Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Friend Helen

My friend Helen is well into her eighties, but she doesn't act like it. Not only is she an accomplished artist, but she's very good with a computer - while most people her age are scared to death of them. She recently told me a great story, which I just had to share.

Her computer lost its internet connection. The cable company said nothing was wrong. So she and a friend tried everything to get it working. She had thrown in the towel and was going to buy a new computer. But suddenly, her internet was magically back on. Then she figured out what had happened.

Her next door neighbor had his cable and internet service disconnected because he was going to have a dish installed. He never could get it to work, so after several days of trying, he asked the cable company to reinstitute his cable service.

Helen figured out that the cable company probably disconnected her instead of her neighbor. Of course, the cable company will never admit it, but I'm sure she's right. She's sharp!

Religious nepotism

Hi, I'm Elizabeth Scanlon Thomas (everyone knew me as 'Tizzy' when I lived in Natchez). Thank you, Casey Ann, for asking me to contribute to this blog. I grew up in Natchez but moved away when I was 12 and still miss the place so much. I married an Englishman and live outside London now, but still pine for Southern food, friends and the azaleas in bloom in the springtime in Natchez.

Here's one of my memories of growing up in Natchez:

One of my mother's favourite things was teaching Sunday school to first graders at Trinity Episcopal Church in Natchez. She would let me re-arrange the felt figures on the board after she had taught a lesson so I could make Job sit in the sky, for example, or whatever I wanted the Biblical characters to do.

When I was old enough to be in her class, I felt so grown up. I had perfect attendance, but so did another girl. That was a problem for Mom because she got to select the cast for the Nativity play at Christmas, and every girl wanted to be Mary.

My mother thought and thought about it, and finally she decided that she would give the role to her daughter, even if everyone thought it was complete nepotism. I was thrilled with her choice. I wore her light blue silk bathrobe and used my cherished Thumbelina doll as the baby Jesus.

It was one of those perfect childhood moments I had the day I was Mary in the Nativity. But do you know that my mother felt a bit guilty about that, even after all those years? She would say, as if to re-assure herself, "but you were my daughter, after all, and you had been to every lesson...."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lilly Ledbetter - A Heroine

Who's Lilly Ledbetter, you might ask. Well, if you're a woman or have daughters, you owe her a lot - whether you know it or not. Today was her day. Today the President signed his first bill, and it was named after her.

In 1979, Lilly, now 70, went to work at Goodyear Tire in Gadsden Alabama and worked there for 20 years, where she was an area manager. As she was close to retirement, someone - she still doesn't know who - slipped her a piece of paper showing the pay scales for other area managers. She was totally shocked. She was the lowest paid, despite her years of experience and an excellent work record. The others, paid as much as 40% more, were all men.

She had heard sexist remarks throughout her career and knew there was sexual discrimination, but she had no idea how bad it was. She immediately filed a suit with the EEOC. Can you imagine the courage that took?

A jury found her employer very guilty of sex discrimination - it was blatant and not debatable - and awarded her back pay and punitive damages. Of course, Goodyear appealed.

After 10 years, in 2007, the case landed before the Supreme Court, who ruled 5-4 against her. But you will not believe why. There was no question that sex discrimination occurred. BUT according to 5 MEN on the Court, the law says you have to file a suit within 180 days of when the FIRST discrimination occurred. Not when it was discovered, as every person in the world except these 5 men believed. Unbelievable! Sandra Day O'Connor, where were you when we needed you? Replaced unfortunately by sexist, unfeeling Alito and his buddy Roberts. Thank you, George W Bush for your final screwing of women.

Think back to any of your jobs. Did you know how much all your coworkers were being paid after 180 days? Of course not. So how exactly are you supposed to know that you were discriminated against? Not to mention proving it. What this ruling meant was that, although it was theoretically against the law to discriminate, if an employer could hide it for 6 months - which is pretty damned easy - nothing could ever be done about it.

Finally, Lilly caught a break. This decision came in an election year, and people were incensed and angry - which means that politicians pay attention. So the 2007 Lilly Ledbetter Act was introduced to counteract what the Supremes did. Although it passed the Democrat controlled house with a handful of Republican voters, it was killed in the Senate by a Republican filibuster - a cloture vote (to stop debate) which required 60 votes came up 3 votes short.

Senator McCain, who was too busy campaigning to show up for the vote, issued a statement against the bill. When Lilly, a Republican, read what McCain said, she immediately volunteered to work for Obama. And we know what a hard worker she is. Her husband, who died in December, voted for a Democrat for President for the first time in his life.

Today, Lilly got her reward. The bill passed both houses of Congress and was signed by the President. She was right there with him, and he gave her the pen - and Michelle gave a lunch in her honor. By the way, the bill will not do a thing for Lilly - her case is over forever. She fought this issue for the women who come behind her.

McCain? Hasn't learned a thing. He was still against it, along with all but one of his male Republican Senators. All female Republican Senators voted for it.

Lilly, on behalf of my daughter, my granddaughters, and all future generations of women, I thank you. Oh, and by the way, a Goodyear tire will never be on a car of mine.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The New & Improved Natchez Blog

I started this blog several years ago in response to some outrageous behaviors by our Mayor and Board of Aldermen. We have a new administration now, and although they're far from perfect, they are a big improvement. I no longer go to all the meetings and really can't report regularly on city happenings anymore. So I've been mulling over what to do with this blog.

I came up with the idea of having a community blog - where lots of local people would blog here whenever they felt like it. And it won't be just about politics anymore. We'll write about whatever strikes our fancy. And we'll all use our real names, so you can tell us in person what you think - as well as posting any comments you wish.

Before announcing this new endeavor, I wanted to be sure someone besides me would actually be writing. I have found three friends who bravely agreed to give it a shot, and they're signing up now. So soon you'll see some new ideas here, just in case you were tired of mine.

And we're looking for more writers - the more the merrier! So if you want to join us or know someone who is, just shoot me an email. The only rules are no major profanity or personal attacks - and you must write using your real name. (Warning:We are picky about spelling and grammar.) The pay is not very good - in fact, it's nonexistent - but the company's good.

You'll be hearing from us soon!