My Picks for November 2017 Election in Ohio

First off, understand that this post is not written to be grammatically or politically correct. It is written in a style of writing called “stream of consciousness”

That means that if you have some problem with how I have represented my thoughts on this election coming up, you are being judgmental. Who are you to judge my stream of consciousness?

If you have some ideas or opinions about the upcoming elections, please by all means share your thoughts or opinions.

We gots an election coming up in this piece. Mahoning Valley Votes yall. So’’s I decided I needs to weigh in on some stuff…

I gots my facts from two sources:

The League of Women Voters puts out this fine guide to the elections by county and I found me a copy and read up on it. I aint ginna bother speaking to no stuff that I aint voting for so ifin you is smart, you will get your own copy somewhere.

I gots mine at St E’s whiles I was visiting a friend who had himself all jacked up. But I am guessing if you call them, they can tell you where you can get yours. They is called the League of Women Voters. Ask your google or your siri or your mama, cause I aint your directory assistance— you know.

If you dont want to ask you mama or try to calls them get on over to ballotpedia.org I guess you wants me spell it for ya. Ballotpedia.org dang its. Sound it out if you gots to. Sheeeetttt…

If there is one thing you can do smart in this world it is get your arse out theres and vote. But don’t be a ponkass bitch about it. Find out whats you votin on first. Or if you is kinda preferrin to be a follower then just vote how I is going to vote.

YesonIssue2_400Pixels

There are two statewide issues on the ballot. One I knows everyone has been hearing about is Issue 2. We done heard so much about issue 2, most of us is thinking the whole thing is just number two. And it is too. We gots a bunch of lying pharmaceutical companies who is masquerading as people who gives a shit about anything other than money whos is buying all kinds of support from doctors and lawyers and indian chiefs tryin to look legit. They are against Issue 2 Passing. They created some special Political Action Committee and funded it real nice and then started trying to tell everyone that if Issue 2 Passes it is going to cause all kinds of problems and cost people more money.

That shizzit is outright lies. The only people gonna lose money is the people selling you your drugs. They try to make out that if it passes that the people who sponsored it are going to get all their legal bills paid. Well, that is misdirection. The fact is that the only legal bills that would get paid by the taxpayers are the ones that are created when the the pharma companies sue them for sponsoring the bill in the first place. I will be voting for Issue two to pass. Just cause in my view these pharma companies are not only fat and rich as it is and lying dirtballs. They also is partially responsible for the opioid problem in this state and every other place. So fuck them. They dont get no cred from me.

marsyslaw

Second Statewide is Marsy’s Law also known as Issue 1. This is one that everyone should be voting to pass. Essentially it is will give the victims of crimes some rights that they currently don’t have. Like being advised as to the status of a case against a perp who may have done something to them. And other helpful stuff. Crime Victims Rights are something that most states already have in place and Ohio needs to get with the times on this. So it is a yes from me.

I lives in Mahoning County. There are some renewals on levies that should pass. And to be sure, in my opinion unless you lives somewhere seriously corrupt like Niles or The City of Youngstown, most times when your trustees or whoever is asking for money to do something, it is cause they need it. And it will benefit your community. So I usually just go carte blanche on all that cause I live in Boardman and aint never really had no problem with how we been governed here. Or how much it costs. OR any of that shit.

boardman

We gots some people running for School Board here and trustee too here in Boardman. A nice place to call home. We gots three homies runnin for trustee. I aint quite sure what a trustee is but I am guessing that they must do something otherwise, why would we have to elect em?

So we gots Brad Calhoun– This dude is like in his fifties. I guess he has already been a trustee for 8 years up in here. So he gots some experience. And that is helpful I am thinking. SO he is probably gonna get my vote. Just cause like I said before, I aint got no real complaints about how shit goes here.

Then we gots some educational peoples looking to get elected. Mahoning County has an Educational Service Center. Funny thing is I aint never heard of this shit. But if you want to know what they do, Check this link. https://www.mahoningesc.org/Page/338

One of them homies lookin to get elected is an incumbent. That means he is already working there. His name is Scarsella. I guess he has been there since 2006. That means he gots experience and plenty of it. Odd thing is I cant figure no reason to make a change there. I guess cause I aint never heard of it and had to look it up it dont matter all that much to me. But it may matter to you. If you think someone else can do a better job, then vote em in. It aint my place to tell you how to live.

