graduate seminars listening to hippies tell their stories of the free speech movement, working as an intern for former Congressman Ron Dellums after his historic victory in 1970 based on his opposition to the war, defeating a well known incumbent white liberal Democrat.  After that I interned for Councilwoman Loni Hancock, who was later elected Mayor, to the Assembly, and may still serve in the State Senate.  I believe she was one of the founders of the Mothers for Peace movement.  She is kind progressive brilliant dedicated to public service and no one can be more committed or ethical than Loni.  I became very involved in a grass roots progressive political movement she and others of like minds founded to oppose the Democratic majority on the city council and provide progressive community oriented political leadership for the benefit of all instead of the few.  2 years after seeing Bobby Kennedy assassinated on TV on the verge of being elected President and transforming the country, I had vowed to give up electoral politics.  What was the point - killing an elected official is like killing democracy and taking away our rights.  But local politics in Berkeley was much different than LA - everything was different - the sky was always blue not brown,  i was not followed in stores because my skin was brown and my hair long, strangers greeted each other with kindness rather than fear, people of all races seemed to interact rather than segregate.  Who would shoot a mayor - perhaps local politics was it.  Eight years later having worked for Harvey Milk successful election to the Board of Supervisors and recommitted to electoral politics, Harvey and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated at City Hall.  Eventually I understood giving up helps no one.  I was also involved in leadership in a neighborhood group in Berkeley leading to my 2nd and last political regret - advocating for speed bumps to slow down traffic.  Speeding down local streets is wrong - but i hate speed bumps.  

And if you must know the other mistake was accepting my father's offer - did he pay me a quarter or a dollar - to go door to door in our neighborhood to distribute brochures supporting Goldwater for President in 1964.  I plead ignorance.  I was just starting to read the paper and watch the news and civil rights protests.  I became aware my father come home from work with a newspaper published in the afternoon - wow 2 newspapers in one day!  I still love reading a newspaper, at least one that still knows the definition of journalism which seems to apply to very few in addition to the NY Times which I digitally subscribe to and avidly read.  It seemed only weeks later I became politically aware and was horrified at what I had done.  Then one night I saw LBJ's "hiroshima" ad with the mushroom cloud.  I told my Dad we made a terrible mistake and we have to go take back those brochures because if Goldwater wins he's going to blow up the world.  My father responded "No he's not he's just going to blow up Cuba and the Commies deserve it."  But what about the people who aren't Communists and can't leave Cuba.  It was like a replay of my argument in 1st grade during Catechism when it was my understanding that only Catholics are allowed in Heaven.  Sounded like discrimination to me.  Every day I thought of new scenarios of people who never sinned did good deeds but never heard of Jesus Christ - not only was it unfair but it made no sense.   Finally some exasperated teacher agreed that it was possible but they would have to go to purgatory first.  

 Perhaps needing some credit, for some reason I signed up for a swimming class, perhaps an advanced or lifeguard course as all my life I loved being in water, swimming in  pools or the ocean.  And on that isolated upper sun deck above the pool separated by concrete walls providing some privacy, I discovered my first community of gay men networking.  Not much older than me and all types.  There were there to cruise, to hook up, and organize gay liberation meetings which they finally convinced me to attend.  The showers were a different scene.  I would not have sex there, but would follow outside after or try to be followed.  My first regular social encounters with 2 very nice guys who i would hook up with on a regular basis for awhile.  Pre-dating I guess.  They couldn't have been more different which intrigued me.  

One was blond, strong, I used to say he looked like an angel and fucked like the devil.  I think I can say that here, perhaps not on FB.  He played piano and organ for the church choir in the east bay.  The other was very attractive, tall, built, dark shaggy hair, beautiful skin, and a student at one of the non catholic seminaries, in Berkeley, and very nice, spiritual even.  

I tried a little bit of everything - being a hippie, a revolutionary, a welfare recipient, and finally thought of being a waiter.  I was young, attractive, I could be nice and make tips; lots of people do that.  One thing I couldn't do was sell it - my distaste for being an object for older men and the dependent lifestyle too repulsive and demeaning.  I wanted to provide for myself, do what I wanted, have fun, and hang out with people my age.  It was probably another 2 years before I discovered gay hippies with similar values and outlooks who also liked having sex.  I am not saying I was abstinent but it was a process of discovering identity and learning I was not the only gay man in the world, and not all gay men were leery creeps who hung out in parks and worse.  Ewwww!!!!

