Thursday, November 26, 2009

One Christian Nation, Under God, Divisible, With Glenn Beck And Fox News For All

On the November 25th edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Beck proceeded to draw on his trademark chalk board a depiction of the Washington Monument, pointing out that the founding fathers built this nation on Christian principles, and stressed that on the top of the monument, the inscription "Laus Deo", can be found on the capstone.  Apparently, according to Glenn Beck, "progressives have built up this wall of separation between church and state, and it's nonsense."  For Glenn Beck, America's founding fathers intended on America being a Christian nation; a theocracy.

Beck only points out what he wants people to see.  Yes, the capstone of the monument has the inscription "Laus Deo", but not because of Glenn Beck's assertion that it was placed there for nobody to see but God.  Beck fails to mention that there are four sides to the capstone, and only one face holds this inscription.  The others include the names of the architect, engineers, and mechanics involved in the process, as well as others involved, and the dates the cornerstone, first stones, and capstone were laid.  To leave out the other sides of the capstone make the Washington Monument appear to be a monument to God, but including the inscriptions on the other three faces, then it would be misleading to imply this was designed for God, and stating such would mean that those who have placed their names on the top of the monument feel they are enlightened, while those who cannot see the inscriptions, are not.  There is also question of the mysterious inscription on the steps leading up to the monument, "Fy iaith, fy ngwlad, fy nghenedl Cymru — Cymry am byth", which translates from Welsh as "My language, my land, my nation of Wales — Wales for ever."  Was the monument designed as a tribute to Wales?  Is Wales the true recipient of God's touch?  Glenn Beck is delusional to believe a monument created a couple generations after our "founding" fathers founded this nation depicts their true intentions.

Apparently, the inscriptions on the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials also prove this nation was meant to be a theocracy.  Glenn Beck is increasingly showing that he wants this nation subjugated by the religious right, and is constantly dismissing the protections our founding fathers placed in the constitution protecting our religious freedoms.  One nation under Glenn Beck equals intolerance towards those who do not have right-wing ideologies.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Limbaugh, Among Others, Calls Landrieu A Prostitute, Yet They Cried When Grayson Spoke Before

Senator Mary Landreiu has become under attack recently from the right for because she lobbied the Senate for expanded Medicaid coverage for Louisiana and had voted for the health reform bill to go to the Senate floor for debate.  Voices from the right, including Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, came out to speak against the senator, with Beck calling her a "high-class prostitute" and Limbaugh saying she "may be the most expensive prostitute in the history of prostitution."

What aggravates me about this issue is not what they said, but what they said before when another person used similar language, and by that I mean Grayson calling a lobbyist last month a "K Street whore."  The right cried about about the use of this sexist term and compared his actions to Representative Joe Wilson, who was punished for yelling at the President during a joint session of Congress.

Beck and Limbaugh have every right to call Landreiu a prostitute, but the fact remains that they previously complained when someone who opposes their views spoke out, so for them to now take a position supporting the calling of a senator a prostitute is just hypocritical.  There is also the question of sexism.  When Representative Joeseph Cao, who is also from Louisiana, voted on the House's bill, making him the sole Republican to do so, he was not called a prostitute from critics, and his reasons for voting on the legislation were similar to that of Landreiu.  Maybe these elected officials are actually trying to represent their constituency and help bring them much needed health care instead of voting with the party that has no interest in helping America, but just opposing any Obama-backed policy.

Those on the right are blatantly hypocritical and need to be called out on their actions.  This is just another example of Republicans and ultra-right conservatives use of double-standards.  In my opinion, the RINOs are all these conservatives who come out and attack the Democrats at every turn, some under the guise of other conservative affiliations like Glen Beck and Libertarianism, without offering any constructive criticism or show of bipartisanship.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Sits Idly By While Another Non-Profit Corporation Tramples On Homeowners' Rights

The Dr. Phillip Phillips was a prominent businessman and philanthropist, who was active in Central Florida, and whose name can be seen on numerous buildings around Orlando, such as the Orlando Regional Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Dr. Phillips High School, Dr. P. Philips Orlando Performing Arts Center.  The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation and Dr. Phillips Inc. have played an important role in not only many of Central Florida's programs, but in the development of numerous communities as well, with some deriving their name from the once vast Phillips estate.  One particular neighborhood that owes it's existence to the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation and Dr. Phillips Inc. is Sand Lake Hills, which I have written about before.

Years ago, when Sand Lake Hills was being developed, problems arose with the original developer.  The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation stepped in and saved the neighborhood, but not without leaving their mark.  In the covenants and restrictions of several Sand Lake Hills subdivisions, the foundation had written a clause, that not only protected their interests in the neighborhood, but also would act as insurance for the homeowners, giving the foundation a final say on any changes proposed to be made on the covenants and restrictions, ensuring that no single homeowner could effectively rewrite the neighborhood's governing documents changing the intent of the neighborhood.  To be very clear, the foundation wrote the following:
Any Property Owner shall have the right to enforce the Covenants and Restrictions placed on the Property by this instrument and, in addition, Dr. Phillips, Inc, retains the exclusive right to amend, modify, change, or eliminate any or all of said Covenants and Restrictions on any of the Property which is owned in fee simple by Dr. Phillips, Inc. at the time such amendment, modification, change or elimination and further provide that no change in any of the said Covenants and Restrictions shall be made without the written consent of Dr. Phillips, Inc. or the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation even though such entity may have no real property to be benefited by
these Covenants and Restrictions.
These covenants and restrictions were filed in the seventies and eighties.  Earlier this decade, a section of the neighborhood, Sand Lake Hills Section 2, had a new group of people gain control of the Board of Directors of the homeowners association for the single section, but the board failed to grasp the concept of multiple separate subdivisions with multiple separate covenants and restrictions.  This Board recognized that there were multiple sections, but that each of these separate sections were part of their association, and this belief probably stems from the fact that in the 1980s, the then Board decided to amend their Articles of Incorporation, granting their corporation power over every surrounding neighborhood with similar covenants and restrictions, as well as similar plat names.  This change was made to the Articles fraudulently, considering the then Board did not even fit the requirements set forth by their own Articles to even be board members.

In this homeowners association's attempt to become the ruling association of every surrounding subdivision, the Board had decided to rewrite the covenants and restrictions of every surrounding subdivision so that they were in charge, specifically eliminating language in the original documents granting every homeowner the ability to enforce the covenants and restrictions, and naming their corporation as the sole authority in the area.  The Board then canvased the neighborhood, collecting signatures on joinder and consent forms from homeowners, and when they reached a simple majority, they filed their collected signatures, as well as their rewritten covenants, with the county, but they failed to take into consideration several facts, one being the Dr. Phillips clause, "no change in any of the said Covenants and Restrictions shall be made without the written consent of Dr. Phillips, Inc. or the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation".

The Board's response?  Ignore the clause and proceed.  With the filing of their covenants, the Sand Lake Hills HOA for Section 2 sent out letters to every homeowner in the annexed sections, where they then threatened legal action unless the homeowner paid their association a certain amount of money, and if the homeowner did not pay, they would face interest rates of 18% per month,contrary to the legal limit of 18% per annum.  Homeowners had even requested from the HOA's lawyer how they were able to legally make these changes and what laws they based this decision off of.  The lawyer responded with a reference to a collections court case and that it was the "fair" thing to do, implying that if the homeowner did not pay, they will take them to court and the homeowner would be forced to pay both party's legal fees in addition to the assessment.

Where does the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation fit in all of this?  When contacted by homeowners of these subdivisions who were threatened by the Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association for Section 2, the foundation essentially took a stance that anybody could file anything with the courts, but that doesn't make it legally binding, and their view of the amended covenants and restrictions is just that - a bunch of meaningless paper filed with the county.  The foundation no longer has ownership rights for any of the property in the subdivisions, but they had written the clause years ago understanding that one day they would not own any real property in the neighborhood, but that they would still be the custodians of the covenants and restrictions.  Because the foundation currently holds no property in Sand Lake Hills, they refuse to enter into any legal battle with the association that is running amok, leaving the homeowners to fend for themselves, which is unrealistic considering the costs associated with fighting a homeowners association.  Florida statutes place the burden on the homeowner, who must pony up the cash to fight a corporation that has seemingly endless supplies of cash, mainly because they can levy assessments against the membership to wage their war, which often pits neighbor against neighbor.

The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation and Dr. Phillips Inc. are just as culpable as the homeowners association, because their inaction against an attack on the very covenants they authored is the equivalent of an implicit sanction of the HOA's illegal actions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association Plans To Violate Florida Laws

Updated November 19th, 2009.

The Sand Lake Hills Homeowners Association (SLHHOA) in Orlando, Florida, is quickly approaching it's annual membership meeting, but something is amiss.