Then is Boardman we gots people wantin to be on the School Board. Again, it dont matter much to me., so I is probably just going to vote for the people who are already working there. Vickie Davis and John Landers. I need to pick another out of the four runnin so last but not least, Tracey Balentine. Why not Fryda? You may ask. Cause he aint got no experience with the schools that I can see. He is some business guy. That may be good in some circles. But, many times business people have ulterior motives when they is trying to get elected. Shoot just look at Trump ifin you dont believe that.

Like I said earlier, for the Tax levies, I figure to give em all a yes. We also gots some schools asking for money. I say yes again. Aint no harm in investing in the youngins. And then finally we gots some restaurants here in Boardman wantin to sell some hooch on Sunday and whatnot. Who cares really? May as well let em sell it here. Cause if people wants to drink on Sunday, they is gonna get their dranks. May as well be here at the local places.

So that is all for this election cycle. This is DM signing off for now. But if you gets on my nerves enough, I will definitely have something to say about it. And you.

Crappy Email Clickbait

Featured image courtesy of Steve Lovelace

Email is Content too. And if you have a list, then you want people to interact with your emails don’t you. You want people to open your emails. To take action. And if they don’t, you may want to look at your content. Your Subject Line. Your angle.

Email-button

I am not going to go off too much on this.

But who does not hate when you get email that causes you to have to visit the website because it is deceptive?

I suppose I expect more from EBay. They were one of the first ecommerce platforms. And I would expect that they can do way better than this.  Believe me when I tell you that it is really challenging to get people to respond to email these days.

You know this. Because if you are anything like me; you get a lot of email. If you think that competing on Social Media is tough, or SEO is competitive; then you never really thought how much of a challenge it is to get people to even open your email.

Let alone act on it.

What is my point? Today, I got this from EBay. And I think it is the one of the most obnoxious emails I have ever received.Crappy Click Bait Email

Why am I so miffed with this? And why am I posting about it?

This is a complete lie. Outright Deception. I did not buy anything from EBay recently. So, of course; I had to visit their website to make sure that my account had not been hijacked or hacked.

Of course, we all want people to interact with our content. To do something when we reach out. But, in my opinion this is completely the wrong way to go about it. Don’t lie to people. Ever.

Not if you value your reputation on line anyway.

Or you care about your audience’s feelings. Or about them in any way.

Transcript Episode 16 of The Mahoning Valley Podcast

Listen, Subscribe or Download it here.

New Star from Youngstown. NIE, (Newspapers in Education) Outing the Mainstream Media Ownership in Mahoning Valley. Bits and Bites at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. Sign Up to become a Change Bandit for Akron Children’s Hospital. And Opinion on the Trump Inauguration and Impending Presidency.

According to our local CBS affiliate, The star of the new show, “Hunted,” premiering this Sunday, January 22 on CBS, is a Mooney grad from Youngstown. While it might sound glamorous, life for Robert Clark started with everything stacked against him. His early years were nothing like that of a network TV star. Clark was born in Youngstown and raised on the tough streets of the south side, spending ages 4 to 12 in foster care. His father, Bobby Clark, operated the mob-owned Casablanca Night Club until January 15, 1980, when he was allegedly murdered. Robert Clark said his years as a high school student at Cardinal Mooney, Class of 1984, changed him. “They are a part of who I am. The motivation that I had to not just be different, but to be the difference that I want to see in the world,” he said.

Clark also played football at Mooney and was part of the 1982 state championship team under Coach Don Bucci.

Here is another story of people rising up to overcome adversity and history. Much like many of us here in the Mahoning Valley and indeed the Valley itself. Our Valley has a long and storied history of adversity and challenges. Struggles with our local economy, and struggles with less than scrupulous individuals who operated beyond the rule of law and spread fear and strife in our community. But some of us, myself included believe that those struggles can be things of the past. That it is possible to rise above the history of crime and corruption and face the challenges. If you believe that too, you should consider getting involved with this project. Even if you fail to see any reason to drop a couple of pennies in the coffers of this project to keep it going; you can like this and share it with your friends.

Here is something that many people who hear this podcast or read the transcripts may not be aware of. Free Educational Resources from the Vindicator.

