Friday, May 23, 2008

Jesus in a Bag a Hot Item & FRIC Fracus

May 23, 2008, 11:30 a.m.

I've been working on a book the last few days -- with many more to go. It might actually be something you'd be interested in once I get it done. In any event, that's where my blog energies have been going recently. I'm saving them up for real "blog emergencies." Today isn't one, but I couldn't resist. -- Nick

# # #

Founder of Major Early Religion Returns; Appears With Mother at Wal-Mart

Clerk Asks, "Paper, Plastic or Cloth?" Wonders Why Jesus Chose Plastic

Supercenter Opponents Charge "No Coincidence"

With all the people waiting for Jesus' return, who'd have guessed he'd show up in a Wal-Mart plastic bag with his Mom? Rachel Gallegos, "Man captures image of Wal-Mart bag resembling Virgin Mary," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 23, 2008, p. A1 (John Wasendorf believes "on the right it is almost the head-to-toe image of the Virgin Mary. To the left, he sees the face of Jesus.").

This is more bizarre than George Burns' portrayal of God in the 1977 movie with John Denver, "Oh, God!"

Wouldn't Jesus use a returnable cloth bag? Just when you think you understand somebody they go and prove you wrong.

But the greatest mystery surrounds why he would choose Wal-Mart rather than, say, Target.

Wal-Mart, which faced a storm of local protest at its last attempt to establish its second "Super-Wal-Mart" in the area, has brought the idea back for a second time at bat. Chris Rhatigan, "Wal-Mart plans new supercenter; Store should be completed by early 2011," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 21, 2008.

Gary Sanders, chairman of Iowa City Stop Wal-Mart, said he continues to oppose a new supercenter because of Wal-Mart's poor track record on labor and the environment.

However, he said even if a new supercenter is constructed, his group's efforts were not in vain.

"I think our organization should be very proud that we kept Wal-Mart from building a supercenter on public land that included a floodplain," he said, referring to the company's previous plans.

Sanders added that if Wal-Mart is seeking any zoning special exceptions for the new store, as they did the first time, "citizen action" would be necessary.

"If they need zoning or any special exceptions, we'll be there," he said.
Now I haven't talked to Gary about this, but is it really just a coincidence that if the Iowa City City Council -- a public body that seldom if ever saw a corporate subsidy it didn't like -- did not have the power to bring off Wal-Mart's deal that the company would have thought up a publicity stunt like this as a way of appealing to a higher power?

Wal-Mart using Jesus?! The only phrase that comes to mind is what the Army's lawyer, Joseph Welch -- whose autographed photo hangs proudly on my law school office wall -- said to Senator Joseph McCarthy, following one of McCarthy's attacks during the Army-McCarthy hearings on June 9, 1954, while I watched the live televised hearings, "Have you no sense of decency?"

Really? A coincidence? I think not.

Current Controversies in the Academy

The latest dust-up on the Iowa City campus -- not unlike the rest of the nation (though with a much better health insurance coverage) -- involves revisions in the health plan created by something called FRIC.

These are issues everyone can get their teeth into -- if they have dental care coverage.

And the whole fracas just provides one more illustration of the Management 101 principle that when you want to change policies -- especially those that will be perceived as affecting employees' benefits -- there's no substitute for keeping everyone affected in the loop, informed, step by step.

Brian Morelli's headline and sub-head tell the story (although his full report tells it better). Brian Morelli, "UI waiting for benefit details; Opposition petition has 1,100 names," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 22, 2008.

Duncan Stewart thinks the "Process Was Secretive, Divisive," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 21, 2008.

The Press-Citizen editorializes, Editorial, "UI Needs to Put All Its Cards on the Table," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 23, 2008.

University of Iowa law professor Sheldon F. Kurtz, co-chairman of the UI Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee (or "FRIC"), thinks that the "Benefit Proposal is Sound," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 23, 2008.

I am simply reminded of George Carlin's observation: "Some say the glass is half full. Others say the glass is half empty. I say the glass is too big." (Just kidding.)

But wait, there's more . . .

Since last fall the Press-Citizen has been trying to get access to the public records that might reveal at least something about how University administrators handled the aftermath of whatever the hell happened in a student dorm the night of October 14, 2008.

Apparently frustrated as the paper has watched October turn to November, December, January, February, March, April, May -- and now, soon, June -- the Press-Citizen's Lee Hermiston reports the paper has apparently abandoned the hope of ever getting any actual information and has now retreated to simply asking for an index of what the University is never going to give them -- which apparently they aren't getting either:

In the motion filed in Johnson County District Court, the Press-Citizen is arguing UI should be required to produce the index of withheld documents or disclose redacted versions of the documents.

According to the motion and case law, UI's "blanket claim" of withholding all of the documents creates problems for the Press-Citizen and the courts. The motion states that without knowing what UI is keeping, the Press-Citizen is unable to determine whether the confidentiality of the documents is appropriate.

"What happened at Hillcrest Hall seven months ago and what public officials have done since is a public issue," said Press-Citizen managing editor Jim Lewers. "We Iowans -- the people who own and fund the University of Iowa -- deserve to know about student safety, the athletic department and accountability and openness. It's absurd that we can't even find out how many pages of documents the university is denying us access to."
Lee Hermiston, "P-C files motion in lawsuit against UI," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 22, 2008.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Beyond the fact that Wal-Mart would try and use a publicity stunt such as the image of Jesus and Mary on one of their plastic bags is the ridiculous notion that the Iowa City Press Citizen (Gannet) considers this worthy of front page news.
In terms of newsworthiness events that the PC might have considered for their front page, perhaps they might have focused on Italy planning on resuming building atomic plants. Or maybe Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who fled his homeland after winning the most votes in a presidential contest because of fears he would be assassinated, returned Saturday to Harare to campaign in the Jun27 runoff against the incumbent, Robert Mugabe.
I don’t expect much from the PC but when I plunk down my 50 cents for a “local” paper, I would appreciate a bit more content then that of the National Enquirer.
Sean Malone
Iowa City, IA