According to Florida statutes, a homeowners associations are required to give notice of their meetings and allow all homeowners and members entry to their meetings, as well as have the right to speak.  The SLHHOA has failed to follow this simple statute, and this is not the first time they have done so.  The reason why they do not want every homeowner to speak: the association is actively trying to annex over 10 surrounding neighborhoods by rewriting their covenants and restrictions, violating the directions set up in the very same covenants and restrictions they wish to change, so that they can levy assessments of any amount at anytime on every homeowner, regardless of membership.

The SLHHOA meetings were once held in the free meeting room at the local library, but they started a policy of exclusion, only allowing members entry, despite what the law says.  The association didn't always deny entry, it was only last year that they had started, and that is because of the increased opposition to their plans of annexing the surrounding neighborhoods.  Even at their last "open" meeting, they refused homeowners who were not members the ability to speak, banging their gavels whenever someone asked a question.  Because of their policy of exclusion, the library banned them from using their meeting room (the association claimed the county started charging for the room, but the building and room remain to be free, as well as owned by a local non-profit, not the county).

The SLHHOA then tried moving their meeting into the conference room of a local real estate agency, but as soon as the owner found out, he kicked them out at the last minute, and the association saught refuge at a Holiday Inn, only calling members the night before about the change.  The association seemed to be catching on and scheduled their next meeting in the club house of a neighboring subdivision, which happens to be gated, with entrance being permitted when the member presented "proof" that they were members of the association.  They were eventually kicked out and had to return to the Holiday Inn.

This next meeting, to be held Saturday, November 21st, has skipped trying to be anywhere else, and the board has already scheduled it to be at the Holiday Inn, but disclosure of the event has been kept secret.  There is no mention of the meeting on their website and zero signs have been placed around the neighborhood advertising the meeting.  The only place you can find out about the meeting is by entering a restricted part of the website, which allows for proxy voting, but only the location is disclosed.  There is no mention of the time the meeting will be held at.  There is also interesting questions regarding the proxy votes as well.  This concern had been raised last year regarding the proxy votes and the annual membership meeting.

According to corporate by-laws, the SLHHOA's votes for the board, to be held at the annual membership meeting, must be conducted by hand, not by proxy, yet they board has issued proxy votes, which grants the board to act on behalf of the member, with a  list of candidates for the board, naming only incumbents.  The proxy vote also states that the proxy grants power to the board over the member's vote at the meeting "or at any change, adjournment, or continuation" of the meeting, basically giving the board power to do whatever they want once everybody goes home, or to hold another meeting on another day to conduct business.  It is also interesting because the proxy explicitly states that the meeting is "strictly limited to the Board, Board invited guests or speakers, and members in good standing," despite the clear wording in Florida statutes that states "members and parcel owners have the right to attend all membership meetings and to speak at any meeting."

It seems that when faced with any opposition, the board attempts to circumvent confrontation by not disclosing their whereabouts, or refusing access to anyone that stands in their way, or in this case, those whom they wish to collect money from but are not members.  It is also interesting because of their abuse of the proxy voting, which by granting them power over the votes is in itself an unethical practice, but because the board typically uses such proxies as an excuse to do anything, but fail to provide transparency surrounding the proxies they have collected.  It is also interseting because of their practice of using proxies to establish quorom and conduct business, while not disclosing the location of their meeting, or disclosing it to only a close inner circle,essentially guaranteeing them a majority.

It is this reason why loss assessment coverage is a good idea.  If no homeowner was willing to combat this matter, they could be forced to pay excessive assessments, that could potentially put them out of house and home.

To get a better understanding of this absurd situation, visit this website, which is hosted by the homeowner suing the homeowners association, as well as posts by various homeowners in that group of neighborhoods.

Albertsons' Sunset In Florida

In August of this year, Albertsons LLC had announced that they were closing four Florida stores and lay off 288 employees. Albertsons' divesture of their holdings in Florida is nothing new. Since Albertsons Inc. was sold off piecemeal in 2006 to a number of corporations, the remaining stores have been slowly liquidated to whoever was willing to pay. A week after the creation of Albertsons LLC, the company had announced they would close 100 stores. In November of 2006, another 132 stores would be sold off, and the trend would not stop there. Last year, another large sale was made, when Publix Super Markets purchased 49 stores for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Recently, it was announced that Albertsons has decided to sell 3 store locations to Sedano Supermarkets.  As I had previously posted, Albertsons had failed to administer severance plans in the past, and with the number of stores in Florida dwindling, it is only a matter of time that Albertsons exits the market altogether.  With the number of stores still in operation, Albertsons' distribution centers would not be operating at a profit, and I would be certain that they are actively seeking buyers for the remainder of their locations, but the bigger concern for me are the workers who would be affected by such decisions.  My own personal experience with how Albertsons handles layoffs act as an alarm for other employees who may face the same fate.  With the most recent announcement, layoffs will certainly follow, but will the company act responsibly or look only to benefit the executives?  I hope those who are faced with unemployment will be able to find the information provided on this site, especially the severance agreement

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Experience With The Albertsons Severance Plan

Last year, Publix Super Markets, Inc. had purchased 49 Albertsons supermarkets in Florida.  The move came unexpectedly, after management attempted to dispel rumors that they were selling.  Over 5000 employees would be effected by the decision, but it seemed that Albertsons and Publix had a plan.  Albertsons would offer a severance agreement to hourly employees, but there were a certain set of conditions that Albertsons had established. 

Albertsons' human resources department descended on every store to outline the protocol surrounding the severance plan, in which papers were handed out stating such rules.  Albertsons' spokespeople had also told various news agencies the following set of rules to receive severance.  The employee would have to attend a job fair with Publix, to see if Publix would be willing to hire the employee.  If both Publix or Albertsons offered a job to the employee, and the position paid up to 80% of their current wages and was located within 50 miles of the location that they worked, then they would not be elligible to receive the severance.  If the employee was not offered a job, or offered a job that was further then 50 miles or lower then the 80% of their current wage, then they could turn down the offer and still be eligible to accept the severance agreement.  If the employee did accept the severance agreement, they would not be allowed to work for Albertsons for 6 months.  The severance plan would equal one week of pay for each year of service, plus 6 months of paid COBRA benefits.  One other requirement was that you had to finish working for Albertsons until you were formally let go.

While the arrangement sounds somewhat fair, although in theory, either company could offer you a job that paid less and was a considerable distance away, and you would lose your severance.  Also consider the price of gas last summer, where it reached $4 per gallon, and we are talking about a significant increase in costs to the worker.  For Albertsons, it would benefit them to offer an employee a job at a location out of the way for less, for the sole purpose of refusing severance.  For Publix, it gave them an opportunity to pick up skilled workers, and since they purchased 49 stores, if they were to open all supermarkets, then they would have to fill each store with knowledgable associates. 

Unfortunately, Albertsons had decided to act inappropriately, and so I am writing this article for those who may face similar experiences.  I was an employee at Albertsons, and I had qualified for the severance agreement, but Albertsons refused to offer a pay out.

As mentioned above there were a certain set of requirements for one to receive the severance plan.  In my situation, I had attended the job fair, but was not offered a job.  Albertsons had also not offered me a job.  I finished working up until the day the store closed and then I was unemployed.  I asked Albertsons when I will be getting my severance plan and I was told that everything was in the mail.  While searching for a job, I had gone on unemployment and had started to receive benefits, but I still had not received any information regarding my severance.  I had called Albertsons but was told everything was in the mail and that the human resources manager was on vacation, so I would have to call back at a later time.  While waiting for my severance agreement, I had received information from the company administering COBRA benefits, but instead of notifying me that Albertsons had paid for my insurance continuation, it stated that I needed to pay over $700 a month to maintain my insurance.  Unsure of this, my wife had called Albertsons to find out about this letter.  She was told that we would have to pay the amount.

In the meantime, I had decided to try and reapply at Publix, since every other place I had applied to had either rejected my application or had notresponded and I was unsure of if I had insurance coverage anymore, and I needed to make sure I had coverage for me and my family.  Publix had subsequently hired me.  While I was starting with Publix, the Albertsons human resources manager had just gotten back from vacation, and I had finally gotten a hold of them.  I was told that I was not eligible for severance because I was working for Publix.  I had stated that I followed all the procedures outlined by the company but had not received my severance agreement.  I was told that I accepted a job before my termination at Albertsons and that it fell within the guidelines of 50 miles and 80% pay.  When I asked for a copy of such information to be faxed to me, I was told that I was not allowed to have such information because it would constitute "internal documentation".  When I stated that I was on unemployment benefits after my release from the company and that I had proof of receipt of such payments, I was told that Publix would not lie and that I was not eligible.  I was told I should be lucky to have a job.