For instance: Beyond Comprehension: The Newspaper and Critical Literacy
Dr. Sherrye Dee Garrett, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi
Introduction & Overview (mp3, 23 minutes) / Lesson Activities (mp3, 30 minutes)

Critical literacy involves the analysis and critique of the relationships among texts, language, power, social groups and social practices. It shows us ways of looking at written, visual, spoken, multimedia and performance texts to question and challenge the attitudes, values and beliefs that lie beneath the surface. (courtesy NAA NIE Conference) This is just one of the over 300 lessons designed to help your children learn about the world around you. And it is all free. Did I say that? Follow the link above and get in touch or start downloading and teaching them youngins.

Why would you want to download and listen to this particular item? Well, one reason I can think of is that many of your mainstream media outlets in this valley may be just about getting your money. No matter how much squawking they do about their local point of view, they may just be here to make money. Both our CBS and ABC Affiliates are not even owned by a local company. The people who run WKBN and WYTV and the other channels on these bandwidths like 27.2 FOX 27.3 ION and 33.2 and 33.3 live in other communities and have big fat paychecks so they can hire our local reporters and anchors and producers to act like they give a crap about this community. And the local people who work here probably do care about this Valley, but their employers may not.

Although there are a few local people who work for Media General and it is likely they do actually care about the Mahoning Valley; for the most part the editorial direction and personnel decisions are coming from another state and a big media conglomerate located over there in the fine state of Virginia.

Why am I talking about this? Because this company that owns a few of our local tv stations is a public company. That means they have no real interest in local issues or struggles. It means that they are beholden to their stockholders to make a profit and that is all. So that also means that anything they report to you should be taken with a grain of salt.

Let’s look at some other mainstream media companies here in the Valley so you can get an idea of where they are coming from too. The local Newspaper, The Vindicator and Channel 21 WFMJ. These two companies are owned locally. So when they say, “locally owned and locally connected”; they are not flat out lying. But they are also owned by a couple of wealthy people who live in Canfield and are about as connected to our community as a bank is to it’s depositors. As long as they are making money, they are as happy as they can be most likely. To be fair, they do employ some people here in this Valley and contribute economically in terms of taxes and fees and what not. But they also clearly have an vested interest in keeping up with the maintenance on their million dollars estates far removed from the struggles of the city.

Are you interested in knowing how to get in touch with these media mavens who run the show over there at the Vindicator and WFMJ? Here ya go. I figure if I let you know, and you don’t like the way they are doing it; then as a community we can hold them accountable. For the Vindicator, they are required to publish their names and positions and here they are. Keep in mind that Ms Jagnow and Mr Brown are also the people who own the company who holds the FCC License for WFMJ.

Whether or not the Mahoning Valley ever reaches its potential, or starts to grow and flourish due to their influence; that is the question that only they can answer for themselves.

And just so our neighbors in Trumbull County don’t feel left out, The Tribune Chronicle is published by a company out of Wheeling West Virginia. And for those of you in Columbiana County, the Morning Journal, also owned by a company out of Wheeling.

Our Radio Stations also are owned primarily by out of state corporations who are beholden to stock holders more then to our community. The two biggies are Cumulus Media and of course Iheart Media.

So although our mainstream media companies here do have a vested interest in the Mahoning Valley; with the exception of the millionaires who live in Canfield who own the Vindicator and WFMJ; our mainstream media is controlled by people who do not live here. And in many cases do not have any interest here in this community other then how much money they can suck out of us. So when you hear people talk about the media elite and the mainstream media as biased, it probably makes more sense.

I am actually an avid consumer of the media. Not just TV and Newspapers, but interactive media as well. I source much of the information for these podcasts from the local outlets. Sometimes I quote them to talk about the good things that are happening here. Well a lot of the time. That is because in order to talk about the good things that are happening here in the Valley,

I need to know about them. That is one of the things that you can do to help support this project. When you hear about something that is good, let me know. If you have an event that is not all about the money, then let me know. Or if you are doing events that do have a financial component to them like fund raising or raising awareness, at least send me a notice. Give me a chance to cover it here and link to it.

That is the difference between independent media, like this podcast and other independent information sources and the mainstream; I at least am not being enriched by this project greatly. I am doing this podcast as a community service that I have sentenced myself to do. Because I enjoy podcasting and publishing and I love this area. It is my home too.

FEMA PSA

I have received some feedback on content ideas for this podcast and most recently it was to discuss some history of the Valley. Well I got something even better for you if you are interested in the history of the Valley. A free discussion that occurs every third Thursday at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

This Thursday, you can join the Mahoning Valley Historical Society for the new Bites and Bits of History Lunch Program. Bring your lunch to the beautiful Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center on the third Thursday of every month at noon for a historical presentation. These free lunchtime discussions will cover a variety of topics and give you a chance to explore local history in a new way.

