Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Let's Keep Dancing...

The immortal songstress Peggy Lee had a standard hit entitled, "Is that all their is" back in the day when you really understood what the singer was saying and the song meant something more than noise. As a youngster, this haunting melody about jilted love and the melancholy of existence, never left my head and once I saw Miss Lee perform this number on television, I was hooked. Then and now, the song still rings in the back of my mind as I continue to deal with the complexities of life and the bureaucracy of the state. This time it's the City of Little Rock's enclosure about obtaining licenses for operating business in the city that came to my post office box. Actually, beknowned to the city, my P.O. Box is an attempt to create my own homeland security blanket as well as, also pursuing my hobby of collecting menus from extinct restaurants to hang in my, "Dead Restaurant Hall of Fame". I earn no revenue from this little venture, and this mail drop assist me in keeping credit card bills and other information sensitive mailings under lock and key. Therefore, giving me a peice of mind that I have some control and security over my own mail, if nothing else. With this in mind and a smirk on my face, I have written to Mayor Dailey,not challenging the notice, but rather inquiring about those "Tomaine Lunch Trucks" that I've seen lately in Southwest Little Rock. I asked if those individuals are being monitored and do they have licenses to set up shop in parking lots vs.my lowly post office box, where you can't get a plate of anything. Hopefully, the mayor or some assistant will find time to enlightened me and maybe look into the matter. When we hear from them you know it'll be posted here first. Until then let's just keep dancing...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Can We talk?? Part 2

In previous editions of this blog, I've vented my frustrations about state government, especially the Department of Human Services,who have "punted" my files from one desk to another. Recently, I heard from a caseworker, who gave me lame excuses and meandering explanations about how this mess occurred. My response: Blah! Blah! Blah! Of course none of this "voice message" to me, made any really sense and now I read that our slim fast Governor, Mike Huckabee has declined to provide any emergency relief to the state's AIDS Drugs Assitance Program from his discretionary fund which totals about $500,000. According to Health Department officials, the plans that they have resorted too, is placing individuals that they can't help on the entangled PAP's of pharmaceutical companies. This calls for a, "can we talk !" Even though these programs are devised to assist patients who can't afford their drugs, they are a juggernaut of paper work that must has every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed or you are well on your way to a drug holiday. As I have investigated, these programs also have a myriad of changing rules and expectations. For instance, criteria for Arkansas has changed at least 3 times over the past year. First you needed to have Viral load information, but you had no insurance to pay for the Lab, then in August, it didn't matter. Sorry, about that $500 bill and the lack of cohesion of information. Let's not mention the "medical advocate" component, who may or may not get your information sent in a timely matter. If not, guess what, you are penalize and sent in search of some one in customer service who can't really affirm if you will get a shipment or when it will be processed. The newest twist for one such program, has the participant updating their profile and getting "script" refills via the internet. Got the picture? Can you really imagine ADH figuring all this out and getting affected people on this medicine merry go round "seamlessly." Aren't these the same folks who have mysteriously re-deployed employees to other post from the STD/ HIV unit, alledgedly confiscasted computers, and is now in the grips of audits and media scrunity . Let's get real and face facts. The real problem here is a leadership vacuum and strategic preparation for dealing with this issue, which has been in the wings for some time now. This state was reported to be in a crisis mode from NASTAD in January 2004 and I personally stumped in Washington D.C. lobbying our congressional delegation about additional federal funding support for state ADAP's. So this dilemma begs that the question. Why do those in charge take the chicken little management approach and wait until the sky is falling before we make a move to rectify situations. I share Rep. Jay Bradfords sentiment that this is just a "dumb move" all the way around and couldn't be more ripe for reality TV. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Can We talk??