I was confused.  I followed every detail outlined by my former employer but I was still being denied my severance, which would have totaled close to $3000, plus 6 months of health insurance coverage for my family.  Now I had lost the $3000 and health coverage.  I was mailed a certificate of eligibility for my health insurance which pretty much allowed me to continue full coverage with another plan, but I would have to obtain the plan within roughly two months.  It had already been a month since I was terminated, and Albertsons was not willing to resolve the matter.  I had contacted the human resources manager again to try and straighten out the information.  Finally, I started to get somewhere, or so I thought.  I had again requested the information used to deny my severance and I was again denied, but as I continued to probe, it became clear that there was a mix up.  An employee with the same name and eerily similar social security number had accepted a job with Publix.  The information was transposed and it said that I was offered employment.  This explains a little bit, but not everything.  I asked why I was not still eligible for the severance, and I was told because I was currently working for Publix, and that I would have had to wait 6 months before seeking employment with them.  Confused, I referred back to the meetings held by the human resources department.  Back in the meeting, we were not told of any non-compete clause.  The human resources manager told me that they had not mentioned it at that time, or ever.  I asked why I did not receive a copy of the severance before or after my termination, so I would have known the full terms of the agreement, and she stated the incorrect information that I was offered a job, and so I was not given the agreement.  I was told that regardless when I started working for Publix, I was currently not eligible.  My argument was that having that information presented to me, my decisions would have been different, considering I was unemployed and I had just received my tax bill for the year for my house (which was still high from the inflated value of my property from the housing boom) and the need for health coverage.

I was given a copy of a summary plan of the agreement by a friend who also worked for the company and who was also eligible to receive severance.  In the severance agreement, there was another clause that would disqualify you from receiving benefits if you told anybody about the severance plan or talked badly about Albertsons, so not only did they tell everybody it was "in the mail", but they also barred those from receiving one from telling those who didn't what the plan contained.  What was interesting was that in the severance plan was also instructions about the administering of the plan, which stated that the plan would have to be given out prior to termination, which Albertsons had effectively failed to do for the over 5000 employees (which I am sure was done conveniently to help avoid pay out of even more plans). 

I was told that I would have to appeal the decision by Albertsons by writing a letter to their main human resources department.  I had done so, citing several violations of their own severance agreement, as well as particular federal law which outlines the disclosure of information when regarding severance plans.  As expected, Albertsons spent over a month to respond.  By then, I had lost all insurance coverage for myself and my wife, as well as eligibility, which complicates the matter further because of preexisting conditions.  I had finally received a response in December, 3 months after my termination, in which a head of Albertsons' human resources department, a lawyer, cited the incorrect information used to deny me in the first place and ignored all facts that pointed to Albertsons violating their own severance agreement first.

I write this article as a warning because it is only a matter of time before Cerberus Capital Management decides to sell off the rest of their Florida stores, and another group of employees face the Albertsons severance plan. For those people, I had posted the Albertsons severance plan for hourly and salaried store and distribution center employees in my previous post...

Albertsons Severance Plan For Hourly And Salaried Store And Distribution Center Associates




Effective July 30, 2008




The purpose of the Albertson’s LLC Severance Plan for Hourly and Salaried Store and Distribution Center Associates (“Plan”) is to provide Severance Pay and benefits to certain hourly and salaried store and distribution center Eligible Associates of the Company whose employment is involuntarily terminated, where such employment termination is due to certain job restructurings, reductions in force, sale of facilities, or job eliminations, and not due to any other reason, including but not limited to unsatisfactory job performance, misconduct, or voluntary termination by the Associate. When the employment of such Associates is so terminated, the employment relationship shall be completely severed and affected Associates shall have no current or future right to employment on a full-time, part-time, per diem, consulting or other basis.

The Plan is intended to be an “employee welfare benefit plan” as that term is defined in Section 3(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended. Severance benefits for eligible associates shall be determined exclusively under this Plan unless a separate agreement has been or is reached. All of the corporate policies and practices regarding severance, or similar payments upon employment termination, with respect to associates eligible to participate herein, are hereby superseded by this Plan. Benefits under this Plan are in no way contingent upon retirement under any Company retirement plan.

Capitalized terms shall have the meanings set forth in this Section 2 unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

1. Administrator means Albertson’s LLC, unless another person, committee, firm or corporation is appointed by the Company, which shall perform the duties assigned herein to the Administrator. The Administrator is the “named fiduciary” of the Plan for purposes of ERISA.

2. Company means Albertson’s LLC and its subsidiaries and any business entity which assumes the obligations of the Plan.

3. Covered Reason means an involuntary termination of employment with the Company due to certain job restructurings, reduction in forces, sale of facilities, or job eliminations (and not due to any other reason including, but not limited to, termination for misconduct or unsatisfactory job performance, as determined within the Company’s sole discretion, or voluntary termination by the Associate).

4. Effective Date of the Plan means July 30, 2008.

5. Eligible Associate(s) means any active regular salaried or hourly store or distribution center associate of the Company who has been employed by the Company for at least one year, and meets the eligibility requirements of Sections 2 and 3 hereof. For purposes of this Plan, “Eligible Associate” excludes (a) any individual who has an individual employment or severance agreement with the Company, (b) any individual who is or may become entitled to severance benefits under another severance plan sponsored by the Company, (c) any individual whose terms and conditions of employment are subject to union negotiation or to a collective bargaining agreement, unless such agreement provides for benefits under this Plan, (d) any individual who is an officer, or (e) except as may be otherwise provided by law any individual who is on an approved General Leave of Absence, FMLA leave, worker’s compensation or other medical or disability related leave at the time of the otherwise Covered Reason is not eligible for severance because severance is intended to provide benefits to associates to bridge a gap in active employment following separation from the Company for a Covered Reason, prior to obtaining replacement employment with another employer. If an individual is on an approved leave of absence and his or her employment extends beyond the date of the otherwise Covered Reason, the Company will determine eligibility for severance when the period of approved leave ends.

In addition, to be eligible for benefits under the Plan, an Eligible Associate must sign, timely return and not revoke a personalized Severance and Release Agreement, which includes a complete release of all legally releasable claims he or she may have against the Company, whether these claims currently exist or are based in whole or in part on any events occurring prior to the Effective Date of the Severance and Release Agreement.

6. ERISA means the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended.

7. Participant means an Associate who is notified by the Company that his or her employment is to be involuntarily terminated for a Covered Reason by the Company, with a termination date on or after July 30, 2008, and that the Company has determined to be an Eligible Associate for Severance Pay herein.

8. Pay or Base Pay means the Associate’s regular base salary or wages on the Associate’s Severance Date, excluding all extra pay such as overtime, premiums, bonuses, commissions, living or other allowance. Regular base salary or wages will be determined based on an average of the base salary (for salaried associates) and average hours worked (for hourly associates) during the 10 week period prior to the announcement to the associate of the Covered Reason (not to exceed 40 hours per week). As a separate component of Severance Pay encompassed by the Plan, Store Associates may be entitled to receive a pro-rated bonus, pursuant to the Company’s Store Bonus Plan, subject to the provisions of the Bonus Plan and this Plan. If a special incentive program applies, a pro rated bonus may not be paid out as part of severance, instead the terms of the Bonus Plan regarding special incentives would apply. Distribution Center Participants may be paid a bonus, separate from Severance Pay, based on the terms of the Bonus Plan applicable to such associates.

9. Plan means the Albertson’s LLC Severance Plan for Hourly and Salaried Store and Distribution Center Associates.

10. Plan Year means the period from June 1 through May 31.

11. Severance and Release Agreement means the Severance and Release Agreement provided by the Company to and returned by the Participant to the Company and other matters stated therein. The Severance and Release Agreement shall bind the Participant and the Company.

12. Severance Date means the date established by the Company in its sole discretion as a Participant’s last day of employment.

2.13 Severance Pay means amounts calculated as follows:

If an Eligible Associate has… He or she will receive an amount equal to…
1+ full year(s) of service One week of base pay for each full year of service with a minimum of 2 weeks and a maximum of 12 weeks of base pay for Eligible Hourly Associates. Base pay will be calculated based on Eligible Hourly Associate’s average hours worked (up to 40 hours per week) during the 10 weeks prior to the date he or she is notified of the Covered Reason, multiplied by his or her hourly wage rate. Eligible salaried non-bonus eligible associates may receive a minimum of 3 weeks of base pay and a maximum of 18 weeks of base pay. Eligible salaried bonus eligible associates may receive a minimum of 4, and up to 26, weeks of base pay, calculated over the same 10-week period.
Bonus Eligible Store Associates (who are bonus-eligible at the time of termination) will receive their “Base Bonus,” prorated for the number of weeks in the quarter that the associate actively worked, unless a special incentive applies as described above. Payment will be made at the time of severance payment.