The daily parking lot on the west side of the building is available for $2.00. Place money in the numbered slot which corresponds to your parking space in the white box on the Federal Street sidewalk. Do not park in the monthly lot on the east side. Street parking in marked spots is free. Additional visitor information.

Bring your own lunch, or visit Overture for their $6 Bites and Bits Lunch Special. Call Overture at 330-744-9900 to place your order. Coffee, pop, and water are available for purchase at the History Center.

This Thursday, The People’s House: A History of the White House

Kimberly Kenney, Curator – William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

Learn more about the history of the most popular historic home in America! This presentation will cover the design and major restorations of the house, and features an in-depth look at the rooms of McKinley’s White House from the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum archives.

I encourage you to help the Akron Children’s Hospital this year by signing up to become a Change Bandit. Change Bandits “rob” their friends, family and co-workers of spare change to raise funds for Radiothon.

Children, individuals and families register to participate here.

Schools, businesses, community organizations and hospital departments register here.

We’ll mail your kit to you in early January. It will contain complete, detailed instructions to get your Change Bandit program started, including how to set up an online fundraising campaign for your collection efforts.

Please contact Nicci Avalon at 330-543-8340 or navalon@chmca.org with any questions.

In a few days we will be swearing in a new president and vice president. Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Despite the fact that these good ole white boys did not actually win the popular vote in this county, we are going to have to endure another round of Republican Class divisionism. I know, that may not be an actual English Language word, but it does adequately describe what this country is in for now that the republicans are going to have a majority in the senate and the house and an executive to push through their let’s get ourselves and all of our buddies richer agenda.

Some people may think it ironic that me as a white male would be discussing this turn of events in such terms. In fact, some may think that it is a betrayal of my race or gender to even dare to call the republican party the good ole white boys party. But I just call it like I see it. It should not be called the GOP. It should be called the GOB. For Good Ole Boys.

I will clarify. According to the Wikipedia, this term can be positive or negative. Positive aspects: The term can be used for well socialized men who live in rural and generally Southern areas. If a man is humble and well thought of, he can be referred to as a good old boy, regardless of his age. It is also commonly applied to men from a family with multi-generational wealth or prestige, or to men who behave like a Southern gentleman.

Negative aspects: Pejoratively, the phrase can often suggest a man with an anti-intellectual bias or some other intolerant viewpoint. The phrase also can refer negatively to someone who engages in cronyism among men who have known each other for a long period of time. Collectively, these people are referred to by the slang term, good ol’ boy network (also known as an old boys’ club; however, note that in certain countries in the Commonwealth including the UK, an old boys network or club has a very different meaning involving alumni).

So if you don’t think that Donald Trump and Mike Pence and the Republican Party are a bunch of good ole boys, let me tell you as story. When I first moved here to the Mahoning Valley, I needed a job. Truth is, I probably still need a job, but that is not your problem. I started working at Infocision. One of the largest employers here in the Mahoning Valley.

If you are not familiar with Infocision, they operate call centers. They have a few here and a couple over in Western PA as well as over in the Akron Area. Large employer and actually not too bad as far as employers go. Decent wages back then and reasonable management with advancement opportunities. No they did not pay me to say this and that is why they get no link.

Anyway, I was initially assigned to the political division. Guess who was one of their clients? The Republicans. And a few of their various affiliations. And we called people. We called them at home, we called them at their offices, we called them from 8 AM to 12 AM seven days a week. We called them and told them all about how the republican way of life was under threat and how traditional values were going to disappear. We called them and lied to them about how they were the Business Person of the Year. We called them and tried to frighten them with tales of how the Second Amendment was going to be destroyed and they were going to have to give up their guns. We called them and told them anything we could to get their money.

It was and still is pathetic. In some cases it was exaggeration. In some cases it was outright deceptive. For instance, did you know that the only qualification required to be the Business Person of the Year is do be registered as a Republican and to donate money. That’s all the Republican Party needs you to do to be recognized as a Business Person of the Year. Some days I signed up 20 or so new BPOY’s. If that does not tell you something about this new administration, then maybe this will give you some clues about the kind of people we are going to be calling President and Vice President. Did you know that Donald Trump is still fund-raising? Yes, he is. He is running a store selling presidential bobbles and keepsakes. Inaugural Glasses and other trivial items. To raise money. HUH? No link to that either cause he is not sponsoring this project today.