The waiter gig was predictably disastrous.  Actually I was never a waiter.  I was fired as a busboy.  Successful busboys became waiters.  It was a traditional well run Italian restaurant in west Berkeley owned by a nice couple who managed and were often present.  It couldn't have been 2 weeks before they sat me down one evening to chat after dinner.  I was slow and clumsy, 2 very disqualifying traits.  They reviewed my good qualities, assured me there was something in the world I was qualified for, and thought it best for me and the restaurant for me to move on and continue my search.  School was starting to seem like a barrier; I wanted to start my life, find not just work but a mission, and earn money.

Leaving college wasn't the greatest idea but I was too stressed conflicted and confounded by my personal economic struggle to support myself, (God Bless the Child, and all that), struggle to realize and affirm my identity, and find my true path.  While it may not have been wise, I believe it was the right choice for me.  I cannot forget an educator who, when maybe I was a little too full of myself and bragging to much about how much I had accomplished without the degree, based I believe on determination, and the natural intelligence I was born with, told me but just think what you could have done if you had the degree and even went to law school as I wanted so much to do (to save the world of course, not to go corporate).  I could have been a 'Regional Manager' in SF or even a 'Director' in DC.  HA!  TRIPLE HA!

I had this Regional Manager for awhile who was really good, brilliant legal mind, and a very calm rational figure at a time when our office needed it.  He had a similar but nuanced view.  He said (and he wasn't the only one over the years) that I was really good at understanding the law and working within it.  But the point he would go one to make, without rancor or debasement, was that basically law school would have 'tamed' me. Three years and a law degree would have drained and sucked out all my passion, so that I could calmly discuss my cases and the pros and cons of the evidence in the cases I developed and the applicable legal standards without arguing or being embittered when they would disagree and overrule me and I would 'lose' another case.  It wasn't personal, neither me or the complainant was a winner or loser.  I was too much of an advocate for individual rights rather than for the law, as they saw it.  

He had a point to a degree and I respected and admired him much more than the above referenced educator.  But I'm not sure I could have survived law school and dealt with my personal struggles and issues at the same time.  Like many others, I would have had to bury and avoid all personal issues and sentiments, avoided everything and only focus on law school.  Many have done so successfully.  But I do see that they were not "developed" self accepting, and emotionally mature because of that focus.  And if the law professors and legal establishment had beaten all emotion and passion out of me, I don't think I would have been at all happy, to say the least, or as dedicated and determined, and I think my mental health would have been more fragile.    

I am staying with this a bit because it is the first time I have written about all this, and can now look back and think about it all with reason and judgement. I have 2 more points.  If I had survived and pursued a legal career pursuing and fighting for social justice, I am not sure I would have worked for the government and I certainly don't think I would have climbed or scratched my way to management holding the same views but expressing them more rationally and calmly.  And I don't think I would have had a higher income than the govt provided me.  I just think I was meant to be there and to do what I did and that so many cases I was assigned would have been handled differently were I not there.  When I finally got over the fact that I could not punish nor did the law allow for punishment of those who transgressed the civil rights laws, which took many years, (perhaps it was the Catholic in me - certainly I would have gotten that concept much sooner had I gone to law school), but to resolve issues and monitor to ensure compliance, I found that I could still win for losing - finessing my way through the bureaucratic quagmire to ensure that corrective actions were taken and issues resolved by entities and monitored even if the evidence was insufficient to pursue punitive legal enforcement.  

And they did listen to and they did work with me to achieve satisfactory outcomes.  I believe that the only time said Regional Manager approved a violation finding against a hospital or welfare agency on the issue of language access (the federal legal requirement to provide qualified interpreters at no cost to clients or patients with limited English proficiency).  It is one of the most important and least enforced law and was an issue I was proactively determined to specialize in - until HIV came along and changed everything.  And who else would have pursued and focused on the legal rights of persons with HIV after everybody died and I was the last one ('gay') standing.  

One gay man (who was coordinating OCR's meager efforts on HIV legal issues as best as he could) left OCR alive during that period when he pursued a career in private industry and interior design.  All the others died.  Including the Regional Manager preceding the one referenced above who publicly resigned his position in protest and disgust of the Reagan Administration's refusal to consider persons with HIV as persons with disabilities entitled to legal rights and nondiscriminatory treatment required by federal law.  Until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.  Hal Freeman then coordinated and advocated with other high ranking retired officials with concerns over that Administration's failure to enforce civil rights laws on any issue which resulted in a Congressional hearing on OCR's failure to enforce and the dismissal of the national Director and others.