An Eligible Associate’s full Years of Service are calculated from his or her most recent hire or rehire date (not any combined or adjusted hire date), i.e., Years of Service will not be “bridged” or added together. Except as otherwise provided by law, an Associate whose approved leave of absence and employment extend beyond the otherwise Covered Reason will not continue to accrue Years of Service for severance calculation and eligibility purposes beyond the effective date of the covered restructuring, job elimination, facility sale or closure.

14. Successor means any employer (whether or not the employer is affiliated with the Company) which acquires (through merger, consolidation, reorganization, transfer, sublease, assignment, or otherwise) (i) all or substantially all of the business or assets of the Company, of a division of the Company, or of a single facility or business unit of the Company, or (ii) the facility or operation where the Associate usually works. This includes any employer who acquires from the Company any facility, department, or business unit within a 50 mile radius of the facility, department, or business unit where the Associate usually works, whether or not the employer acquires the Associate’s facility. A Successor also includes any employer who acquires the right to lease, staff lease or provide temporary services to the Company for a department, division, facility, operation, or function of the business.

15. Years of Service shall mean the completed 12-month periods during which an Associate has been employed by the Company, including completed 12-month periods at predecessor Albertson’s, Inc., on a continuous basis measured from the Associate’s most recent hire or rehire date (not an adjusted or reinstated hire date). Except as otherwise provided by law, an Associate whose approved leave of absence and employment extend beyond the otherwise Covered Reason will not continue to accrue Years of Service for severance calculation and eligibility purposes beyond the effective date of the covered restructuring, job elimination, facility sale or closure.


1. Eligibility. Subject to all provisions of this Plan, an Associate shall become a Participant if on or after the Effective Date, the Associate is notified by the Company that his or her employment with the Company is to be involuntarily terminated by the Company for a Covered Reason, unless such termination is the result of actions by the Associate which, as determined by the Company in its sole discretion, would normally result in a termination or discharge

The foregoing, to the contrary notwithstanding, the Company reserves the right to determine the applicability or non-applicability of the Plan in its sole and absolute discretion based on the facts and circumstances of each situation and administered in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

3.2 Payment. A Participant shall be entitled to the Severance Pay set forth in Sections 2 and 4 hereof, if he or she is not and does not become disqualified from receiving Severance Pay pursuant to Section 3.3 hereof.

3.3 Disqualifying Events. A Participant shall not be entitled to the Severance Pay set forth in Sections 2 and 4 hereof, if:

1. He or she fails to return to the Company a properly signed Severance and Release Agreement within the time period specified therein or he or she revokes his or her Severance and Release Agreement within the time period permitted in the Severance and Release Agreement;

2. He or she is notified of a subsequent termination date for his or her employment, and prior to such date, he or she (1) terminates employment voluntarily, (2) fails to properly attend work prior to his or her final day of active work designated by the Company, (3) terminates employment involuntarily for misconduct, as determined solely by the Company, or (4) fails to perform adequately his or her employment duties and responsibilities, all within the sole discretion of the Company;

3. He or she rejects an offer or fails to accept an offer of another position with the Company, a Successor, or any affiliate of the Company on or before his or her termination date. However, he or she may still be eligible for benefits despite rejecting the offer if either (1) His or her new hourly wage rate will be less than 80% of his or her current hourly wage rate, or (2) the new job will require him or her to work in a facility located more than a 50 mile radius from his or her current workplace; or

4. He or she accepts an offer of another position from the Company, a Successor, or any affiliate of the Company regardless of whether the new position has a base hourly wage rate of less than 80% of his or her current hourly wage rate or the new job will require him or her to work in a location more than a 50 mile radius from his or her current workplace; or

5. He or she refuses or fails to cooperate fully in seeking continued employment with the Company or any affiliate, or with a Successor, for example, by not applying for a position, by not cooperating fully and completely in the application or interview process, or in any other way impedes the possibility of him or her obtaining an offer from the Company, its affiliates, or a Successor. He or she must at all times in good faith pursue all alternative employment options defined above to remain eligible for Severance Pay herein.

In addition, should a Participant file any legal claim or suit against the Company, which is validly released or intended to be released under the Severance and Release Agreement, based in whole or in part on events occurring prior to the Effective Date of the Severance and Release Agreement required to receive severance, or if a Participant breaches the Severance and Release Agreement in any way, the Company shall have the legal right to recover repayment from the Participant of all pay and benefits provided to him or her under this Plan, and/or to offset such amounts from any financial liability imposed because of such claim or suit.

It is also a condition of receipt of Severance Payments that a Participant agrees not to directly or indirectly solicit any current (as of the time of the solicitation) Company associate for employment with any other entity for two years from the Effective Date of the Severance and Release Agreement, as allowed by law.

4. Release. Prior to the date the Participant’s employment with the Company will terminate, such Participant will receive a Severance and Release Agreement in a form satisfactory to the Company, substantially in the form attached to this Plan as Exhibit A. If the Participant accepts and agrees to receipt of his or her Severance Pay and benefits as determined, he or she shall execute a personalized version of the Severance and Release Agreement and return it to the Company within the time period specified by the Company following his or her Severance Date. Such Severance and Release Agreement must be timely and appropriately executed by its terms and not revoked for the Participant to qualify for payments and benefits under this Plan.

3.5 Reemployment. By accepting a Severance Payment under the Plan, the Participant agrees not to reapply for employment with the Company or a Successor within six months (or such other period as provided in the Severance and Release Agreement) of the Participant’s Severance Date.


4.1 Amount and Timing. A Participant’s Severance Pay under Sections 2 and 4 hereof shall be the number of weeks of Pay set forth in the Section 2 above, based on such Participant’s status and his or her number of Years of Service. Such Severance Pay shall be paid in one lump sum as soon as administratively practicable after the Participant’s Severance Date, after the Company’s receipt of the Participant’s timely submitted and signed Severance and Release Agreement, and after the seven day period for revoking the Participant’s signature has expired without revocation by the Participant, but in no event later than by the fifteenth day of the third month following the calendar year in which the Participant's Severance Date occurs.

Employment taxes shall be withheld from all severance payments but voluntary deductions shall not be allowed. In addition, any amount payable under Sections 2 and 4 hereof shall be reduced (but not below zero) by any overpayment of wages or payment made as required by government-mandated programs or by any law that requires payment of wages and fringe benefits in lieu of appropriate notice of closing, layoffs or termination of employment.

2. Additional Benefits. The Company will also offer the following additional benefits.

1. Participants shall have the right to continue medical and dental benefits under the continuation health coverage provisions of Title X of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (“COBRA”) after his or her Severance Date, if otherwise eligible and/or, if eligible, may enroll in a Company retiree health plan. To the extent that the Participant is eligible for and elects COBRA coverage, the Company shall cover the premiums or cost of such coverage (excluding IRC section 125 flexible spending accounts and fully-insured medical or dental coverage paid solely by the Participant) on a monthly basis for the lesser of (1) (A) the first 6 months of coverage for Participants who are salaried, or (B) the first 4 months of coverage for Participants who are hourly, or (2) until Participant no longer qualifies to participate, whichever comes first. At the end of the Associate’s Company-paid COBRA coverage, the Associate may continue COBRA coverage at the Associate’s expense or to the extent eligible under the terms of such Plan may elect to participate in the Company’s self-pay retiree health care plan.

2. Store Participants shall have the right to receive, as part of their Severance Pay, a pro-rated bonus for partial bonus periods completed, subject to the terms of the Store Level Bonus Plan and this Plan, unless a special incentive program applies. If a special incentive program applies, a pro rated bonus may not be paid out as part of severance, instead the terms of the Bonus Plan regarding special incentives would apply. Distribution Center Participants may be paid a bonus, separate from Severance Pay, based on the terms of the Bonus Plan applicable to such associates.

4.3 Vacation Pay. Participants shall be paid for normal termination vacation pay and any other earned pay (if any) pursuant to existing Company policy and applicable state law.

4.4 Other Benefit Plans. Benefits under any other benefit plans including, but not limited to, tax-qualified retirement plans, retiree health care plans, medical or dependent care expense accounts, fringe benefit plans, policies, programs, incentives, bonuses, and nonqualified deferred compensation plans sponsored by the Company are governed solely by the terms of those plans, programs or policies. This Plan does not change the eligibility, termination or other provisions for those benefits.

4.5 Offset. The Company further reserves the right to offset the benefits payable under Sections 2 and 4, by any advance, loan or other monies the Participant owes the Company.


5.1 Death. If a Participant dies before receiving all of his or her Severance Pay due under this Plan, such pay will be distributed in one lump sum cash payment to the Participant’s estate.