I am not going to make any bones about it. I do not like modern American politics. I don’t like the democrats or republicans. I don’t like the tactics or agendas of either party. I, like many people think that national politics are not actually representative of my personal interests. But I am not saying we can just ditch the whole thing. As many people say, American Representative Democracy is an experiment. It was born in a noble ideal. That people should be equal and have liberty that is endowed from above.

That is a noble ideal. But it has been playing out like a good ole boys club. And the richer will keep getting richer. And the rest of us will be scrambling around trying to get a hot dog dinner for our families while we work 80 hours a week to put money in other people’s pockets. And trying to take care of our own. There is not a single shred of evidence that Mr. Trump’s Presidency is going to change things much for most of us. Sure, there will be changes. And many people may benefit. But most likely many people will lose too. And at the end of the day, our new President will likely get richer from his experience. And that is good for him. But is it good for you?

 

 

Mahoning Valley Podcast Episode 9 Transcript

Listen to it here.

Today on Mahoning Valley Podcast, Save your money, Public Library Resources and Kwanzaa, Continuing the destruction, Boardman UPS Grinch, Holiday Generosity to the Salvation Army

Save your money this Holiday and wait until next week to do your shopping. Why? Because it is inevitable that the places where you get your gifts are going to be offering the best prices of the year in most cases a few days after the big holiday windup. If you have never noticed this trend, then go on out to your favorite department store next week when the retailers show their desperation to get those last few dollars in their coffers to close the fiscal year. According to Deal News

There are seven categories or items you can save a lot of money on next week. Please be advised that this section does contain affiliate links to Amazon to help offset the cost of producing this podcast. So if you like what you are hearing and need some of these items, please go ahead and get them and it will help you and this effort.

Clothing

Apparel deals dominate after-Christmas sales. Last year, some of our most popular sales during that time included discounts of up to 70% up at Nordstrom, Amazon, Columbia, and H&M. And don’t forget the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale, which often (including last year) lands right at the end of December. Winter coats, hats, and gloves will see even deeper discounts now than they did during Black Friday. In 2015, post-Christmas sales went as high as 70% off select items with most discounts around 40% or 50%, plus additional discounts on clearance items.

Cameras

While we’ll see all manner of tech discounts after Christmas, camera deals are what really impress us this month. We found that 31% of after-Christmas camera deals were Editors’ Choice last year. And remember, there’s still plenty of things your phone can’t do that a camera can.

About 31% of the camera deals found in after-Christmas sales will be of Editors’ Choice quality.

If you really want to maximize the value of your camera purchase, consider a refurb. The best deals we see are factory-refurbished units from Canon, Nikon, and more. These items, restored to almost-new condition and backed by manufacturer warranties, are even preferred by some experts.

Audio Gear

Headphone and home theater deals will be on fire after Christmas; in years past, 41% checked in as Editors’ Choice. However, true audiophiles will have to continue paying top dollar: We don’t typically see high-end gear at Editors’ Choice prices this late in the year. Expect bargains on entry-level to mid-tier options from brands like Pioneer, Sony, Polk, Klipsch, and Beats. This is also another area to check out refurb products, especially if you’re looking for Polk, Beats, and Bose.

Sports and Fitness Gear

Retailers love to take advantage of those New Years’ resolutions to get in shape by offering deals on sports and fitness equipment. While we don’t necessarily see more deals or all-time lows after Christmas, we definitely saw better sitewide discounts from a range of stores.

Last year, stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Groupon, and Sears had after-Christmas discounts of 25% to 50% on select sporting and fitness goods, sometimes on top of clearance discounts.

We’re particularly excited about Sears this year, which is likely to offer big deals to offset lackluster performance this year. Last year, Sears offered lots of deals on NordicTrack, so keep an eye out if you want a treadmill or an incline trainer. Plus, NordicTrack has its own New Year’s sale, cutting 40% to 60% off select items.

This is also traditionally a good time to get deals on gym memberships. Be sure your deal includes no upfront fees, and at least one month free. You can easily negotiate these freebies if they aren’t included in the plan.

Video Games

This will be a great time to stock up on your favorite video game titles, especially for older systems. Even better than audio equipment and cameras, a whopping 56% of video game deals are expected to be Editors’ Choice during the upcoming after-Christmas sales. Last year, we saw Assassin’s Creed for Xbox 360 from $5, and Xbox One games from $6.

