Thursday, 30 September 2010

In the Old Days

In the old days...before the 1970s...every union in America...except for the teacher's unions...were basically corrupt and run by American mafia.

Frankly, the mafia was proud of their efforts and generally...they kept 'yes' men in position all the time as top guys of each union. Across America...the mafia stayed on top of the unions and flushed 'profits' quickly into their hired folks in each union who did nothing but show up and pretend to work.  It was a 'honest' profession where local union #1214 kept your cousin Vinny with a stable income of $75k a year, for doing nothing.

Things changed.

This week, the union, Service Employees International Union, got visited by the FBI.  They are under investigation.   Sadly, it has nothing to do with Italian crime bosses, the mafia, or Vinny (who has been gone for two decades).  It had to do with accusations from some guys terminated a couple of years ago.

The story goes that SEIU had a couple of guys working, and taking sums of money.  They were winking at each other, and then walked out the backdoor with thousands of union-earned hard capital.  At some point, this became obvious and the head of the union...then Andy Stern....yes, the same Andy that is a great buddy of the President today and gets free entry into the White House...ended up dumping these guys. They got fingered and ended up with criminal reports.

We don't know the full extent of what the fired guys ended up having to pay or do to fix their crimes....but they came back and started talking recently about Andy.  Now, he's under investigation.....just like they were.

It's a curious game.  Andy was big into the political business and running around talking up what you'd consider a socialist type atmosphere (something that the mafia would never have done).  Andy got to some degree of stardom, and this book deal suddenly fell into his lap.

The Simon and Schuster book team came up and offered this fantastic deal to Andy....an advance of $175k.  It's quiet a significant amount of money for a guy who hasn't exactly written major pieces of work in America.  To make this entire deal work....SEIU came into the deal (which typically a union would never do)....and they agreed to buy 28,000 copies.

The book from 2007?  A Country That Works.

I looked up the book and it had two basic groups of viewers.  One group wrote four stars to the evaluation and then talked up the great positives of redistribution of wealth and how to run America.  Strangely enough....the second group wrote one-star evaluations and noted that it was mostly "Andy-chat" and led readers in circles with nothing obviously new or worth reading.

The thing here....is that Andy was still the chief of SEIU....a major American union with over two million members, until April this year.  He 'suddenly' retired and wanted to consider free time to handle personal matters.

I stood there and started laughing.  I'm one of those guys whose spent lots of man-hours observing ethics and always balance things heavily in life and at the office on simple ethics.  There are obvious violations where you aren't just stupid, but doing something that could get you jail time.  This book deal?  It's got lots of ethics violations written all over it.

I sat and pondered this.  What guy is offered lots of cash up front to write something, and his company or organization ends up as a key part of the deal.....offering to buy hundreds or thousands of copies of the book?  I sat there for several minutes contemplating this.  I couldn't think of a single deal ever like this.

The comical thing?  Typically, if you get over X amount of books sold, you go into another level with your profits from the book company.  We don't know Andy's contract but I'm guessing it was 10k in sales and Andy's cut off each book went up by 50 percent.  Now, I'll admit....it might only be $3 off each book to start with, and maybe the enhanced deal is $5 for each book.

The publisher?  They rigged up this deal, and Andy basically convinced his union to jump in and buy these copies.  What happened to the 28k copies?  Andy didn't say....nor did any news group out there that I noted (from 15 different sources).  I'm guessing they hauled out copies at every major group meeting and just gave them away.

What happens now?  The FBI will hand this matter over to a DA in six months....and I suspect that a case against Andy will exist.  Someone has to explain who approved the 28k book purchase by SEIU.  Frankly, I don't think the mafia would ever have been this stupid or naive.  The mafia would never have bought into any book deal....unless they had a major cut.  The mafia would have laughed Andy out of the room if he'd suggested this deal and they got nothing in return.  Andy, by the end of 2012...will face some court and pay some lawyer a fair amount of money from his stash (every penny he made) to keep him out of jail.

I'm not suggesting a return to the mafia, but after you look at this deal and the book company involvement....with the mafia, everything was kinda simple and understood.  

Glory Days & Nights

"....glory days tour."
-- quote from Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos on the President's tour to Madison, Wisconsin

"....recalling his glory days on the 2008 campaign trail."
-- quote from CBS's Early Show's Chip Reid on the President's tour

It's odd that you could have two guys...on the same day....using the same phrase.

What would cause this?  Well...these news guys have their teams out on the road alot.  In the hustle and bustle of travel, you often have the teams in the same hotels.  So the guys sit around at midnight, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and pumping each other up.  In the midst of some shots of Vodka, some guy will utter some phrase.  Everyone will look at each other....grab their notebook....write down the quote, and the next day pepper the nation with this quote from a bar in Madison.

Course, it could be from the White House staff who eagerly buy booze for reporters and hope that a catch-phrase is written down....but I'd rather not think those thoughts.

Across the River, More Shootings

Almost daily, there's some event in DC that makes you shake your head.

Two days ago, in the midst of a funeral in broad daylight....some gang members show up to taunt another gang who were showing their respects at the funeral.  Words were said....guns were drawn....and then everyone jumps into cars to run down the midst of U Street in DC.  Shoots were fired, and the lead car ends up hitting a couple of cars, then flipping over.

One guy dead, and another seriously injured.  No idea if the flip or the shooting caused the death.

The cops have one of the guys who gave into this chase, and are hunting for a second guy.

"This was one of the most brazen shootings that's ever happened in D.C." was the quote from the Mayor over the shooting.

It used to be that these shootings all occurred in evening hours and folks would just stay in their house after dark...and it'd be safe. I've noticed probably a dozen daytime shootings since I've been here.

The curious thing is that congressmen and senators just look the other way....avoid certain sections of DC entirely, and just accept a third-world behavior in their backyard.