5.2 Payment after Death. The Administrator may require that any individual or entity purporting to represent a Participant’s estate provide such proof of such status as the Administrator may deem appropriate including, but not limited to, letters testamentary or letters of administration. The Administrator may also require that such individual, as a condition to receiving Severance Pay, agree in a provision to be incorporated in the Severance and Release Agreement, to indemnify and hold harmless the Administrator and such other persons deemed appropriate by the Administrator for any financial responsibility, liability or expense arising out of a claim by another party or parties asserting entitlement to all or part of the benefit payable hereunder. In addition, the Company reserves the right to offset the benefits payable as provided under this Plan.


6.1 Interpretation. The Company shall have sole discretionary authority to interpret, construe, apply and administer the terms of the Plan and to determine eligibility for and the amounts of benefits under the Plan, including interpretation of ambiguous Plan provisions, determination of disputed facts or application of Plan provisions to unanticipated circumstances. The Company’s decision on any such matter shall be final and binding.

6.2 Reporting and Disclosure. The Company shall be the administrator of the Plan for purposes of Section 3(16) of ERISA and shall have responsibility for complying with any ERISA reporting and disclosure rules applicable to the Plan for any Plan Year. The Administrator may at any time delegate to any other named person or body, or reassume therefrom, any of its fiduciary responsibilities (other than trustee responsibilities as defined in Section 405(c)(3) of ERISA) or administrative duties with respect to this Plan.

6.3 Service Providers. The Administrator may contract with one or more persons to render advice or services with regard to any responsibility it has under this Plan.

6.4 Rules. Subject to the limitations of this Plan, the Administrator shall from time to time establish such rules for the administration of this Plan as the Administrator may deem desirable.


7.1 If a Participant believes he or she has not been provided with Severance Pay benefits due under the Plan, then the Participant may file a request for benefits under this procedure with the Senior Vice President, Human Resources for Albertson’s LLC, or his or her delegate, within ninety (90) days after the date the Participant believes he or she should have received such benefits. If a Participant makes such a request for benefits under the Plan and that claim is denied, in whole or in part, the Administrator shall notify the Participant of the adverse determination within ninety (90) calendar days unless the Administrator determines that special circumstances require an extension of time for processing. If the Administrator determines that an extension of time is necessary, written notice shall be furnished to the claimant prior to the end of the initial ninety (90) day period and the extension shall not exceed ninety (90) days from the original ninety (90) day period. The extension notice shall indicate the special circumstances requiring an extension and the date by which the Administrator expects to render a determination.

The Administrator shall notify the Participant of the specific reasons for the denial with specific references to pertinent Plan provisions on which the denial is based and shall notify the Participant of any additional material or information that is needed to perfect the claim and explanation of why such material or information is necessary. At that time the Participant will be advised of his or her right to appeal that determination, and given an explanation of the Plan’s review and appeal procedure including time limits, and a statement regarding the Participant’s right to bring a civil action under ERISA section 502(a) following an adverse determination or appeal.

7.2 A Participant may appeal the determination or denial by submitting a letter to the Administrator within sixty (60) calendar days after receiving a denial notice:

(a) requesting a review by the Administrator of the claim;

(b) setting forth all of the grounds upon which the request for review is based and any facts in support thereof; and

(c) setting forth any issues or comments which the Participant deems relevant to the claim.

The Participant may submit written comments, documents, records and other information relating to his claim. Upon request, the Participant may obtain free of charge, copies of all documents and records relevant to his claim.

7.3 The Administrator shall act upon the appeal taking into account all comments, documents, records and other information submitted by the Participant without regard to whether such information was submitted or considered in the initial benefit determination and shall render a decision within sixty (60) days or one hundred twenty (120) days in special circumstances after its receipt of the appeal. If the Administrator determines that an extension of time is necessary, written notice of the extension shall be furnished to the Participant prior to the end of the initial sixty (60) day period. The extension notice shall indicate the special circumstances requiring an extension of time and the date by which the Administrator expects to render a determination.

The Administrator shall review the claim and all written materials submitted by the Participant, and may require him or her to submit, within ten (10) days of its written notice, such additional facts, documents, or other evidence as the Administrator in its sole discretion deems necessary or advisable in making such a review. On the basis of its review, the Administrator shall make an independent determination of the Participant’s eligibility for benefits and the amount of such benefits under the Plan. The decision of the Administrator on any claim shall be final and conclusive upon all persons if supported by substantial evidence.

If the Administrator denies a claim on review in whole or in part, it shall give the Participant written notice of its decision setting forth the following: (a) the specific reasons for the denial and specific references to the pertinent Plan provisions on which its decision was based; (b) notice that the Participant may obtain free of charge, copies of all documents, records and other information relevant to the Participant’s claim; and (c) a statement of the Participant’s right to bring a civil action under section 502(a) of ERISA.

7.4 A Participant or his or her legal representative may challenge any final appeal decision by filing an action in a federal court of competent jurisdiction, provided that such action is filed no later than ninety (90) days after receipt of a final decision by the Participant or his or her legal representative.

7.5 A Participant is responsible for ensuring that the Company and the Plan Administrator have on file his or her current address for purposes of receipt of written communication regarding the plan.


8.1 Funding. The benefits and costs of this Plan shall be paid by the Company out of its general assets.

8.2 ERISA Status. This Plan is intended to be an “employee welfare benefit plan,” as defined in Section 3(1), Subtitle A of Title 1 of ERISA. The Plan will be interpreted to effectuate this intent. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Plan, no Associate shall receive hereunder any payment exceeding twice that Associate’s annual compensation during the year immediately preceding the termination of his service, within the meaning of 29 C.F.R. Section 2510.3-2, as the same was in effect on the Effective Date of this Plan.


The Company reserves the right to amend this Plan, in whole or in part, or discontinue or terminate the Plan; provided, however, that any such amendment, discontinuance or termination shall not affect any right of any Participant to claim benefits under the Plan or as in effect prior to such amendment, discontinuance or termination, for events occurring prior to the date of such amendment, discontinuance or termination. An amendment to this Plan, and/or resolution of discontinuance or termination, may be made by the Administrator, to the extent permitted by resolution of the Board of Directors.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Company has caused its officer, duly authorized by its Board of Directors, to execute the Plan effective as of the 30th day of July, 2008.





In consideration for the payment to me of [insert amount spelled out] And 00/100 Dollars ($___________) (which reflects the gross amount of severance pay reduced by applicable taxes, offsets and appropriate withholdings) (“Severance Pay”), I, _______________, hereby voluntarily make the following promises and agree to the terms of this Severance and Release Agreement (“Agreement”), intending to be legally bound by them.

1. I hereby release Albertson’s LLC and New Albertson’s, Inc. (“Company”) and its parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, and their respective Successors, assigns, officers, directors, employees, agents, insurers, attorneys, associates, trusts, and anyone else who may be claimed to be liable through them (collectively “the Released Parties”) from any and all claims, actions, and causes of action, including but not limited to claims arising out of my employment with and/or termination from the Company and claims based on express or implied contract, covenants of fair dealing and good faith, wrongful discharge, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended (“ADEA”), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), and any other applicable federal, state, or local laws, ordinances, and regulations relating in any way to my employment. However, I understand that I retain the legal right to challenge the validity of my agreement to release age discrimination claims under this Agreement, despite any language in this Agreement which may be read to the contrary.

I specifically intend this release of legal claims to be as broad and as comprehensive with respect to current and existing, or future claims which may arise after my signature hereon, as state and federal or other law will allow. This Agreement also covers all legal claims of the sort referenced above which may arise or mature in the future, if any legal or factual element of such claim(s) arose prior to the effective date of this release, or if any such claim in any way relates to my employment with the Company, regardless of whether or not such claim is known or unknown, or has matured or is accruing, at the time this Agreement becomes effective.

I specifically promise and covenant, in consideration of this Agreement, not to sue the Company with respect to any legal claim covered and validly released by this Agreement. I agree that if I file a released legal claim of any sort against the Company, based in whole or in any part on events occurring prior to my signature on this Agreement, the Company, at its option, may:

a. File a claim or suit against me for full payment of all amounts paid under this Agreement, or

b. Offset any financial damages or settlement because of such claim or suit by the amounts paid under this Agreement, and/or

c. Be entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees and costs if such claim or suit is determined by the applicable tribunal to be validly released or unmeritorious.

With respect to any legal claim or suit that may not be subject to a legal and binding release under this Agreement, I specifically waive any monetary damages with respect to such claim or suit.

This Agreement is intended to waive any and all claims of age discrimination under federal, state, or local law.

The terms of this Agreement will not be effective until the seven (7) day revocation period (outlined in Paragraph 9 below) expires.

2. Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as an admission of liability by the Company; rather, I am voluntarily resolving any and all matters regarding my employment and separation from the Company.
3. Without the express prior written consent of the Company, I agree that I shall never disclose, communicate, divulge, furnish, make accessible to any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity, or use for my own benefit or purposes, any information of a confidential or proprietary nature obtained from or pertaining to the Company, its assets or business, including but not limited to information concerning the Company’s current or future proposed business plans, processes, operational methods, consumer lists, trade secrets, suppliers, employees’ personnel files and compensation, financial affairs or marketing strategies (“Confidential Information”). I further agree that I have delivered, or will deliver simultaneously with the signing of this Agreement, to my location manager, human resources representative, or loss prevention manager all Confidential Information in my possession, as well as Company property provided to me or in my possession, including but not limited to keys, badges, laptops, Company credit cards, cell phones and other electronic devices.
4. I shall cooperate with and assist the Company (including making myself available at reasonable times and places), without further compensation, so as to aid the Company in connection with any matters related to my employment by the Company or about which I am knowledgeable; provided, however, my cooperation with such matters shall not interfere unreasonably with my subsequent employment or personal obligation, if any.
5. I agree not to directly or indirectly solicit any current (as of the time of the solicitation) Company associate for employment with any other entity for two years from the effective date of this Agreement, as allowed by law. I acknowledge that the payment in Paragraph 1 hereof is specific consideration for this non-solicitation agreement and is in addition to anything to which I am otherwise entitled. If this non-solicitation agreement is in violation of any applicable law, I alternatively agree to not solicit such associates to the full extent allowed by any applicable law. I also agree not to (i) apply for re-employment with the Company or any affiliate of the Company for a period of six months from the date of my termination; or (ii) if the location was purchased by another entity, apply for employment with the locations that were purchased from the Company by this entity for a period of six months from the date of my termination.
6. I further agree that I will not directly or indirectly, in my own name or anonymously, in public or in private, in any form of communication, including but not limited to oral, written, or electronic, deprecate, impugn, disparage, or make any remarks that would tend to or be construed to tend to defame the Company or any of its employees, members of its board of directors or agents, nor shall I assist any other person, firm or company in so doing.
7. I acknowledge that the offer of consideration contained in this Agreement is contingent upon my compliance with the terms described herein. I understand and agree that if the Company believes that I am in violation of the terms of this Agreement, either before or after signing below, the Company retains the right to cease providing payments or otherwise carrying out the terms of the Agreement. Further, I acknowledge and agree that if I violate the terms of this Agreement, the Company shall have the right to recover any amounts paid under this Agreement, including the value of any benefits provided, attorneys fees and costs, in addition to any other rights the Company may have at law or in equity.
8. I acknowledge that I am hereby advised in writing by the Company to consult with an attorney of my choice prior to executing this Agreement.
9. I acknowledge that I have been provided the notice attached hereto as Exhibit A, which contains information regarding the class, unit or group of individuals eligible to participate in the Company’s severance plans, including any eligibility factors for participation in such plan, any time limits applicable to such plans, the job titles and ages of all individuals eligible or selected for participation in such plans and the ages of all individuals in the same job classification or organizational unit who are not eligible or selected to participate in such plans. I also acknowledge that I am hereby advised in writing by the Company that I have been given forty-five (45) calendar days in which to consider the terms of this Agreement before signing it. I understand that I waive the remainder of the 45-day consideration period if I sign and return this Agreement before the end of the 45-day consideration period. I also understand that I may revoke this Agreement anytime within seven (7) days of signing it. I must contact, in writing, the Company’s Benefits Department at 250 Parkcenter Blvd., Boise, ID 83726 or at fax number 208-395-4879 to revoke this Agreement.
10. Effective Date. The terms of this Agreement will not be effective until the seven (7) day revocation period in Paragraph 9 hereof expires.
11. I acknowledge that the Severance Pay is consideration in addition to anything of value to which I am already entitled, and is not unconditionally required to be paid as a term and condition of my employment with the Company, but rather is paid solely and exclusively in consideration of my commitments under this Agreement, including specifically the full release of claims in Paragraph 1 hereof.

This Agreement will be governed by the laws of Idaho without regard to conflict-of-laws principles and to the extent not preempted by federal law. Any action contesting the application, enforcement, or interpretation of this Agreement must be litigated in the federal district courts of the state of my employment with the Company.

I have signed this Agreement freely and voluntarily and not because of any deception or coercion. I understand the terms of this Agreement and agree that they are fair and equitable.

12. I agree to keep the terms of this Agreement confidential and to not disclose them except to my attorney and/or personal advisors who have a need to know or if required by law or a court of competent jurisdiction, who will likewise be bound by this confidentiality requirement.
13. Subject to Paragraph 1 hereof, if any provision of this Agreement or the application of any provision hereof to any person or circumstance shall be determined under applicable law to be invalid, unenforceable, or otherwise illegal, the remainder of this Agreement and the application of such provision to any other person or circumstance will not be affected, and the provision so held to be invalid, unenforceable, or otherwise illegal will be reformed to the extent (and only to the extent) necessary to make it valid, enforceable or legal.
14. This Agreement is a fully-integrated agreement and constitutes the entire agreement between the parties as to the subject matter thereof.
15. I agree that if I breach this Agreement in any way, I am obligated to repay the Company all amounts previously paid to me under Paragraph 1 above, plus the Company’s attorneys’ fees and costs.



Signature of Associate Date of Associate’s Signature


Name of Associate Last Day of Employment

Social Security Number

If Associate is a Minor or is otherwise incapable of making a knowing waiver of claims, please note the name of the Associate’s Parent/Guardian and sign on the Minor’s behalf, approving the Severance and Release Agreement.


_________________________ ________________________
Name of Parent/Guardian Signature of Parent/Guardian


Date of Parent/Guardian’s Signature





Friday, November 13, 2009

New GOP Push Poll

I had received a new poll from the GOP today in the mail.  In a bright yellow envelope labeled "2009 Obama Agenda Survey", the questionnaire came stacked with such questions like "Do you believe that Barack Obama's nominees for federal courts should be immediately and unquestionable approved for their lifetime appointments by the U.S. Senate?", "Do you support the creation of a national health insurance plan that would be administered by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.?", or "Are you in favor of re-instituting the military draft, as Democrats in Congress have proposed?"

The questions are loaded, and offer no supporting information backing up their claims.  As I had mentioned in my prior post about a previous questionnaire I had received, this one came with a donation form and a letter Republican Chairman Michael Steele, in which he makes claims of liberal media, which he calls "ultra-biased".  He claims Obama's top priorites will grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, bankrupting Social Security, and nationalize health care.

The survey's questions are blatant misrepresentations of fact.  Considering the question regarding the military draft.  Doing a quick search to see if there has been any recent discussions about this matter and the most recent date is an article from 6 years ago, on January 6th, 2003, referencing Democratic Representative Charles Rangel, who had proposed reinstating the draft, so that the makeup of the military better represents the economic makeup of America.  Rangel's proposal was made before the war against Iraq initiated, which begun in March of that year, and was used as a point to illustrate the possibilities of unilateral military action. Rangel, who voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, proposed the legislation as a way to increase pressure on members of Congress, forcing them to consider the implications military action would place on the communities they represent.  The GOP questionnaire also fails to take into consideration actual Republican opinions regarding the draft.  When asked at a townhall meeting last year, Senator McCain, who was campaigning for the presidency, took a question from the audience where the questioner stated "If we don't reenact the draft, I don't think we'll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell."  McCain's response: "Ma'am, let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said."

Other questions on the survey include the following: "Are you confident that new medicinees and medical treatments will continue to be developed if the federal government controls prescription drug prices and sets profit margins for research and pharmaceutical companies?"  A simple comparison would discredit the GOP question altogether.  Strict cost controls had actually forced the Japanese to develop more cost effective MRI diagnostic techniques, making their method one-fifteenth the price of the American procedure ($98 compared to $1500), and the Japanese still make a profit.

You can even see the more xenophobic and right-wing elements be adopted by the GOP with this question: "Should English be the official language of the United States?"  Although I agree that English should become the official language, I find that the GOP's inclusion of such issues singles out immigrants and ethnic minorities.  Considering 96% of the population speaks English "'well" or "very well", versus just 12% speaking Spanish.  Considering most states have already adopted English as an official language, every state utilizes English in it's daily functions, and I believe that proposed ammendments to the constitution making English the official language are only made out of fear.  The constitution did not include an official langauge when it was drafted, and conservative purists feel the constitution should be strictly adhered to and not amended, that is unless you are against homosexual marriage, or anything else they don't like, in which it is okay to amend.

Another question I disliked, was this one: "Do you believe that the best way to increase the uality and effectiveness of public education in the U.S. is to rapidly expand federal funding while eliminating performance standards and accountability?"  Personally, I believe that funding should not be increased and standardized testing should be elliminating.  Testing creates a culture in the education system that surrounds around the test, with only test material being taught, while neglecting to create deep seated knowledge in the student.  America is not even ranked in the top 25 for reading, math or science, but America continues to increase spending with no significant return.  This matter is popular among politicians, because obviously you want to appear to be the candidate for education.