Christmas Decorations

We know you want to enjoy your motorcycle-riding Santa now, but the best time of year to buy Christmas decorations from a savings perspective is the day after Christmas. On December 26, prices on holiday decor will drop 40% to 75% at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target, and Pottery Barn.

Last year, inflatable lawn ornaments were the best bet, with inflatable Christmas Yoda and Darth Vader options each marked down by about $15 to $30. We’re hoping the force is with us, and these deals will be back this year.

Hatchimals

If you’ve promised your kiddo this season’s hottest toy and haven’t bought it yet, then you don’t have many options: You’ll have to pay hundreds of dollars on eBay, if you can find one at all.

But if you can convince your little one that Santa is bringing Hatchimals in February this year, the toys will likely be back in stock and down to normal prices ($50) once the manufacturer has had a chance to make more and the craze has diminished. On a personal note, I cannot imagine why anyone would want one of these hatchimals. I understood the Pet Rock as it never spoils the carpet or wakes you up with it’s butt in your face or needs $1000.00 in Grooming. But a hatchimal?

Make a Wish PSA

Here is something many people never think about, but our Public Library in Mahoning County is a wonderful source of information and free events. Coming up next week for instance in a number of different branches; there will be reading with your baby sessions to get them up to speed on the ever important skill of reading. Events for adults like learning how to access ebooks and online resources there and even Blood Drives with the Red Cross and a Kwanzaa Celebration.

On a personal note, I have often thought that Kwanzaa is one of those winter holidays that makes a lot of sense. What better way to wrap up a year then to reinforce seven values that all have the potential to make our or anyone’s community a much nicer place to live. Among these values, Unity, Economic Cooperation, Faith, Purpose and Creativity. If we all celebrated Kwanzaa, it is my opinion that the world would be a much better place to live and work in.

On a much sadder note according to the Vindicator, a deep injection well will be permitted to reopen in Weathersfield Township. The destruction of this earth continues to line the pockets of irresponsible and greedy persons who will someday give account for their actions. More than two years after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shut down a deep injection well in Weathersfield Township because of small earthquakes, a judge has ordered the state to allow it to reopen.

Judge Kimberly Cocroft of Franklin County Common Pleas Court issued a decision Friday that orders ODNR and American Water Management Services, owner of the well, to submit a proposed entry setting forth the parameters under which the well will reopen.

Specifically, the judge said the entry should address the amount of oil and gas drilling waste that will be injected initially into the well, the injection pressures to be used and how they will “incrementally increase the volume and pressure while simultaneously providing constant monitoring for seismicity.”

Guess what? Even if these things are monitored it does not change two facts about deep well injection and fracking. These practices are destructive and dangerous. Any manipulation of resources that are offered by nature is going to have a deleterious effect on the quality of life for all of us. It is logical to assume that if you inject toxins into our environment they will not just go away, They will start to leach into the water and the ground and effect anything that uses that water or earth. That means food supplies and water supplies will be contaminated. People wonder why Cancer has been on the rise despite our efforts to curtail it. It is directly related in my opinion to the toxins that the Industrial Revolution has produced and deposited in our environment.

Then in the usual antiholiday spirit the Vindicator also reported that someone has been playing the Grinch at the Boardman UPS Store.

Police are investigating a theft at the UPS store at 143 Boardman-Canfield Road, the second theft reported at the store this week, both involving Christmas gifts.

A woman told police she mailed a package containing $920 in cash and various other gifts to family Dec. 12. By monitoring the tracking number, she determined the package never left the facility.

The woman followed up on Dec. 20, and the store manager told the woman UPS security would open an investigation. She will pursue charges, according to the report. On a related story, A family decided it would not pursue criminal charges against a former UPS employee for taking $650 from Christmas cards an elderly woman was sending money to her grandchildren. That report was made with police Tuesday.

So I guess this just goes to show that Corporate America is still refusing to pay a living wage to people. Well that and people in general can have a tendency to look out only for themselves. Of course corporate greed is no excuse for engaging in criminal acts and stealing from people. In fact there is not an excuse for such a thing. It is despicable. If you don’t like your lot in life or the wges you earn, go get another job or figure out a way to live on what you make. As a reminder people get what they give. So if you are not getting what you want; try giving a little more and see if it comes back to you. It will.