I couldn't help but borrow the line, "Can we Talk ?..." from master people watcher and acerbic comic Joan Rivers, who would be spewing all kinds of obscenities at the Department of Human Services, if she had to endure the continuing lack of organization, that I 've had to face within the last few months. Supervisors not passing on messages, files missing or not seen by those who have made decision on the matter at hand, unreturned phone calls and the list just goes on. No wonder, we could'nt close any Arkansas revenue offices to save money, because we need every "warm body" that you can go through to get any services. It just seems so unbelieveable that in this "computer/ tech" craze world , that customer service hasn't really been enhance, but rather hampered. Especially with the advent of voice mail and messenging systems that no one seems to be actually using, except to avoid talking to anyone, Live. Over the pass week, I have called the Southwest Unit of the DHS, concerning the "paper trail" of an application to a local health agency. Repeatedly, a polite, yet droning voice mail has greeted me with a supervisors voice telling me that "she is not available to speak to me, but she is in the building. Leave a message and someone will return your call." Phooey! No one returns your call and if they do, they seem to busy trying to clear up all the other "files" that they are running behind on, to actually address your qustions with any real information. I realize that state workers feel that they are not appreciated or compensated well for the jobs that they do. I"ve heard it from more than one clerical or support person, who doesn't mind being a little dishey about state government. Even though not many seem to be relinquishing these life long valuable positions. However, perhaps to ensure that more work is accomplished may be we should consider offering a "peice" rate to clerical workers, similar to the now defunct garment industry.Certainly, this would certainly make things more accountable, since your pay would depend on how productive you are daily. The more completed files or retuned phone calls, the more your paycheck. What a novel idea? Absurd as this sounds, it worked years ago. My mother made a great living bagging blouses and pressing garments at a low rate that kept our familiy life humming along without missing a beat.I'm sure if she needed to complete files for living today, she would be leading the pack in getting the job done. Of course what this actually boils down to, is the lack of accountability and productivity in leiu of the "its just another applicant needing somthin," attitude that is prevelant at such agencies. Overall, I guess, I'd settle for some type of "can we talk action", but I would rather have a can we get something done action instead!! Stay tuned, take a deep breathe and let's see what the week has to offer. Until next time...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Cornelius Mabin, Jr. Posted by Hello

Now playing: Arkansas Fahrenheit 411

The last past week has been filled with so much activity and "goings On" that my legal pad had skid marks on it, just trying to keep up with it all. First out, congratulations to all the Compassion Award winners at the Arkansas AIDS Foundation's annual fundraiser held October 8. It was a virtual who's who in attendance especially at the table of which I was seated, which included Pat Obrien, County Clerk contender to Kevin Kresse, who desgined this years award. The Women's City Club provided an appropriate backdrop for the afffair and the foundation raised significant revenue for the coffers. Of course, my interest was piqued by those who attended and should have been ambushed by the "What not to Wear" team, but rather who wasn't in attendance. It seems that the notable mover and shakers of the gay community were "too busy" empire building to attend, but rather let their cash or lack of it speak for them.However, reliable sources in the know, have stated that some gay business people gave "much attitude" when approached about this years event. Unfortunately for the community and after all these years, it seems that the infighting as well as, those who share cubicles in "Ego Towers" are still alive and well. In another interesting note, last evenings program listed past winners which included, Lola Thrower, former ADH HIV/ AIDS administrator, who's program practices are under scrunity from internal ADH auditors and is getting much media attention. Enter Meridith Oakley, Democrat Gazzette colunmist, who has put her two cents in the frey using her column for a little "Throwering" and bashing those underlings who made those silly statements that they were "just doing there jobs." Ms. Oakley's probing questions and observations will ultimately put a bullseye on someone's back, because it seems that issue is becoming a blood sport for everyone, including some politicos who are demanding more audits, canceling that $53,000 computer contract for that unknown CBO (more on that later) and maybe some heads to roll to boot!! Someone call Michael Moore. All this as we attempt to celebrate National Coming Out day , October 11, 2004 in a state that has admendment 3 a "pro-marriage"/ anti-gay admendment on the ballot this November. To my dismay, I recently encountered some community members who thought that the admendment was actually going to provide them a means for wedded bliss, not ban it. And the courts said that this turkey was not confusing to the average voter. Go figure!

Friday, October 01, 2004

In search of "The facts, just the facts, mam!"

The political landscape contiues to wickedly wind it way to November, as the debates have now added another dash to the mixture that we as voters would like increased- "only the facts please!" Pundits, spin specialist and those talking heads such as Presidential advisor, Karen Hughes, seem to keep saying the same things repeatedly. As if they were a broken "replay" button on a CD player. Of course, they say these are "talking points" the campaign wants to re-emphasizes, despite they only address part of the what we the electorate wants- the facts mam, just the facts!
Locally, the speculation and "bad mouthing" concerning the recent developments at the Arkansas Health Dept.'s HIV/STD unit continues as the story appears in national AIDS media on the web. I recieved an e-mail entitled "clarifications,"dycring mis-information about the situation and a "lets throw no stones appeal," of former administrator, Lola Thrower. However,the rumblings that I've heard have actually painted the entire affair with a Soprano-esque atmosphere with Thrower as "mafia diva" simply blinded with power and feared by all who crossed her path. Of course this outrageous scenerio was given limited credence by statements from the Fort Smith Fights AIDS,Executive Director, Jay Burk who took the see no evil, speak no evil , hear no evil approach to management by saying,"...it wasn't his money...he was just doing his job." Meanwhile, as the world turns, the investigation moves forward and we close another session of talking out loud. Stay tuned...