Within a couple of years my national tour speaking on HIV discrimination started due to advocates in LA telling colleagues across the country that OCR in SF and LA was issuing violations findings on their AIDS discrimination cases and enforcing remedies.  Chicago.  Philadelphia.  D.C.  SF LA  Kansas City  Atlanta
Las Vegas.  Yes I loved it.  I didn't quite have the stage presence or grace of Diana Ross - in Vegas I tripped over the microphone cord and went flying across the stage.  But I still managed to limp into Caesar's to see her show that night.  She had this odd scheduling coincidence of performing at the same time I was required to be in the same city for an investigation or meeting or speech.  Nevada is part of our region which did not get a lot of our attention - California is huge and Arizona being such wackos - and I don't think I was ever there when she wasn't performing.  Now now you know they NEVER sent me to Hawaii - not once in all those years.  But the evil RM who served between the 2 mentioned above who was overthrown in the Clinton years by an office coup d'etat (which I joined very belatedly but with much dramatic effect) led by the disgruntled office whiners with whom i had little sympathy because they were so busy whining and taking breaks they hardly got anything done.  Not that I didn't join them regularly for afternoon pot breaks under the redwood tree but I was trying to maintain civility and avoid going off on folks, not avoid work.  

Investigating their cases and submitting closure documents would only make the Manager look good.  Which I found as morally offensive as anyone who violated a civil rights law.  I got along with her and the other fascist manager that DC sent out in part because I had noteworthy cases filed by folks who deserved remedies and closure.  And since I was submitting cases for closure they were nice to me and one was ironically sympathetic to civil rights enforcement even though she couldn't manager her way out of a paper bag nor manage staff without antagonizing them blithely enabling increasing disgruntlement and inefficiency. Staff went to the union, who went to Pelosi, who called Shalala who sent out the most impressive team of human behavioral experts, efficiency experts, employment management experts, therapists, and conflict resolution experts perhaps ever assembled.  It was very healing for me to be able to confidentially discuss how everyone (but me of course) was a raving lunatic who was more interested in harming their perceived enemies than working together to accomplish anything.  Not even realizing at the time the credibility imparted to one not involved in the fray but insufficiently allied with either side to protect them.

So many meetings, morale building exercises, I was even getting sick of all the hand holding.  But the longer they were there the worst the manager got.  And the more damage they discovered.  It was like war games.  Although I backed off from other than necessary contact I maintained civility.  I was hoping they could help her with her issues and improve relations.  Until she lied!  To me!  And backdated a closure letter on one of my cases - not just a day or two but weeks or more!  And took me off monitoring the resolution agreement on language access I successfully reached with SF General.  

SF was very resistant to it, bitter and hostile.  And they blamed me!  Not the fact that the staff marked and amputated THE WRONG UNINJURED LEG of a Chinese speaking patient who they failed to effectively communicate with because someone would not call the interpreter.  Or the many other less harmful mishaps.  It was always difficult to deal with a facility that had experience with other investigators from our office who found it easier to let things slide and look the other way.  But I tried to focus on resolution not blame.  I managed to set up a committee of hospital interpreter management staff and representatives of ethnic community groups so they could honestly communicate their alleged inability to identify qualified available interpreters and the groups could assist them.

So the first problem I wanted the community to help the hospital with was to find qualified Korean interpreters. Korean was I think the 3rd most common language and Russian the 4th.  (similar to LA)
When they needed to communicate with a Korean patient they called on a WWII (Caucasian) veteran who learned Japanese during WWII.  They told me a lot of older Koreans can speak Japanese.  I thought nice try, but if there are so many Korean speakers here it seems to me they could find a Korean speaking interpreter and maybe the Korean Community Center could help.  Is that not reasonable?  Right now I am guessing a cousin who is a veteran knows where I am going with this.

At the time, I could not have been more oblivious or unaware that Korea and Japan were enemies in WW II; worse still, that the reason many older Korean women know how to speak Japanese is because the Japanese held Korean women captive and used them as "comfort women"!  OMG@!@!@!@ I have never seen so many faces turn red at the same time.  The Koreans were furious - at the hospital staff for the grievous cultural insult, lack of sensitivity and failure to contact them for assistance!  SFGH was furious - at me - accusing me of disclosing FACTS I was told during interviews they considered confidential - a proven fact that was published in my approved documents and available to any individual or group who requested it - NOT by managers, but by the staff including said veteran who thought it was about time they found a Korean interpreter.