St Jude PSA

And now onto someone who definitely gets it. According to WKBN Channel 27 our local CBS affiliate, For the fifth year in a row, a generous donor dropped gold coins in a few Salvation Army buckets in Mahoning County. The Salvation Army received a fourth gold coin in its bucket at the Poland Giant Eagle late Thursday night. It’s a 1 ounce pure gold Canadian Maple Leaf.

“We are pleased by this generous donation and we wish to express our gratitude to the donor,” said Major Elijah Kahn, Mahoning County Area Coordinator. “It will help us narrow the gap in our fundraising deficit this year as we approach the finish line.” Three 1 ounce gold coins were discovered in three of its kettles across the area on Wednesday. A Canadian Maple Leaf was dropped in a kettle at Canfield Giant Eagle, a South Africa Krugerrand coin and a Grant Wood American Arts Commemorative Series coin were dropped in kettles at the Giant Eagle in Austintown. The donor remains anonymous and left no note or information.

And that is the way to do it. I know that I gave a shoutout to Owens Construction last episode for sponsoring a Holiday Party at Youngstown Community School

And I believe that it is good to give recognition to people who do things that are worthy of mention, but the fact of the matter is, that it is the things that people do in secret that are the most valuable in my opinion. Not the things that people do in the public eye to get themselves attention for the good works they do, but the things that we do in private when no one is watching or paying attention that sometimes have the most value. There are some people who would say that integrity is not about what you do when you know people are watching but about the things that we do in private. I would also go so far as to say that if you are going to engage in charitable acts; doing it without recognition demonstrates far greater generosity and character.

WWF PSA

Todays Target Black Friday

How Black Friday Promotions Are Often Deceptive

How you are being duped into spending more money then you have for the holidays

We all like to think that the holidays bring about peace on earth and goodwill towards men, but there is mounting evidence and substantial documentation to show that the holiday season is often just an excuse for desperate retailers and merchants to con you into spending more money then you can afford.

Take for instance, this example of how Target is using outright deception to get you to buy an Iphone. According to  Mike Wehner reporting for bgr.com  ,

If you head to Target’s online store and search for “iPhone 7,” you’ll be met with the retailers much publicized gift card promotion, which nets you a $250 store voucher with the purchase of any iPhone 7, 7 Plus, or 6 Plus. It’s a great deal, in line with similar promotions from Best Buy and Walmart, but it’s not the only thing you’ll see on the search results page.

If you scroll down to the actual individual listings for various iPhone 7 models, you’ll see prices that have no reason to exist, much less under the guise of a “sale.”

The iPhone 7, which starts at $649 for the 32GB model and goes up to $849 for 256GB, is being sold for $1,129.99. That’s a hefty $280 premium over the regular price, and for no discernible reason. It’s not a bundle that includes anything else; it’s just the phone, and its “regular” price is marked even higher, by $20.

What’s even more hilarious, is that it’s listed as a Black Friday sale, and its price is slated to go back up on Sunday.

And this price adjustment isn’t limited to the 256GB model, as both the 32GB and 128GB versions are also priced at a ridiculous markup.

What’s worse, people are apparently actually buying these phones at this jacked-up price. Target’s handy little buyers tool shows that the iPhone 7 is being bought for over $1,000.

So what’s the deal here? It’s hard to tell. At first I assumed the prices were the result of some third-party seller antics — Walmart, for example, sells products in its online store that come from third-party merchants, and they can set the prices to their own liking. However, there’s nothing on the store page or individual listings to suggest these devices are being sold by anyone other than Target itself.

Maybe Target discovered the secret to Black Friday: People will buy just about anything as long as they think it’s on sale.

While this is not a new phenomena; it seems that the Black Friday deceptions are beginning to stretch beyond one day a year into an entire month or more. I have noticed advertisements locally that proudly proclaim that the entire month of November is a Black Friday Event. I am not the only one to notice this trend.  Hayden Dingman writing for pcworld:

“Black Friday has outgrown itself as retailers have cannibalized the name ‘Black Friday’ and used it to promote deals all throughout the month of November,” says Matthew Ong, a senior analyst at NerdWallet. “This is partially a response to the late Black Friday date in 2013, but this Christmas creep is a trend that’s been ramping up in the last few years and [is] only likely to continue.”