The GOP survey is insulting at best and does little to accurately gauge the true beliefs within the Republican Party regarding President Obama, his administration, or the opposing political party, and I am certain that any response that is contrary to the desired answer would be viewed negatively by the party, as an answer given by a Republican In Name Only (RINO) or proof that their poll was fair, but still demonstrating that they represent the majority.  Why give a push poll to the party?  Is this only to try and keep the party in line?  It would make more sense to distribute this poll to the masses, that way when the responses show in your favor, you can claim superiority.  If not, throw them out and make it up as you go along; that's how Fox News does it.

SEIU Beating - Manufactured By The Far Right?

Making news on such conservative propaganda machines like Andrew Breitbart's Big Government earlier this week, I have recently started to hear about SEIU employees beating someone by the name of Kenneth Gladney.  For those who were not aware, SEIU has been targeted by the right, and in particular Glenn Beck, for being a mob like outfit for Obama, and has close ties to other perceived threats to conservatives, such as the super dangerous community organization, ACORN, so naturally, one should expect a story like this to emerge, but is it true?

According to the Big Government website, there is an article by Capitol Confidential, which indicates "anonymous sources in the halls of power at the federal, state, and local levels," but fear not, for Big Government double checks these sources and provides them with "the cloak they need to reveal the truth," but they obviously don't fact check, so one would question what exactly they do double check.

Apparently, this is a story that has been ignored and covered up by "politicians, unions, local papers and the mainstream media" and could not come at a worse time for Democrats, who face dipping approval ratings, although there is no evidence of that, considering recent Gallup Poll averages have Obama at a 53% approval rating, which is a drop from his all-time high of 69%, but considering he has been hovering around the 50% mark, last seeing 60% in July, doesn't indicate the public has shifted much.  Author Capitol Confidential calls this beating a "travesty of justice", but to me, it smells more like right-wing conspiracy in the making, considering they offer no proof, and just layer on assumption after assumption, and as we all know the popular saying, never assume, for it makes an ASS out of U and ME.

The author claims that the police report is "unambiguous", but reading it, something just does not add up.  The report states that victim said that the SEIU worker reached across a table and punched him in the face, but then grabbed him from behind, where he was taken to the ground and struck numerous times by unidentified numerous people, but the officer did not observe any facial injury.  Although a couple of witnesses concurred with the account of the assault, these same people were engaged in arguments with the suspects at the time the police officer arrived, so it would be safe to say that their account may be biased.  Considering the officer noted there was a crowd of people, these "witnesses" were the only ones who had agreed to wait to make a statement.  There was a supposed third individual, but nobody could identify him.

Apparently, this is some cover-up, that stretches all the way to the top, otherwise conservative news would have never picked it up.  To back up proof of SEIU thuggery, Mr. Confidential posted a video, a poor quality video that is extremely dark, in which the the person making the film claiming a volunteer for Organizing For America hit her, although all I was able to see was a zoom in of a woman's face, the camera shake, and then the girl repeatedly yell "Did you just hit me?"

There is a problem with anonymity in journalism, especially when involving stories with great implications such as corruption and widespread fraud, and that is issues of credibility and legality, with some anonymous claims being made with no supporting information to verify claims or additional independent sources to back up any claims.  Increasingly, we see this method reporting on conservative media outlets, such as Andrew Breitbart's sites, or more popularly, Fox News, where Glenn Beck encourages anonymous whistle blowers to come on his show where he could shield them from their enemies.  Maybe the Republican party would not have become a minority party if their news outlets engaged in more ethical practices of reporting, and I believe that they will surely see a backlash if they continue.  It may not be immediate, and they may see a victory or two, but their level of incompetence will eventually shine on through.

Hoffman Camp Perks Head At Absentee Ballots

Just when you thought that New York's congressional district 23 election was over, something new develops... 

Beware, for the Hoffman camp is awakening again, with reports that absentee ballots are closing the gap between him and Democrat Bill Owens, and if they somehow put him ahead, they will come back demanding to be the true victor of the district (and as could be expected in a situation like that, they will subsequently ignore the opposing constituents in the district and legislate more like the Taliban).  Currently, the Hoffman campaign is monitoring the recanvassing of the votes, with Hoffman spokesperson Rob Ryan saying "Who knows? We may have a shot."

For Hoffman to win, he would have to win roughly an unrealistic 75% of the returned absentee ballots, but as many have noticed, anything is possible, and I am certain the ultra right is perched, waiting for anything that gives them reason to come out.

51% Of Populace Now Against Troop Increase; Obama Had Kept Prior Troop Increase Promises

With 42% of the population wanting to increase troops and 51% of the population prefer keeping the number of troops the same or begin reducing the number of troops, it makes you question whether General McChrystal and the media storm on Fox that followed his request is what the American public wants.  Even considering just the number of people who wish to reduce troops, it outweighs those in favor of increasing troops by two percentage points.

If you take into consideration of the "no opinion" percentage, then it is safe to assume that these people would swing in either direction the government takes, so you could look at the matter as saying 49% want an increase while 58% want no change or reductions.  Either way, those who want more are in the minority.

Some claim that Obama would be going back on his campaign promises, but if those same right-wing pundits recall, Obama had already increased troops in Afghanistan.  On February 17th, 2009, Obama had issued an order to send two additional brigades to Afghanistan.  He ordered a Marine Expeditionary Brigade during the spring of 2009 and an Army Stryker Brigade during the summer, but some of those chicken hawks on the right don't think that is enough.  Obama's recent perceived hesitance (from the right) seems to only rile the feathers of those who align themselves with the GOP, which has tended to have strong relationships with the military, due to their support, although it is ridiculous to believe that Democrats would more willingly harm the military then their Republican counterparts.

Considering the severity of the matter, committing even more troops to a war, and one that is more popular then the one in Iraq but still unpopular with the American public, taking time to make a well-informed decision seems appropriate.  Just ask President Bush and his decision to go to war...

Gov. Rick Perry Believes Administration On Road To Socialism

Governor Rick Perry of Texas had some words about Obama and his crew Wednesday, saying "This is an administration hell-bent on taking America towards a socialist country."  Perry, who ascended to the throne of Texas after Bush became president in 2000 won 2 consercutive terms as governor in 2002 and 2006, is an expert on socialism, among other things.  Why is this newsworthy?  It is not, but it is late and this article was the first that I came across on my nightly news reading...

Thinking about Perry's complaint that Obama is turning America into a Socialist state, I am brought to wonder what kind of America Perry envisions, and so I look into his record as governor of the great state of Texas, and used Wikipedia as a convenient outline for this blog.

Perry is for a one party system, and in 2003, he called three consecutive special legislative sessions for redistricting the state, to become more favorable to Republicans.  Some also say the plan was designed to reduce influence by African Americans and Hispanics.

Perry is against homosexuality and condemned the United States Supreme Court case Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down the sodomy law in Texas, calling the Texan law "appropriate".

Perry believes the government has rights over your body, and issued an executive order, which later became law, forcing Texas girls to be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Perry is for government taking away individual's land by use of eminent domain.  He proposed doing so in the construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Perry does not care about the environment or the public's opinion, and had fast tracked the permitting process for building of eleven coal-fired power plants, even reducing the amount of time for public comment on the proposal.  He is also against the regulation of greenhouse gases.

So seriously, if Rick Perry believes Obama is headed towards a Socialist Regime, then maybe he should consider what kind of country he would build.  Obviously it is one with no regards towards democracy, individual liberty, property rights, or the Earth...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rush Limbaugh And Larry Johnson, Cut From The Same Cloth

A few weeks ago, it made headlines that Rush Limbaugh was interested in purchasing the St. Louis Rams along with St. Louis Blues hockey team owner Dave Checketts.  Limbaugh's interest in the NFL team sparked a controversy based on Limbaugh's past racist statements.

In 2003, Limbaugh worked on ESPN's NFL pregame show but he resigned after making a comment that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated.  Despite McNabb going to three straight Pro Bowls and two consecutive NFC championship games, as well as runner-up for NFL MVP in his first full season as a starter, Limbaugh saw differently.  "Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go," he said. "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."  ESPN later released an official statement in which Limbaugh had stated his comments had "no racist intent whatsoever".  He even argued his point was correct, otherwise it would not have caused such outrage.

On Limbaugh's show in 2007, he made another off color remark: "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

These comments drew attention to his bid, bringing prominent figures such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to protest Limbaugh's bid.  Executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, pressed players to speak out against Limbaugh's bid.  All of a sudden, Limbaugh's bid turned into a political struggle between left and right.  Jeff Poor at points out that liberal anchor Kieth Olbermann doubles as a sportscaster NBC's Sunday night NFL broadcast for the pre-game and halftime shows, and "he certainly has said some very bad things about conservatives over the years," forgetting what exactly Limbaugh had said in the first place to rile everybody up.  Those against the conservative pundit were part of the liberal media and only sought to deny a righteous white man what he deserved, with there being a double standard in the NFL, because this situation would surely not happen against one of their own, right?  Wrong.