SFGH called the manager who revealed there could be no doubt she was an ethically impaired hypocrite lacking sufficient judgement intelligence or integrity required of her position colluding with hospital management to obstruct the provision of interpreters, and further, to worsen rather than coordinate problem solving by taking me off the case and disbanding the committee.  A woman who had her own struggles in life to overcome for whom English was not her first language who I thought understood the issue violating the very premise of civil rights law.  Then it got worse.  I saw her shortly thereafter on the evening news at a press conference with officials of a hospital in Oakland announcing they had reached agreement to resolve a language access complaint filed by a community group with OCR that was never entered into the record, assigned a case number, or an investigator and on which she consulted not even with our staff attorney.

You don't make back room deals off the record just because you know a hospital administrator is a good gal who means well and intends to resolve the issue because if for any reason she is no longer the admin, even the next day, the agreement and case does not exist.  HHS did not want to get rid of her.  They never do.  The facilitators were exasperated with her lack of cooperation.  She ended up going to Pelosi unbeknownst we got there first.  On their last day she even refused their pleading with her to set down with staff for a facilitated meeting.  Instead, she stepped into the room long enough to invite staff to her office for cake to celebrate Bastille Day!  She left the room whereupon the staff started whooping "Let them eat cake."  I don't think the facilitators had ever seen anything like it.

The DC facilitators were so ethical and committed to confidentiality, despite my wily interrogative methods, strategy, and inquisitive bombardment, the most I could get out of them was some vigorous affirmative head nodding before they left as I hypothesized that: they expected to find a staff of disgruntled spoiled whiners, (which they found a few); and that the errant ommisions and commissions of the manager were far far worse than any of us knew or would ever know.  And I should mention that the SFGH situation was an anomaly - I found health care and human services fields overflowing with smart caring people committed to helping their clients, and often willing to divulge in my interviews wrong doing that I could verify and use as evidence to require improvements.  But one or two assholes can do a lot of damage sometimes; this may have been one of those situations where no department wanted these one or 2 individuals, so they put them in charge of  the interpreting department.

It was still another couple months before she complied with more than one direct order to return to DC.  It was only the beginning of a long overdue healing process to the disarray caused initially by the Reagan administration decimating our budget and forbidding any staff to be hired.  His OCR appointees were removed after the Congressional hearing.  But not much changed until the last two years of the Clinton administration following his appointment of Tom Perez as Director, the smartest man in the US, the most ethical dedicated public servant in history, and civil rights advocate.

When I get back to politics I am going to write an essay - ok I'll mention it now - on my fantasmagorical projection existing for now solely in the far reaches of my brain that in 2020 he will be elected as the first Spanish speaking Dominican-American President.  Obama appointed him head of the Civil Rights Division at DOJ where in 6 years he investigated and obtained court orders against more law enforcement agencies in history to reform, comply with the law, collaborate with the public and cease discriminating in employment and services.  In his spare time he enforced more civil rights cases than ever on every issue.  While at OCR in the 1990s, he came out to LA to sign and issue the first violation finding on an AIDS complaint in OCR history, the case filed by a community group against LA County for which I was the investigator.

The attorney followed by by filing I can't remember how many more AIDS complaints in LA - around 10? 15? and set a record by winning every one when the norm is 1 violation for perhaps every 100 cases at best.  Currently Tom is the Secretary of Labor and among the top 3 under consideration to become Attorney General.  One night I was thinking Hillary is not going to know who to choose for VP among all the qualified credible and eager elected officials.  Once Tom achieves even greater fame and credit after 2 years as AG, and her having the foreign policy experience from being SoS, she decides to select an alleged 'technocrat' with more varied executive experience on domestic issues of civil rights, law enforcement, labor, housing (his wife is director or used to be of a community empowerment housing agency in Maryland), and national security than any other elected.

After Hil gets elected, as long as her poll numbers are strong, she's gonna say, you know what, I achieved my goal of being elected President, but it's a lot of work and I've worked in public service all my life.  I'm going to retire after one term and stay home with the grandkids so Chelsea can start her career.

October 31, 2014

Friday, December 7, 2012

Anyone remember what Wanda Sykes said awhile ago: 

"If you don't like same sex marriage, then don't get married to someone of the same sex!"  And leave the rest of us alone to marry who we choose.  And after all, no one forced you to marry your opposite sex spouse!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

As the following image is posted shared and reposted I note that as it is passed along people add their memory and sorrow and hope and comments and reflections like something of an electronic quilt and so those who shared it with me and with whom I shared would see the comments of a friend who wrote for my 4 clients who won their disability appeals - and died before they received their money. Their families got nothing, because there is no such thing (yet), under federal law, as gay marriage. For you, we struggle on. For everyone currently living with HIV or AIDS, we struggle on, and for the new infections - occurring in the US no small part due to cuts in preventive education by Bush II - we struggle on.