But it’s not just about the timing. A closer look at the deals around Black Friday show how the date has become a buzzword to trick people into pulling the trigger on shoddy deals. Retailers are manipulating prices and the products themselves just to get you into the store. Once you’re in the store, they’ve already won. So before you camp out in line, read on to learn the real deal about Black Friday. “

Many unsuspecting consumers such as yourself make assumptions about how the whole Black Friday thing works. But according to the  Wall Street Journal  , Black Friday promotions are a part of an annual business planning process.

The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don’t sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn’t typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want.

And Black Friday deceptions are not new either. Although there may be examples of large well established retailers using deceptions to lure consumers into overspending prior to 2009; this example of how Walmart has been accused of deception for Black Friday was documented by  Sue Walsh for technologytell.com  shows it has been around for a while.

Customers from around the country are complaining that the deals Walmart promised on  Black Friday  were given away ahead of time in a pre-sale procedure many are calling a scam because it was not made known to the public.

In Tracy, CA, customers who arrived before dawn to snap up the $198 eMachines laptop that was advertised as being on sale between 5am-10am discovered the stores entire inventory of 37 units had been sold the day before in a non-advertised pre-sale. The manager admitted there was no way for the general public to know about the pre-sale unless they called the store (and obviously there was no way for most people to know they needed to do that), and apparently had not told the line of customers that started forming around 3am that the laptop was not available.

Nearly half of the Black Friday deals studied in the UK from just last year showed that the prices were actually lower at other times in the year as documented by Jay McGregor writing for the Wall Street Journal.

According to a  study conducted  by consumer watchdog Which?, the latter.

The report found that 49% of 2015 Black Friday deals in the UK were actually cheaper at other points in the year. Which? tracked prices for 178 items across multiple major retailers like Currys, John Lewis, Amazon and Argos for three months before Black Friday 2015. It found that the discount shopping day was only the cheapest, or joint-cheapest, day to buy the tracked goods half of the time (90 out of the 178 deals).

The phenomena of Black Friday Deceptions has even been documented by Government Officials.  United States Senator Richard Blumenthal’s office reported:

Some of the tricks and traps that advertisers use to get consumers into their stores or onto their websites include: deceptive and overly broad advertisements, hidden fees at checkout, and emailed coupons that hide the fine print in links to other websites.

For example, a JCPenney circulator advertises, “No interest if paid in full within 12 months.” However, the extremely hard to read, white-lettered fine print says: “Must request at time of purchase. Offer applies to window treatment purchases of $500 or more made between 11/24/13-11/27/13.” In addition, the consumer must have a JCP credit card or a JCP Mastercard.  And, if a consumer fails to pay off the amount within 12 months or fails to meet minimum monthly payments, the interest rate – charged back to the purchase date – jumps to 26.99 percent. So any small mistake by the consumer, like not asking for a no interest promotion or accidentally missing a payment, would result in potentially huge interest payments.

So what to do? Well most experts are offering some ideas on how to find out if you are being deceived.  This article by Lori Grunin  offers some ways of making sure you are not manipulated into spending more money then you have.

  • Decide what you want before you shop.
  • Research using your favorite search engine or app.
  • Unbundle the bundles
  • Watch out for hidden fees.

But overall, it is my opinion that Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be completely ignored. And I am not alone on this idea.  Aol.com  encourages consumers to follow these steps and just skip it all together.

Don’t be quick to fall for overhyped “doorbuster” sales. Oftentimes, retailers will dangle a popular item at a big discount to lure customers in, but what they don’t tell you is how limited their quantities are. These stores know that once they get you inside, you’re likely to stay and spend on the lesser deals, so always call and check their inventory first.

Next, watch out for derivative products. Some Black Friday ads will only include the bare minimum when it comes to technical specs for devices like TV’s, laptops and tablets. Usually, this is because the item on sale is a derivative product, specifically manufactured for Black Friday and the holiday season with lower overall quality and less features. These items may look like their pricier counterparts, but they probably won’t last as long, costing you more in the long run.

Lastly, don’t be swayed by phony markdowns. This is when a sale price is posted alongside an inflated “original price,” creating the illusion of a great deal. This is a classic retail trick, so don’t be misled. Focus on the sale prices and use those as a comparison.

Remember the everlasting tension between businesses and consumers. Business wants you to spend no matter what your means. You as a consumer are responsible for what you choose to spend. And make no mistake. If you overspend due to deception on the part of a business, you will be the one on the hook for it.

Image courtesy of experienceheadphones.com