Larry Johnson had spent several years with the Kansas City Chiefs before the team released him on November 9th for posting slurs on his Twitter page about his coach, the fans, and homosexuals.  As expected, Johnson issued an apology.  ESPN has reported that Johnson hasn't been officially suspended, but options will be considered pending an investigation into Johnson's actions.  Until then, he is not allowed to practice or participate in team activities.

So it looks like Limbaugh is not the only one who gets in trouble for making public statements.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The New GOP To Ignore Half The Country

"You don't attract people with pragmatism but with commitment to principles and purpose," former House Majority Leader Dick Armey had said, and believes the Republican Party will continue to lose if they do not embrace the right wing of the party.  According to Armey, the GOP's "future lies with the populist coalition of small government and libertarian conservatives, evangelicals and others who have joined tea party protests and challenged the Republican establishment to shun compromise with Obama and the Democrats." 

Essentially, Armey, along with the other people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin do not want compromise and only look to oppose anything Democrats put forward, but is that fair to Americans?  Assuming this belief, if elected, candidates such as Doug Hoffman from New York's 23rd District would have ignored almost half of the electorate to pursue his principles and purpose.  If being conservative means ignoring the other half that didn't vote for you, then there is some serious problems brewing in America.  These politicians are elected to represent a certain geographic location, but populism to them only means listening to the average voice of your party. 

Considering the health care reform bill that recently passed the House, only one Republican voted on the bill,  Rep. Anh Cao, from Louisiana.  "I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health-care costs are exploding -- if they are able to obtain health care at all," Cao said "Louisianans need real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children."  His reasoning is exactly the type of legislating and governing the GOP fails to understand, and his vote for the measure will surely be punished by the party leadership.  Senator Lamar Alexander had stated "We have to decide whether we want to be a debating society or a broad-based, center-right governing coalition."  This is contrary to Armey's vision of shutting down the liberals in favor of the conservatives, but not just any conservatives, he means the ones furthest right (evangelicals, teabaggers, etc.)  Armey should take a cue from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who was chairman of the GOP over a decade ago, who had said  "Every time a party loses, there are some people who say now's the time to get pure. Let's purify the party," he said on the day Republicans won Virginia and New Jersey. "That's 180 degrees backwards. In the American two-party system, both parties necessarily are coalitions. And when you lose, you need to go to special efforts to make everybody in your coalition feel welcome."

If the GOP does not embrace the moderates, they will lose them to the Democrats in the following elections.  Unfortunately, the GOP has no real leadership, and so the most vocal, which happens to be the right wing, seem to be leading the charge.  Sure they will get some votes, but they will probably alienate more by purifying their party.  If you consider any election that will be held between a Democrat and a Republican, would the evangelicals or teabaggers ever vote for a Democrat?  The answer is no.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

GOP To Punish Scozzafava, Fail To Realize True Cause Of Election Failure

On the eve of the special election in New York's 23rd District, Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava unexpectedly dropped out of the race and ofered support to Democrat Bill Owens, who subsequently won the race over Conservative Party Candidate Doug Hoffman.  Because of her last minute act of betrayal, top Republicans are considering stripping Scozzafava of her title, Minorty Leader Pro Tempore.  Such actions would be similar to what the Democratic Party experienced last year when Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed Republican candidate Senator John McCain for the presidential election.

What I find interesting is not the perceived betrayal of Scozzafava against the GOP, but the betrayal of the GOP against Scozzafava.  Sure, Scozzafava endorsed her rival when she could have endorsed another conservative candidate, but she didn't, and why should she?  Prior to the election, she was supported by the some in the GOP, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, but internal divisions in the party are what caused the collapse of what would have been a win for the Republicans.  Because of Scozzafava's support of pro-choice and gay marriage, as well as connections to organized labor and support of the stimulus, she was not deemed conservative enough, and so Hoffman rode in on his white horse to save the day, claiming to be the true conservative of the two, calling for Scozzafava to step aside and let him take the lead.  Because Hoffman is a teabagger, he instantly got support from people such as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, as well as numerous other conservative organizations that are against various other "moral" issues, such as homosexual marriage, feminism, and abortion.

Prior to the election, the conservative vote was split with Scozzafava leading, but after her withdrawal from the race and backing of the Democrat, many of her votes had gone to Hoffman, although a Politico article emphasized the bump Scozzafava gave to Owens, but was it really significant?  Considering the numbers before the election, Scozzafava started off with the lead, but with the growing number of endorsements for Hoffman, she quickly fell to second place, with Hoffman still in third.  Owens meanwhile took the lead.  Before the election, Owens had 33%, Scozzafava had 29%, and Hoffman had 23% of the vote, but that only accounts for 85% of the electorate, leaving 15% undecided.  The election saw Owens with 49%, Hoffman with 46% and Scozzafava with 5%.  Considering the combined totals of Scozzafava and Hoffman before and after the election, the conservative vote only lost 1% point, from 52% to 51%, while Owens picked up 16%, leaping from 33% to 49%.  How many conservatives did Owens really steal?  Do the math.  If there were 15% undecided before the election and Owens had a 16% jump, it would be logical to say that while some Republicans (1%?) may have voted for Owens, the majority of his votes did not take away from the other two conservative candidates whose backers relatively stayed the same, and had Hoffman not run, the GOP would have an extra seat.

This simple point illustrates what is wrong with the Tea Party movement, as well as the Republican Party's surrender to the ultra conservatives.  Ignoring the independent voters and focusing on shoring up the base will only give the election to the opposing party.  The same pundits who criticized Scozzafava praised other elections where GOP candidates won, but in those instances, they did not campaign on the social issues like Hoffman did, but focused mostly on issues most Americans can relate to.  If you look at Bob McDonnell's website, he outlined the issues of his campaign: jobs, education, higher education, transportation, environment, public safety, protecting families, 2nd amendment rights, government reform, taxes and spending, health care, more energy, more jobs, and veterans for McDonnell.  Nowhere on his site does it explain the need to ban marriage or abortion, although he surely supports the ultra right's objectives.  Just consider his college thesis where he accused working women, homosexuals, and "fornicators" in contributing to the degradation of society.  McDonnell brushed off his thesis claiming he was a changed man and instead focused on the other issues, allowing McDonnell to win the election to become Governor of Virginia.

While the GOP may feel it is appropriate to punish Scozzafava, and I believe it is within their right for going against the party to support the opposition, the GOP should instead take an intropsective look as to why they lost the election.  Maybe then, they would realize that the teabaggers who claim to be the true conservatives will help contribute to the implosion of the party.  Sure there will be teabaggers who win some elections, but if the party puts their blinders on, then they will fail to realize the desires of the American electorate.  The GOP needs to reign in the fringe elements of their party and give the voice of the Republicans back to the moderates.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Owens The Victor, Conservative Surprise At New York Polls

I was recently out of town unexpectedly and up in New York for the weekend , where I was experiencing the election madness first hand, even meeting New York City Council candidate Janine Materna outside the Costco off Richmond Avenue in Staten Island (very nice candidate and I hope she wins). Unfortunately I could not stay till the end of election day, but on my drive back to Florida, I stopped in a rest stop where they were playing the news, and I was lucky to notice that on the television, Bill Owens beat out the Republican Party and Conservative Party candidates, Dede Scozzafava and Doug Hoffman, even though Scozzafava dropped out of the race to endorse Owens.

Owens beat Hoffman by a 49 percent to 45 percent margin, with Scozzafava relegated to spoiler, still raking in 6 percent regardless of her departure from the race. Had Scozzafava remained in the race, the results may have been different, but it may be unsure to gauge how many of her voters shifted over to the Hoffman camp and how many followed her endorsement. What I find interesting is the division in the Republican party which caused immense focus on this race. I have no doubt that if only one conservative candidate, and I include moderate Republicans in this category, were to run, the Democrats would have lost, considering it is a conservative leaning district to begin with.

The Conservative Party had the backing of some prominent figures on the ultra right, which would obviously be a boost in ratings, but in my opinion, the Republican party is divided into various camps. Some are more conservative then others, but the most conservative groups are the most vocal, and have drowned out any other voice. They have redefined what it means to be conservative to fit their agenda and have developed a with us or against us mentality within their own party, and have remphasized social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.  A certain number of voters most likely blindly voted for the conservative candidate because they were told to by their trusted "news" sources, and by the end of the day, the Republicans sitting on the fence, waiting to see which candidate came out ahead, backed Hoffman.